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Innovation & Job News

Platform connecting restaurants and vendors takes off

Improvonia, an online platform to connect restaurant managers and suppliers, has clearly identified a pain point in the food industry market since launching in July. The startup, which won the Best Unfunded Startup award at D.C. Tech Day, says nearly 150 restaurants, bars and hotels--including a District Hilton and the Blue Duck at the Hyatt--are using its platform, as well as roughly two dozen suppliers.

"We were shooting for 16 restaurants to sign up in the first month," says Konstantin Zvereff-Akiiki, Improvonia CEO. "Now we have 149 restaurants. And suppliers are giving us all of their accounts, asking restaurants to join our platform." Approximately 900 accounts are in Improvonia's theoretical wings, waiting to be onboarded. 

"We're hiring people as fast as we can," Zvereff-Akiiki says, which has amounted to a new staff person every week. "It's overwhelming. The transactions are flying by."

Improvonia's platform allows restaurants to centralize orders with their suppliers, saving time and phone calls on both sides of the transaction. Restaurant managers don't have to call individual suppliers for liquor, meat, produce, dairy, paper products or any of the other consumables they might need to keep operations running. Instead, they log onto the platform and do their ordering there. Managers receive confirmation that the different vendors they've ordered from have received and seen the orders. And it's free for restaurant managers to use.

"There are lots of benefits to electronic orders," says Jag Bansal, cofounder of Improvonia. Orders can be completed on a computer or a smartphone, "instead of leaving a voicemail at 11 p.m. at night and hoping that the vendor will get it at 9 a.m. the next morning. And it eliminates the problem of getting orders via voicemail from people with accents after they've had several beers." The company also provides restaurants with analytical data about their buying costs.

Improvonia collects an order management fee from the vendors on its platform (0.9 percent for existing restaurant/vendor relationships that simply move to the platform and 2.9 percent for relationships that are established on the platform). "[Improvonia] gives purchasing power, as well as a centralized location for order and delivery for food trucks," Bansal says. "Food trucks couldn't necessarily access mainstream suppliers before this. We didn't see that value before we launched." Union Kitchen, the D.C. Food Truck Association, and the McPherson Square Hilton and Jefferson Hotels are all Improvonia clients.

"We signed the Hilton three weeks ago," Zvereff-Akiiki says. "We thought it would take a year or two [to land a client like that]."

The company is currently hiring an iOS or Android mobile engineer, a full-stack web developer and two sales account executives. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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