Questions with Aman Narang, co-founder of Toast

Throughout our “How to Survive & Thrive” program, we were able to involve some fantastic experts to come and speak with our entrepreneurs. Among others, we had the pleasure of hosting Aman Narang, the co-founder of Toast, a restaurant management platform valued at $4.7 billion. The chat was so valuable that we asked Aman to answer a few additional questions from our startups, and for the wider audience.

Here’s what he told us:

Lots of restaurants are reconsidering their low margin business models. How are you going to support restaurants going forward to improve bottom line performance?

Toast is providing tools and resources to help the restaurant community survive and thrive. TheToast Restaurant Resource Center gives restaurateurs the tools and resources needed to reset, reimagine, and thrive in this new environment. It includes, but is not limited to, tips on:

Navigating the CARESAct: to take advantage of the funding restaurants need to stay afloat while revenues are down;

Adapting from a non-premise to off-premise business model: best practices for online ordering, pickup/delivery, curb side pickup, etc; and preparing for re-opening: training, how to rehire staff, keeping both employees and guests safer during these uncertain times, and reconfiguring restaurant space for social distancing.

How does Toast look at upstream offerings, connecting operators with supply-side producers and cash & carry’s?

Toast recognizes that running a successful restaurant requires connecting a complex web of producers and suppliers. We invest in partnerships to help our operators strengthen relationships with suppliers. Learn more here. 

How do you think hiring/HR practices will change in the restaurant industry in light of COVID19?

Customers are making the shift to off-premise hiring faster than ever, even as states in the U.S.begin to re-open. See full data here, updated daily, to have a look at what parts of the country are embracing on-premise versus off-premise.

We are also seeing more customers request contactless payments and guidance on setting up curb side pickup.

Have your internal customer goals/targets shifted before vs. after corona? In what way?

Our mission has always been to “empower the restaurant community to delight guests, do what they love, and thrive.” During the COVID-19 health crisis, we remained true to this promise by partnering with other restaurant technology players to"Rally for Restaurants" in their time of need and ensuring restaurants - Toast customers or not - can:

·     Process payments both online and in-store;

·     Leverage pickup and delivery; and,

·     Adapt to social distancing rules as businesses in the U.S. begin to reopen.

Are you offering free trials during corona? Otherwise? If yes, did it help in picking up conversion?

We also provided a one-month SaaS credit for all existing customers and new customers on a monthly billing cycle. We’re currently offering the first three months three of our guest

module suite to existing Toast customers as well as a reduced-fee option for contactless payments and Toast Go™ handhelds, which will support restaurants as they begin to welcome more dine-in guests.

We also are still offering 50% off installations for remote and self-installs.

Did your additional offerings during COVID19 help pick up lead generation or conversion rates?

The COVID-19 health crisis is a tragedy and our hearts go out to people who lost family members during this sad time in history. Our additional offerings helped us better support the industry in a time of crisis. We’re so proud we were able to quickly respond with solutions to help keep restaurants all over the U.S. in business. For revenue data on how the Toast restaurant community is coping during this difficult time, see here.

How were you able to react and adapt with providing new offerings as quickly as you did during the crisis?

Our team cares deeply about the restaurant community. We dropped everything and worked nights and weekends to pivot, because we all need restaurants to survive. We would all be devastated to lose the restaurants we love. They are part of our communities, they are part of our lives and celebrations. That was our motivation.

Do you use the same sales model for Toast Now? How do you manage the challenge of positioning with all the different services you offer?

Positioning Toast Now™ was not a challenge. Our commitment to this industry has always been the same and unwavering - empower restaurateurs to delight guests, do what they love, and thrive. When the COVID-19 health crisis struck, social distancing restrictions meant operators needed a slightly different path to “thrive.” Toast Now™ empowered them with what they needed to keep their guests happy, keep making food, and keep revenue coming in.


What advice would you give other founders in similar positions as we approach the new normal / recovery phase?

It is important to recognize that processes and goals that proved successful just a few months ago may simply not work anymore, and that’s okay. For some founders, this might feel like you’re back to where you were a few months or even years ago. While this can feel frustrating, the good news is every single business in the world is adapting and learning together so you’re in excellent company.


"With that, my advice to other founders is to not forget why you started your business in any time of crisis; having to reset is not an excuse for abandoning your mission."

For example, here at Toast, we set out to democratize SaaS and cloud technology for the restaurant industry. In order to stay true to our vision, this meant making investments for the long-term betterment of the industry we serve, such as offering Toast to any restaurant, Toast customer or not, through our Toast Now™ product.

Watch the entire fireside chat here.

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