Tech Connect: GoTab Raises $6M and Helps Restaurants Adapt During Pandemic

Founded in 2015, GoTab has developed a mobile ordering and payment platform designed to expedite restaurants and retailers’ ordering processes. Since the pandemic, the company has experienced impressive growth, as its client base has expanded both regionally and nationally. The company's platform allows users to link their bank cards to the application and pay the bills in restaurants and bars using their smartphones, enabling restaurants, bars, breweries and other venues to make payment management easy. In September 2020, GoTab announced that it secured a $6 million investment to enhance its innovative technology and further bridge the gap between contactless dining and full-service hospitality.

Arlington Economic Development interviewed GoTab's Co-Founder and CEO, Tim McLaughlin. Tim provided some great comments on GoTab, its accelerating growth, and the company’s clients’ resilience during the pandemic. He also offered some great insights on the future of work, doing business in Arlington County, and the state of the startup ecosystem in 2021. 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have had to pivot to accommodate changes in their customers' operations. Can you talk about the resilience you have seen with your customers as they adapted to the “new normal”?

All our restaurants had to “pivot” multiple times. First to all takeout/delivery, then back to dine-in during the summer, then back again to takeout/delivery for the winter, and now back again for the summer. It was challenging for even a good operator, and the laws/regulations changed daily. Additionally, customers’ opinions on what was acceptable was changing oftentimes with no relationship to the science or regulations. It meant that there were some challenging situations, but the best restaurants rose to the occasion. We saw almost all our strongest businesses do over 80% of the sales that they did 2019, and many of them were more profitable than 2019 due to their usage of GoTab for increased sales and efficiency.

What has your experience been in Arlington as you launched and expanded GoTab? What is your best argument for why other tech startups should consider Arlington to launch and grow their business? 

The best thing about the Washington region is all the very talented and hardworking people who live here. That drives more talent to stay in the region or to relocate here. It is also a very well-situated city with the Chesapeake Bay only an hour drive in one direction and the mountains of West Virginia three hours the other direction and a moderate climate. Additionally, Virginia is a very pragmatic state for doing business with reasonable taxes and sensible laws. Overall, it is a fantastic region for running a business.

GoTab’s raise of $6 million was a great success for your company as your client base and sales have rapidly grown over the last year. Can you talk about raising capital during 2020 and what the raise means for the company’s future growth in 2021 and beyond?

Raising money into 2020 was not terribly difficult for me because I have a track record of success in the D.C. region – I previously cofounded Siteworx in 2002 and grew it through the exit for $50M in 2012. The money is being poured into product improvements, sales and marketing. It also allowed us to bring on some new leadership that the company needed to scale. We have already raised additional funds since then, but we have not announced it.

As the tech ecosystem continues to grow in Arlington, what do you see as the biggest driver for that success of the Arlington tech community, and how has it contributed towards the success of GoTab?

Really it all comes down to livability, and as I said before, Arlington is a fantastic location within the D.C. region, and D.C. is a wonderful city to live in. If that remains to be the case, I think it will continue to draw people who want to live here. The livability has really made it easier to recruit people to the region.

For more information on GoTab and its products and services, please visit https://gotab.io/en. If you are a startup tech company looking to launch or grow your business in Northern Virginia, please visit AED's resource page and contact Adam Henry, Business Development Manager, for more information. 

About this Profile Series 

Arlington's startup ecosystem has been rapidly expanding over the past five years and is quickly becoming recognized as an established innovation hub in the United States. Since 2015, Arlington-based companies have generated 250 venture activity deals totaling over $35.7 billion covering several industries, including software, cybersecurity, fintech, big data, digital media, and more. AED launched its monthly TechConnect Profiles to highlight and profile companies in our technology startup ecosystem. 

Topic: BIG Update
 
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