May 18, 2024 19 min read

Are You Ready for Some Fútbol

Are You Ready for Some Fútbol
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Friends of Branded!

Happy Saturday and I hope you had a great week!

I teased with a few people that this week’s edition of the H^2 would be a little different or at least the topic and theme of The Top of the Fold would be.

I’ll leave to each reader whether my prediction has merit.

As the title of this week's edition asks - "are you ready for some fútbol" b/c the Branded Team most certainly is!

CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 is coming to a city near you and we're getting involved!

Branded is proud to announce that we’ve partnered with our friends at Tamias, a cloud-based POS company that helps retailers and restauranteurs bring their customer experience to the next level, and ComAve, a global marketplace that is building the world’s largest sports fan community to execute the official Fan Zone for CONMEBOL Copa America 2024!

CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 presents, The Tamias Fan Zone.

This is an event we’re undertaking with an amazing group of partners and we're launching into this the lofty goal of creating nothing less than a unique fan experience down at The Wynwood Marketplace in Miami, FLA in connection (of course) with CONMEBOL Copa America 2024.

It’s rare that I use any part of the H^2 to highlight a specific Branded engagement, but this is one I felt deserved attention and needed to be highlighted b/c it's so core to Branded’s vision and mission.

I love quotes (yes, especially ones from movies of the 1980s), and the ability to use words that ring true to me, resonate, or provide some insight into the topic I’m writing about.

With absolute intentional irony, when it comes to people’s love of quotes from movies & TV Shows, I'd like to quote Penny Walker, the director of Media Relations and Strategic Communications at ASU who wrote: “The quotes we use are the ones that speak to us — they encapsulate a sentiment, an experience, or a moment in time. They are a shorthand way to describe something that’s happened to you or something that you’re feeling. They also often have the effect of injecting humor into the conversation so while you may be talking about something bad that happened, quoting a movie or TV show gives some levity to it.

Thank you, Penny!

Well, nothing bad happened to me, and to the contrary this week I’m writing about the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 project b/c it has deep meaning to me as it gets to the heart of our business – hospitality.

Friend of Branded, Will Guidara defines hospitality as “genuinely engaging with the person you’re serving, so you can make an authentic connection. The power of hospitality is that it shows dignity to each and every person. It’s an acknowledgment that they are worth acknowledging.”

Another friend, partner, and mentor of mine reminds me often that “words matter” (thank you SH) and Branded has embraced the word ‘hospitality’ as part of our ethos.

Like so many words, people have their own definition or perception of what a word means (and that’s absolutely fair of course). What does the word ‘finance’ mean or if you’re in the business of ‘finance’ what does that mean? What about the word ‘education,’ ‘healthcare,’ ‘sports,’ or ‘entertainment?’ The list would be endless.

When I was working in investment banking coming out of college, my maternal grandmother thought I was a 'bank teller,' b/c I my mother told her I had become a ‘banker.’ A bank teller is an honorable job and to be honest, I didn’t correct her. It was easier for me to accept she thought her grandson was a banker (bank teller) rather than an investment banker (which I still believe is harder to explain). 😊

With the word ‘hospitality’ so prominently presented and part of everything we do at Branded (for example, this newsletter - Hospitality Headline, our podcast - the Hospitality Hangout, our investment platform - Branded Hospitality Ventures, our solutions platform - Branded Strategic Hospitality), the definition of this word is critically important to us.

Many people have assumed that the word refers to ‘restaurants’ and that we’re exclusively focused on that segment of the market. Others have assumed it refers to ‘hotels.’ To each their own, but I like Will’s definition of hospitality above.

I also like Merriam Webster's Dictionary definition of hospitality as, “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests or hospitable treatment.” And's definition, “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”

According to my new besties at EHL Hospitality Business School, “Hospitality means extending a welcome to guests or offering a home away from home, and the word is derived from the Latin word “hospes” meaning host, visitor, or stranger.”

Okay, I’ve clearly beaten the definition of hospitality to death here, but that’s what I love about Branded’s business and the industry I’m so fortunate to be part of.

I work in an industry that welcomes ‘guests’ and when the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 tournament kicks off on June 20th, Branded and its partners will be doing exactly that down in Miami, FLA (Wildman: do you know where Miami Beach is?).

The Tamias & ComAve teams were part of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar and had tremendous success in helping fans from all over the world engage and experience the tournament. Specifically, over 320 vendors used the Tamias Point-of-Sale solution at the tournament and 15 global brands embraced the loyalty marketplace.

As for ComAve specifically, this company provides digital e-commerce services to some of the top soccer clubs across Europe, including, but not limited to Dutch side Ajax, Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, Italian giants AC Milan, and most recently with Spain’s Atletico Madrid.

Branded is focused on the digital transformation of the hospitality industry and that includes the OGs of ‘eatertainment’ – the world of professional sports.

Just like restaurants, we know this is NOT a technology industry and that it’s about people, experiences, guest / fan engagement and guest / fan services. According to the Spain’s Atletico Madrid general manager of business operations Oscar Mayo about the club’s collaboration with ComAve, “this collaboration is an innovative step forward in the digital realm for our club. ComAve will support us in further expanding our horizons and providing new and unique experiences for our fans."

The Tamias Fan Zone will be an opportunity for Branded and its partners to provide our approach to hospitality to soccer fans for all over the world.

CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 is only the second time in the tournament’s history that it’s being played in the US.

This is the world’s oldest national team tournament and includes 16 nations competing for glory. 14 venues across the US will host the tournament matches. And there will be one official Fan Zone for the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 tournament and it’s the Tamias Fan Zone at The Wynwood Marketplace starting on June 20th.

Yes, I’m excited. Not just for the event and not just b/c of the engagement or the role Branded has the privilege to be working on. It’s b/c of our partners at Tamias, ComAve and now CONMEBOL Copa America. It’s about the corporate partners we’re working with to engage with us at this event and make it a spectacular fan experience. It’s b/c we get to bring hospitality to this soccer tournament and leverage some amazing technology partners to help support and execute something truly amazing for the fans.

I’ve been hosting dinners, events, and parties for as long as I can remember (or at least longer than I want my parents to know about) and there’s one thing that matters more than anything else that gives you a chance at being a successful host and that's the importance of caring about your guests and the experience they’re going to have with you.

Are you ready for some fútbol? If so, I look forward to seeing you down in Miami!

It takes a village.

This weekend, the National Restaurant Association’s Big Show kicks off in the great city of Chicago!

There are many incredible shows throughout the year and Branded is grateful to the conference & event organizers that allow us to be part of your events, but there is only one Big Show!

First of all, this shows is MASSIVE! It takes a place at Chicago’s McCormick Place and its 600,000 square feet of exhibits. Over 70,000 attendees are expected to attend and there will be enough food purveyors, restaurant equipment suppliers, technology & innovations platforms, mixed drinks and Chicago hot dogs to fill multiple lifetimes.

Branded will also have 16 of our portfolio companies attending the event and we can’t wait to see each and every one of them.

So, in the spirit of this weekend’s NRA Show, I want to share some quick-fire style updates on the portfolio companies that are participating in this year’s event.

Are these ‘humble brags?’ I don’t think so. I’d prefer to think of them as timely updates on some of the Branded portfolio companies not only presenting at the NRA show, but that also continue to do amazing things for the industry we love and specifically helping operators succeed in this most challenging business. Branded only invests and works with operator-centric technology & innovation companies and I think the below represent some of the best-of-the-best.

Bite - A technology solution to excel in today’s operating environment.

One of our portfolio companies that has impeccable timing is Bite, the market leader of the QSR / Fast Casual kiosk game.

Friend of Branded (and a real writer & journalist), Kristen Hawley, who writes the great Expedite newsletter, has proclaimed we're "in our kiosk era" as minimum wage increases are forcing restaurants to get more efficient and move to automation.

Hello Bite and welcome to the party.

Bite offers an amazing and differentiated hospitality digital experience, with features like personalizing menus for guests and AI that can lift check average 20%.

"Last year brands we're calling us for 20-30 unit rollouts in the past - this year they're asking to rollout 100-200 stores at a time," says Brandon Barton, Bite's CEO, who also launched a killer restaurant tech podcast with Kristen called The Simmer that you should check out (Brandon & Kristen: please note, Schatz & I are still waiting on our invite to your 'cast').

Imitation is a heightened form of flattery and we’re seeing many new entrants come to the market with own kiosks. This includes the POS companies that of course see the tailwind that $20 per hour regulations in California means to operators and that's that kiosks will be everywhere.

I don’t think there’s a more important or timely labor-saving company in the Branded portfolio for the QSR industry right now than Bite.

Is that a bold statement? Of course it is. Is it true? I believe that it is!

Brizo Foodmetricsthe hospitality industry’s most comprehensive foodservice market intelligence platform.

As a partner deeply invested in the foodservice industry, we at Branded are thrilled to share exciting news from Brizo Data!

Brizo is launching version 2.0 of Brizo FoodMetrics, their most significant update yet.

In a market characterized by constant change and incomplete data, navigating the fragmented foodservice sector has always been a challenge. Businesses often rely on stale, inaccurate contact lists and generic lead generation tools that lack depth, leading to missed opportunities and poor decision-making.

The absence of comprehensive, up-to-date market data forces companies to make decisions based on incomplete and inconsistent information from scattered sources. The dynamic nature of the foodservice industry, driven by economic pressures and digital advances, means that outdated information can result in missed opportunities and strategic missteps.

Brizo FoodMetrics 2.0 addresses these challenges head-on with its extensive foodservice market coverage, offering detailed profiles of over 1.9mm establishments across the USA, Canada, UK, and Ireland. Users can segment food businesses by geography and navigate through diverse business types, from restaurants and cafes to ice cream shops and bars. The comprehensive establishment view includes details on services, amenities, ambiance, cuisine types, dietary styles, and digital presence, ensuring a thorough understanding of each establishment.

One of the standout features of this update is the new List Enricher, which empowers users to self-serve by uploading a list of businesses to enrich, search with, or segment more deeply. Additionally, Brizo ensures data freshness and quality with rapid refresh rates and validation from over 500,000 sources.

Brizo FoodMetrics helps accelerate the sales process with unmatched market coverage and data precision, increasing leads and conversion rates, enhancing sales productivity, and improving market visibility for strategic clarity.

If you're attending the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this week, be sure to visit Brizo's booth for a demo of their impressive new product and see firsthand how Brizo FoodMetrics 2.0 can transform your business!

Ecotrak – The Ecotrak platform provides facility management software to help businesses of all sizes simply facilities and asset management.

Ecotrak will unveil new features at the National Restaurant Association Show, including tools for inventory, dispatch, and technician management. These enhancements offer real-time visibility, optimized resource utilization, and streamlined inventory management for multi-site restaurants. Key benefits include preventing stockouts, improving technician dispatch efficiency, and reducing operating costs. Attendees can explore the new features at the NRA Show in the Tech Pavilion in booth #6479. - The data management and analytics platform for your business.

Ingest consolidates all your data into a reliable, single source of truth that tells the story of your business. The company taps into your specific F&B challenges and offers customized, actionable insights that boost profit and performance. From the kitchen to the corner office, this platform’s flexible, user-friendly dashboards and reports ensure that every stakeholder knows what's working (and what's not).

Branded loves it when our friends and partners find areas of cooperation together and we're super excited to share that Ingest and Resy have announced a formal partnership to help restaurant operators maximize the value of their reservation data.

Reservations are a big deal, and this is a partnership the Branded Team can't wait to see bring value to restaurant operators.

Finally, this week, Ingest retired and said goodbye to its panda logo, Harry! In honor of Harry's farewell, we've proudly displayed him one last time below.

Incentivio - The only fully automated intelligence-driven guest engagement platform for restaurants & virtual kitchens that increases retention, maximizes revenue and enhances the guest experience for both first-time visitors & loyalists.

With Incentivio, restaurant brands gain a deeper understanding of how their guests navigate through different stages of the digital dining experience, which is important when you want to have the most effective loyalty for your brand. How does this work?

lncentivio’s Guest Journey Dashboard, powered by a cutting-edge machine learning algorithms, automatically segments restaurant guests based on their frequency of visits and spending habits and Incentivio’s proprietary churn management targets guests at risk of leaving, maximizing retention efforts.

With their Menu Intelligence product that identifies and ranks top-selling items using AI based on customer types and behaviors, order frequency, and total orders, brands gain insights into guest behavior to offer a personalized guest experience with tailored loyalty offers that move them through the digital guest journey!

Juicer – revenue management and dynamic pricing for restaurants.

JUICER provides restaurant revenue management, including dynamic pricing on 3rd-party delivery channels and advanced competitive intelligence, to optimize profits, strengthen market position, and protect guest satisfaction.

The company just completed its Seed Round led by our friends at York IE!

The brands engaging with Juicer continue to represent some of the industry’s leader including the newest addition to its customer roster - Pizza Hut.

It’s not lost on me that Juicer has experienced a wealth of attention following the Wendy’s public relations debacle over dynamic pricing and specifically surge pricing. At the time of the Wendy’s PR nightmare, a friend of mine told me this was “bad news for Juicer” b/c of all the negative headlines it created about dynamic pricing. I disagreed with my friend and Juicer’s performance since the headlines created by Wendy’s has been nothing short of incredible. Dynamic pricing and revenue management are critical to the hospitality industry and Juicer is uniquely positioned to be an ally to operators and help with revenue management.

Leasecake – This user-friendly lease management platform alerts you to critical dates, keeps lease and location documents all in one place, and provides financial oversight, so you can focus on what really matters: growing your business.

Leasecake recently completed a $10mm Series A led by our friends at PeakSpan Capital and Las Olas VC.

We’re also proud that Leasecake solutions were presented by Roark Capital to over 30 brand leaders at their recent “Development Forum in Atlanta!” Leasecake expanded its relationship with Roark (a $38B PE investor), and its family of brands and we believe such is further evidence of how important it is to reduce real estate risk with powerful technology that continues to be adopted by smart franchisors and large multi-unit operators.

As our friends at Leasecake like to say, more growth AND less risk - it’s a piece of cake! 😊

MarginEdge - The restaurant management system that was created to get operators out of the back office and back onto the floor.

This company has helped over 7,000 restaurants and just recently moved forward with its largest product upgrade in years. This includes vendor statement reconciliation which has been incredibly well embraced by operators.

MarginEdge acquired its first company, Freepour, and has rolled out a new alcohol inventory tool allowing the integration of a scale, bar code, and MarginEdge’s software to allow extremely fast and accurate liquor inventories

meez - Smarter recipe management for culinary organizations at scale.

Meez focuses on laser accurate food costing, real-time menu engineering, and easy recipe organization. Its culinary operating system is built for how food and beverage professionals think and operate (b/c it was built by food and beverage professionals).

The company recently launched two new products that significantly help its customers maintain accuracy, consistency and drive profitability.

The first is inventory. Built from the ground up our favorite feature is the ability to count in any unit of measure. Meez is so excited about it they tell me that they wish they still had some walk-ins of its own still to catalog.

The second is analytics. This brings all your data across recipes, menus, inventory and purchasing into one insights driven dashboard. Meez's favorite part of analytics is how quickly you can see opportunities to increase profitability and lower costs.

Meez will be at NRA this week hanging with Made-In and at UTILITY with Tilit for some business, fun and of course many of Chicago's best bites. Come hang with the Meez team at UTILITY. Use MEEZ-FRIEND for a complimentary ticket. If you can’t find them, check the stories for real time updates.

Ovation – voted the #1 guest feedback platform for restaurants that actually drives revenue.

Ovation is a guest experience platform for multi-unit restaurants that starts with a 2-question survey to drive revenue, streamline guest recovery, and easily improve operations.

The company will be announcing two game-changing features at NRA, Sunday at 4PM at our booth: 5751

The company proudly signed up Friendly's, Mooyah, and PDQ.

According to friend of Branded and the CTO at BRIX Holdings, Carissa De Santis, “[Friendly’s] is getting 24x more feedback than we were with our old survey system. But in actuality, we’re spending less time handling that feedback and reaching back out to the guests than we were previously. Amazing, right?

Yes, Carissa, that is amazing, and the Branded Team is NOT remotely surprised at the value you’re getting from the Ovation platform.

Ripples - The Power of Wow!

Ripples knows that your customers are thirsty for innovation and that you can grab people’s attention when they grab a drink and turn every customer into an influencer with share-worthy drink prints!

Ripples’ patented technology covers every part of the journey – food chemistry, hardware, software, campaign management, and fresh content.

Ripples had the fantastic opportunity to take part in the New York City Hospitality Alliance’s Bash for the Boros at TAO Downtown, where custom foam-topped drinks were provided to the 800 attendees.

The event was a fun and vibrant celebration of the New York City restaurant and nightlife community with a room filled with industry leaders and government officials. We love being a part of the NYC Hospitality Alliance and to support their work on behalf of the restaurant and nightlife community of NYC.

Ripples also released a new case study with Caffe Dante – Cocktails Become Canvasses

Caffe Dante, a New York institution known for its meticulous attention to detail, brings art to life with vibrant custom color-illustrated coasters and menus. With the introduction of the Jungle Blend Kit, they are extending this gorgeous green, yellow, and purple color story to their printed cocktails.

Ripples has become nearly essential for event producers around the world who need to make a splash beyond a single party. Specialty Coffee Caterer Espresso Mobil crafted custom coffees for InStyle Sport’s May Cover Launch Party in Germany and Arrvo Coffee made “Bad Boys for Latte” at a celebration of the upcoming movie Bad Boys: Ride or Die in LA.

An activation with Ripples creates a fun and dynamic way for guests to engage with the media onsite, and the eye-catching drinks help extend the buzz online to a wider group of fans.

Supply Caddy – This most recent addition to Branded’s portfolio is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of packaging and disposables for the food service industry. With headquarters in Miami, Florida, and manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe, SupplyCaddy is able to provide high-quality, affordable products for restaurants, chains, and foodservice brands.

Let’s be crystal clear, Supply Caddy didn't exist 4 years ago and in a short period of time, Burger King, Dave’s Hot Chicken and Huey Magoo’s are clients and trust Supply Caddy with its packaging and brands.

Supply Caddy is an amazing example of just how operator-centric an emerging innovation company can be as it doesn’t add fees for branding, offers long-term price locks, 60 to 75-day initial lead times, and high quality / low cost products.

Supply Caddy is the opposite of any packaging manufacturer you’ve ever dealt with. If you don’t believe, let’s talk about what packaging item Supply Caddy can be tested out on!

Yumpingo - Yumpingo delivers Satisfaction Growth, a proactive approach to experience management that fixes service and food issues, before they affect your guests.

With traffic and sales down in many segments, Yumpingo's customers have been bucking the trend by retaining and attracting more customers.

Through its unique 1-minute review with high response rates, brands are getting results through recommendations on their menu and pricing and reducing the number of operational issues impacting their guests' experiences.

One client reduced their menu size by 25%, decreasing food costs, increasing labor efficiency and growing guest satisfaction by 6%.

Another reduced the number of unsatisfied guests by over 40% within 6 months

A third saved $5mm, by switching French fry suppliers to one that was less expensive and resulted in higher guest satisfaction

Yumpingo offers expert advice alongside its product to give maximum results, fast.

Readers of the Hospitality Headline, that are interested in learning more about Branded’s portfolio companies, investment strategies and future opportunities, are invited to explore becoming part of our Access Hospitality Network.

In today’s episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg, “The Restaurant Guy,” and Jimmy Frischling, “The Finance Guy,” are thrilled to welcome Zachary “Schmackary” Schmahl, the Nebraska native who turned his Broadway dreams into a cookie empire right in the heart of New York City’s theatre district.

Starting at 24, Zachary began experimenting with cookie recipes, combining traditional concepts with bold twists. His creations quickly caught the attention of the Broadway community, turning his side hustle into a full-time, highly acclaimed cookie business. We like it so much we invested! Schmackary’s, often referred to as the hottest show in town, not only delights the local arts scene but also ships its award-winning cookies nationwide.

You can tune in on SpotifyAppleAmazoniHeart, or your favorite listening platform!

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Founded in 1954, ACG is the premier M&A deal-making community with a mission of driving middle-market growth. ACG’s global network operates within 61 local markets worldwide and comprises more than 100,000 middle market professionals who invest in, own and advise growing companies. ACG provides events, conferences, bespoke meetings, deal-sourcing forums, unique experiences, educational seminars, and numerous benefits to non-members and members alike.

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Satisfy your thirst for knowledge? Look no further! It's time to dive into our brand-new segment: "Ask The Headline"! 🎉

📅 We'll be answering YOUR questions every week. And here's the best part: you can choose to stay anonymous or receive a fabulous shout-out when we feature your question!

That’s it for today!

See you next week, (about the) same bat-time, same bat-channel.

It takes a village!

Jimmy Frischling
Branded Hospitality Ventures
235 Park Ave South, 4th Fl | New York, NY 10003

Branded Hospitality Ventures ("Branded") is an investment and advisory platform at the intersection of food service, technology, innovation and capital. As experienced hospitality owners and operators, Branded brings value to its portfolio companies through investment, strategic counsel, and its deep industry expertise and connections.

Learn more about Branded here: Branded At-A-Glance

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