If this Seattle startup gets its way, the peanut-throwing vendors at sports games will have to find new jobs.
Cheq, which just raised $8 million, sells an ordering and delivery platform to stadiums and restaurants. Right now, customers at some stadiums can use its app to have an item delivered right to their seat.
The 47-person company was founded by Thomas Lapham, a former CEO and board advisor of Asia Clean Capital, a solar panel developer in China. He is joined by CTO Jim Castillo, a former software engineering leader at OpenTable; Chief Revenue Officer Jake Stone, who previously worked as CRO at Independent Sports and Entertainment; and Chief Business Officer Jonathan Macey, a co-founder of a London-based startup that modified luxury cars called Evolotu.
Cheq aims to drive sales for vendors while shortening wait times for customers. The startup provides an app for pre-order and delivery requests, as well as a point-of-sale system. Cheq also offers a Venmo-like feature that allows customers to “gift” an item to another user. Someone who is watching the game at home, for example, could buy a beer for a co-worker at the game.
The company is currently in six sports stadiums including the Miami Dolphins and the University of Washington. It also works with about 100 restaurants. Its app meanwhile has more than 100,000 monthly active users.
Bringing ordering tech to stadiums and restaurants is not a new concept. In 2013, startups Bypass, SnagMobile and Yorder aimed to bring in-seat delivery to sports games. By 2015, however, two of those three startups were defunct, Fortune reported. The one exception, Bypass, became Clover Sport. The company currently sells its ordering hardware to the Miami Heat, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of Alabama, among others.
Large players have also tried to crack stadium food ordering. Also in 2013, the New York Yankees partnered with Mastercard’s QkR to offer in-seat delivery in select zones. Postmates meanwhile partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Yankees to allow pre-ordering.
In the restaurant space, Cheq faces off with established POS system providers like Square, Toast and Clover.
Lapham argues that Cheq will be able to differentiate itself because customers will be drawn to the app’s user experience and social aspects, while vendors will prefer the company’s subscription-based pricing model.
Asked how the startup plans to compete with Amazon’s walk-out tech, which is currently being used by the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners, Lapham said that it’s “passive.” He said the walk-out tech’s main purpose is to drive efficiency, not sales, while Cheq reaches customers directly from their phone.
The seed round comes after the company raised $5.4 million last year. It was led by WestRiver Group’s Technology Fund, with participation from Harvard’s Yard Ventures, among other investors. The company did not reveal its current valuation.