kea.AI Seeks to Change Economics of Franchise Restaurant Industry with Proprietary Voice AI

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LOS ALTOS, Calif., May 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — kea, a developer of a proprietary Voice AI platform, has closed a seed round of funding to help scale its Voice AI phone order platform for franchises and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). The company is aiming to bring its current 20-30% per store profit improvement from hundreds of locations to thousands.

“Despite popular belief, most food orders at franchises are still taken by phone,” said Adam Ahmad, kea Founder and CEO. “But employees often can’t manage in-store service while taking phone orders, so the phone rings and rings and the result is lost revenue and poor customer service. At many franchises, 40% of all revenue is coming from phone orders. When you combine this with ongoing margin pressure and employee dissatisfaction, the need for kea’s platform becomes quite clear.”

Profit margins at QSRs have been dropping steadily over the past several years1. This is primarily due to rising labor costs, missed revenue opportunities, and frustrated customers hanging up and taking their business to a competitor.

But the news isn’t all bad. According to the National Restaurant Association, more people are now eating food from outside the home rather than preparing it themselves. To take advantage of this trend, franchises must retool their businesses to stay competitive.

Voice AI from kea fulfills unlimited phone orders simultaneously and enables significant meal bundling opportunities. It uses this data to learn what types of drinks and snacks are most common with specific orders, then makes suggestions based on customer needs. The ability to consistently learn and improve the customer experience for each individual restaurant can quickly and positively impact revenue.

“We work with thousands of the highest volume franchise locations to improve customer experience and the quality of life for their employees,” said Michael Flanagan, VP of Innovation at NuSutus, which provides innovative communications solutions to leading franchises around the world. “Rising personnel and real estate costs are putting an unprecedented squeeze on restaurant owners. kea provides a critical advantage by enabling these owners to capture revenue through a personalized consumer experience. We believe kea is a game changer.”

Investors have taken notice in the form of a $2.8 million seed round. kea will use the funds to scale its proprietary Voice AI platform and expand its franchise and QSR customer base. Participating investors include Streamlined Ventures, Xfund, DEEPCORE, notable Silicon Valley Angels Raj Kapoor, Dustin Dolginow and Tyler Willis, and restaurant industry entrepreneurs Tony Lam and Craig Flom.

“Tech startups often develop intriguing technologies that don’t solve preexisting business problems,” said Adam Marchick, Angel Investor and kea Advisor. “kea addresses very real revenue concerns and has the potential to quickly and positively impact the $825 billion restaurant industry.” 

Additional Information
kea is founded by industry entrepreneurs Adam Ahmad and Arjun Vasan. Read Adam’s blog post, “The kea Story,” for more industry perspective and to learn more about why they joined forces to launch kea.

1YCharts “Restaurant Brands International Profit Margin (Quarterly)

About kea
kea’s mission is to save the franchise restaurant industry. Its proprietary Voice AI platform provides franchises and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) with an automated, intelligent phone ordering system that can take unlimited orders simultaneously, and learn which types of drinks and snacks are most common with each order. This combats shrinking profit margins due to increased labor costs, and boosts revenue through upsell opportunities and repeat customers. For more info, visit