This Jarvus spinout wants to nosh on GrubHub's market - Technical.ly Philly

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May 26, 2017 12:54 pm

This Jarvus spinout wants to nosh on GrubHub’s market

Meet Ontray, a service offering restaurants with their own delivery operations a way to “take ownership of their brand.”

Ontray CEO Tyler Wiest (left) and Business Development Director Danny Harvith.

(Courtesy photo)

“Don’t be an item on someone else’s menu.”

The cryptic message on its Twitter account seems to encapsulate Ontray’s sales pitch pretty well: the N3rd Street startup, a spinout from dev shop Jarvus Innovations, is offering restaurants a way to set up delivery operations through their websites and cash in on the data and brand consistency.

“The company started in 2015 when we noticed that restaurants were spending a lot to go to Grubhub,” says CEO Tyler Wiest. “But that didn’t guarantee that people were spending money on them. We want to give control of online order back to the industry.”

The way it works is Ontray helps restaurants handle online orders themselves. Think of it as “power-charging” restaurants’ existing sites, Wiest said. It looks like this:

The Ontray platform. (Courtesy image)

The Ontray platform. (Courtesy image)

Restaurants have two payment options: they can give Ontray 5 percent of sales for use of the platform or tack on a fee to customer orders. In exchange, sure, they get to soup up their website, but as you might have imagined, data is also part of the pitch.

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“We let them own their data and use it to make data-driven marketing decisions,” Wiest said.

Ontray is incubated within Jarvus’ N3rd Street offices. Wiest says the dev shop has invested close to $100,000 in seed cash. Partner John Fazio serves as chairman of Ontray’s board and interim COO while a permanent replacement is found.

Needless to say, the food and delivery-related tech space is crowded. On the consumer-facing side there’s GrubHub and UberEATS and Postmates and EAT24. There’s Caviar, which Square acquired in 2014. There’s Philly’s own goPuff for the munchies. Until earlier this year, in the B2B space there was Navy Yard-based Zoomer, which was later acquired by EatStreet. Geez, even Aramark got in the game by acquiring a dorm-room-focused delivery company in San Francisco called Tapingo.

Why is Ontray’s play clever? The young startup is aiming to sign-up restaurants that already have delivery operations set up, saving them the complications of hiring (more so, retaining) delivery drivers or establishing high-maintenance GPS platforms. So far, the team has signed up 16 restaurants, mostly from the Fishtown area, including its flagship client: Trio’s Fresh Italian.

The challenge, as with most startups as this stage, is scaling. The company is currently raising some additional cash and will be using that to grow its footprint both regionally and nationally. “We could theoretically operate anywhere,” Wiest said.

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Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Technical.ly Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to Technical.ly and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

  • Tyler Wiest
  • Noneya1

    So it’s a web menu system that doesn’t offer delivery services but scalps a 5% stupidity tax on business owners (investor’s fees is 100%). Or it’s like GrubHub but doesn’t offer delivery. The stupidity of the consumer and investor is amazing. This “start-up” only succeeds when it obtains seed funds. I bet 9 months max. before this one’s down the drain.

    • Tyler Wiest

      Ontray gives restaurants the power of online ordering on their own branded website meaning customers are ordering directly from the restaurant, not a marketplace. For many restaurants, the ability to reenforce their brand, instead of the marketplaces, throughout the ordering process provides an enormous amount of value.

      Regarding pricing, if they choose to charge their customer a small convenience fee instead of paying the 5% themselves, they get everything for free. This includes a customizable website, online ordering, hosting, maintenance and tech support. Furthermore, Ontray gives restaurants all of the analytics from their orders giving them the data to make more informed marketing decisions.

      Ultimately, our mission is to empower restaurants to own their online presence instead of being dependent on marketplaces to drive/control their traffic. For restaurants who are regularly subjected to high fees to participate in the marketplaces, our low-cost solution provides them with much-needed relief.

      • Noneya1

        Wow, a website. Who’d a thunk? Pretty revolutionary, gee wiz do they even get a .com with that? Pretty revolutionary and amazing (in 1990). Dress it up with all the “brand reinforcement” “analytics” “empowerment” and whatever catch phrase you want, your real market is to VCs. Seems they’re buying whatever smoke is available these days. You’ve just a dressed up website to sell to them, congratulations!

  • Lady Glasses

    This article is hilarious.

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