Dublin’s Nory raises $2m to help restaurants with AI

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The start-up, led by one of the founders of the Mad Egg chain, has developed a suite of software to help automate tasks in running a restaurant.

Nory, a Dublin start-up building AI-powered restaurant management software, has raised $2m in funding.

The round was led by Berlin’s Cavalry Ventures and London’s Playfair Capital, with participation from Enterprise Ireland and angel investors.

Previously known as Skueeze, the start-up was founded last year by chief executive Conor Sheridan, who also launched the Mad Egg restaurants in Dublin and was previously a fund manager at Davy.

Nory is building a suite of software for managing restaurants with artificial intelligence to help automate many tasks and improve the flow of operations.

Managing a restaurant business is a constant juggling act, from supplies and logistics to customer service and managing costs. According to Nory, its automated software can do much of the grunt work to allow managers to focus attention on other key tasks.

Two phones with screens showing different aspects of the Nory interface.

Image: Nory

The start-up has 25 customers and is targeting large and smaller chains alike. It will be shortly starting a pilot with McDonald’s.

“Even prior to the pandemic, restaurants have faced a hugely challenging trading environment,” Sheridan said.

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“The industry has low barriers to entry, meaning it’s super competitive and tough to differentiate. It’s also a labour-intensive business with operating costs rising on multiple fronts, from ingredients to delivery aggregators. It leaves little room for error.”

After an extremely difficult year for the restaurant trade, he said that many in the industry need to change how they operate to curtail losses.

Sheridan has experienced the devastating impact of the pandemic on restaurant and hospitality businesses first-hand through his role at Mad Egg, which has three chicken restaurants in Dublin.

In little more than a year after launching, the business grew to around €5m in annual revenue with 90 staff. But over the last year, like most other restaurants in Ireland, it has relied on takeaways and deliveries to stay afloat.

“AI and automation will define the future of restaurant management – and Nory will be at the forefront of supporting these businesses to achieve a more sustainable and profitable future,” Sheridan said.

Chris Smith, managing partner at Playfair Capital, one of the lead investors, said that although the restaurant sector globally is a multibillion-dollar industry, it is still “grossly underserved” by the latest AI and automation technologies.

“Leveraging these and the lessons learned from Mad Egg, Nory empowers restaurant owners and operators of all sizes with never before available insights to run their businesses more efficiently and profitability,” Smith added.