Why was Philadelphia the Perfect Place to Launch Hospitality Tech Startup xtraCHEF?

xtraCHEF Launch

Philadelphia’s culinary and hospitality scenes are booming. In fact, VISIT PHILADELPHIA and the James Beard Foundation have even announced a special partnership to drive foodies to the city.

Here’s more proof. xtraCHEF is a cloud-based, mobile-friendly restaurant management tool based there. Small Business Trends contacted xtraCHEF CEO and Co-Founder Andy Schwartz to learn about this product. And why Philadelphia is a great place to launch a hospitality tech startup.

Cloud-Based xtraCHEF Launch

He started by explaining what the product is and what it does.

“xtraCHEF is a cloud-based supply chain management system designed specifically for the hospitality industry,” he writes. “Our platform gives restaurant operators the tools and insights to improve productivity and grow profits.”

Cofounders Andy Schwartz and Bhavik Patel recognized there was a lack of technology in many restaurants after a conversation with a local chef. The two understood automation was the answer and Philadelphia the perfect breeding ground for a new product.

Automating Paper Based Processes

Schwartz highlights the need.

“Believe it or not, a lot of business at a restaurant is still done on paper. xtraCHEF helps busy restaurant operators by automating these manual, paper-based processes.”

It digitizes paper invoices making critical decisions like recipe and inventory management easier.  xtraCHEF does several things well. You can snap a picture of paper documents with the mobile app or scan them in batches. The product offers high level analytics so you can see and share important trends.

The data can actually help forecast recipe costs quickly and easily. xtraCHEF allows chefs and restaurateurs to update ingredients and menu prices. And you can manage inventory.

Hospitality Wave

It’s no mistake the tool is taking off in Philadelphia. The hospitality boom there lends itself to new restaurants. At the same time, tech workers are drawn in on the same wave. In fact, statistics provided by xtraCHEF point to the fact that over half of the jobs available ( 53%) in Philadelphia required a bachelor’s degree or more.

Tech startups should be paying attention to this trend. When the hospitality industry takes hold in an area, hotels and restaurants follow. And that makes for fertile ground for new digital businesses that service this growth.

Pool of Tech Talent

Schwartz explains:

“My co-founder Bhavik Patel and I are both local to Philadelphia. Philly coincidentally has a great pool of tech talent as well as an incredible food scene, with more restaurants per capita than New York City. Though a smaller market than New York or San Francisco, there is still a great interest in the startup community. We were able to raise money here.”

The successful entrepreneur has some other advice for folks looking to get a leg up. A big suggestion is about recruiting.

“Find somewhere with enough talent. Somewhere the founders have an existing network gives you a huge advantage.”

Networking and Business Events

Even though most tech workers can be mobile, Schwartz also suggests moving to bigger cities for the networking and business events. Those pay off in several ways like opening doors to existing business and startup communities.

“That’s helpful when building your venture capital network or recruiting talent,” he says.

But don’t just jump right in. Starting in a city can also be a double-edged sword.

Reasonable Cost

“Avoid an expensive city if possible even though it might be tempting to move into a popular market,” Schwartz says. “If you’re able to source the talent, capital, and network you need without paying San Francisco rent or salaries, save where you can. Philadelphia’s reasonable cost of living has been a big advantage. “

Image: Depositphotos.com

More in:

Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.