If the Seattle startup succeeds, the peanut supplier in sports will have to find new jobs.
Cheq, which just raised $8 million, sells an ordering and delivery platform to stadiums and restaurants. Currently, customers at certain stages can use its app to have items delivered directly to their seats.
The 47-person company was founded by Thomas Lapham, the former CEO and board advisor of Chinese solar panel developer Asia Clean Capital. He was joined by Jim Castillo, the former head of software engineering at OpenTable. Chief Revenue Officer Jack Stone, formerly CRO at an independent sports and entertainment company; and Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Macey, co-founder of Evolotu, a London-based luxury car tuning startup.
Cheq is designed to drive sales for suppliers while reducing wait times for customers. The startup offers an app for booking and delivery requests, as well as a point-of-sale system. Cheq also offers a Venmo-like feature that allows customers to “gift” items to other users. For example, someone watching a game at home can buy beer for a co-worker at the game.
The company is currently in six stadiums, including the Miami Dolphins and the University of Washington. It also works with about 100 restaurants. Meanwhile, its app has more than 100,000 monthly active users.
Bringing ordering technology to stadiums and restaurants is not a new concept. In 2013, startups Bypass, SnagMobile and Yorder aimed to bring in-seat delivery to sports gaming. However, by 2015, two of the three startups had collapsed, according to Fortune. One exception, Bypass, became the Clover Sport. The company currently sells its subscription hardware to the Miami Heat, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of Alabama, among others.
Big players are also trying to crack the stadium’s food ordering. Also in 2013, the New York Yankees partnered with Mastercard’s QkR to offer in-seat delivery in select areas. Postmates has also partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Yankees to allow pre-orders.
In the restaurant space, Cheq is pitted against established POS system providers such as Square, Toast and Clover.
Lapham believes that Cheq will be able to stand out because customers will be attracted by the user experience and social aspects of the app, while suppliers will prefer the company’s subscription-based pricing model.
When asked how the startup plans to compete with Amazon’s strike technology, which is currently used by the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners, Lapham said it’s “passive.” The main purpose of the strike technology, he said, is to increase efficiency, not sales, while Cheq is connecting customers directly on their mobile phones.
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 and other investors. The company did not disclose its current valuation.