The story of Toast starts with its founders: Aman, Jon, and myself. We met at a local enterprise software company called Endeca, where we were part of its entrepreneurial “special operations” team, working on new products for new verticals. We had been thinking about starting a company of our own, and when Oracle acquired Endeca for $1b in 2011, it seemed like the perfect time to venture out.
We wanted to do something with mobile commerce - leveraging our experience building some of the first mobile commerce apps for the iPhone when it launched - because we saw its effect on the changing interaction between consumers and merchants. It was one night out at dinner when we realized the restaurant industry in particular was in dire need of technological innovation and an improved customer experience.
The first product to come out of Toast was a mobile payments app developed in Aman’s basement, which we launched at a local Boston restaurant and pub. Honestly, it just didn’t work very well. On a busy Friday night, restaurant operators don’t want one more thing to juggle - which is exactly what we had given them. On top of that, there were a variety of challenges in integrating with the existing, outdated POS technology. At that point, we knew that, to truly have an impact on the customer and restaurant operator experience, we’d need to start with the restaurant’s central operating system: the POS.
When we shifted gears to the POS industry, we immediately noticed a difference in the conversations we were having with restaurant owners. Where they were unwilling to talk with us about a mobile payments app, they would spend hours talking to us about how much they hated their existing POS system. We learned that the existing POS systems were difficult to operate and poorly serviced. We learned that software updates were complicated and time consuming, and required service to be interrupted to reboot the whole system. We learned that if there was an issue with the update, the restaurant would have to pay a hefty fee to bring an IT person on-site to fix the issue.
It was clear to us then that, in order to make an impact on the restaurant industry, we would need to build a new system from the ground up. We sought to simplify the lives of restaurant owners who had to deal with multiple integrations and pieces of technology and pay an arm and a leg for each them. We sought to build a platform to manage all of their operations - a platform that allowed for mobility, easy access to data and updates, and an improved consumer experience.
The three of us weren’t restaurant experts, but we did all share a background in high-quality enterprise software. Developing enterprise software is all about listening to your customers, and that’s exactly what we did and what a good software team knows how to do. We hired restaurant experts and relied heavily on our early customers to get feedback and drive product improvements. Remaining in close contact with our customers continues to be one of our core values today.
A lot has changed in a few short years. We have an expanding team of nearly 500 Toasters* nationwide. Toast users span the entire United States**. Yet a lot has stayed the same. Our mission and our dedication to our customers’ needs remains unchanged. Our passion for improving the consumer experience remains constant. Our focus on product and customer satisfaction remains the #1 priority as we continue to scale and help more restaurants nationwide.
This is our story so far. If you’re ready for a better restaurant experience, we’re excited for you to become a part of our story.
Co-founder & President
*As of Spring 2017
**As of Spring 2017