On this episode of Payments Dialog, we connect with the Incentivio team. Sash Dias, COO and co-founder and Rich Long, head of implementation, give us insights into the importance of limiting friction for restaurant customers coming on board to the platform by offering the ability to bring your own payment services and reducing the complexity of the payments experience.

Want to learn more about how Spreedly can help your payments in the restaurant and order ahead industry? Reach out to us here.

Rough transcript of this Payments Dialog:

Peter Mollins:

Hi everybody. This is Peter Mullins with Spreedly. I'm very excited to have you here for another Payments dialogue. Today, I'm very excited to be joined by Rich Long, who is Head of Implementation at Incentivio, as well as Sash Dias, who is the COO and co-founder. So Sash, Rich, welcome to Payments Dialogue. Very glad to have you here.

Sash Dias:

Thanks Peter. Yeah. Happy to be on.

Peter Mollins:

Excellent. Well, I would love it if you don't mind giving a bit of an overview of Incentivio if you don't mind, just a bit of background on the company itself and kind of how it came to be.

Sash Dias:

Yeah, absolutely. So at Incentivio what we do is we are an autonomous digital guest experience platform. We operate purely within the restaurant industry, so we focus just within that industry. And what we do is we help restaurants kind of use data and machine learning to automate that entire digital guest journey from unknown guests to folks who become regulars and loyalists and champions of the brand.

Peter Mollins:

Got it. That's great. Now, a key part of any experience in a restaurant, I mean, of course you've had a great meal, you're sitting there, you've had great conversation, and then the bill comes of course. And so we all know the in-person experience when it comes to payments. Maybe you can tell me why you think that the payments experience from your perspective, from Incentivio's perspective, is such an important thing and why you wanted to center in part around that.

Sash Dias:

Yeah, absolutely. So if you look at the restaurant's kind of digital journey, you don't have those same human touch points. You want to make sure that when the guest is ordering from outside the restaurant, outside the four walls of the restaurant, you have convenience, you can use Apple pay, Google pay, credit cards, different types of payment, and it's seamless and it's smooth because you don't have the same kind of human interaction that you would have within the restaurant. So making that flexible, seamless, and frictionless is key to helping our merchants drive more revenue and more volume and more engagement.

Peter Mollins:

Got it. So, what did you see as being the problem in the lead up to the company that you wanted to address?

Sash Dias:

Yeah, so one of the things when we first came out to market, we wanted to be payments agnostic and actually let the merchant select their own payment processor. Especially in franchise scenarios, you would have different franchisees have different frame and processors. And what we were finding is that we were spending a lot of engineering effort creating integration into multiple different payment processes, and that wasn't our core business. We are in the business of making restaurant's successful digital guest experience. So what we found was our engineering resources were getting bogged down creating those integration, then maintaining them, and we really wanted to continue to have that flexibility without the additional overhead that came with that.

Peter Mollins:

Right. So, that's interesting. It sounds like there's an engineering side and there's also a business or sales side to it. So if you don't mind, maybe I can just talk a bit about the engineering side first. So, in terms of building out those integrations, it sounds like you'd rather have your engineering teams focus more on adding value and focusing on your core business versus some of those other elements of connecting into those services. Is that true?

Sash Dias:

That is correct. Yep.

Peter Mollins:

And then from a maintenance perspective, I imagine it's not only the aspect of making the connections, but those connections change. I mean, Stripe, Braintree, they're always improving their APIs, so I imagine maintaining it also would be a burden.

Sash Dias:

Yes, absolutely. Yeah, and today I think we use probably 30 or 40 different payment integrations through Spreedly, and instead of maintaining 30 integrations, we're maintaining one.

Peter Mollins:

That's fantastic. Yeah. That's great. So now maybe switching back to the business side of things as well, when you are out there selling to a restaurant or to a franchise chain, I imagine you want to be able to, and your sales team wants to be able to just say, "You have this payment service provider? Great," and just checkbox and you can just move on, versus it having to be part of a sales discussion where there's friction I'm guessing.

Sash Dias:

Yeah, absolutely. It was creating friction in sales and even if they agreed to, before we had Spreedly, even if they agreed to move to a payment process we supported, onboarding them with that new payment processor was adding six weeks to our implementation timeline. That's gone.

Peter Mollins:

Yeah. Well, that's great. So Sash, maybe I'll turn to Rich now. Rich, maybe you can talk to me a bit about that implementation side. We always hear, for platforms, about the importance of time to first transactions. So maybe you can tell me a bit of about how you see the implementation process and how payments connect into that.

Rich Long:

So, yeah definitely, for sure. The nice part about having a single processor that we've worked with, as Sash was saying, brings that speed to market as he said. That brings us down from months down two weeks. I mean, I can launch somebody as fast as they want to go now, where I didn't have those advantages before. So that gives us that ability to, you get clients that come up and say, "Oh my gosh, we got to have this. We're really hurting. We haven't had anything. Can you get us up in like three weeks," or four weeks or whatever the number might be. And we now have that ability to move that fast.

Peter Mollins:

That's great. So for them, they're able to start transacting quicker and, based on your business model, I assume that faster to transactions equals faster time to revenue for you.

Rich Long:

Absolutely. Yeah. It's a win-win. It helps them be able to get transactions up immediately, get their awareness campaigns out there for their web, and then start rolling in those transactions immediately.

Peter Mollins:

That's great. So, one of the things that Sash had mentioned at the beginning was this notion of like a complete experience for customers. I'd love to hear a bit more about what are some of the other ways that you enable that broader experience for your restaurant customers. What else can Incentivio do for restaurants to really provide that great experience? I'd love to hear more.

Rich Long:

I was a client. I'm not sure if you were aware of that, but I was a client of Incentivio up until February of this year actually for a couple of different brands. And one of the reasons that I chose Incentivio over some of the other platforms that are out there is just because of the autonomous components that Sash mentioned in the very beginning. Having everything in one place. Being a director of IT, or an ex director of IT now, having to work with this vendor for this and that vendor for that was a pain. I wasn't able to maintain an efficient team. I had to have somebody who was a menu guy. I had to have somebody who was a payments guy. I had to have somebody who could dedicate with the app. This takes care of all that.

I can actually run, and I actually did run, a very small concise team that was able to utilize this platform because it was one vendor. It was one solution that did everything it needed to and it did it very well. And that's one of the biggest advantages that I think we bring to the table is having everything in that one platform and one cycle, that one technology stack that I can use.

Peter Mollins:

Right. So it's interesting, it's almost like there's nested complexities because Incentivio reduces the complexity of managing that guest experience for restaurants and restaurant chains, and then within the payments element, then Spreedly helps Incentivio to reduce the complexity of the payments experience too.

Rich Long:

Correct. That has become such a simple process now. It's just a matter of connect here, we know the connectors, we can get you set up, we get these things configured, boom, you're done.

Peter Mollins:

That's great. And then you're also using the Spreedly platform to tokenize and store credit card information, payment methods, is that true?

Rich Long:

That is correct.

Sash Dias:

Yeah, that is correct and when we initially did that evaluation, we wanted to make sure we stayed out of PCI's scope, so this helps us do that.

Peter Mollins:

Exactly. Yeah. So I think that sounds like that probably comes back to one of your earlier points, Sash, about keeping your engineering team focused on the core value that Incentivio provides instead of worrying about not only building and maintaining the gateway connections, but also having to worry about PCI compliance and PCI audits.

Sash Dias:

Yes, and this is with a team that was actually experienced. Part of our engineering team has built payments platforms in the past.

Peter Mollins:

Oh really?

Sash Dias:

But even with that experience, we realized that the cost benefit just wasn't there of doing it ourselves.

Peter Mollins:

Wow. That's fascinating. Well, terrific. Well, this has been really interesting to hear more about your strategy. But I would love to hear more about the future and where you plan Incentivio to be scaling and growing. What's on the horizon for you?

Sash Dias:

Yeah, essentially the entire future of our company is based on using AI and machine learning and using the restaurant's own data to allow the restaurant to drive revenue and engagement. If you kind of look at the restaurant industry today, the largest companies like McDonald's and Panera Bread and Starbucks do this because they have IT teams of dozens of people and spend tens of millions of dollars a year on software.

But even if you have a few hundred locations, generally restaurant groups don't have the time or the resources to do that themselves. And with Incentivio, with this all in one platform, with the data all in one place, we're able to use the data to, for example, upsell things at checkout. When somebody hits checkout, based on what's in their basket, how do we use now the intelligence we have of knowing what everybody has bought together in the past two years at that location. How does that change by season? How does that change by day or time of day? And then even things like we have multiple years of data and guest data and their patterns, how do we use that to predict when a guest is going to churn before they churn?

Peter Mollins:

Right.

Sash Dias:

So these are the type of things we do automatically without requiring marketing and IT specialists to keep running reports and tagging customers and then sending out offers.

Peter Mollins:

That's great. Well, terrific. Well, that sounds like an incredible value to add to restaurants, especially now as the pandemic, we hope, is easing and restaurants are able to get back rolling again. But also it sounds like this has been a boon for restaurants and restaurant chains during this period where they've been increasingly moving to e-commerce type models.

Sash Dias:

Yes, of course. I think one thing, one of the I guess few benefits of the pandemic has been that restaurants have looked at increasing their focus on digital and kind of balancing their revenue streams to make sure that they can be flexible in times like these. And then if you look at the eCommerce and the digital guest experience, it's kind of catapulted a lot of restaurants a few years into the future.

Peter Mollins:

That's fantastic. Well, Sash, Rich, it was terrific to hear about the growth that Incentivio is not only experiencing, but also driving for your customers and to hear how Spreedly is able to help in terms of helping to let you connect into those multiple dozens of gateways in order to get more value and get your customers to value faster. So thanks so much for taking some time.

Sash Dias:

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having us and yeah, we're looking forward to continuing this partnership with Spreedly.

Rich Long:

Absolutely. Thank you, Peter. We appreciate it.

Peter Mollins:

Absolutely. Thank you.