AR Foodservice Entertainment Start-up Secures $1.25m in Funding
One Hunter Valley-based tech start-up is reshaping the way restaurants engage and entertain customers through AR technology
The Village Co closed its latest seed round of funding with a total investment of $1.2 million, as the start-up sets its sights on continuing to transform tech innovation within the foodservice sector.
With one of the most unique commercialisation opportunities for AR technology on the market, The Village Co has attracted significant interest in its products and closed its seed round within 72 hours, receiving investment from both new and existing investors, supported by PKF Newcastle Sydney, who have also participated as an investor.
Made up of 15 team members in Australia, the company has reshaped its formal advisory board to help spearhead its rapid expansion, as it provides an industry under pressure with innovative tech tools that entertain younger customers through its recently launched sub-brand, Grub Lab, in partnership with the international brand, Simplot Foodservice.
Grub Lab cleverly, and commercially, develops interactive children’s Augmented Reality (AR) activity packs that come to life with their custom built applications. US-based Simplot’s backing gives the Village Co’s global ambitions a serious boost, as large restaurants double down their focus on the family market.
The Village Co has also partnered with the National Rugby League (NRL) to develop an NRL themed activity pack available from Grub Lab foodservice venues only. The partnership will provide customers with exciting Augmented Reality NRL themed experiences such as ‘NRL Strike’, ‘NRL Footy Finds’, ‘Mascot Memory,’ and ‘NRL AR Colouring In’. Users can also choose to virtually play as their favourite mascot. Games and activities are activated by scanning the NRL booklet in the Grub Lab app and allows the next generation of kids to engage with the powerful NRL brand in a fun and interactive way.
Mick Carr, CEO and Founder, The Village Co, says, “Our recent round of funding has been a major milestone for our company, and the investment will allow The Village Co to continue our growth, with a focus on our Grub Lab product. Along with funding from investors, our recent partnerships with a number of leading hospitality companies highlights the appetite for technology innovation within this sector.”
He continues, “The industry has faced many challenges during the past 15 months, and we hope that by partnering with leading national and international entertainment and sporting brands, like the NRL, our technology will help to ensure added value and better experiences for families when they dine out.”
Jamie Gannon, Executive Chef of the Laundy Group says: “We are constantly looking for ways to offer unique and enjoyable experiences at our hotels, and as the industry moves with the advancement of technology, it was a no-brainer to incorporate Grub Lab into our venues to offer additional value to families.”
Gregory Rutherford, Hotel Services Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley says: “Today’s families and tech savvy kids expect more from their dining experience, and with our strong focus on providing great experiences, we are always looking for ways in which we can enrich our customer’s interactions and provide a special dining occasion at our establishments. The Grub Lab entertainment packs allow us to do just that, and our guests love them.”