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Boston-based payments startup Toast raises $30m

Company attributes its success to a focus on restaurants

A Toast system.Courtesy Toast

Venture investors are still seeing some glimmers of hope in the market for payments technology for small businesses.

Toast Inc., a startup that supplies restaurants with ordering and sales systems based on the Android mobile operating system, has raised $30 million to pay for a flood of hiring and continued product development.

The company has about 1,000 customers and employs some 170 people, with about 100 of them at its Boston headquarters. Toast plans to hire another 150 this year and expects to see its revenue continue to grow from the "double-digit" millions posted in 2015, chief executive Chris Comparato said.


"This is sort of the exclamation point on a really busy year," he said.

The investment round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners. GV (formerly Google Ventures) also invested in Toast via Cambridge-based general partner Rich Miner, an Android cofounder. Android is owned by Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc.

Entrepreneurs and investors have been betting the mobile computing revolution would offer a big change in the way buyers and sellers handle money in brick-and-mortar establishments, but adoption has been slow.

Even Apple Inc., the world's most important tech company, has struggled to get large numbers of consumers to use its iPhone-based cardless payment system. An October survey by the trade publication PYMNTS found that, after a year of availability, only 17 percent of eligible users had tried Apple Pay even once.

The uncertain market for small-business payment technology was highlighted by the November IPO for Square Inc., a point-of-sale company headed by Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey. Square saw its shares jump in the first day of trading, but only after reducing its IPO price in the face of low demand from professional investors.


Comparato acknowledged a lot of "road kill" among payment startups, but said Toast has grown steadily because of a couple of advantages.

Founded in 2012, it has focused solely on restaurants.

It also aims to be a flexible tech provider, allowing companies to use its software for cashing out checks, employee hours, online ordering, and more, while integrating third-party software.

Toast makes money in several ways: by selling its Android-based hardware, by charging subscription fees for the use of its software, and by processing payments on behalf of its clients.

Comparato said the software licensing is increasingly becoming a major part of that model.

"Quite often, we're not just displacing legacy players in our space but we're also moving people over from pen and paper," Comparato said. "And that's a sign that the restaurant space is starting to move and adopt technology."

Curt Woodward can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @curtwoodward.