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He Sold His First Business To Google And Just Raised $120 Million For His Next Startup

Ray Reddy

Ray Reddy has raised millions of dollars in startup funds, sold a company to Google and is taking on the local business gauntlet in an innovative new way. Yet, he chose to exit Google and Silicon Valley to launch his latest venture.

In his exclusive interview on the DealMakers Podcast, Ray Reddy shared the pros and cons of the valley and his fundraising strategies.

The Art of Business

Always curious, Ray wondered if business was like math and science.  He attended the University of Waterloo to study computer science, then a Masters of Business and Entrepreneurship and Technology.

He says he learned some good foundational principles, how to approach complicated problems, and how to learn quickly. Yet, when entering the business world he found that very little of what he learned had any practical knowledge of applicability. He says “it’s much more about common sense and experience than it is about definitive approaches and how to solve some of these problems.”

After school he went straight into corporate strategy at BlackBerry, doing M&A and venture investments. Yet, he has always not only had a lifelong craving for learning, but a passion for building something and building something that he found had a purpose.

What Google Gets about M&A

The mobile phone was starting to consume other portable electronics. It quickly began to absorb portable navigation, portable GPS, handheld units, and portable media players. Yet, no one seemed to be addressing it. Ray Reddy decided to go solve it himself and built a team of people to go after it.

That startup became PushLife.

Prior to the iPhone, they focused on building an experience that made it very easy for people to move content back and forth between their phone and their computers, specifically music. It took normal phones, and it gave them an iPod-like experience on Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia. PushLife ended up licensing software to major carriers.

It was so successful it was acquired by Google. After the acquisition, he was at Google for four years. First in the Canadian Google office in Waterloo. Then out in Mountain View at Google‘s headquarters.

He ended up running the mobile commerce team for one of their products. Then towards the end, Ray was actually part of the launch team for Google Shopping Express, which was their same-day delivery effort in retail.

The difference with companies like Google, according to Ray, is that they do hundreds of acquisitions a year. They really turn it into a mass production factory. It’s very organized. There are no games. They are very straight-up. From Ray‘s perspective, it doesn’t feel like anyone is trying to overly optimize a negotiation. It makes a lot of sense because the transaction is the beginning of the relationship.

Ray‘s opinion is that Google‘s M&A process is designed in a way to get a group of people that are energized and that deliver a lot of value over the upcoming years. Contrast that with some other acquisition approaches and the result is quite different.

Eventually, Ray found a big new problem to solve. He ultimately concluded that structurally, a big company wasn’t set up to solve this problem, even with all the resources a company like Google has.

Toronto vs. The Valley

Ray moved his founding team to Toronto. Not that the Valley isn’t a really interesting place. He says “On one hand, it is the capital of technology worldwide, but I think there’s also some really weird dynamics there.” The biggest one being that you’ve got a very high concentration of very wealthy people, and they’re all early adopters.

He points to the collapse of the entire on-demand space, everything from on-demand valets to cleaning services several years ago, and a massive false-positive from the Valley.

Because when you have places like Palo Alto where average household incomes are north of $2 million, you can fool yourself into thinking that there are enough people who will pay a big premium for convenience.

As Ray states, “the types of investors living in the Valley are not at all sensitive to paying a $10 delivery fee for having a $10 item brought to them.“ That doesn’t seem weird to them. When you look across average neighborhoods and cities in North America, that’s not necessarily true. You lose sight of that in the Valley. You lose sight of the average person.

Ray says “So, if you’re trying to build a mass market consumer product, you just have to be very careful of false-positives that can come from something working in the Valley“

Then the team went and looked at the reality of building talent there, and hiring, and cost, and a lot of those other things. They decided to move to Toronto instead.

Fundraising Strategy

Ray’s latest startup is Ritual which is a social ordering app that taps into networks of co-workers and colleagues for fast and easy pick-up and pay at a wide variety of local restaurants and coffee shops.

He has already raised $120 million in capital. Greylock led the Series A out of the Valley. Insight did the Series B out of New York. Georgian Partners led the C round out of Toronto.

Rather than waiting until funds are imminently needed to close a round, he says “I think about it differently which is you should always be talking to investors. Always having an ongoing conversation with investors.”

He’s always talking to the next stage of investors and trying to build that relationship. Fundraising comes down to trust, and do they trust your judgment? Do they trust that you can do what you say you’re going to do?

For Ritual, it’s never been about the investor that gives the highest valuation. It has been about who do you want to work with and who do you want to build this company with and spend time with.

He’s had a relationship with each one of those investors for about 9 to 12 months before the round. When it came time for fundraising, it was a no-brainer each time.

Today Ritual has a team of about 300 people globally.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The process of selling your company to Google
  • Benefits of launching in cities outside of Silicon Valley
  • Ways to build relationships with investors
  • Success factors behind marketplaces
  • Retention as the critical factor for ultimate success in business

Alejandro Cremades is a serial entrepreneur and author of best-seller The Art of Startup Fundraising, a book that offers a step-by-step guide to today‘s way of raising money for entrepreneurs.

I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. With a foreword by ‘Shark Tank‘ star Barbara Corcoran, and published by John Wiley

Source: He Sold His First Business To Google And Just Raised $120 Million For His Next Startup

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Whopper Of A Turnaround: At Burger King, The 3G Capital Model Actually Worked

Challenge: Make a 60-year-old ham­bur­ger chain into something cool. Daniel Schwartz accepted that assignment six years ago after 3G Capital took over Burger King and named Schwartz chief executive. He was 32.

Burger King was a tired outfit, with a confusing menu and sales going sideways. Its restaurants averaged half the revenue of McDonald’s. But where there is underperformance, there is ­opportunity. Schwartz slashed overhead at the Miami headquarters. He streamlined food preparation. He dished out stock to middle managers. He shrank the payroll and the capital budget by selling company-owned stores to franchisees.

In the years since, Burger King has become Restaurant Brands International (following some more classic 3G dealmaking). Restaurant Brands is now a growth stock. Bur­ger King opened up 1,000 restaurants around the globe last year, to 600 for McDonald’s. McDonald’s stores still have a bigger average volume, but Burger King’s are gaining on them; in the U.S., BK boosted its average volume per outlet by 30%, to $1.4 million, while McDonald’s had a gain of only 20%. All of Burger King’s success is, of course, in stark contrast to what’s going on at Kraft Heinz, another 3G turnaround that went the other way. In February, Kraft Heinz said it was taking a $15.4 billion write-down, a signal that its classic food brands were losing value.

The situation is different at Burger King. At the parent-company level, where revenue consists mostly of franchise fees, Restaurant Brands took in $5.4 billion last year, up 17% from 2017. McDonald’s revenue was off 8%.

“How many companies that have been around since the 1950s grow the top line at 10%?” says Schwartz, 38.

For a fast-food conglomerate that oversees 26,000 locations with combined sales of $32 billion, Restaurant Brands is quite agile. Three months ago the company introduced the Whopper Detour promotion, in which Burger King offered its signature item for a cent if the customer ordered food on the BK phone app within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location. In February came the 45-second Super Bowl ad featuring historic footage of Andy Warhol slowly unwrapping and methodically eating a Whopper. The BK app topped the charts in Apple’s App Store during the campaign; throughout the Super Bowl, “Andy Warhol” was the most searched term on Google.

Maybe Schwartz can even make his ham­bur­ger chain cool enough for New Age customers. Plans are under way to introduce a plant-protein patty from Impossible Foods, the startup backed by investors like Bill Gates and the venture capital arm of Alphabet. This is a big deal for Impossible, with an expected rollout in 7,000 Burger Kings soon.

The past decade has been a whirlwind for Schwartz, who combined a certain amount of luck—in the right place at the right time—with a large amount of energy. A lanky guy who has a big smile and a tendency to speak with his hands, Schwartz left Cornell in 2001 with a degree in applied economics. Four years later, he landed a job at 3G Capital, the private equity firm that became famous for engineering the Anheuser-Busch InBev merger (and later infamous for the sickly Kraft Heinz merger).

Schwartz became a 3G partner at 27. “The group believes in investing in young people and giving them opportunities,” he says. “I worked hard and proved that I really cared. More so than anything else, I put the business and the firm ahead of myself.” His wife tolerated the long hours, perhaps because, as a physician in residency, she worked late too.

A Burger King restaurant with the brand's new look.

McDonald’s has ruled as America’s top burger for decades, but Burger King is making gains with newly refurbished locations made to resemble this conceptual drawing.

Schwartz went hunting for deals. Burger King looked intriguing. “I’d ask my wife or my mom, ‘If McDonald’s is worth $70 billion, what do you think Burger King is worth?’ They’d say, ‘$30 billion?’ ” Schwartz recalls.

Paying a 46% premium for the publicly traded shares, 3G acquired the chain for $4 billion, ­including debt. Schwartz then raised his hand to help run it. “I wanted to be part of this. And I didn’t want to just sit in an office and get monthly reports.”

At 29, Schwartz became BK’s chief financial ­officer. He sold the corporate jet. He told employees to use Skype to make free international calls. And to get a feel for the whole business, he worked shifts off and on at Miami Burger Kings, cleaning toilets, cooking burgers and manning the drive-thru.

In 2012, 3G took Burger King public again, and Schwartz got the chief executive slot in June 2013. In the next 18 months, Burger King stock doubled, while McDonald’s lost 8%.

Focused as he was on selling hamburgers, he hadn’t left behind his deal-making instincts. ­Rechristened Restaurant Brands, his company ­acquired Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons in 2014. In 2017 it spent $1.8 billion in cash to get the Popeyes chicken chain.

Warren Buffett is a fan, having put up $3 billion in equity to help finance the Hortons deal. So is Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square hedge fund owns 5% of the stock; 3G owns 41%.

The second-largest shareholder: the employees, with more than 5% of stock. Thanks to a match for those who invest their bonuses in RBI shares, nearly all 300 middle managers (average age: 37) own shares; at least 100 have become millionaires. Schwartz is sitting on about $100 million in stock and options.

“I’m comforted as an owner when all of the key employees own a lot of stock,” Ackman says. “It makes them much less focused on short-term things. They’re much more focused on ‘Will this make the business more valuable in five years, ten years?’ ”

Recently, Schwartz was moved up to ­executive chairman, and longtime ­Bur­ger King exec Jose Cil, 49, became CEO. “We take bets on people,” Cil says. “When they are ambitious and willing to work harder than anybody because they’re driven by something beyond a paycheck, they want to do something big.”

Schwartz lives in Florida with his wife and three kids. He has been working out of RBI offices in Miami and Toronto, but now he’s going to be spending more time at the 3G office in New York, with assignments that range beyond the restaurant chains. “I’m not gonna be CEO at another company,” he says. “But we aspire to do more, and over time we can buy another business down the road.”

Or perhaps repair some of the ­businesses that 3G already owns. Could someone who has engineered a turnaround at Burger King work some magic on old ketchup and cheese brands? His diplomatic answer: “Maybe you could ask me that question in six months, when I ­hopefully get a little bit closer to the business of Kraft Heinz.”

3G’s business is as much about building as buying and selling. Schwartz says: “Most traditional investment firms, if they were in our shoes, probably would have sold [RBI] many years ago. Not only did we not sell, we bought more brands along the way. We are building this into a big company with a long-term mindset.”

Follow Chloe on Twitter and Instagram.

I cover all things food and drink as a staff writer at Forbes, from billionaires and ag tech startups to CPG entrepreneurs and wine. I head up the 30 Under 30 Food an

Source: Whopper Of A Turnaround: At Burger King, The 3G Capital Model Actually Worked

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