Pay-at-table startup Sunday launches with $24M seed round

The company wants to disrupt restaurant payment with QR codes that allow guests to pay faster.
Sunday QR code payment
Photograph courtesy of Sunday

Restaurant payment startup Sunday launched Wednesday on the heels of a massive $24 million seed round with the goal of making it easier for diners to pay the bill.

Its QR code-based platform is designed to allow guests to check out at their leisure in as little as 10 seconds and free up staff to focus on other things. It also promises higher tips and check averages, lower transaction fees and faster table turns.

Emboldened by high customer adoption rates, the Atlanta-based company has its sights on becoming a global business-to-consumer company along the lines of PayPal or Venmo, said co-founder and U.S. CEO Christine de Wendel.

The product is fairly simple: Guests can use their smartphone to scan a QR code at their table and pay whenever they want, with options to split the bill and tip. Payments are processed by Stripe, and Sunday currently integrates with most of the big POS providers including Micros, Brink and Square.

It's not new technology, but de Wendel said Sunday's foundation in restaurant operations and its simplicity set it apart from similar products.

"What we’ve observed is that there is no solution out there that’s getting 94% adoption and that’s so easy to use," she said in an interview. 

The idea was hatched early in the pandemic by Tigrane Seydoux and Victor Lugger of Big Mamma Group, a large European operator of Italian restaurants, to reduce touchpoints and ease the payment process. They partnered with de Wendel, who has experience scaling tech companies, to launch Sunday as its own venture. It's in use in 1,300 restaurants in Europe.

Sunday is currently letting restaurants sign up for free, but it will eventually charge commissions on each transaction, de Wendel said. Its agreement with Stripe has allowed it to reduce processing fees for restaurants by an average of 0.5%, she said, and it is negotiating with payment providers for better rates as well.

Tech investor Coatue led the seed round, which de Wendel said is the largest ever in the restaurant technology space. New York-based Coatue has invested in DoorDash, Instacart and other large tech companies.

"We have the ambition to have hundreds of millions of customers long-term, so we need to grow quickly and we need to scale so you really are a solution that you can find everywhere," de Wendel said of the big fundraise.

Sunday's top priorities now are adding POS integrations and getting more restaurants on board. It's focusing on dine-in restaurants, but "once we do become a go-to B2C brand, of course it’ll work in quick-serve as well," de Wendel said.

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