A local merger: How acquisition of Grubbrr fuels TouchSuite’s AI push

By Nancy Dahlberg

Note: This post was written for Palm Beach Tech and re-published here with permission.  

Business: TouchSuite is a financial technology company focused on the payment processing space.

CEO: Sam Zietz

HQ: Boca Raton

Year founded: 2004

No. of employees: more than 80 in Boca Raton; dozens more in other locations.

Recent acquisition: Grubbrr

TouchSuite, a leading financial technology company based in Boca Raton, has acquired companies all over North America. But it didn’t have to leave its own back yard to find and buy a disruptive AI startup, Grubbrr.

Formerly based in Miami, Grubbrr brings the frictionless shopping experience that kiosks provide to businesses of all sizes. Think kiosk technology like you see in McDonald’s or Panera, but you don’t have to be a giant chain to afford the technology anymore. That’s because Grubbrr’s platform enables a variety of businesses to rapidly implement self-service kiosks, point-of-sale systems, mobile ordering and online ordering.

 “It hits the sweet spot of tech and it is completely disruptive to the hospitality industry but it is really wider than that,” Sam Zietz, TouchSuite’s founder and CEO and one of South Florida’s most successful entrepreneurs, said about Grubbrr. “It’s exciting stuff. “

TouchSuite purchased Grubbrr late last year and moved the company to TouchSuite’s headquarters in Boca.

“Grubbrr built this incredible product — they spent three years writing millions of lines of code and they have the best product on the market. There is not really a competitor right now that does what they do,” Zietz explained. “So this is all about building out the distribution and making people aware of it.”

TouchSuite provides Grubbrr with the corporate infrastructure, systems, processes, management expertise and access to growth capital to take on what is a very ambitious disruptive technology, Zietz said. “Literally any restaurant, every stadium, any QSR, candidly, any place with a line is a client.”

Sam Zietz, founder and CEO, TouchSuite

Zietz explains that during the company’s due diligence, it visited businesses with kiosks. While there’s nothing like a long line at the counter to make people seek out another option, TouchSuite’s team also saw that customers – especially millennials — go right to kiosks even when there was no counter line, Zietz said.

“What happens is you end up generating 12 to 22 percent higher revenue and that’s because of what we call the hover effect. At a kiosk, you don’t feel pressured and you can take as long as you want. You see the pictures, I’ll take that and I’ll take that, too.”

Because of this, more workers are needed in the kitchen, which negates the job losses of counter personnel, he added.

TouchSuite targets the SMB business community in a wide range of verticals. The Grubbrr product offering and ecosystem targets the largest total addressable market that TouchSuite already sells to – the hospitality industry, Zietz said.

TouchSuite is in a pilot with a number of very high profile sports teams to completely improve the customer experience, such as ordering concessions from your seat or at one kiosk instead of multiple crowded food counters. It also allows TouchSuite to provide analytics back to the stadium owner to provide a better experience and easily provide discounts to season ticket holders.

“And we are in pilots with some of the largest QSRs in the nation and at the same time individual business owners,” Zietz said.

Acquisitions like Grubbrr fit with TouchSuite’s AI strategy, Zietz said. “We are rolling out facial recognition with AI. We are demoing it for a very large company that you would get coffee from and they want it for the drive-thru. “

In addition to knowing what your usual is, with the AI component, the business will also know you like a double expresso in the morning and cold brew in the afternoon and can make recommendations that 10 other vegans like you also like. “You are providing a better customer experience because it gets to know you.”

Zietz founded TouchSuite in 2004. He was a lawyer at one of the largest firms in the country and was doing structured finance deals, which led him to his interest in the payments space. Because he always wanted to be an entrepreneur, he launched TouchSuite in the space but pivoted to the technology side in order to better differentiate the company. TouchSuite’s offerings include point-of-sale systems, payment processing services, SEO solutions, working capital and marketing services.

In 2018, TouchSuite was named to Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur 360 list and awarded Business of the Year by South Florida Business Journal. Today it has more than 80 employees in its Boca headquarters. Largely because of its acquisitions, it has another 40 or so in Montreal, 35-40 in Washington state, a dozen in Maryland and a half dozen or so in its Miami office, said Zietz, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Florida in 2015.

What’s next for TouchSuite? “We are continuing to develop or acquire technologies to provide complete solutions for businesses,” Zietz said. “Our purpose statement is empowering entrepreneurs. The more successful we can make a business owner by default we’ll become more successful.”

What he’d like the community to know: “We are actively hiring developers. If someone is talented and wants to learn in an entrepreneurial setting, reach out. We’re selective but we also do a great job of developing our team members.”

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Nancy Dahlberg