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Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

San Diego Startup Reduces Restaurant Check-Out Time

Business for San Diego-based Up n’ go, a contactless payment company for restaurants, is experiencing growing demand and is being used in over 1,000 restaurants nationwide.

The company’s technology allows customers to scan a QR code on their receipt that pulls up a site where they enter their payment information. As a result, the server never has to touch the guest’s credit or debit card.

The company has already secured contracts with restaurant chain giants P.F. Chang’s, The Broken Yolk, True Food Kitchen, and San Diego-based Duke’s La Jolla, among other notable eateries.

In October this year, the company will surpass a major milestone processing more than a million payments through its platform.

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“When COVID hit, we went through a period of time where we were adding, almost 100 restaurants a week to the platform, all across the country,” said Touradj Barman co-founder and CEO of Up n’ go. “During this time, I basically couldn’t sleep because I was either onboarding restaurants or completing agreements for new restaurants.”

The Checkout Process

Founded in 2016, local tech entrepreneur Barman and Matt Hoyt, the owner of iconic San Diego restaurant Starlite, teamed-up to solve a problem that has been frustrating restaurant goers and the hospitality industry for years  —  the checkout process.

Working as a team, they piloted Up n’ go’s system over the subsequent 12 months at the San Diego restaurant, allowing them to refine their technology using feedback from its guests and staff.

Within year one of operating, they were able to close contracts with 10 different San Diego restaurants, today that number has grown to over 1,000 and expanded beyond the region.

Barman described Up n’ go as the “glue in the middle” between popular payment methods such as credit cards, Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay and restaurant point-of-sale systems. Noting that, these services operate as digital currency on the platform instead of working against them as a direct competitor.

“We’re the link between the restaurants computer system,” said Barman. “Our job is to bring your bill up on your phone, let you pick your tip, decide whether you’re splitting the check, and then accept your payment in whatever way you want, which could be credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or Venmo.”

In any given week, the company handles several million dollars of transaction volume, said Barman. The company charges small businesses a subscription fee to use their service and is free for consumers.

“Our technology also keeps the customer’s payment information encrypted,” said Barman.

The Future Is Cashless

Hoyt, an Up n’ go’s board member and owner at Starlite San Diego, said he believes idea of customers moving to a cashless society is inevitable, given the high adoption of online banking, cryptocurrency, and tap-to-pay.

“I think it’s here to stay. China has already adopted this sort of way to pay about five years ago with the idea of everybody using their phone as their wallet. I don’t think there’s any turning back,” said Hoyt. “But I do also think that people want more barriers between them to prevent fraud and identity theft.”

Its solution is currently only available in restaurants, Barman said, in the years ahead the company hopes to leverage its transaction information to provide restaurant owners with data-driven trends while enhancing its core product.

$220M Facilitated Through Platform

To date, the company has raised roughly $700,000. A profitable company, Up n’ go has surpassed a million dollars in annual revenue and is considering multiple investment deals from venture capitalists and private investors.

Headquartered in Downtown San Diego, the company employs 10 staffers. Last week the company reported $4.4 million in paid meals were processed using its platform. Roughly $220 million a year is being facilitated through Up n’ go, to date.

Prior to Up n’ go, Barman launched and sold several startups including VaultDrop, Roovy, and GoGroups. A patent inventor, he later sold his push messaging and group messaging intellectual property portfolio to Microsoft and LinkedIn, terms of the deal not disclosed. Scott Webber, is the chief technology officer at Up n’​go.

“The most exciting thing for me is seeing someone use something that I helped create,” said Barman. “When I visit a restaurant that uses Up n’ go, to be able to look over at another table and see someone pull their phone out to pay with Up n’ go has been very rewarding.”


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