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Hospitality heroes: Mr Yum’s explosive growth in UK and US

4 mins
Customer storiesTechnologyStart-ups
In this article
  • Partnering for growth
  • Navigating the local nuances of global business

With the US and UK slowly re-opening, their hospitality industry looks towards Australia for learnings. In the last 6 months, Australian restaurants, bars and cafes have learnt a lot about how customers have changed the way they interact with service venues and staff. Many have embraced hospitality technology and Mr Yum has led the way with a QR code mobile ordering platform transforming the experience for both customers and owners.

MR YUM CO-FOUNDERS (LEFT TO RIGHT) ANDREI MIULESCU, KIM TEO, KERRY OSBORN AND ADRIAN OSMAN. SOURCE: SUPPLIED. 

Founded in 2018, Melbourne-born Mr Yum allows customers to simply scan a QR code to order food and drinks from a digital menu in cafes, restaurants and bars – straight off their phone, with no app required. 

THE MR YUM MOBILE MENU. SOURCE: SUPPLIED.

Unlike other providers, one of Mr Yum's key differentiators is that they are completely web based and invest heavily in product innovation and customer service. Features like tabs for groups and grouped order printing, along with 24/7 customer support has seen the company grow 27-fold in the past 12 months. Mr Yum also offers pick-up and delivery options to venues as alternatives to UberEats and Deliveroo which have higher commission fees.

“Mr Yum is a product-led company, which is the key to the long-term success of our venue partners and our own. We are nimble and adaptable and listen to what venues really need in a product - and then deliver it.”   Mr Yum CEO Kim Teo

The hospitality industry is competitive with tight margins so many operators rejoice to see that Mr Yum doesn’t just help reduce inefficiencies. The digital visual menus make it easy for customers to order what they want and many businesses have seen average order size increase between 20-40% when using Mr Yum.

Partnering for growth

The challenges faced by hospitality businesses are not unique to Australia, and investors have not missed this. AirTree Ventures and TEN13 are venture capital firms that invested in Mr Yum’s most recent post-seed funding hoping to help share best practices in Australia with the world as it re-opens.

Securing over $11 million in capital in this latest round, sights are now firmly set on US and UK expansion. Mr Yum is also adding category verticals including airports, stadiums and shopping centres to bolster their reach. Quality is still crucial – and with the latest round of funding, they have an opportunity to get the best talent to deliver the best product.

MR YUM’S GROWING TEAM. SOURCE: SUPPLIED.

Mr Yum has experienced rapid expansion, growing their headcount by more than 50 people in the past six months, including developing a stand-alone in-house finance function. Teams are already on the ground in the US and UK, and the team is set to triple. Corey Payne, Mr Yum's financial controller, is one of the freshest team members in Australia who has been brought on to prepare Mr Yum's financial systems for exponential scale in the US and UK. The successful introduction and adoption of Mr Yum’s platform in London and Los Angeles has proven just how big the potential market is.

Significant international growth does not come without its challenges. Aside from the major cultural differences within the US, UK and Australian hospitality sectors, an organisation set up in each of these jurisdictions can vary considerably. 

"Seems like a really strange conundrum that in a world where everything is so global there are so many boundaries to setting up a business and operating in a country outside where it is based."

Mr Yum Financial Controller, Corey Payne

Challenges range from setting up UK bank accounts without an EU or UK-based director to not having a US citizen as company president to employ US staff.

Corey's advice to other businesses wanting to expand internationally is to be aware of local differences and obtain as much on-the-ground intel as possible.

"When talking about how you establish yourself outside of your home country, reach out and try to figure out - is there already a solution? Has a solution been made somewhere?" He admits that the challenges in setting up the business in new markets are short-term hurdles. However, building local networks is vital to finding solutions to your problems.

Currently, Airwallex is working with Mr Yum to set up physical and virtual cards along with UK banking. Mr Yum can instantaneously set up cards for employees and centrally manage limits or controls remotely from their Melbourne headquarters. 

"It is crazy to see that kind of technology… it's just one of those ideas where you think, why has this not been done before?"

Mr Yum Financial Controller, Corey Payne

Centrally managed limits and controls help their newly formed business development team in the UK focus on developing partnerships within the hospitality industry rather than worrying about whether they will get reimbursed. It also streamlines administration with all employee expenses in one place, in real-time, saving Mr Yum time and money.

“We were able to demo [orders through our Mr Yum digital menu product] using the [Airwallex] virtual cards."

Mr Yum Financial Controller, Corey Payne

For Corey, success comes down to ensuring everything aligns with Mr Yum's vision, product, and story. And that includes their financial systems. "Our mandate is to keep our banking platforms fresh. Airwallex is what the new face of managing finances should really look like." The future success of Mr Yum is riding on their ability to partner and innovate, supporting thousands of businesses worldwide in the hospitality and entertainment sector to not only survive, but thrive...

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