SpotOn aims to unseat restaurant rivals


SpotOn is going toe-to-toe with Toast and Square as those younger payments companies take on legacy players in the restaurant space.

Although legacy players such as NCR’s Aloha and Oracle’s Micros still have the majority of the restaurant payments market, SpotOn Chief Product Officer Bryan Solar lumped SpotOn with Toast and Square as the dominant cloud-based players angling to process payments and provide other services to restaurant operators. 

Other next-generation companies fighting for restaurant payments share include Fiserv’s Clover, Shift4 and Lightspeed Commerce, said Nick Lucas, Mizuho Americas equity research associate.

Solar, previously general manager of Square for Restaurants at San Francisco-based digital payments company Block, was named SpotOn’s chief product officer Dec. 6. He also previously worked for Google on its restaurant tools.

Payments and software company SpotOn has raised a total of $928 million, and was valued at $3.6 billion during its last funding round in May 2022, when it brought in $300 million. The company, founded in 2017, serves the restaurant, sports, entertainment and retail markets; the company’s product team is primarily focused on the first two, Solar said. San Francisco-based SpotOn has about 2,000 employees.

In restaurants, SpotOn has a sizable presence in full-service eateries and bars. “Where I think we are strong is going really deep into the experience of specifically the (full-service) side of restaurants,” Solar said. “We’re finding our space there.” 

The company declined to provide the number of restaurant customer locations it has or payment volume processed.

SpotOn is focused on boosting efficiency and profitability for those customers, equipping them with handheld payment devices, for example, that help merchants turn tables faster, increase ticket sizes and sell more high-margin items such as alcohol, he said.

In that specific restaurant segment, SpotOn is competing with cloud-based peer Toast in replacing older incumbents, Solar said. He noted his former employer Square, which is popular with quick-service restaurants, is making a push into full-service, too, but its services tend to be more do-it-yourself for merchants, “and not everyone wants to do it for themselves,” Solar said. 

SpotOn’s “old school” approach to customer support is one of the things that attracted Solar to the company, he said. That includes on-site installation and training of its software, and hands-on support when merchants encounter issues, even if it’s 7 p.m. on a Friday, he said.

Boston-based Toast has built up its product offerings in recent years, but Solar believes the company’s services have gotten more expensive, and that Toast has pulled back on customer support as it tries to manage costs as a public company. 

“No one’s really gotten the formula perfect,” Solar said.

A Toast spokesperson declined to comment on Solar’s assertions about the company.

Toast served about 74,000 restaurant locations and processed about $83 billion in annual gross payment volume as of September 2022, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SpotOn aims to differentiate itself with a flexible system that can be customized for merchants, and by not locking restaurant operators into contracts as some competitors do, Solar said. 

SpotOn offers discounts if its customers agree to use its services for a period of time, but they can walk away at any point, Solar said. That “makes our business harder, but it also makes the experience better for our customers,” he said.

In SpotOn’s other focus area, sports and entertainment, the company currently serves 60% of professional sports venues in the U.S., including Yankee Stadium, home of the MLB’s New York Yankees, and the Honda Center, home of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a spokesperson said. SpotOn is expanding its scope to include collegiate and minor league stadiums to grow that segment, Solar said.


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