TouchBistro hires new CFO, keeps eye on IPO despite pandemic market uncertainty

Toronto-based restaurant point of sale software startup TouchBistro has appointed John Doolittle as its chief financial officer (CFO). The company’s former CFO, Murray Thomas, will remain at TouchBistro as vice president of finance.

“It was important for us to find a CFO with public company expertise.”

The company said Doolittle will be responsible for leading the transformation of TouchBistro’s financial structure to prepare for its future growth, including operational strategy, regulatory and disclosure planning, tax restructuring, and management of capital markets.

“As TouchBistro scales, it was important for us to find a CFO with public company expertise. We have many options available to us, as TouchBistro enters its next phase,” TouchBistro CEO Alex Barrotti told BetaKit. “John brings the experience to oversee whatever financial structure is needed in our next avenue of growth.”

Barrotti has been open about plans to take TouchBistro public, noting it would happen “when market conditions are right.” Last year, the CEO had sights on an initial public offering (IPO) by early 2021.

The addition of Doolittle to the team, who was formerly CFO at publicly traded OpenText, points to TouchBistro’s continued desire to take the company public.

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However, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many companies’ growth plans. TouchBistro furloughed 23 percent of its workforce in April due to the impact of COVID-19 on its core customer base.

“As a company that is focused exclusively on the restaurant industry, TouchBistro has also been significantly impacted by COVID-19,” said Barrotti at the time.

More recently, Barrotti confirmed to BetaKit TouchBistro is now re-evaluating its plans to file based on the rate of economic recovery from the pandemic. He added, however, that the company plans to call back furloughed employees “sooner than expected” as the market picks up and parts of the United States and Canada reopen.

Rick Nathan, managing director at Kensington Capital Partners, an early investor in TouchBistro, declined to comment on whether he believed the company could stick with its 2021 timeline, citing current uncertainty with the market.

Nathan added, “I’ve been really pleased with the way the TouchBistro team has responded very rapidly and very effectively to the changing conditions.”

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Incoming CFO Doolittle has held senior-level positions at several global corporations, where he has been responsible for activities like IPOs, public and private corporate financial strategy and operations, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, and pension fund management.

Most recently, Doolittle was CFO of global software company OpenText. During his time there, the company doubled its revenues from $1.5 billion to $3 billion and completed a number of acquisitions.

“TouchBistro is a strong growth company with a dynamic team, tremendous potential, and an incredible vision for the future,” says Doolittle. “Joining Alex Barrotti and the company’s leadership team to bring its vision to life is an enormous opportunity.”

TouchBistro plans to call back furloughed employees sooner than expected as the market picks up.

During the pandemic, TouchBistro launched a “Restaurant Recovery Navigator” for its customers, a source for information, insights, products, and one-on-one support to help restaurateurs navigate their business through the pandemic.

The startup also launched a commission-free online ordering offering that is free to all customers for 12 months and allows restaurants to keep all of the profits of orders. A spokesperson for TouchBistro told BetaKit the company has seen “very nice traction” with online ordering since launching the product in April.

Along with its navigator and online ordering offerings, TouchBistro also launched a gift card product. The gift cards are aimed to enable restaurateurs using the TouchBistro POS to create branded gift cards using customized designs or pre-existing templates.

“The development of both of these offerings was fast-tracked by our product and engineering teams to ensure restaurants have everything they need to help them generate more revenue during the pandemic,” Barrotti said in an April statement.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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