At its inaugural Equity Eats Summit, the innovative restaurant fintech startup launched a fund to provide purposeful capital to grow and empower restaurants owned and operated by members of some of the industry’s most disenfranchised communities
(AUSTIN, TX; March 16, 2023) – inKind—the innovative restaurant fintech startup with more than 700 restaurants in its expanding national network—held its inaugural Equity Eats Summit last week at its headquarters in Austin, TX, during which they announced their $250 million commitment to fund underrepresented independent restaurant operators by 2025.
This commitment will help to ensure that under-resourced restaurants, which traditionally face significant hurdles to obtain the funding necessary to start or expand their businesses, receive access to much-needed capital. This fund will help level the playing field in an industry in which adequate resources are essential in order to be competitive.
“We created this funding platform to advance systemic change,” said inKind CEO Johann Moonesinghe. “While inKind has a proven track record of supporting underserved restaurant operators, there is more we can do to create pathways to financial sustainability, especially around property ownership.”
In addition to providing vital funding, inKind is also establishing a complementary programmatic component: the Restaurant Operators Alliance. Instead of a funding-only model, inKind recognizes the need to galvanize capital with resources like training, marketing support, and mentorship. Moonesinghe continues, “We are committed to mobilizing resources and welcoming partners in our mission. The Alliance will establish a support structure including access to technological resources, group food purchasing, and a repository of shared business learnings—all key elements that boost the probability of sustained success for these restaurants.”
The Equity Eats Summit, which served as the launch pad for this major announcement, was hosted by inKind CEO Johann Moonesinghe, inKind CMO Joann Jen, and inKind CRO Matt Saeta. Among those in attendance were:
- • Industry Titans such as Rob Wilder, Co-Founder of José Andrés Group and World Central Kitchen; Jason Himber, CEO of Mina Group, Laura Rose and Michael Casey, Managing Partners of Storey Hospitality Group; Jack Laschever, Chief Growth Officer, City Winery; Elaine Chon-Baker, Founder & Managing Director at Mokja Ventures and a member of James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Program Advisory Board; Stephen Goldstein, Chief Operating Officer, Wonder; Bryan Solar, Chief Product Officer of SpotOn, and more.
- • Restaurateurs, Operators, and Chefs such as James Beard Leadership Award winners: Chef Irene Li and Chef Mavis-Jay Sanders; Television Chefs such as Maya-Camille Broussard (Bake Squad), Lana Lagomarsini (Pressure Cooker), Chef Fariyal Abdullahi (Chopped), and Chef D. Brandon Walker (Chopped); James Beard Award nominees such as Chef Cleophus Hethington, Chef Eric See, Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, Chef Jonathan Rhodes, and Chef Shenarri Freeman; Franchise Operators such as Sam Shoja, and Founder of Michelin Star restaurant Camphor, Cyrus Batchan.
- • Hospitality Industry Changemakers including Dina Samson, Co-founder of Regarding Her; Nina Oduro, Co-Founder of Dine Diaspora; Filmmaker Joanna James and Founder of MAPP.
- • Policy Makers such as the Texas Restaurant Association, Gastro-advocates such as Téa Ivanovic, Chief Operating Officer of Immigrant Food and Lani Halliday, Owner, Brutus Bakeshop; and Food Journalist Andy Wang.
Panel discussions focused on some of the most pressing issues affecting restaurant operators today, such as severe labor shortages, increased operating costs, surging food prices, evolving customer behaviors driven by COVID and inflation, and critical change opportunities for the hospitality industry as a whole.
“Real progress requires diversity of thought and healthy discourse. By creating this forum and bringing different industry voices together, we were able to instigate breakthrough conversations about equity across the food value chain and gather valuable insights needed to address systemic issues and deploy capital responsibly,” said event organizer and inKind CMO Joann Jen.
Executive Chef of Hav & Mar Restaurant, Fariyal Abdullahi, echoed, “When we talk about equity in the restaurant industry, it is important to think about how that translates to the mission and heart of our businesses. For me, that is embodied in our commitment at Hav & Mar to operate with a close-to-zero-waste kitchen and working with and supporting black and brown purveyors that are part of our community.” The depth of content covered across the summit will serve as a foundation for inKind’s purpose-driven capital allocation and inspiration for industry-wide change. Abdullahi continued, “Not only supporting, but providing funding to restaurants and operators that are elevating and giving back to their communities is vital to the success of ecosystems that actively work to champion sustainability, and racial/gender equity.”
To apply to inKind’s ESG fund, restaurants and chefs may visit the following link: https://www.inkind.com/inkind-esg-commitment
New inKind users in select cities, including New York City, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, can enjoy a special $50 offer on the inKind app while exploring 700 restaurant options. For updates and exciting announcements, be the first to know by following inKind via Instagram.
Austin-based startup inKind is upending the restaurant financing model and creating a new wave of successful restaurant groups across the country. Founded and developed by restaurateurs, inKind launched an innovative approach to raise capital for restaurant owners, by providing financing in exchange for food and beverage credits that are sold directly to customers for use at participating restaurants across the inKind network. inKind already serves more than 250,000 users at more than 700 restaurants across the United States, and has distributed more than $90 million in capital, including to some of the most successful restaurant groups in the world such as 50 Eggs Hospitality Group, MINA Group, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, and José Andrés Group, as well as independent restaurants such as The Ravenous Pig and Kann.