Baidu invests $11M in restaurant management platform to bring more local businesses under its wing

TECHINASIA: Restaurant management software-as-a-service startup Keru Cloud today announced it has secured RMB 66 million (US$10.7 million) in series B funding led by Baidu and Tianxing Capital (hat-tip to 36kr). Fangjinglin Investment and Kaixing Capital also participated in the round.

The startup aims to be an all-in-one solution for restaurants and other businesses to go digital. It reports 3,000 restaurants nationwide, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and several more Chinese cities. By the end of this year it hopes to up that number to 20,000 merchants.

Offline, Keru Cloud’s flagship tablet app can be used by restaurant staff to input reservations, add parties to the queue, take orders, and run customer loyalty programs. For customers ordering takeout or delivery by phone, restaurants can take the orders, add customers to a database, and allow them to track the status of their order online.

Restaurants go mobile

Then there’s the mobile part of Keru Cloud, which is the coup de gras of what it has to offer. The startup creates a mobile web app through Baidu Connect and a WeChat public account for each of its client restaurants. These digital storefronts contain vital info like maps, menus, special discounts, and online ordering.

A Baidu spokesperson tells Tech in Asia that Keru Cloud “fits in very well with what we’re doing as far as connecting people with services.” The Baidu Connect program last reported 600,000 businesses on board, though we’ll likely seen an increase in that figure when the search giant’s next quarterly earnings are announced next week.

Searching for a local business signed up for Baidu Connect on Baidu Search will bring the user straight to the web app. In the case of Keru Cloud’s restaurants, this allows customers to do things like book a table, order takeout, or keep track of their place in a long queue. Baidu Maps and Nuomi, the daily deals site that Baidu bought from Renren last year, are incorporated into the web apps as well. In addition, Baidu Connect also gives businesses analytics and online marketing capabilities.

This was Baidu’s second investment in Keru Cloud after a low-key contribution in April 2014.

With its latest cash injection, Keru Cloud plans to enter into more service sectors, such as gyms, massage parlors, and spas. The startup will also increase investment in product development and expand its sales and operations teams.