Welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.
My guest today is Devin Baptiste, cofounder and CEO of GroupRaise, a company with more than 50 employees in 3 offices in Houston, Texas, Santiago, Chile and the Philippines. GroupRaise is a platform that allows groups of 15-50+ to book events in more than 6000 restaurants across the united states. These restaurants then donate 10-20% of their bill to the organization or charity of the group’s choice. As Devin puts it, it’s the tastiest way to change the world. Not to mention the most cost effective customer acquisition strategy a restaurant can have.
Devin and I talk about his journey that took him from Houston to Taiwan, Korea, Hawaii, Chile, Germany and back to Houston again, how he thinks about scaling businesses from Latin America to the US, how he raised his recent fundraising round from Techstars Ventures, Kapor Capital and Magma Partners, how he looks at being a minority founder and what its like to run an international business while married with two young kids.
Devin is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in the past few years and I feel lucky to be able to work closely with him on his journey to building a world class business. We had a few sound issues, as Devin was in a target in a thunderstorm and then in his car when we recorded our conversation, but please don’t let my recording issues get in the way of learning everything you can from Devin. Let’s jump right in!
If you liked this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher and check out the first five episodes with other top entrepreneurs doing business in Latin America.
I love investing in companies that at first glance seem like they’d have a small market, but where further study shows that the market is orders of magnitude larger I originally thought. It’s even better when they can create a category.
That’s why I’m excited to finally be able to announce our investment in GroupRaise. We first invested in GroupRaise in early 2016 after I’d been trying to convince Devin Baptiste, GroupRaise’s cofounder and CEO, to let us invest since we started Magma back in 2013. After watching Devin, Sean, Kevin and Paul and the rest of the team set milestones and execute against them, while usually blowing them out of the water, it was a no brainer to invest again in 2017 when they asked for more capital to grow more quickly, especially when we’re able to invest alongside great investors like Techstars Ventures and Kapor Capital.
GroupRaise is a marketplace and booking engine that allows groups of 20-200 to books events in 5500+ restaurants in 150+ cities across the United States. Restaurants donate up to 25% of these groups’ bills to the organization or charity of their choice.
Why would restaurants want to do this? Most people think they’re just being good corporate citizens, and they are, as they’re giving back to their communities. But most people don’t realize that GroupRaise is one of the most cost effective ways of getting new clients into the restaurant and getting them to come back again. Of 100 people who go to a GroupRaise, 40 are new clients, 82 spend more than average and 96 come back in the future! (more…)