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Buzzworthy Start-Ups Steal the Show at MURTEC!

15 truly innovative start-ups competed in this year’s Start-Up Alley, culminating in a riveting final-three showdown — and one amazing winner.

Launched in March 2020, Restaurant Technology Network’s Start-Up Alley has quickly become a highly anticipated part of MURTEC. As in previous years, 15 finalists were provided with tabletops outside the main exhibit hall where they could display their new technologies and converse with both operators and solution providers. This year, with MURTEC posting a record number of attendees, finalists were seen to be constantly networking, and discussing potential integrations and partnerships.

MURTEC and Restaurant Technology Network asked three pillars within the restaurant technology industry to serve as judges for Start-Up Alley: Carissa De Santis, PMP

Chief Technology Officer, Brix Holdings; Robert Notte, VP of Technology, MOD Pizza; and Zerrick Pearson, Chief Information Officer, Five Guys Burgers, and Fries. After the judges spent a significant amount of time interviewing and reviewing the technology from all 15 finalists, they picked three semi-finalists to present their technology on stage to the MURTEC audience: Bikky, LANDED, and Tablz. 

After each semi-finalist was given their 8 minutes of fame on stage, the audience voted, and LANDED was crowned the 2023 winner of Start-Up Alley. Previous winners Christine Schindler - Co-Founder & CEO, PathSpot (2020), and Alexander Popper, Founder, and CEO, Hellometer (2022) were on hand to see LANDED join their ranks.

“[I’m] thrilled to be the audience-voted winner of Restaurant Technology Network’s 2023 Start-Up Alley competition. LANDED is here to solve the restaurant industry’s no. 1 pain – hiring. Thanks so much for your support Zerrick Pearson, Robert Notte, Carissa De Santis, Phil Crawford, Astrid Isaacs, Tom Seeker, and Angela Diffly! [I] can’t wait to get some awesome folks hired for your restaurants soon!”
Vivian Wang, Founder, and CEO, LANDED

If you missed MURTEC but still want to know who exhibited at Start-Up Alley, you’re in luck. Below are testimonials from each of the 15 finalists. After you’ve had a chance to check them out, head over to LinkedIn and start a conversation with them! You won’t regret it!

Get to know more about the Start-Up Alley Top 15 Semi-Finalists below!


    Our mission is to establish the creator economy for restaurants and enable the next generation of food entrepreneurs. For creators, we provide self-serve tools for developing and monetizing their own menu ideas and concepts, complete with recipes and interactive build guides. For operators, we provide the most efficient tech stack for discovering, creating and incorporating virtual brands into an existing kitchen. Our unique virtual brands marketplace is fully integrated with our proprietary order management technology, real-time recipe guides, and omnichannel reporting.

    The idea to develop a marketplace for virtual brands came after spending 6 months on the road talking to independent restaurant operators across Minnesota and the Dakotas. Our initial hypothesis was that restaurants were maxing out their existing kitchen capacity and needed to offload 3rd party delivery orders to an off-premise ghost kitchen. But after completing 80+  interviews with restaurant operators, we found that restaurants actually had extra capacity to take on more orders and preferred to be able to use their own staff and resources. This shifted our strategy to focus on streamlining operations for setting up, creating, and operating virtual restaurant brands within existing commercial kitchens.

    We’ve known about MURTEC and Start-Up Alley for a while because we follow many industry influencers and startups on social media. We wanted to participate last year but were in pre-launch mode. A primary goal of attending the event was to be able to test our product and messaging with the enterprise segment. Our initial focus has been on the SMB sector, but the Backhouse Brands platform has built-in support for multi-unit operators. The feedback from potential enterprise customers has been great so far. We’ve also had strong interest in our channel partner and brand licensing program. 


    ClearCOGS helps restaurants operate more profitably by providing data-driven answers to many day-to-day questions such as how much of each ingredient to prep or what’s the optimal allocation of resources. We use data and machine learning to predict the future, and "weaponize" that knowledge of the future to make restaurant operators' lives simpler and more efficient. Our easy-to-use solution requires minimal setup, and no daily inputs or maintenance.

    The idea for ClearCOGS came from our own lived experience in running restaurants and from our customers. We started with the idea to make something out of all the data we had available, and through extensive conversations with restaurant operators, we discovered this glaring hole in the way data is used to make daily decisions.

    We heard about MURTEC through RTN (we're members) as well as others in the community. The show was fantastic. It was great to be in person with so many wonderful folks we've had virtual conversations with, as well as make new friends in the industry and be able to see firsthand where the general trends are heading in the restaurant technology space


    COGS-Well combines advanced technology and unique customer services to deliver a comprehensive inventory and recipe management system that installs quickly and is easy to maintain. COGS-Well has revolutionized restaurant inventory control by eliminating the challenges that are normally associated with inventory control systems.

    • Fast, Easy, and Inexpensive Setup 
    • Automated Invoice Processing
    • Unique Receiving Audit Service
    • Easy Recipe Management
    • Little to no office time for your staff!

    Our team has decades of experience in developing and servicing restaurant management systems. During this period, we observed that many restaurant operators struggle with the time and complexity required to first install and then maintain their inventory system. Our mission is to eliminate or minimize these struggles.

    We were invited to participate in startup alley last year, and RTN graciously allowed us to join in again this year. We couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to attend MURTEC and participate in Start-Up Alley. For any new business, it’s very difficult to afford to exhibit at trade shows, and RTN has gone out of its way to be helpful and supportive at a price we can afford.


    ConnectedFresh provides turnkey smart monitoring IoT solutions to the hospitality industry, delivered ready to go out of the box. Solutions include temperature monitoring, energy management, leak detection, and more, all focused on preventative maintenance, ensuring the right team members are alerted to address issues before they escalate. As a go-to-market partner with Amazon Web Services, solutions are delivering impactful bottom-line improvements for customers by reallocating productivity time, decreasing food and energy costs, and improving operational efficiency.

    The idea for ConnectedFresh came from a friend's produce warehouse that had refrigerators that repeatedly malfunction, thus requiring a monitoring solution to prevent food spoilage. We were working for Deloitte Consulting on Internet of Things (IoT) projects so we knew how to make an impactful and effective solution to this problem, at a fraction of the cost it would take to build the capability in-house or hire a firm to implement. From there, ConnectedFresh was born and has pivoted to focus on restaurants with many more use cases and solutions that drive immediate value for our customers.

    We came to MURTEC because we're always asking around about conferences that are worth their weight and MURTEC comes up often. We've been a part of startup alleys in the past so finding out MURTEC had one was a perfect match for us. This was a phenomenal show for us. We met up with current and prospective customers that were also attending, and have met many new faces with great opportunities to work together after the show.


    OhWaiter is a text-based customer engagement platform that facilitates ordering and service requests on- and off-premise for takeout 100 percent via text messages with a location needing no app or webpage to take an order. Our AI technology seamlessly integrates into your point-of-sales system to help diners place orders or alert staff to various service requests. This simple-to-implement software will help any location to save money on labor while increasing sales, staff productivity, and customer happiness on-premise and off.

    Our founder Jonathan Chu came up with the idea pre-pandemic out of necessity to help his own restaurant combat rising labor costs and challenges. OhWaiter was born as he was looking around the market for products that would help him scale service onsite without continuing to eat into his own profit margin.

    We decided to enter RTN’s Start-Up Alley because many of our customers and partners in the space spoke highly of MURTEC as a place where technology decision-makers come to vet and learn about new products. During our time at the show, OhWaiter talked to more than 50 customers and 10 partners in the space and picked up several pilot programs and a few new partnerships during the three days we attended the conference. We really enjoyed the collaborations and the feedback from industry veterans.


    Pepper is an all-in-one unified platform to manage any form of digital ordering, loyalty, and gift cards. We are unique in that the restaurant brand can change the customer journey through web, app, or tableside ordering real-time themselves through the admin console. These personalized journeys can be based on individuals, specific audiences, or to all users of the app.

    The idea for Pepper came from realizing that many apps are hard to manage and often take months to make changes. Money and resources are tight for the SMB and emerging chains, so Pepper wanted to create a way for these restaurant brands to easily compete with the larger brands.

    I have been an industry veteran for many years, and I know that MURTEC is a very good event to attend for brand recognition. Many restaurant brands are always curious about new technologies and MURTEC Start-Up Alley has a strong reputation. Our show experience was great!  We saw a variety of restaurant brands from small to large enterprises. We received a lot of positive feedback and interest.

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