Muso and Mobi secure VC backing, as cash flows into hospitality tech

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Muso co-founders Brandon Crimmins, Jeremiah Siemianow and Alan Jin. Source: supplied.

As Australian hospitality venues start to emerge from lockdowns, two startups have raised funds to help them bring more tech, and more efficiency into their post-pandemic operations.

Hospitality tech startup Mobi has raised $10 million in Series B funding for its tech helping businesses take control of their own online operations.

Muso, a live music booking and management platform, has also secured $2 million in a seed-plus round, as businesses strive to digitise.

Mobi’s latest round was reportedly led by Melbourne venture capital firm Capital Zed.

Muso’s raise was led by Rampersand, and also included backing from Alberts Impact Capital and Who Gives a Crap founder Simon Griffiths, who invested through Flying Fox Ventures.

Hospitality group Sand Hill Road, owners of the iconic The Espy in St Kilda, also contributed.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Muso co-founder and chief executive Jeremiah Siemianow says the past 18 months or so have been challenging for both the hospitality and live music industries — to put it mildly.

Founded in 2018 as a platform connecting musicians looking for gigs with venues looking for talent, the startup has evolved to offer payments capabilities, rostering and scheduling, as well as promotion.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the founders have been working closely with their venue customers to understand what they would need when restrictions started to ease.

There’s been a sense of camaraderie, Siemianow says.

“We want to help each other out.”

For many hospitality businesses, the pandemic has been the first time they have ever closed their doors for a prolonged period of time.

While any closure means loss of income, it also gave many businesses an opportunity to “stop, reset, assess and recalibrate”, Siemianow explains.

Part of that meant finding ways to make their operations more efficient, digitising areas of the business that are still operating in a very manual, labour-intensive way.

For many businesses, the solution was technology.

The Muso team has been using this down time to refine its tech, working with the likes of Sand Hill Road, The Sydney Collective, Funlab and Solotel, which owns Sydney’s Opera Bar, to make sure its serving up something as helpful to venues as possible.

Over the past 12 months, Muso’s customer base has grown by more than 1000%.

This hospitality tech trend is not limited to Muso and Mobi. Supplier management startup Ordermentum raised $5 million back in February, while Barcats raised $2.4 million in August for its tech tackling the hospitality talent gap.

Mr Yum has also seen growth throughout the pandemic, now expanding into the US and the UK, and Foodbomb raised $4.5 million in August for its tool simplifying vendor-supplier relationships.

For Siemianow, Muso’s raise shows that hospitality is a sector ready to heat up again.

Investor interest is a certain validation, and “investors are all people, at the end of the day”, he notes.

What people have been missing is connecting with people over experiences, he explains, whether that’s a great meal out or a live music event.

“I think it’s something that everyone’s really been missing, so it’s something [investors] can get behind it themselves,” Siemianow says.

“They understand what they’ve lost and what everyone else has lost.”

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