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Google Ventures backs restaurant-tech firm Objective Logistics in $1.5M round.

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by Kyle AlspachVC Editor - Boston Business Journal - November 30, 2011 3:42pm EST

Google Ventures has made its second investment into a Cambridge startup in two weeks, taking part in a $1.5 million seed round for Objective Logistics — a startup whose staff-performance-ranking software aims to “gamify” the restaurant workplace and boost sales.

The new investment follows a $2.1 millionSeries A round — which included Google Ventures and was announced Nov. 17 — for Cambridge custom goods marketplace CustomMade.

Google Ventures has now backed a total of eight Boston area startups since it began investing in the region in 2009. The firm, whose LP is Google, has made the investments through its Cambridge office, led by Android co-founder Rich Miner.

Also taking part in the round for Objective Logistics was Cambridge’s Atlas Venture   (represented on the deal by Jeff Fagnan) and Boston’s NextView Ventures (represented by Lee Hower).

CEO Philip Beauregard said Fagnan was the first to commit, and that Fagnan asked him who else he’d like to take part. Beauregard’s response: He’d like to work with Miner and Google Ventures.

Objective Logistics’ technology works by tapping into a restaurant’s point-of-sale system, and analyzing data about the performance of the waitstaff members — including how fast they worked, the size of the tip and whether they were able to upsell to customers.

“We rank every waiter, waitress and salesperson within a store, and then reward the best performers with the shifts that they want,” Beauregard said. The ultimate result: A projected increase in revenue of 2 to 4 percent within a month for restaurants using the system, according to the company.

Founded in New Bedford in 2009, Objective Logistics re-located from the city this week to an office in Kendall Square (specific location: undisclosed). With the new funding, the five-person startup could add as many as 10 new staffers within the next six to nine months, Beauregard said.

During that same timespan, the company expects to bring its software-as-a-service model — dubbed MUSE — out of private beta and into the commercial market. So far, Objective Logistics has been beta testing the platform at three Not Your Average Joe’s restaurants in Massachusetts, Beauregard said.

He doesn’t expect to have any problem signing up paying customers. The startup has gotten hundreds of queries from restaurants that want to use the product, and the restaurants span from single sites to chains with thousands of locations, Beauregard said.

He co-founded Objective Logistics with an old friend, Matthew Grace, after leaving a job as an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities’ Boston office.

Grace has been writing software since he was 13 and is the “wizard” behind the startup’s technology, Beauregard said. Grace had previously worked as a product management director at Oracle    and a technical consultant at Burlington’s ClickSoftware.

Beauregard acknowledges that the service can be a polarizing addition to the workplace for restaurant employees. But he argues that it’s really about optimizing the experience for customers — and that most employees ultimately support it.

“We’re not here to hurt anybody, or create some sort of Draconian-type environment,” he said. “We’re creating meritocracies, and when you create a meritocracy, 90 percent of people like it, 5 percent are indifferent and 5 percent abhor it.”

Objective Logistics is the fourth local startup to get seed-level backing from Google Ventures, joining a list that includes CustomMade, Yesware and Smarterer.

Google Ventures has also made a later-stage investment into an established local player, HubSpot, and made larger investments of money and time into area startups Scvngr, Recorded Future and EnglishCentral. Miner holds board seats at those three firms but hasn’t joined the board on the other investments.