By Asnah Anver
CAKE LABS, the premiere Sri Lankan restaurant technology company, announced the change of its company name to Sysco LABS and the launch of a state-of-the-art new office facility.
The new avatar of CAKE LABS, which is owned by Sysco, celebrates its expanded mission to provide best-in-class technology products and services as part of Sysco.
Sysco, a fortune 60 company based in the US with over 65,000 employees and catering to over 425,000 customers in over 90 countries, is a global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products. Sysco’s operations span four continents, and its annual revenue exceeds $ 55 billion. In 2016 Sysco also acquired the Brakes Group, a leading food distributor in Europe.
The launch event saw the participation of US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap as well as senior management from Sysco such as Sysco LABS and Customer Experience Senior Vice President Brian Beach, Sysco Chief Technology Officer Wayne Shurts, Sysco International and Brakes Group Chief Information Officer Keith McLeod among the Sysco LABS staff.
“There are two really important events that we are celebrating. One is the rebranding of our company from CAKE LABS to Sysco LABS and second, the fantastic brand new facility that we opened,” Sysco LABS Managing Director Sri Lanka and Senior Vice President Engineering Shanil Fernando stated.
“This is a fantastic example of a large company like Sysco investing in innovation that will drive the future of the food service industry. Our Silicon Valley heritage gives Sysco access to the best of the best innovation that happens in the Valley,” Fernando added.
“In the last five years CAKE has made tremendous ground in building a very disruptive technology platform in the restaurant industry. Last year our technology platform processed billions in revenue and has been growing 150% year-on-year for the last three years. We have built and launched many products in the restaurant customer experience with a highly-skilled team of employees spanning Silicon Valley, Austin, Huston and here in Sri Lanka,” Fernando added.
CAKE and Sysco’s partnership first began in 2012 when Sysco invested in the company. Since then Fernando stated that “the relationship between Sysco and CAKE has got stronger with Sysco investing further in the CAKE business, and the CAKE team getting further integrated and achieving a deeper understanding of Sysco’s business.”
Thus Fernando points out “Sysco LABS is the evolution of our focus on innovation that began with CAKE LABS. Beginning today, Sysco LABS will broaden the scope of work completed by our talented employees and open new opportunities to innovate and create integrated products and services.”
Speaking on the local base, Fernando added: “I am really proud that a large portion of this engineering team of Sysco LABS is based right here in Sri Lanka. This plays very well with the rebranding of the entire Sri Lankan IT industry that I have personally been working with towards a more innovation-led destination.” In Sri Lanka alone, Sysco LABS has a staff of roughly 250.
Sysco LABS and Customer Experience Senior Vice President Brian Beach said: “It is really not about a rebranding, it’s really about evolution. We’ll still have CAKE products out there in the hands of customers but we’re evolving as a group from CAKE to Sysco LABS to really bring those capabilities and apply them more broadly across the company in a way that makes for an even better customer experience.
“A differentiated experience with the customers is one of the things that LABS will drive in addition to innovation more broadly across the enterprise in all areas.”
Speaking about Sysco, Beach stated: “With being a market leader there is a lot of pressure on us internally and externally to continue to innovate and be that market leader. And really that’s what Sysco LABS is all about for us - as a company that is leading the industry how do we think about tomorrow and how do we continue to be that market leader and innovate. That’s what we see Sysco LABS helping us do as a company.”
Beach also spoke highly of the Sysco LABS team, saying: “While the team has been with us for four plus years now and we’ve done a lot of really great things around restaurant technology, I think what is really special about the story is the leadership, and the teams at Sysco saw the real value, power and capabilities that this team brings to the table.”
Shanil Fernando also spoke on the early days of Sysco LABS, which was known as Leapset prior to being called CAKE LABS: “The early days of our company we were doing a lot of consulting work. And CAKE originally started in February 2012. In 2012 we had built a reasonable business in consulting. We killed that business to focus on the technology platform CAKE—at that time we were known as Leapset—because we saw a massive opportunity in the massive restaurant industry.”
Speaking on the 10,000 square feet office facility, Fernando revealed: “What we have replicated is a true Silicon Valley engineering organisation right here in Sri Lanka.”
The Sysco LABS facility in Sri Lanka will give global customers further access to the world’s most innovative foodservice products as well as offer new opportunities for top talent in Sri Lanka to join the team and use their skills to build cutting-edge technology.
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap, speaking at the event, stated: “Whether it is Sysco LABS or CAKE it is an example of the innovation and freedom of thought, freedom of design and the imagination that American companies bring in everything that they do,” he asserted, adding, “to see the IT sector in Sri Lanka and the IT sector in the United States getting closer together despite the very large distance between our two countries is really symbolic of the future of our relationship.”
Keshap went on to state: “I think this partnership that we are celebrating today is a good example of the dividends that come in a new and brighter and more peaceful, reconciled, united, democratic and prosperous Sri Lanka.”