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Lavu expecting big investment

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lavu Inc., Albuquerque’s homegrown point-of-sale software firm for restaurants and hotels, is expecting to close on a round of funding that could greatly accelerate the startup’s growth in the next couple of years.

“We are going to the next level,” Co-founder and CEO Andy Lim told about 500 people attending Albuquerque Economic Development’s quarterly luncheon on Thursday. “We will hopefully be able to grow to a half a billion company or a billion dollar company in the next 18 months. That’s our goal.”

The company has been trying to raise a series A round of investment. No public information about those efforts are yet available, and Lim declined to discuss it with the Journal.

But Lim told the AED luncheon that he was dealing with about five lawyers, and he was heading from the event back to his office to sign some more papers. He also said the company expected to open satellite offices on the east and west coasts but would remain headquartered in Albuquerque.

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The company, which launched in 2010, developed software that allows restaurants and hotels to conduct their business on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. With Lavu’s system, restaurants and hotels integrate all front- and back-end operations.

Table servers, for example, can take orders directly on iPads or smartphones, allowing cooks to instantly read them on screens in the kitchen. The meals are automatically logged and processed for payment at a tablet-based cash register.

At hotels, guests can make reservations, check in and out, and communicate with room service on mobile devices.

The company has grown fast in recent years. It currently employs 40 people in Albuquerque, and has 170 re-sellers that market its product worldwide. It moved last July from a 4,000-square-foot building in Old Town to a 10,000-square-foot space Downtown.

Its software product has also been featured a number of times on the popular weekly cable-TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” hosted by British chef and entrepreneur Gordon Ramsey.

Lim said his growth expectations are lofty but boosted by the support Lavu is receiving.

“We’ve been growing steadily without investment, and with investment we expect to grow fast and big right here in Albuquerque,” Lim told the Journal after the luncheon. “There are no guarantees, but we have lofty goals and we push ourselves. Now we have a lot of support to do it.”

Lavu’s success shows that homegrown companies with a good product can launch and grow without leaving New Mexico, Lim added.

“It’s not easy to get noticed here in Albuquerque, but we’ve been growing and we’re proving to people that you can not only create a successful Albuquerque company but compete internationally if you have the talent and resources to do it,” Lim said. “Our goal is not only to get big and get investment, but to make Albuquerque a better place with high-paying jobs.”

Journal staff writer Jessica Dyer contributed to this report.

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