Monday 17 January 2022

Starbucks backs restaurant tech company in creation of end-to-end digital platform

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SEATTLE and S. FRANCISCO, U.S. — Starbucks Coffee Company has announced a deal with Brightloom (formerly eatsa), a San Francisco and Seattle tech company that is working to create a best-in-class end-to-end digital customer experience platform for the restaurant industry.

Starbucks is granting Brightloom a software license to select components of Starbucks proprietary digital flywheel software. Brightloom will combine key components of Starbucks’ digital flywheel technology into the existing Brightloom platform, including Starbucks’ mobile and loyalty technology.

As part of this technology license, Starbucks will take an equity stake in Brightloom, along with a seat on the company’s Board of Directors.

Additionally, Brightloom today announced a $30M funding round led by Tao Capital Partners and Valor Equity Partners along with Starbucks licensees, including Alshaya Group and Alsea.

As part of the agreement, Brightloom will work with global Starbucks license partners to deploy the platform around the world. Brightloom will use the funds for technology development, including integrating Starbucks’ software into what will become a comprehensive technology suite. Brightloom will unveil its next generation Brightloom Platform at its upcoming Roadmap Reveal Day in October where existing and prospective customers will get a first look at the integrated technology and product roadmap.

“We are confident that the digital flywheel strategy is the best way for brands to enhance and build their customer relationships. The fact that we will now be combining our platform with the leading digital flywheel software in the world, Starbucks, perfectly positions us to offer the best-in-class solution to the industry,” said Adam Brotman, Brightloom CEO, who joined in April to lead the company in this new chapter. “We believe any restaurant brand should be able to engage customers digitally using a seamless combination of mobile, omni-channel ordering and loyalty offerings. Up until now, only a select few brands could afford, or knew how, to put together a truly seamless mobile ordering, loyalty and topnotch digital platform. Because our digital flywheel offering will be in the form of simple and affordable software as a service, it will truly level the playing field for all.”

Starbucks pioneered the digital flywheel approach, which is now regarded as the gold standard in digital strategy for food service and restaurant brands. With key Starbucks technology components integrated into the platform, Brightloom will now offer this same sophisticated digital strategy to the broader industry and serve as a one-stop-shop for restaurant brands that often rely on a patchwork of multiple partners for mobile, payment, order management, loyalty, personalization and customer relationship management.

Brightloom will provide premium, comprehensive and customizable solutions through a software and hardware platform to simplify the entire guest journey from the time of order and payment, through the kitchen, all the way to pick-up, and even after the in-store experience with digital rewards and offers.

Brotman, who previously served as co-CEO, President and Chief Experience Officer at J.Crew, and prior to that, Chief Digital Officer for Starbucks, said further: “The food service and restaurant industry is in the middle of a seismic shift – it’s no longer just optional to have a front-footed strategy when it comes to mobile ordering, delivery platforms, loyalty and personalized digital engagement. We are excited to partner with restaurant operators, big and small, to bring that strategy to life.”

Jon Shulkin, Brightloom’s Executive Chairman, Partner of Valor Equity Partners, and tenured restaurant and technology investor, added: “Between the explosion of third-party delivery platforms, and the fact that having great mobile ordering and loyalty offerings has become table stakes for restaurants, Brightloom’s relaunch with the Starbucks technology license couldn’t be happening at a better time. The company’s newest solutions will help restaurants seamlessly operate and remain competitive in a fast-paced and saturated marketplace.”

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, more than eight in ten restaurant operators believe technology provides a competitive advantage to their business: “Now more than ever, restaurants must provide their guests effective technology solutions if they want to compete for a piece of the $863 billion dollars in sales expected at restaurants in 2019,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Our data shows a majority of restaurant customers rely on technology, in some capacity, to decide how and where they will get their food.”

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