- Starbucks has partnered with Brightloom, formerly eatsa, to create an end-to-end cloud-based software for restaurants, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. Brightloom will license software from the coffee chain's digital flywheel software, which includes its mobile and loyalty technology, and combine it with its own existing technology. As part of this licensing agreement, Starbucks will take an equity stake in the tech company and joined Brightloom's board of directors.
- The tech company will work with global Starbucks license partners to offer the platform to restaurants around the world. Brightloom's new software will offer a one-stop-shop that offers modules of mobile, payment, order management, loyalty, personalization and customer relationship management.
- Brightloom also secured $30 million in its latest funding round led by Tao Capital Partners and Valor Equity Partners along with Starbucks licensees, which include Alshaya Group and Alsea. The tech company will put these funds toward tech development and hiring software developers who will work on integrating Starbucks' software into a comprehensive technology suite, Brightloom CEO Adam Brotman told Restaurant Dive.
Technology is a growing focus for small and large chains, with 69% of restaurants reporting in a recent Toast survey that they work with more than one tech vendor. Many, however, expressed a desire to have an all-in-one system. Brotman noted in an interview with Restaurant Dive that working with multiple providers creates a "a rat's nest of tablets," so in order to have a more seamless experience, restaurants have to build up the platform themselves, which is very costly. With this new partnership, Starbucks and Brightloom are aiming to help restaurants fill that gap.
Brotman, who previously worked at Starbucks as its chief digital officer, said the coffee chain's digital flywheel includes mobile ordering, mobile payment, loyalty and rewards, and personalization and recommendations. All of these elements feed into each other and help drive sales, he said. While he was at Starbucks, the idea to eventually license this technology to other restaurants came up, but didn't become a reality until this partnership.
"Starbucks is the gold standard when it comes to developing a digital flywheel strategy," Brotman said. "They have by far the leading digital platform and ecosystem mobile ordering payments personalized offerings."
Starbucks has long been considered a leader in the restaurant industry when it comes to mobile and cloud technology. It has one of the most successful loyalty programs and plans to use blockchain to allow customers to track a coffee product's origin. Starbucks is also increasingly focused on tech innovations, investing in a $100 million fund in March to support food and retail startups.
For Brightloom, the partnership and brand relaunch appears to be an extension of its vision as it shifted from a restaurant originally in 2015 to a tech company that developed a proprietary platform aimed at creating more efficiencies in restaurant operations.
Brightloom's new platform is expected to initially be available to its current restaurant partners, which include Roti and Wow Boa, as well as global Starbucks licensees, Alshaya Group and Alsea, Brotman said. The white label platform will be totally customizable and available to large and small restaurant operators globally, he said. A timeline for deployment will be shared during an October presentation.
Having access to this type of technology is becoming increasingly important, especially with more customers preferring digital platforms to order and interact with restaurants. Digital restaurant orders grew 23% over the past four years or $26.8 billion in sales. Even with this growth, digital sales only make up 3% of the restaurant industry, according to NPD Group, meaning there is plenty of room to grow.