San Francisco-based restaurant-tech company Eatsa dropped not one but three big pieces of news today. The company has officially rebranded as Brightloom, partnered with Starbucks to integrate the coffee giant’s tech into its own platform, and raised a $30 million Series B funding round.
The round was led by Tao Capital Partners and Valor Equity Partners, and also included participation from Starbucks licensees Alshaya Group and Alsea.
According to a press release, Brightloom’s all-in-one cloud-based SaaS platform that integrates front- and back-of-house operations will get some new bells and whistles with the relaunch and the Starbucks deal. Specifically, Brightloom will integrate aspects of Starbucks famed customer-engagement platform software, including mobile ordering and loyalty, into its own offering. In return Starbucks will take an equity stake in Brightloom and will have a seat on the company’s Board of Directors.
This isn’t Brightloom’s first evolution into something new. The company started out as a brick-and-mortar chain featuring quinoa bowls and a human-less front of house operations before shuttering its own restaurants to focus on licensing its technology to other restaurants. Wow Bao and Mac’d are among those customers. When we last checked in with the company, still Eatsa at the time, it was unrolling its Spotlight pickup shelf system and pondering how to better fulfill mobile orders in today’s delivery-crazed restaurant world. “Every brand we talk to is struggling with how [mobile] growth doesn’t fit within their current operational model,” Eatsa’s then-CEO Tim Young said at the time.
Clearly the Starbucks partnership is aimed at that, since the coffee giant has arguably the best mobile-order tech on the market right now. And the partnership comes just a few months after Starbucks invested $100 million into the aforementioned Valor Equity Partners, who counts Brightloom among its portfolio members, and its food and retail tech incubator, Valor Siren Ventures. As we wrote at the time of that news, “The investment in the Valor fund will give Starbucks access to new tech that could potentially be used for both food and retail aspects of Starbucks stores.”
In its own announcement today, Starbucks said it has granted Brightloom a software license that allows the latter to “select components of Starbucks proprietary digital flywheel software.” In other words, Brightloom will integrate features from Starbucks’ customer engagement platform like its mobile order and pay system, loyalty program, and personalization features. Basically all the stuff that makes Starbucks customers continue to use the mobile app.
NRN reported that Brightloom’s new CEO, Adam Brotman, called the deal historic because “it will give the industry an all-in-one digital solution that includes Starbucks’ industry leading customer engagement software.” Brotman was formerly the chief digital officer at Starbucks. He was appointed CEO of Eatsa in April of this year.
According to Brightloom’s press release, the new funds will go towards further tech development and integrating Starbucks’ software into the Brightloom platform and helping deploy that platform around the world. The newly revamped offering will be unveiled in October 2019.
The restaurant industry, once considered slow when it came to tech adoption, is now being inundated with new software and hardware. Various offerings aim for various parts of the restaurant, from organizing the back of house to saving restaurants from tablet hell to helping them maintain more brand integrity when it comes to using delivery services. Some are aiming to be all-in-one platforms that can integrate the entire restaurant into one tech solution. LimeTray, who just started operations in the U.S., and the recent Fourth-HotSchedules merger are examples.
So far, though, no one’s quite managed to integrate the mobile order and pay aspect into the process in a way that’s completely seamless. We don’t know yet for sure if Brightloom’s new offering will successfully do so, but if I were a betting (wo)man, I’d say the integration with Starbucks gives them a better shot than anyone at the moment.