NYC-based restaurant tech company Bbot today announced a $3 million seed funding round led by Craft Ventures. The company says it will use the new funds to hire up and expand its reach and product capabilities, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
Bbot, which was founded in 2017, was ahead of the times when it originally launched its mobile order and pay platform that emphasizes contactless functionality and minimizes human-to-human contact in restaurants and bars. The system integrates directly with a restaurant or bar’s existing tech setup. Customers use their own phones to scan a QR code (usually placed on a decal on the table) and browse the menu, as well as order and pay for food.
Bbot points to a number of different advantages with this setup. Most obviously, contactless features in the dining room makes it easier for restaurants to foster social distancing among customers and staff. It also more or less forces restaurants to have at least some digital presence, which is becoming increasingly mandatory these days. Bbot also says the system can increase revenue for the restaurant, and that some of its existing clients have seen a 15 percent lift thanks to the system.
While that’s an encouraging figure, the challenge right now for any restaurant tech is two-fold. First is the sheer amount of competition in the restaurant tech space — particularly when it comes to the consumer-facing side of things. As I said earlier, companies that formerly served the front of house are now racing to find new ways to stay relevant. So far, that’s been through contactless dining kits a la Paytronix, Zuppler, Presto, and many others.
The other part of the challenge is that the state of restaurant dining rooms remains uncertain, to put it mildly. Some states and/or individual businesses are halting or reversing their reopening plans, thanks to a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, and businesses are being encouraged to continue their focus off-premises orders.
On that latter note, Bbot has an advantage in that its system is designed to work for any type of restaurant setting, including the off-premises ones. That ability to translate across restaurant formats plus its early entry into the contactless space may give Bbot a greater advantage over the competition, even if dining rooms don’t reopen the way we thought they would.