Starbucks announced Monday it has struck a deal with Brightloom, formerly known as eatsa, to help create “a best-in-class end-to-end digital customer experience” platform for the restaurant industry. Starbucks did not disclose how much it invested.
As part of the agreement, the java chain will license technology to Brightloom, take an equity stake, and grab a seat on the San Francisco and Seattle tech company’s board of directors. The big kicker: Brightloom will receive a software license to select components of Starbucks’ proprietary customer engagement platform, or digital flywheel software.
With the tools, Brightloom plans to combine its existing technology assets with Starbucks’ properties. “The combination will lead to the development of a cloud- based software solution for the restaurant industry that will connect customers to their favorite restaurant brands—particularly valuable given the recent hypergrowth of mobile ordering and third-party delivery platforms,” the company said.
It plans to make the software solutions available to Starbucks global license partners and will open the platform up to the entire restaurant industry. Starbucks, meanwhile, said it will continue driving software developments for all of its corporate markets.
“We’re delighted to partner with Brightloom and drive a broad innovation agenda that extends relevant customer experiences from brick-and-mortar to a digital-mobile customer connection,” Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, said in statement. “At Starbucks, we have experienced first-hand the power that comes through digital customer connections that are relevant to the customer. The results we’ve seen in customer loyalty and frequency within our digital ecosystem speak for themselves, and we’re excited to apply these innovations toward an industry solution that elevates the customer experience across the restaurant industry.”
Eatsa, known for its self-ordering kiosks and digital menuboard systems, rebranded Monday to Brightloom with the news, saying it’s working to offer a platform that weaves together “a number of digital solutions for restaurant brands, allowing any restaurant to provide its own best-in-class mobile engagement, loyalty and omni-channel digital ordering offerings to its guests.” The company debuted an automation-driven eatery four years ago in San Francisco that allowed customers to grab meals from cubbyholes without talking to employees. It’s headed more in the licensing direction since. Wow Bao became the first brand to leverage eatsa’s pick-up technology in 2017.
Essentially, Brightloom will take key components of Starbucks’ digital flywheel technology and combine it into its current platform. This includes Starbucks’ mobile and loyalty technology. The result, the company said, will be “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.”
Additionally, Brighloom announced a $30 million funding round led by Tao Capital Partners and Valor Equity Partners along with Starbucks licensees, including Alshaya Group and Alsea.
Brightloom expects to 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, in a statement. “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.”
Brotman, the former co-CEO, president, and chief experience officer at J. Crew, held the chief digital officer at Starbucks from 2009–2017. “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,” he said. “We are excited to partner with restaurant operators, big and small, to bring that strategy to life.”