Blackbird, a startup that has developed a Web3-powered restaurant loyalty platform, recently raised $24 million in a Series A funding round led by a16z’s crypto team. The platform aims to provide a friction-free loyalty experience for both customers and restaurants, leveraging blockchain technology in the background without requiring customers or restaurant staff to have extensive technical knowledge.
When customers arrive at a restaurant, they can initiate membership by tapping their smartphone on Blackbird’s NFC reader. This action triggers the issuance of an NFT (non-fungible token), which serves as an identity card and stores information about the customer’s relationship with the restaurant. When the customer returns and taps with the NFC reader, the NFT acts as a digital handshake that transfers relevant membership information to the restaurant, such as the customer’s name, address, and dining history. Additionally, customers can earn $FLY tokens over time, which are stored in a wallet created by the platform.
Although Blackbird is not solely focused on branding itself as a Web3 company, its underlying technology has attracted attention from investors and partners due to its potential to disrupt traditional restaurant loyalty systems. The company’s founder, Ben Leventhal, emphasizes the importance of creating a seamless loyalty platform that can benefit smaller operators with limited technical resources.
The company recently collaborated with Coinbase on a campaign called the Summer Sweet Pass, which featured curated restaurant desserts in New York for customers who held the pass in their Blackbird wallet. Leventhal believes that Blackbird can provide various layers of community and connectivity for restaurants, catering to the passionate but relatively small community interested in leveraging blockchain and Web3 technologies.
Blackbird’s target market includes independent restaurants, which face strong competition from larger chains. Leventhal aims to provide these businesses with tools to level the playing field and effectively compete with bigger competitors. By reducing the technical burden on small staff and customers, Blackbird aims to empower independent restaurants to build loyal customer bases.
Leventhal, who founded successful food media company Eater and reservation tech company Resy, acknowledges the challenges faced by the restaurant industry, particularly the decline in profit margins. He believes that the future lies in enhancing connectivity between restaurants and guests to maximize the potential of loyal customers.
Overall, Blackbird’s Web3-powered loyalty platform offers a promising solution for the restaurant industry, combining blockchain technology with a seamless user experience to drive customer loyalty and help independent restaurants thrive in a competitive market.