Blackbird Raises $24 Million To Revolutionize The Restaurant Industry With Its Loyalty Platform


Blackbird Labs, a hospitality tech company, has secured $24 million in a Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from QED, Union Square Ventures, Shine, Variant, and other investors. This latest funding brings Blackbird’s total raised to $35 million and will be used to scale the company’s operations.

Key Takeaway

Blackbird, a restaurant loyalty platform, has raised $24 million in a recent funding round. The company aims to address the challenges faced by restaurants in the current business landscape by helping them create new revenue streams and cultivate regular customers. With its innovative features and data-driven approach, Blackbird offers a unique solution to drive customer loyalty and generate additional revenue for restaurants of all sizes.

A Solution for the Broken Restaurant Business Model

According to founder and CEO Ben Leventhal, the restaurant business model is currently facing significant challenges. Rising operational costs, fierce competition, and the need for revenue have put restaurants in a difficult position. To address these issues, Blackbird offers a solution: creating new revenue streams and cultivating regular customers.

A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association revealed that over half of restaurant owners have had to reduce portion sizes or increase menu prices due to rising food costs. Additionally, the high failure rates among restaurants further highlight the need for innovative solutions in the industry.

A Hospitality Tech Company with a Vision

Ben Leventhal, co-founder of Eater and Resy, noticed the ingenuity of restaurants during the early days of the pandemic. He observed how they found innovative ways to generate revenue beyond food sales, such as launching clothing lines and selling branded merchandise. This insight inspired him to create Blackbird, a platform aimed at helping restaurants combat declining margins and strengthen customer relationships.

Blackbird helps restaurants enhance guest experiences and incentivize repeat visits. By utilizing a proprietary NFC reader, diners create a membership or “tap in” that allows restaurants to greet them by name and personalize their experiences based on preferences, such as seating and menu choices. Diners also earn virtual currency during each visit, which can be redeemed for items or used to unlock membership rewards.

Moreover, Blackbird captures valuable diner data on behalf of restaurants, including dining history, birthdays, and addresses. This data enables targeted promotions and allows restaurants to offer exclusive perks to top-tier members. While some customers may have concerns about sharing behavioral data, Blackbird ensures transparency and allows diners to control which information is shared with restaurants.

The Future of Blackbird

Blackbird’s membership model offers additional ways for diners to support their favorite restaurants. Paid memberships, which come with various perks, can be sold to guests and even used as a crowdfunding tool to support the opening of new restaurants. Blackbird aims to provide an accessible loyalty platform to restaurants of all sizes, fostering a unique and symbiotic relationship between restaurants and their regular customers.

Since its launch, Blackbird has garnered interest from the restaurant industry. Notable restaurants, including chef David Chang’s Momofuku chain, have signed up for the platform and are actively utilizing its features. Blackbird’s future plans involve introducing a referral program that allows diners to invite friends to join a specific restaurant for exclusive dishes. Additionally, the company is exploring the use of its cryptocurrency for membership upgrades, rewards, and even payments for meals.

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