DoorDash Tests Restaurant Dining Rewards
Blackbird raises $24M, Starship nears 50 campuses, Intermode builds bots
It’s a big day for restaurant loyalty, with interesting moves from both DoorDash and a new player — Blackbird. Plus we’ve got some bot updates, courtesy of both Starship and Intermode.
DoorDash Tests In-Restaurant Rewards in SF
Blackbird Raises $24M for Resto Loyalty
Chart Time | Starship Maps Growth
Intermode Builds the Robots for the Robot Cos
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LOYALTY | DoorDash Testing Restaurant Dining Rewards
Delivery giant DoorDash is testing out a new feature that’s decidedly about dining out. The company has dubbed the program “Dine Out” — it rewards customers DoorDash credits upon checking in at select restaurants. First spied on Twitter, @omooretweets noted that she was offered $20 per location, limit one per day. The test appears to be happening in the SF Bay Area, DoorDash’s HQ.
The Big Picture: Upon reaching out to a company spokesperson, DD reiterated to Modern Delivery, “DoorDash constantly innovates and tests new in-app features to provide customers with best-in-class experiences, while providing restaurant partners with new ways to increase their revenue. A limited number of customers in select markets may see dine out deals, where they can receive discounts after dining in at select restaurants.” As part of the value 3PDs create for restaurants is discovery on their marketplaces, it follows that they would want to show that this incremental dining revenue can happen in-store as well.
FINANCE | BlackBird Raises $24M for Restaurant Loyalty
Hospitality tech startup Blackbird Labs announced it’s raised a $24 million Series A, led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Union Square Ventures, QED, Shine and Variant, plus restaurant groups Quality Branded, Rustic Canyon Group, Soulva and Brooks Reitz. The Blackbird app is a restaurant loyalty program that offers users access, rewards, and perks upon dining out with participating brands. Marquee restaurants already on board include Momofuku, Freeman’s and John & Vinny’s.
The Big Picture: Company founder Ben Levental is restaurant tech royalty, having previously created news platform Eater and reservation player Resy, the latter of which he sold to American Express in 2019. Evidently Amex is happy with how that’s turning out, as their venture arm also just put money into this new startup. Blackbird’s rewards system involves a cryptocurrency layer — $FLY — hence the involvement of a16z’s crypto division. While Blackbird’s founder says “The restaurant business model is broken,” we wonder if fixing it really needs to involve crypto, versus just say improved analytics and rewards for repeat businesses (which the app also offers.) Blackbird gets “a few cents” from each member visit, and may eventually charge restaurants a software licensing fee.
CHART TIME | Starship Nears 50 Campuses
Delivery robotics leader Starship celebrated that it has deployed to nearly 50 campuses by putting out this handy map of its footprint. Perhaps even more telling is the guide showing which ones are on its own, and which are with its partner Grubhub — looks like the two cos have teamed up on a lucky 13 campuses.
DELIVERY BOTS | Intermode Makes Robots for the Robot Brands
Meet Intermode, the Detroit-based hardware company that actually makes the delivery robots on behalf of the delivery bot companies. The company offers both its own modular hardware system, dubbed The Modal, as well as more customized solutions, with clients including some of the familiar names we’ve covered in this publication. Pricing starts around a surprisingly reasonable $850 a month, including pesky things like maintenance.
The Big Picture: Running a robotic delivery startup is hard enough: execs need to raise funds, find customers, design software, deal with regulators, troubleshoot and more. Intermode’s CEO Arnold Kadiu thinks that building the actual hardware is a whole different skill set, and one that’s best left to manufacturing experts like his team of ex-Ford engineers, based out of a space in Newlab that has all sorts of high end manufacturing tools that other companies might not be able to afford access to. Arnold estimates that a robotic company on a lease model plus other expenses, making 105 deliveries per week, works out to about $6.50 per drop.
A Few Good Links
Brazilian couriers are afraid to leave their bikes and bags downstairs, instead ask customers to come to them. Alternate delivery models gain traction in U.S. Macy’s starts shrinking its new store size. Amazon’s “Project Nessie” monitored competitive sites to inch up product prices. Flexport ousts more execs. Domino’s raises fire safety awareness. Domino’s India cuts prices. Home Chef introduces ready to heat meals. Kodiak Robotics and Maersk team up on autonomous trucking. El Pollo Loco names new CMO. Geek+ claims top market share for order fulfillment mobile bots. More takeaways on FTC vs AZ.
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