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Starbucks-backed Brightloom launches product aimed at helping restaurants personalize marketing

Julia La Roche
·Correspondent
·5 min read
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In the summer of 2019, coffee giant Starbucks (SBUX) licensed parts of its mobile technology to build a new cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) platform company for the broader restaurant industry.

Now, that effort is yielding its first fruit. Brightloom, a recently rebranded restaurant tech company backed by Starbucks, debuted an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that uses an SaaS approach.

Led by Adam Brotman, who oversaw the launch of Starbucks' popular mobile app as the coffee giant's chief digital officer, Brightloom was started "to democratize and productize some of the things that Starbucks was doing in a world-class way" for the broader restaurant industry, the CEO told Yahoo Finance.

Starbucks' app is largely considered the gold standard in the restaurant industry, offering ordering, payments, loyalty rewards, and personalization. For Brightloom's first product, Brotman said they chose to focus on personalization using data because "it's the biggest and most difficult problem" in the restaurant industry today.

"How do you use data to personalize your messages and drive your business as a brand? And, so, we've tackled that in a big way. We've made it really easy for any brand to use their data to drive personalized messages," Brotman said of the Customer Growth Platform from Brightloom.

Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman demonstrates how to order a drink using the new mobile ordering system during the company's annual shareholder's meeting in Seattle, Washington March 18, 2015. Starbucks Corp will begin offering delivery in New York City and Seattle later this year, when it also plans to expand mobile order and pay services across the United States.  REUTERS/David Ryder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman demonstrates how to order a drink using the new mobile ordering system during the company's annual shareholder's meeting in Seattle, Washington March 18, 2015. Starbucks Corp will begin offering delivery in New York City and Seattle later this year, when it also plans to expand mobile order and pay services across the United States. REUTERS/David Ryder (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)

Leading up to this launch, Brotman said all brands, big and small, have "reached a tipping point" where the relationships with their customers have become primarily digital.

"That's something that got accelerated because of the pandemic, but that genie is out of the bottle, and it's not going back," he said.

As a result, brands of all sizes are sitting on troves of data based on their customers' digital transactions.

"They can and should be using this data to drive personalized messages with their customers, but it's really, really hard to do," Brotman added.

According to Brotman, Brightloom's Customer Growth Platform allows for brands, including smaller players that can't afford to build out large tech teams, to leverage their data and turn it into a personalized marketing program. Specifically, Brightloom's Customer Growth Platform, a cloud-based SaaS platform, works behind the scenes using its proprietary models built by its data scientists to take a brand's simple transaction history data and turn it into actionable campaigns that break all customers into "smart segments" to provide the right product recommendation or offer level to the customer. Clients can break their messages up across as many segments they'd like for more personalization.

"All that work I just mentioned to you is all model-driven. It's all under the hood, so to speak, so the brand doesn't have to do any work on it. They don't need a team of people because a lot of brands don't have teams that can handle this kind of thing. So we're coming in and saying, 'Listen, you don't need a team, you don't need expertise, you can just let us take the data in. We'll create we'll run it through this process, and give you back the exact right campaign that you should be running based on that data,'" Brotman said.

As more brands forge digital relationships with customers, one of the critical challenges, especially for the brands below $1 billion, is they're "essentially sending the same message to everybody at the same time."

"Because you have no way to use that data that you have to break up your messages into personalized messages, depending on the behavior of that individual customer. So what you're doing right now is you're taking your app and your email system and you're essentially pushing out a one-size-fits-all message to everybody," Brotman explained.

Brightloom's product now allows a brand to tailor a message to a customer based on behavior such as ordering preferences and frequency of visits.

"For example, one of we were working with a restaurant chain that has smoothies. So, if you order the açaí bowl all the time, it's important to know that. If you're switching around the smoothies that you're ordering, it's important to know that because what can happen is using our predictive models we can predict what types of products you're likely to buy next," Brotman said.

According to the tech exec, a personalization engine has "been elusive for almost every brand."

"I can guarantee you, 90% of the brands that are out there want to do this. They're sitting on all this data that we talked about. They're just not able to pull stuff like this off because of how hard it is. We make it easy, and we make it fast for any brand to do," Brotman added.

Separately, Brightloom also raised $15 million from new and existing investors, including Starbucks' Valor Siren Ventures and Tao Capital Partners to scale the product.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.