Blackbird Labs, a crypto-powered app and loyalty program, has raised $24 million in a series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a prominent venture capital firm. The app aims to bridge the gap between restaurants and their customers by leveraging blockchain technology.
With Blackbird, customers can tap their phones on a near field communication (NFC) reader, which creates a non-fungible token (NFT) membership on Coinbase’s Layer-2 Base blockchain. The NFT is minted when users “tap in” to the restaurant. These memberships unlock various rewards and insider perks, such as off-menu items and SMS concierge services.
What sets Blackbird apart is its blockchain-based infrastructure and decentralized approach. While the project has received mainstream attention, including a feature in the New York Times, it has not explicitly mentioned its crypto roots. However, behind the scenes, users can also earn fungible $FLY tokens, and the platform plans to allow users to take their earned points anywhere on public blockchains.
Blackbird has partnered with Privy to make it more accessible for users who don’t have a crypto wallet. Instead, they can sign in using their phone number, which automatically grants them access to a self-custodial wallet.
The app has already made headway since its launch a few months ago, signing up approximately 80 restaurants in New York City. The project’s CEO, Ben Leventhal, who is also a co-founder of the dining network Resy, brings a wealth of expertise and credibility to the platform.
Arianna Simpson, general partner at a16z crypto, highlighted the power of Web3 in revolutionizing the way restaurants and guests connect, making each dining experience unique and more meaningful.
While other companies have attempted to implement NFT-based rewards systems, many have struggled to maintain consistent usage. Blackbird aims to tackle this challenge by offering a decentralized platform that allows users to make the most of their earned rewards.
As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, loyalty programs adopting blockchain technology could provide a new level of engagement and personalization for customers. Blackbird Labs is at the forefront of this innovation, creating a unique ecosystem that benefits both restaurants and their patrons.