Ben Leventhal is a restaurant industry veteran. He’s had two successful exits from his Eater Publishing and restaurant tech start-up Resy, and currently turns his attention to Web3. Enter Blackbird, that recently raised $11 M in seed funding. It aims to use NFTs to overhaul restaurant industry loyalty programs.
Three organizations co-led the funding round: Union Square Ventures, Shine Capital, and Multicoin Capital. Other investors contain Variant, the venture- capital part of Circle, that supports the USDC stablecoin, and digital product company IAC. As part of the investment, Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson is joining the Blackbird board.
As reported by Leventhal, Blackbird will move away from the dominant focus in the present NFT landscape: NFT drops. On the other hand, it will work towards using NFTs to enhance restaurant loyalty programs, as part of the increased “life-cycle” of each consumer. Leventhal aims to create direct connection between the end- consumer and restaurants, something that tech has obscured in the last years.
To achieve this, NFTs play a role. Blackbird aims to ship its minimum product in the first half of 2023, a process which Leventhal refers to as crawling before walking. However, the actual technology stack is still under works, and may take some time to figure out. But there are a few examples to consider. As reported earlier, airBaltic, a Latvian airline, is using NFTs to power its loyalty program.
The initial funding of $11 M is higher than the average initial fund for this year, that has seen a cryptocurrency bear market and public financial calamity. This may bode well for Leventhal and definitely shows confidence in his vision.
Web3 companies is raising money during bear market
Though the cryptocurrency and NFT markets have been stagnant in the last months, money has flown in to top Web3 companies. Below are three stories about how leading companies raise money and “bear markets for creators.”
Initially, there is Horizon: The NFT game developer raised $40 M in Series A funding from top gaming companies such as Ubisoft and Take-Two. Horizon revealed that it will use the money to advance its blockchain game Skyweaver and build out its Web3 platform Sequence.
Then, there is Symbolic Capital. The Web3 fund, that Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal co-leads, raised $50 M last month. Nailwal said the fund will be dedicated to support Web3 companies in developing countries and companies which concentrates on building decentralized applications.
Lastly, there is VeeFriends. Gary Vaynerchuk’s NFT project raised $50 M from Andreessen Horowitz a 1 6z two months ago. A partner at a1 6z spoke highly of Vaynerchuk, saying he represented “the ethos of entrepreneurship.”
Ben Leventhal accessing Web 3 is great news, as he is a proven innovator in the restaurant industry.