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MOBILE & TELECOMMUNICATIONS | Mobile Commerce / Food & Grocery
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Founded Year

2017

Stage

Series A | Alive

Total Raised

$22M

Last Raised

$15M | 4 mos ago

Mosaic Score

+10 points in the past 30 days

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The Mosaic Score is an algorithm that measures the overall financial health and market potential of private companies.

About Bbot

Bbot helps businesses increase efficiency and offer a modern guest experience via contactless mobile ordering, both inside and outside the venue. Bbot offers fast & secure payments and custom-tailored implementation plans including integrations with major point of sale systems.

Bbot Headquarter Location

Astoria, New York, 11106,

United States

415-855-2268

Latest Bbot News

How is the hospitality industry filling 137,500 missing jobs? Robots

Nov 23, 2021

An automated rice shaper gets sushi made faster at MakiMaki. All summer, when guests arrived at the Arlo Roof Top, servers performed many typical duties: greeted groups, answered their questions about drinks and food, and suggested second margaritas when the first round was nearly done. But on the sunny rooftop bar at the Arlo SoHo hotel, the servers did not take customer orders. Those were instead placed through an online menu, accessed through a QR code on customer smartphones, then fed directly into point-of-sale systems behind the bar or in the kitchen. “We still have the staff greet guests and teach [customers] to use the technology,” said Gary Wallach, director of food and beverage at the hotel. Related Articles In early 2020, nearly half a million New Yorkers worked in the city’s sprawling leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants , bars, hotels, sightseeing spots and arts institutions. Nearly two years later, one-third—137,500—of the jobs are still missing, according to an analysis of current New York Department of Labor figures, compared to a pre-pandemic six month average by Barbara Denham, an economist at Oxford Economics. Many other industries, from software publishing to investment banking, either lost far fewer positions or recovered them quickly. In place of workers are downscaled services and myriad forms of customer self-service. Many of the latter are powered by technology: tablets and QR code-enabled menus, automated kitchen prep robots and pre-recorded audio tours. This has left hospitality companies in the city opting to do more with less for the long term—or even forever—indelibly changing the face of hospitality in New York City. “In the future, hospitality might not be me looking you in the eye and giving you your meal,” said Steve Zagor, a restaurant consultant. “It might be a great website, or a great gift in the take-out bag I find when I get home. We have to expand the relationships in hospitality to compensate for how the world is now.” Business owners deployed this technology to guard customer and employee safety and head into a short sprint with fewer staff. But the changes have become entrenched as the labor shortage has morphed into a years-long story. Though New York City has put all its cards on the table for a hospitality recovery—restaurants require proof of vaccination under the promise of safety, outdoor dining is being made permanent and international tourists can now visit—the city’s recovery is still trailing the nation’s. The big hospitality jobs gap between early 2020 and now seems stickier than imagined, in part because many operators are finding that tech tools and automation bring in more money while cutting compensation costs. In surveys like the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Zagor pointed out, the company that consumers feel most warmly about is a firm that manufactures glass and titanium gadgets—Apple. “They have hospitality,” Zagor argued. Fast-food started the automation trend Walk into Shake Shack , McDonald’s, Starbucks or some Sweetgreen locations: if you haven’t placed your order online already, you can do so with your finger on a tablet mounted on a central table. For fast-casual restaurants where orders are placed with a cashier at the counter anyway, the move towards technology has moved fastest. Customers who use Starbucks’ reward program, which is optimized in its digital-ordering app, account for half of all U.S. sales, one way that the company expects to return margins to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 even while pushing up the average wage of human retail employees to nearly $17 by next summer. Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson said in his fourth-quarter earnings call that investment in ultra-efficient espresso machines and an artificial intelligence platform were among the “training improvements designed to replace complexity” in stores. At New York-based Shake Shack, orders placed in the app or at in-store kiosks are larger than those placed with cashiers, according to Katie Fogerty, its chief financial officer. Shifts to human-free ordering were underway pre-pandemic, led by large companies like McDonald’s, which had installed kiosks in some city locations as early as 2015. At restaurants with table service, replacing servers with tablets has not been as swift, though there have been cuts to service, which customers say they miss. “The attention and attentiveness of the staff makes me feel special,” said Grace Ann Sweeney. Sweeney, 30, works in client services at a tech company, and prior to the pandemic would dine out with clients several times per week. “I definitely ask a  lot of questions because I value the staff’s opinions. You lose part of the experience if you're not taking the time to talk to someone.” But certain casual sit-down establishments are adopting technology permanently, said Steve Simoni, CEO of restaurant tech firm Bbot, which enables QR code ordering and payment—popular at spots with crowded bars where dozens of people used to wave uselessly at busy bartenders who might take half an hour before turning to them. Well before Covid, Simoni said that owners of such bars tried out Bbot’s product in order to reduce the pressure on existing staff members. The problem was acceptance by staff, who were reluctant to have to fulfill both in-person and app orders. Servers’ concern for their own safety during the pandemic changed their tune. “The staff wanted to be safer so they said ok,” he said. Guest acceptance followed, and owners thrived, since they were now able to sell far more than before. Bbot now has about 300 customers in New York City. Arlo SoHo is one of them. Wallach, its food and beverage director, has used Bbot to add more revenue without so many staff members. He said his 70-person staff is now the right size. Pre-pandemic, he employed about 90. One venue, the hotel lobby bar, is still closed; Wallach said opening it would reinstate a few more shifts. Meanwhile, revenue from newly placed QR codes translate into more revenue with no extra investments beyond a few sign holders. Like Arlo, “the majority of food halls and bars, they are not going back,” Simoni said. “It’s too good for their business.” That does not mean that tech-empowered ordering will become permanent at higher-end spots, according to Simoni.. “I think it’s very American, the act of ordering from another human,” said Simoni. “People like that experience of being out, maybe ordering for the table. There is a psychological element—--it’s a power thing.” In more casual settings, the interaction is more transactional, he said, giving a lift to Bbot and other forms of technology. Pre-recorded tour guides are popular On the city’s tour buses, for example, a pre-Covid turn towards technology has also heralded a smaller workforce but—argues one tour bus company—a better hospitality experience. In 2016, that company, TopView, invested in a GPS-triggered audio system that runs in 11 languages to cater to non English-speaking tourists, according to Jennifer Li, head of marketing at TopView. “Our decision to not have live tour guides has to do with user preference and our company’s vision for standardizing our product, so that all our customers experience the best possible service,” she said. “The current labor shortage is a really huge problem for companies our size, and industry and automation is crucial in being able to provide services and stay afloat.” She said that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s new plan to reimburse tourism companies for bringing back workers in advance of demand would allow TopView to rehire bus drivers, maintenance and customer service staff and dispatchers. However, Li said, TopView does not plan to bring back human tour guides because customers have been happy with the recordings. Earlier this month, an out-of-work tour guide called into the Brian Lehrer Show to complain about the trend of replacing guides with recordings. His complaint inspired Mayor Bill de Blasio to advance a  bill introduced to the City Council in 2018 that would require an employee to occupy the top deck of double-decker buses, according to the mayor’s representative, Mitch Schwartz. Prep cook robotics At MakiMaki, a fast-casual sushi joint with two locations and one more on the way, owner Kevin Takaranda uses four robots to enable faster production in a smaller space with fewer employees. “Our robots don’t replace, they assist,” he said. Automating routine tasks like measuring, rinsing, cooking and shaping the rice for sushi rolls changes who he hires, Takaranda said. Rather than look for hard-to-find sushi chefs, he simply hires “good people, with good personalities,” as he put it. Because he adopted automation when he opened in 2017, he has been able to fulfill enormous orders that have helped with MakiMaki’s comeback. The hedge fund Citadel ordered sushi to serve 1,200 recently, for example, to be delivered by 10:30 a.m. With the rice automation and nine workers, MakiMaki’s team was done with time to spare. “Without the machines, there is no way we would be able to do that,” said Takaranda. The sushi machines, which he orders from Japan, are now on a six-month backorder, he said, because so many mom-and-pop sushi spots that had previously eschewed automation are breaking down and trying it thanks to the labor shortage. At upcoming stores, Takaranda said he will consider installing automatic kiosks instead of cashiers, which can be the hardest position to fill. “That could result in a negative experience,” he admitted. “People want that traditional way of interacting with the restaurant, but unfortunately we have to look into what else we can automate.” Turning from tablets as soon as possible At Wild East Brewing Co. in Gowanus, a safety-motivated shift to tablet ordering was a “lifesaver,” but won’t be relied on in the future, said co-owner Lindsay Steen. The experience eroded a key portion of her vision: educating customers about beer, especially of the more unique concoctions offered at the site, such as the Prescience Pearl, a farmhouse blonde brewed with black tea, tapioca and taro root. Steen says that forcing patrons to have their phones out reduces person-to-person interaction, the very thing that "having a beer and going to a brewery is all about." Though Steen hasn’t yet been able to hire at the pace she wanted to and has cut shifts, she has maintained all five of her original hires. And though their hours haven’t grown, their responsibilities have evolved. “Everybody started as a bartender,” said Steen, “but now one manages distribution and deliveries. Another was interested in brewing, so she got trained in the back and now is full-time brewing and kicking ass. We have a lot of workers who help on canning and bottling days and another bartender who is now a salesperson. A few are getting our private event space going.” Behind-the-scenes ‘happy medium’ Those in the hospitality business who worry about losing service say that this behind-the-scenes tech may provide a happy medium between humans and robotics. “What design can do relative to technology is help support the human interaction,” said David Rockwell, who has designed dozens of hotel, restaurant and theatre spaces in New York City over several decades. For example, he created the hotel rooms at a recent project, the Civilian Hotel on W. 48th St., to be easy to maintain, meaning fewer staff would need to be hired to clean. “None are substitutions for the need for human connection,” he said. “But there is a way that back of house can support being efficient.”

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Expert Collections containing Bbot

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Bbot is included in 3 Expert Collections, including Restaurant Tech.

R

Restaurant Tech

795 items

Hardware and software for restaurant management, bookings, staffing, mobile restaurant payments, inventory management, cloud kitchens, and more. On-demand food delivery services are excluded from this collection.

F

Fintech

7,165 items

US-based companies

P

Payments

1,721 items

Companies and startups in this collection enable consumers, businesses, and governments to pay each other - online and at the physical point-of-sale.

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