Led by ex-Starbucks digital chief, Seattle startup Brightloom raises $15M for customer data platform

Brightloom CEO Adam Brotman. (Brightloom Photo)

Brightloom has raised $15 million as it aims to help companies turn their customer data into personalized marketing campaigns.

Brightloom evolved out of restaurant automation startup Eatsa in 2019, when it brought on former Starbucks digital chief Adam Brotman as CEO and moved the company to Seattle. It also landed investment from Starbucks at the same time.

Brotman helped Starbucks build its “digital flywheel,” leading the chain’s loyalty rewards program and “mobile order and pay” initiative, among other efforts. He’s taking lessons learned from his time at the coffee giant and applying them at Brightloom.

The startup crunches customer transaction data to help brands such as salad restaurant Evergreens and infant clothing retailer Kickee craft custom product recommendations and promotions, versus traditional one-size-fits-all messaging. Its software helps predict what each customer is likely to purchase and how much they are likely to spend.

Large companies have the capital and expertise to run these types of targeted campaigns that require advanced predictive modeling, Brotman said. Brightloom aims to bring the same capabilities to everyone else.

“Brands have an incredible opportunity to use their data to do personalized marketing — and they’re not doing anything with it,” Brotman said, adding that it’s “the most exciting and most difficult problem in digital today.”

Brightloom operates in a crowded industry that includes small and large competitors aiming to help companies analyze customer data. It’s similar to Seattle startup Amperity, which connects disparate data sources about individual customer habits and recently added Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to its board. Salesforce and Adobe also have customer data platform products.

Brotman said Brightloom differentiates itself by making customer data actionable. It is also targeting smaller brands that don’t have adequate marketing resources and need a plug-and-play tool. Brightloom is currently working with 25 brands.

Brotman said companies are dealing with an increasing amount of data as digital adoption accelerates amid the pandemic. Companies are also investing more in mobile ordering capabilities and digital loyalty programs.

“There’s just that much more surface area for brands to engage with their customers digitally,” Brotman said.

Brotman previously co-founded PlayNetwork and was an executive at Bill Gates-backed startup Corbis. Brotman left Starbucks after nine years in 2018 and led J.Crew as co-CEO before joining Brightloom.

He said his new gig feels familiar in many ways.

“I get to be chief digital officer for dozens and dozens of brands, and I love that,” Brotman said.

Tao Capital Partners and Valor Equity Partners led the $15 million round.

As part of an agreement inked in 2019, Starbucks agreed to share key components of its software with Brightloom in return for an equity stake and board seat.

The company has 53 employees and is headquartered in Seattle, though Brotman said it is hiring across the globe as a “digital-first” company.

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