When Bistroo launched in March 2020, its goal was to right some of the wrongs that had started to clog the restaurant delivery industry. With the market leaders charging high fees in a razor margin business, not paying restaurants for weeks, and separating communication between restaurants and their customers (making problem resolution all but impossible), the team behind Bistroo decided that something needed to be done—and perhaps the answer lay in a combination of community-focused design and a blockchain-based currency.
And right about the same time, the world changed, nowhere more than the restaurant industry.
The dust hasn’t settled yet, but a lot has happened since March of 2020. Has Bistroo become everything the team has hoped for? Have they improved the restaurant delivery experience for both restaurants and their customers? And have they developed a community of rapid growth and rabid fans? Let’s take a moment to dive into Bistroo, see who they are and their vision, what features the platform offers, and how it stands up to the competition.
Bistroo Team and Philosophy
The minds behind Bistroo are Bas Roos and Bob Dohmen. They bring business, data analytics, continuous improvement, full-stack development, programming, and platform design. This wide range of expertise has been helpful in Bistroo, and their vision of an interactive and self-reinforcing ecosystem shows a strong foundation in business modelling and process optimization.
Before they started building the platform, the duo examined what key pain points were in the restaurant delivery business—both from their perspective as customers and the perspective of the business owners. What they found was eye-opening. Though delivery services were great for customers in many ways, especially during the pandemic, they could exact a high cost on the businesses themselves. On the surface, delivery services add value to restaurants by providing more opportunities for customers to discover them and an easy way for customers to order without leaving their homes. While this is true, the Bistroo team found three major issues. First, with the rising popularity of delivery services, most businesses would be at a major disadvantage if they didn’t partner with one or more services. More and more customers were relying on these services for restaurant food. Second, for many, if you weren’t on the platform, you didn’t exist. Even those who already offered delivery lost exposure if they weren’t on a leading delivery service platform. Next, businesses had to pay fees of up to 15% just for payment processing and delivery, which was enough to make some orders actually cost the restaurants money given the industry’s low-profit margins. Third, while the service would immediately take payment from the customers, they might wait weeks before sending the restaurant’s portion of the revenues. This meant that the restaurants had to pay for the location, the food, and the labour to create orders but might have to wait weeks to recoup the costs.
The philosophy the team developed was one of community, as shown below.
By creating a system where each part supported the other areas, the team was convinced the platform would thrive. The only item missing was a way to pull it all together: the excitement, sense of community, easy and low-cost payment method, and ability to offer real rewards. The answer emerged with BIST—the platform’s crypto token. By introducing their own ecosystem token, the team avoided credit card and banking fees, introduced the community to crypto, sent payments quickly to restaurants, and offered BIST rewards to customers who onboarded ecosystem players or paid using BIST.
Bistroo Review 2022: Key Features
Even without its ties to crypto, the Bistroo platform shows an insightful understanding of its key clients, the restaurants. However, the platform serves its clients by empowering them to serve their customers better. The platform offers a surprisingly fast onboarding cycle of one day (or less). It allows restaurants to control menus and prices fully, meaning they can react to their supply/demand, food availability, or spot promotions in real-time throughout the day. In addition, they can connect directly to customers to resolve issues or answer questions, and restaurants can pay the platform for access to customer data trends and insights.
Regarding the platform’s revenue management, their fee of 5% is 1/3 that of some competitors, and payment is made to restaurants the moment the customer pays. Bistroo can even help set up the payment systems currently used by the restaurant.
Because Bistroo is a crypto-driven platform, they are able to offer incentives that reward users while strengthening the larger ecosystem. For example, merchants and customers can buy and stake their BIST tokens with a reward system that encourages early and larger stakers. Additionally, the platform offers rewards and discounts for BIST liquidity providers on platforms such as UniSwap and Balancer.
Customers can be rewarded with BIST for several community-building activities. Bistroo’s founders wanted to show that they care about user data privacy and that it can help the ecosystem improve. They offer BIST rewards when customers choose to share their data but give them a choice to keep it private. Other rewards include providing ratings and reviews for restaurants or acting as an affiliate/ambassador by bringing new customers or restaurants to the platform. To encourage the use of BIST within the community, the platform offers a 1% cashback reward for fiat purchases or a 2% cashback reward for BIST purchases—but all rewards are paid in BIST, which encourages fiat-only customers to explore using BIST.
Bistroo Review 2022: DeFi Ecosystem
In addition to the features listed above, perhaps the most interesting feature for the Bistroo platform has more to do with venture capital and DeFi than it does food delivery. Because of the platform’s focus on community development, they wanted to take an even bigger step: simply offering a service with lower fees and faster payments.
One additional insight the team found when analysing the restaurant industry was the difficulty in building enough capital to invest in needed improvements. Because there is so much required to invest in the fixed costs (building, marketing, equipment), the food, and the labour, it can be difficult to get far enough ahead for needed improvements or investments.
To solve this, the team turned to DeFi again for inspiration. They developed BIST Decentralized Merchant Financing, a mechanism whereby community members can contribute to a loan pool for a specific restaurant wishing to take a loan for improvements/maintenance. If the loan pool is filled, the merchant takes the BIST token in advance, and the loan is repaid with interest over time through a percentage of the restaurant’s revenue on the platform. In this way, the platform provides a new service to restaurants, and the “bank” is the community that knows, supports, and believes in them.
There is a lot to like about the Bistroo platform. The design of not only the platform but the ecosystem is elegant. The subtle encouragement toward community growth is inspiring. And the additional DeFi aspects are enticing for not just restaurants and customers but also investors. However, the question remains: Is this enough to compete with the leading platforms? Can Bistroo grow enough to gain a healthy portion of the market, and will they convert enough fiat users to the crypto world? One other concern, especially while the platform is still working toward a sizeable market share, is that nothing stops the leading platforms from diving into the crypto integration themselves, essentially copying some of Bistroo’s appeal.
That said, the top platforms may be able to imitate through crypto-based features, but looking at Bistroo’s journey, it seems very unlikely that they could capture its guiding principles of building a community and an ecosystem whose players support each other. Take crypto away, and this might not be as elegant, but it would still be compelling. Combined with crypto, it empowers Bistroo—and the growing community behind it—to take the industry by storm.