Ishan Pandey: Hi Bas, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind Bistroo?
Bas Roos: Hi Ishan, thanks for having me in this segment. My name is Bas Roos, and I’m a 30-year old entrepreneur from the Netherlands. I’m the CEO and Co-founder of Bistroo, together with my partner and CTO, Bob Dohmen. We started the company with the vision of disrupting the commerce models that currently dominate and dictate our food consumption markets.
The current food delivery & takeaway market has been monopolized by platforms that control and dictate all the major aspects of said chain, both on the supply and the demand side of the market. We are disrupting this model by providing a neutral and transparent commerce protocol that organizes all aspects of the merchant and customer relationship. A direct-to-consumer commerce protocol in which the digital infrastructure can decentralize all tasks and control to the sellers and incorporate contribution, loyalty, and interaction directly with their buyer community.
Ishan Pandey: How can blockchain be applied to the food industry?
Bas Roos: Blockchain can be applied to food and logistics in various ways. For example, blockchain will be integrated into our platform to provide transparency on subjects like loyalty rewards, merchant rankings, reviews, ratings, and offerings through smart contract technology. It will also enable us to nurture a community-driven platform through crypto technology, a strategic direction towards a future in which crypto’s play a major role in our commerce relationships and direct peer-2-peer payments, and co-create and grow our platform together with our community.
Ishan Pandey: Overly controlling and astronomically exorbitant fees for eateries are two major issues with rival takeaway platforms. In your opinion, can blockchain help address and effectively move past these hurdles?
Bas Roos: Yes, in the future, I feel blockchain will play a major role in how we organize our retail and business transactions in an efficient manner. Blockchain and crypto technology still has a lot of hurdles to overcome on technology maturity, regulation, and adoption.
However, once these challenges have been overcome, blockchain will enable us to frictionlessly organize collaboration, commerce, and interaction in an efficient and peer-2-peer manner. Decentralizing tasks and responsibilities, enabled by blockchain protocols, allows for a higher level of automation and reliance on the digital infrastructure, instead of relying on the dominating model of platforms currently in the market, and therefore open the possibilities for a much more efficient model.
Ishan Pandey: Numerous traditional investment industries, such as art, real estate, etc., have already been revolutionized by blockchain technology. What has been the impact of blockchain technology on the restaurant industry?
Bas Roos: NFT applications have taken the space by storm lately and have found good use cases in areas like art and real estate. Perhaps, recipes or other food-related content could end up in the NFT space as well. For the food industry, blockchain is set to make a big impact on areas like supply chain transparency and efficiency. You can already see some of these efforts being adopted in the current retail model.
We relay this dynamic into a commerce platform for fresh produce and specialty products too. Additionally, we see a big role in organizing fair-trade in a transparent and fully protocol-reliant way. Blockchain has an amazing premise of bringing together supply and demand, and this is where we feel it touches base with the restaurant industry currently. For example, rankings and reviews will be transparently stored on the blockchain and provide assurance on the information being served for consumers to base their decision on. This could extend into the supply chain aspect, where consumer demands on how ingredients are processed and produced, or even if fair compensations have been provided, become part of the decision-making process at a food ordering level.
Ishan Pandey: What, in your opinion, are the biggest roadblocks in the restaurant sector that are preventing mainstream adoption of blockchain technology within the ecosystem?
Bas Roos: Generally, regulatory roadblocks are the biggest challenge of blockchain and crypto technology currently. If there would be more clarity on the use of crypto and blockchain technology within commercial applications, more validity and trust will be generated, and adoption could be promoted through an interactive and gamified approach.
Ishan Pandey: One of the major hurdles for cryptocurrencies in the restaurant industry, aside from adoption, is its sustainability owing to its use of large, energy-intensive processors. In this context, what are your thoughts on blockchain’s long-term viability in the restaurant industry?
Bas Roos: Currently, the biggest energy-intensive processors rely on the Proof of Work consensus mechanism, especially Ethereum is currently already improving that area of the protocol and therefore reducing the amount of energy needed to produce blocks. This is one of the major areas of technological advancements that Blockchain will have to overcome in the coming years.
Ishan Pandey: Ethereum (ETH) has been used to establish a number of decentralized financial (DeFi) applications. However, its low efficiency, limited throughput, and hefty gas fees have posed a challenge to the end-user. According to you, what is the solution for the high transaction fees in the short term?
Bas Roos: Currently, there are already layer 2 solutions on the market that allow for cheaper transactions with higher throughput while still relying on the key aspects of the base protocol. These options are being considered, and we keep a close eye on all the developments in the market on this subject. However, Ethereum is also working hard on improving its protocol with regard to these areas of limitations. The vision of becoming a general-purpose blockchain is something that is communicated and emphasized by their developer community constantly. To achieve that vision, these challenges must be overcome. In the short term, there are options to work around these issues. In the long-term, Ethereum will, however, in our opinion, overcome these challenges and serve as the intended decentralized application protocol.
Ishan Pandey: Despite the convenience of delivery and takeaway, it has led to scantier options in restaurants than ever before, primarily because middlemen’s involvement can take up to 60% of an order value. What role can blockchain technology play in curbing these major price inflations?
Bas Roos: The current models rely completely on a centralized party that operates and controls every aspect of the business. Orders, Payments, Refunds, Logistics, Store Management, Promotions, Consumer data, Rankings, Ratings, and Reviews are all done and controlled by the intermediary party. On both digital platform models, as well as physical retail models, this is the standard of serving the food market currently. Blockchain technology has the ability to flip this model and give complete control back to the merchants while still digitally facilitating the relationship between buyers and sellers. Allowing all the aspects of the process mentioned above to be handled by the protocol in full, but according to the terms and conditions of the merchant rather than the platforms.
Ishan Pandey: Restaurant delivery intermediaries hold vast amounts of customer data that are susceptible to cyber-attacks. In this regard, from a regulatory standpoint, what measures are necessary to avoid major cyber-attacks?
Bas Roos: Security measures should always be in place when providing a digital service, especially when handling consumer or customer data. Iterative and continuous testing on this aspect is crucial while implementing all the necessary measures to safely store and process data. Cyber-criminals keep improving their tactics and staying on top of the developments, and continuously investing in security measures will always be crucial.
Ishan Pandey: What role has the covid-19 pandemic played in the restaurant industry’s downfall, and what role can blockchain play in helping improve the condition?
Bas Roos: Covid-19 shook up the restaurant market by storm. Before the pandemic, a lot of restaurants were still fully focused on consumers eating in at their locations. However, during the pandemic, they were forced to close down and, in some cases, even halt their business altogether.
There were also a lot of restaurants that decided to move into the takeaway and delivery space for the very first time and got a taste of how powerful and vibrant this side of the market really is. A lot of our merchants fall into this category and have repeatedly expressed this realization to us and determined it to be a big opportunity for business continuity and growth. Almost all of them will stay active within the takeaway and delivery space in the post-covid era.
Ishan Pandey: What trends are we going to see in the restaurant and blockchain industry next?
Bas Roos: Besides the transparency trend on how our food is produced, processed, and prepared, we will see more and more adoption of crypto and blockchain use cases in general. E-commerce is one of the next areas where we feel blockchain will make its way towards the general public. There’s a movement towards innovation and fairness all around us, and consumers value these principles more and more when consuming a product or service. Blockchain will be able to provide assurance on the information being used to make these consumer decisions.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence by asking the right questions and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions. The material does not constitute any investment, financial, or legal advice. Please do your research before investing in any digital assets or tokens, etc. The writer does not have any vested interest in the company. Ishan Pandey.