How Neighborhood Groups Are Trying to Provide a Pandemic Safety Net

Mutual aid groups are evolving into a long-term effort to help with food, clothing and counseling. “It’s about building the world we want to see,” one volunteer said.

#bronx-nyc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #food, #klinenberg-eric, #new-york-city, #new-york-university, #volunteers-and-community-service


Amsterdam’s Crisp, an online-only supermarket, raises €30M Series B led by Target Global

Crisp, an Amsterdam-based, online-only supermarket focused on fresh produce, has raised €30 million in a Series B financing led by leading Target Global and joined by Keen Venture Partners and the co-founders of Adyen and Crisp has now raised a total of €42.5 million to date. It plans to use the money to expand in the Netherlands, and eventually across Europe.

Crisp says its USP is seasonal products sourced directly from 600+ small and high-quality producers at an affordable price in the Netherlands. Customers order through a smartphone app and deliveries are the next day within a 1-hour time slot. It also uses a 100% electric fleet serving big cities and suburbs, and its model is to have zero food waste.

The European grocery market is currently worth €2 trillion, but access to customers for high-quality, smaller producers is still tricky and blocked by incumbents. Crisp is taking advantage of consumers moving online, and wanting fresher food.

Tom Peeters, CEO and co-founder of Crisp, told my via online interview that “the differentiation on our model is that we offer quality and convenience. So, fish is super fresh fruits and produce is super fresh, etc. We basically stay away from the standard supermarket proposition that everything is always there, and you manage long shelf life. We’d rather build a very short chain sourcing directly at the source and bringing it in a very convenient way to you.”

He said it’s not a 15 minute delivery but the next day in order to ensure freshness. “The typical customer is a young family. An average order is 45 products and rather than offering all the brands, we on-boarded the long-tail of food producers in our digital marketplace, so we sourced from over 600 sources of food.”

He said: “Food in Holland is 40 billion euros, in Germany it is 200 billion. I think Europe combined it’s over two or 3 trillion. So that means basically we don’t need to spread thin over many countries in order to build a healthy business, not just healthy products, so we make money on every customer order.”

Founded in 2018, by serial entrepreneurs Tom Peeters, Michiel Roodenburg and Eric Klaassen Crisp claims to be now one of the fastest-growing supermarkets in the Netherlands, with a seven-fold in sales in 2020 and more than 85% of sales coming from repeat customers, it says.

Bao-Y van Cong, Investment Director at Target Global, headquartered in Berlin, said: “Crisp is building a world-class technology platform that is of value to both consumers and producers. The way we buy our food has not changed a lot since the 1950’s, creating inefficiencies in quality, affordability, and convenience. Crisp reflects the changing relationship that consumers today have with food: The European market for grocery shopping is starting to move online fast, super-accelerated by the pandemic. At the same time, we see a massive surge in demand for fresh and transparently sourced food.”

#adyen, #amsterdam, #berlin, #europe, #food, #food-waste, #germany, #grocery-store, #netherlands, #retailers, #shopping, #smartphone, #supermarkets, #takeaway-com, #target-global, #tc


Walmart drops the $35 order minimum on its 2-hour ‘Express’ delivery service

In a move designed to directly challenge Amazon, Walmart today announced it’s dropping the $35 minimum order requirement for its two-hour “Express” delivery service, a competitor to Amazon’s “Prime Now.”  With Walmart Express Delivery, customers can order from Walmart’s food, consumables or general merchandise assortment, then pay a flat $10 fee to have the items arrive in two hours or less.

The service is useful for more urgent delivery needs — like diapers or a missing ingredient for a recipe, SVP of Customer Product, Tom Ward, noted in an announcement. They’re not meant to sub in for larger shopping trips, however — Express orders are capped at 65 items.

Today, Express Delivery is available in nearly 3,000 Walmart stores reaching 70% of the U.S. population, Walmart says. It builds on top of stores’ existing inventory of pickup and delivery time slots as a third option, instead of giving slots away to those with the ability to pay higher fees.

Like Walmart’s grocery and pickup orders, Express orders are shopped and packaged for delivery by Walmart’s team of 170,000 personal shoppers and items are priced the same as they are in-store. This offers Walmart a potential competitive advantage against grocery delivery services like Instacart or Shipt, for example, where products can be priced higher and hurried or inexperienced shoppers aren’t always able to find items or search the back, having to mark them as “out of stock.”

In theory, Walmart employees will have a better understanding of their own store’s inventory and layout, making these kind of issues less common. It will also have direct access to the order data, which will help it better understand what sells, what replacements customers will accept for out-of-stocks, when to staff for busy times, and more.

In addition to grocery delivery, Express Delivery competes with Amazon’s Prime Now, a service that similarly offers a combination of grocery and other daily essentials and merchandise. Currently, Prime Now’s 2-hour service has a minimum order requirement of $35 without any additional fees in many cases — though the Prime Now app explains that some of its local store partners will charge fees even when that minimum is met, and others may have higher order minimums, which makes the service confusing to consumers.

Walmart’s news comes at a time when Amazon appears to be trying to push consumers away from the Prime Now standalone app, too.

When you open the Prime Now app, a large pop-up message informs you that you can now shop Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh from inside the Amazon app. A button labeled “Make the switch” will then redirect you. Meanwhile, on Amazon’s website touting Prime’s delivery perks, the “Prime Now” brand name isn’t mentioned at all. Instead, Amazon touts free same-day (5 hour) delivery of best sellers and everyday essentials on orders with a $35 minimum purchase, or free 2-hour grocery delivery from Whole Foods and Fresh.

When asked why Amazon is pushing Prime Now shoppers to its main app, Amazon downplayed this as simply an ongoing effort to “educate” consumers about the option.

Walmart, on the other hand, last year merged its separate delivery apps into one.

After items are picked, Walmart works with a network of partners, including DoorDash, Postmates, Roadie, and Pickup Point, as well as its in-house delivery services, to get orders to customers’ doorsteps. This last-mile portion has become an key area of investment for Walmart and competitors in recent months — Walmart, for example, acquired assets from a peer-to-peer delivery startup JoyRun in November. And before that, a former Walmart delivery partner, Deliv, sold to Target.

This is not the first time Walmart has dropped order minimums in an attempt to better compete with Amazon and others.

In December, Walmart announced its Prime alternative known as Walmart+ would remove the $35 minimum on non-same day orders. But it had stopped short of extending that perk to same-day grocery until now.

To some extent, Walmart’s ability to drop minimums has to do with the logistics of its delivery operations. Walmart has been turning more its stores into fulfillment centers, by converting some into small, automated warehouses in partnership with technology providers and robotics companies, including Alert Innovation, Dematic and Fabric.

And because its stores are physically located closer to customers than Amazon warehouses, it has the ability to deliver a broad merchandise selection, faster, while also turning large parking lots into picking stations — another thing that could worry Amazon, which is now buying up closed mall stores for its own fulfillment operations. 

Walmart today still carries a $35 minimum on other pickup and delivery orders and same-day orders from Walmart+ subscribers.

#amazon, #ecommerce, #food, #grocery-store, #instacart, #prime, #prime-now, #retailers, #shipt, #target, #united-states, #walmart, #whole-foods


Sometimes All You Need Is a Perfect Rotisserie Chicken

While some of New York’s most celebrated kitchens are dormant, Winner, a takeout-only cafe in Brooklyn, has flourished.

#bakeries-and-baked-products, #balthazar-manhattan-ny-restaurant, #food, #french-food-cuisine, #poultry, #restaurants, #wine-bars, #winner-brooklyn-ny-restaurant


Has a startup finally found one of food science’s holy grails with its healthy sugar substitute?

A little less than three years ago at the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View, Calif. the founders of a young company hailing from Cambridge, England addressed a crowd of celebrities, investors and entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s August Demo Day promising a revolution in food science.

Over the years, the event has become a relatively low-tech, low-budget showcase for a group of tech investors and billionaire industry insiders to take a look at early stage businesses that could be their next billion-dollar opportunity.

Sharing the stage with other innovation-minded budding entrepreneurs the Cambridge scientists boasted of a technology could produce a sweetener that would mimic not just the taste of sugar, but the caramelization and stickiness that makes sugar the go-to additive for the bulk of roughly 74% of packaged foods that are made with some form of sweetener. Their company, Cambridge Glycoscience  could claim a huge slice of a market worth at least a $100 billion market, they said.

Now, the company has a new name, Supplant, and $24 million in venture capital financing to start commercializing its low-cost sugar substitute made from the waste materials of other plants.


The bitter history of the sweetest ingredient

Sugar came into the human diet roughly 10,000 years ago as sugarcane, which is native to New Guinea and parts of Taiwan and China. Over the next 2,000 years the crop spread from those regions to Madagascar and eventually took root in India, where it was first refined in about 500 BC.

From there, the sweetener spread across the known world. By the first century AD Greek and Roman scholars were referencing its medicinal properties and, after the Crusades, sugar consumption traveled across Europe through the Middle Ages.

It was a welcome replacement from Europe’s mainstay, honey, and the early artificial sweeteners used by the Romans, which contained near-lethal doses of lead.

The cold climates of Northern Europe proved mostly inhospitable to sugarcane cultivation so the root took root in the more temperate South and the islands off of Europe’s southern coast.

Those regions also became home to the first European experiments with agricultural slavery — a byproduct of the sugar trade, and one that would plant the seeds for the international exploitation of indigenous American and African labor for centuries as the industrial growth of sugar production spread to the New World.

First, European indentured servants and enslaved indigenous people’s powered the production of sugar in the Americas. But as native populations died off due to the introduction of European diseases, genocidal attacks, and back-breaking labor, African slaves were brought to the new colonies to work the fields and mills to make refined sugar.

Sugar hangover

The horrors of slavery may be the most damning legacy of industrial sugar, but it’s far from the only problem caused by the human craving for sweeteners.

As climate change becomes more of a threat, fears of increasing deforestation to meet the world’s demand — or to provide cover for other industrialization of virgin forests — have arisen thanks to new policies in Brazil.

“Conventional cane sugar is heavily heavily water intensive,” said Supplant co-founder Tom Simmons in an interview. That’s another problem for the environment as water becomes the next resource to be stressed by the currents of climate change. And species extinction presents another huge problem too.

“The WWF number one source for biodiversity lost globally is cane sugar plantations,” Simmons said. “Sugar is a massive consumer of water and in contrast, there’s big sustainability pitch for what we do.. the raw materials are products of the current agricultural industry.”

And the quest for sugar substitutes in the U.S. has come with related health costs as high fructose corn syrup has made its way into tons of American products. Invented in 1957, corn syrup is one of the most common sweeteners used to replace sugar — and one that’s thought to have incredibly disastrous effects on the health of consumers worldwide.

The use of corn syrup has been linked to an increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease, in the world’s population.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 08: In this photo illustration, products containing high sugar levels are on display at a supermarket on April 8, 2016 in Melbourne , Australia. The World Health Organisation’s first global report on diabetes found that 422 million adults live with diabetes, mainly in developing countries. Australian diabetes experts are urging the Federal Government to consider imposing a sugar tax to tackle the growing problem. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Getty Images)

Looking For A Healthier Substitute

As Supplant and its investors look to take the crown as the reigning replacement for sugar, they join a long line of would-be occupants to sugar’s throne.

The first viable, non-toxic chemically derived sugar substitute was discovered in the late 18th century by a German chemist. Called saccharine it was popularized initially during sugar shortages caused by the first World War and gained traction during the health crazes of the sixties and seventies.

Saccharin, still available in pink Sweet n’ Low packets and a host of products, was succeeded by aspartame (known commercially as Equal and present as the sugar substitute in beverages like Diet Coke), which was supplanted by sucralose (known as Splenda).

These chemically derived sweeteners have been the standard on the market for decades now, but with a growing push for natural — rather than chemical — substitutes for sugar and their failures to act as a replacement for all of the things that sugar can do as a food ingredient, the demand for a better sugar has never been higher.

Supplanting the competition 

“Not everything that we back is going to change the world. This, at scale, does that.” said Aydin Senkut, the founder and managing partner of Felicis Ventures, the venture firm that’s one of Supplant’s biggest backers. 

Part of what convinced Senkut is the fact that Supplant’s sweetener has already received preliminary approvals in the European Union by the region’s regulatory equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration. That approval not only covers the sale of Supplant’s product as a sweetener, but also as a probiotic with tangible health benefits he said.

So not only is the Supplant product arguably a better and more direct sugar replacement, as the founders claim, it also has health benefits through providing increased fiber in consumers who use it regularly, Senkut said.

“The European FDA is even stricter than the U.S. FDA,” Senkut said. “[And] they got pre-approval for this.”

Senkut and Felicis invested in Cambridge Glycosciences almost immediately after seeing the company’s presentation at Y Combinator.

“We became the largest investors at seed,” Senkut said.

Its selling points were the products extremely low glycemic index and its ability to be manufactured from waste plant fibers, which means that it ultimately can be produced at a lower cost, according to Senkut.

What’s the difference? 

Supplant differs from its competition in a number of other key ways, according to company co-founder Tom Simmons.

While companies like the Israeli startup DouxMatok or Colorado’s MycoTechnology and Wisconsin’s Sensient work on developing additives from fungus or tree roots or bark that can enhance the sweetness of sugars, Supplant uses alternative sugars to create its sweetener, Simmons said. 

“The core difference is they’re working with cane sugar,” according to Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you don’t need to use cane sugar.”

Simmons said that these other startups have been approaching the problem from the wrong direction. “The problem that their technology addresses isn’t the problem the industry has,” Simmons said. “It’s about texture, bulking, caramelization and crystallization… We have a technology that’s going to give you the same sweetness gram for gram.”

There are six different types of calorific sugar, Simmons explained. There’s lactose, which is the sugar in milk; sucrose, which comes from sugarcane and sugar beets; maltose, found in grains like wheat and barley; fructose, the sugar in fruits and honey; glucose, which is in nearly everything, but especially carbohydrate-laden vegetables, fruits, and grains; and galactose, a simple sugar that derives from the breakdown of lactose.

Simmons said that his company’s sugar substitute isn’t based on one compound, but is derived from a range of things that come from fiber. The use of fibers means that the body recognizes the compounds as fibrous and treats them the same way in the digestive tract, but the products taste and act like sugar in food, he said. “Fiber derived sugars are in the category of sugars, but are not the calorific sugars,” said Simmons.

NEW YORK – DECEMBER 6: Packets of the popular sugar substitute Splenda are seen December 6, 2004 in New York City. The manufacturer of sucralose, the key ingredient in the no-calorie sweetener, says demand is so high for the product that it will not be able to take on new U.S. customers until it doubles production in 2006. Splenda has been boosted by the popularity of the low-sugar Atkins diet. (Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Trust the process? 

Supplant’s technology uses enzymes to break down and fragment various fibers. “As you start breaking it down, it starts looking molecularly like sucrose — like cane sugar — so it starts behaving in a similar way,” said Simmons.

This is all the result of years of research that Simmons began at Cambridge University, he said. “I arrived at Cambridge intending to be a professor. I did not arrive in Cambridge intending to start a business. I was interested in doing science, making inventions and stuff that would reach the wider world. I always imagined the right way for me to do that was to be a professor.”

In time, after receiving his doctorate and beginning his post-doctoral work into the research that would eventually turn into Supplant, Simmons realized that he had to start a company. “To try and do something impactful I was going to have leave the university,” he said. 

In some ways, Supplant operates at the intersection of all of Simmons’ interests in health, nutrition, and sustainability. And he said the company has plans to apply the processing technology across a range of consumer products eventually, but for now the company remains focused on the $100 billion sugar substitute market.

“There’s a handful of different core underlying scientific approaches in different spaces,” he said. The sort of things that go into personal care and homecare. Those chemicals. A big drive in the industry is for both less harsh and harsh chemicals in shampoos but also to do so in a way that’s sustainable. That’s made form a sustainable source but also biodegradable.”

Next steps 

With the money that the company has now raised from investors including Bonfire Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital, and Y Combinator, Supplant is now going to prove its products in a few very targeted test runs.* The first is a big launch with a celebrity chef, which Simmons teased, but did not elaborate on.

Senkut said that the company’s roll out would be similar to the ways in which Impossible Foods went to market. Beginning with a few trial runs in higher end restaurants and foodstuffs before trying to make a run at a mass consumer market.

The feedstocks for Supplant’s sugar substitute come from sugar cane bagasse, wheat and rice husks, and the processing equipment comes from the brewing industry. That’s going to be a benefit as the company looks to build out an office in the U.S. as it establishes a foothold for a larger manufacturing presence down the line.

“We’re taking known science and applying it in the food industry where we know that it has value,” Simmons said. “We’re not inventing any brand new enzymes and each part of the process — none of it on their own are new. The discovery that these sugars work well and can replace cane sugar. That’s someone that no one has done before. Most sugars don’t behave like cane sugar in food. They’re too dry, they’re too wet, they’re too hard, they’re too soft.”

Ultimately the consumer products mission resonates highly for Simmons and his twenty person team. “We’re going to use these hugely abundant renewable resources produced all around the world,” he said. 

*This story was updated to include Bonfire Ventures and Khosla Ventures as investors in Supplant.

#aydin-senkut, #brazil, #california, #cambridge-university, #chef, #chemicals, #china, #co-founder, #colorado, #consumer-products, #douxmatok, #europe, #european-union, #felicis-ventures, #food, #food-and-drink, #food-and-drug-administration, #food-ingredient, #impossible-foods, #india, #managing-partner, #soma-capital, #sugar, #taiwan, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital-financing, #wisconsin, #y-combinator


Want to Be Mayor of New York? Better Know Your Wings and Dumplings

Food can be a unifying or divisive factor in New York City politics, with people taking sides on pizza slices, deli choices and utensil selection.

#adams-eric-l, #diet-and-nutrition, #elections-mayors, #food, #new-york-city, #stringer-scott-m


Plant-based food startup Next Gen lands $10M seed round from investors including Temasek

Singapore is quickly turning into a hub for food-tech startups, partly because of government initiatives supporting the development of meat alternatives. One of the newest entrants is Next Gen, which will launch its plant-based “chicken” brand, called TiNDLE, in Singaporean restaurants next month. The company announced today that it has raised $10 million in seed funding from investors including Temasek, K3 Ventures, EDB New Ventures (an investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board), NX-Food, FEBE Ventures and Blue Horizon.

Next Gen claims this is the largest seed round ever raised by a plant-based food tech company, based on data from PitchBook. This is the first time the startup has taken external investment, and the funding exceeded its original target of $7 million. Next Gen was launched last October by Timo Recker and Andre Menezes, with $2.2 million of founder capital.

Next Gen’s first product is called TiNDLE Thy, an alternative to chicken thighs. Its ingredients include water, soy, wheat, oat fiber, coconut oil and methylcellulose, a culinary binder, but the key to its chicken-like flavor is a proprietary blend of plant-based fats, like sunflower oil, and natural flavors that allows it to cook like chicken meat.

Menezes, Next Gen’s chief operating officer, told TechCrunch that the company’s goal is to be the global leader in plant-based chicken, the way Impossible and Beyond are known for their burgers.

“Consumers and chefs want texture in chicken, the taste and aroma, and that is largely related to chicken fat, which is why we started with thighs instead of breasts,” said Menezes. “We created a chicken fat made from a blend, called Lipi, to emulate the smell, aroma and browning when you cook.”

Both Recker and Menezes have years of experience in the food industry. Recker founded German-based LikeMeat, a plant-based meat producer acquired by the LIVEKINDLY Collective last year. Menezes’ food career started in Brazil at one of the world’s largest poultry exporters. He began working with plant-based meat after serving as general manager of Country Foods, a Singaporean importer and distributor that focuses on innovative, sustainable products.

“It was clear to me after I was inside the meat industry for so long that it was not going to be a sustainable business in the long run,” Menezes said.

Over the past few years, more consumers have started to feel the same way, and began looking for alternatives to animal products. UBS expects the global plant-based protein market to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of more than 30%, reaching about $50 billion by 2025, as more people, even those who aren’t vegans or vegetarians, seek healthier, humane sources of protein.

Millennial and Gen Z consumers, in particular, are willing to reduce their consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products as they become more aware of the environmental impact of industrial livestock production, said Menezes. “They understand the sustainability angle of it, and the health aspect, like the cholesterol or nutritional values, depending on what product you are talking about.”

Low in sodium and saturated fat, TiNDLE Thy has received the Healthier Choice Symbol, which is administered by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board. Next Gen’s new funding will be used to launch TiNDLE Thy, starting in popular Singaporean restaurants like Three Buns Quayside, the Prive Group, 28 HongKong Street, Bayswater Kitchen and The Goodburger.

Over the next year or two, Next Gen plans to raise its Series A round, launch more brands and products, and expand in its target markets: the United States (where it is currently recruiting a growth director to build a distribution network), China, Brazil and Europe. After working with restaurant partners, Next Gen also plans to make its products available to home cooks.

“The reason we started with chefs is because they are very hard to crack, and if chefs are happy with the product, then we’re very sure customers will be, too,” said Menezes.

#asia, #food, #foodtech, #fundings-exits, #next-gen, #plant-based-food, #plant-based-meat, #recent-funding, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #temasek, #tindle


17 Freezer-Friendly Desserts for Anytime Sweets

Your future self will be grateful for instant homemade treats from your own kitchen.

#bakeries-and-baked-products, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #desserts, #food, #recipes


Understanding Toast’s expected IPO through the lens of Olo’s 2020 results

Boston-based Toast has been on a roller coaster over the last year.

From raising $400 million in February 2020 at a nearly $5 billion valuation, the company cut staff in March after COVID-19 turned its business upside down. Toast had recorded 109% revenue growth in 2019.

Toast’s ups and downs were hardly over. The company has since recovered greatly since those early-COVID layoffs. Evidence of that comes in the form of the company’s reportedly-pending IPO and reportedly possible $20 billion valuation.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.

It feels like every IPO these days is blasting final private valuations out of the water, but Toast’s ascent from layoffs to an IPO in under a year is an impressive turnaround. And that’s if it prices flat at $5 billion. Anything higher is just cream for the software unicorn.

Until we get the S-1, we won’t know the full details. That said, anotherr company that operates in a similar part of the restaurant technology market is going public at the moment, and we have its S-1 filing: New York-based Olo.

This morning, while we await the numbers from Toast that should prove as interesting as Airbnb’s own COVID-19 recovery, let’s peek at Olo’s results to get a taste of the market that Boston’s leading startup dealt with in 2020.

Olo’s IPO

Olo isn’t a company that has been very loud in recent years; The New York-based software company last raised capital in 2016 when it picked up $40 million in a Series D.

It’s business has three parts, per its S-1 filing. First, Olo offers white-labeled ordering software. And its service also helps restaurants handle delivery options, what it calls “dispatch.” Finally, Olo’s software, in a nearly Yext-like fashion, delivers restaurant information to online platforms.

Toast, as a reminder, offers point-of-sale services, along with online ordering and delivery services similar to Olo. Notably, Toast has been expanding its software lineup, adding payroll management recently among other offerings, including email marketing tools.

But both companies generate software (SaaS) and consumption (transaction-based services) incomes from the restaurant space, so if one had a big 2020, it’s likely that the other swam in similar waters.

#ec-enterprise-applications, #food, #fundings-exits, #olo, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange, #toast


Ag monitoring startup Flurostat merges with soil carbon expert Dagan to form Regrow

Flurostat and Dagan, two startups that both are tackling the monitoring and management of agricultural inputs and outputs for a better understanding of the role sustainable agriculture can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, have merged and are launching a package of services under a new brand, Regrow.

The merge, announced yesterday, will create a company that combines Flurostat’s data driven agriculture management services with Dagan’s soil biogeochemical modeling technology, the companies said in a joint statement. 

The combined companies will have the ability to provide satellite collected data to optimize crop management and adoption of conservation practices along with site-specific analysis and custom interventions for different crops, fields, farms, and regions.

Dagan co-founder Dr. William Salas said that the combined companies will be able to have a better handle on the market for carbon emissions — thanks in no small part to Dagan’s work on soil carbon.

“Soil carbon sequestration is finally emerging as a globally relevant strategy for drawing down excess atmospheric carbon dioxide. Shortcuts, misconceptions and over-hyping have the potential to stunt the tremendous potential of soil carbon,” Salas said in a statement. “But the merger of FluroSat and Dagan will give the industry the confidence and integrity it needs with best-in-class soil health data that can prescribe site-specific strategies and provide accuracy and transparency that will help companies succeed in carbon markets.”

Terms of the merger were not disclosed, but FluroSat had previously raised roughly $8.6 million in equity and grant funding led by Microsoft’s M12 venture fund, according to data from Crunchbase.

“Over the next decade, we need to grow and produce enough food to nourish 10 billion people around the world in a way that protects our land and stems climate change,” says Ranveer Chandra, Chief Scientist, Azure Global at Microsoft. “Regrow’s computational agriculture, using machine learning and scientific modeling, will help improve the accuracy of accounting for soil carbon, and bring farmers closer to benefitting from carbon markets.”


#articles, #carbon, #carbon-sequestration, #co-founder, #food, #greenhouse-gas, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #machine-learning, #microsoft, #tc


Maple launches with $3.5 million in funding to become the SaaS backoffice for the family

Much of our daily lives have been transformed in one way or another by technology – and often through intentional efforts to innovate thanks to the advent of new technology. Now more than ever, we rely on shared collaboration platforms and digital workspaces in our professional lives, and yet most of the changes wrought by tech on our home and family lives seem like the accidental effects of broader trends, rather than intentional shifts. Maple, a new startup launching today, aims to change that.

Founded by former Shopify product director and Kit (which was acquired by Shopify in 2016) co-founder Michael Perry, Maple is billed as “the family tech platform,” and hopes to ease the burden of parenting, freeing up parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and kids to spend more quality time together. The startup, which is launching its app on iPhone and Android for all and onboarding new users from its waitlist over the next few weeks, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding – an impressive round for a company just about seven months into its existence. The round was led by Inspired Capital, and includes participation by Box Group, but is also supported by a number of angels who were Perry’s former colleagues at Shopify, including Shopify President Harley Finkelstein.

Perry and his co-founder Mike Taylor, who also co-founded Kit, decided to leave Shopify in order to pursue Perry’s vision of a platform that can help parents better manage their family lives – a platform made up of a social layer, a task-focused list of shared responsibilities, and a bourgeoning service marketplace that looks and feels a lot like the ecosystem Shopify has built for empowering e-commerce entrepreneurs. That’s by design, Perry says.

“I think you’re gonna see a lot of Shopify inspiration in this product – we think we’re the back office of every family,” Perry told me in an interview. “And we think we’re building the app ecosystem of apps, services, all kinds of things that are going to live on this platform that’s going to revolutionize parenting.”

In its current early incarnation, Maple’s primary interface for parents is a list of various tasks they need to take care of during the day. During onboarding, Maple asks parents what they’re typically responsible for in the household, and then uses some basic machine learning behind the scenes to build a customized schedule for getting those things done. Maple has signed on three initial partners to assist with accomplishing some of these tasks, including Evelyn Rusli’s Yumi food and nutrition brand for infants; Lalo, a DTC baby and toddler furniture and gear brand; and Haus, which will be providing date night packages for parents to enjoy for some getaway time.

Maple co-founder Micheal Perry with his son.

The platform will offer users the ability to tap others for help with tasks – these could be other family members added to the household, or the partners mentioned above (the plan is to bring on more, but to gate admittance initially while developing API endpoints that any company can potentially tap into). When interacting with family members, Maple also encourages smalls social interactions, like thanking someone for their help on a particular task or just showing general appreciation. Perry says this is a key ingredient he prioritized in product design.

“We have this cool thing that every day at eight o’clock, we give you an end of the day recap with your family,” Perry said. “So you click on it, and it will show me that, for example, Alex [Perry’s wife] completed three responsibilities for our family today, and how many I did for my family today, and how much help I received from other people today. And directly in app, you can send these cool little ‘Thank you ‘messages and say, you know, I love you, I appreciate you – we’re a great team. And Alex will get those messages. We believe in a world where this can be incredibly dynamic, in many different ways kto kind of bring some love and appreciation and make parenting feel more rewarding and easier.”

Perry is quick to note that what Maple offers today is only the beginning, and it’s clear he has bold ambitions for the platform. He talked about building “the family graph,” or a trove of data that can be used to not only build intelligent recommendations and develop ever more advanced machine learning to optimize family management, but also to provide partners with the tools they need to build products to best serve families. I asked Perry what that means for privacy, given that people are likely to be far more reluctant to share info around their families than they are about their work lives. He said the they team plans to go slow in terms of what it exposes to partners, when, and how, and that they’ll have user privacy in mind at each step – since, after all, Perry himself is a father and a husband and is wary of any incursions on his own private life.

For now, partners like Yumi only receive what users share with them through their own account creation and login mechanism, and they only pass back a basic attribution token – essentially letting Maple know the task was completed so it can mark it off in a user’s list.

Image Credits: Maple

Maple’s partners today are representative of the kind of businesses that might make use of the platform in future, but Perry has a much broader vision. He hopes that Maple can ultimately help parents handle their responsibilities across a wide range of needs and income levels. Right now, Perry points out, a lot of what’s available to parents in terms of support is only available to higher income brackets – ie., nannies and dedicated caregivers. Perry says that his experience growing up relatively poor with a single mother supporting the entire family led him to want to provide something better.

“You have 125 million households in America, you have 3 million children being born every year, you have 30% of the households in America being single parent-run households,” Perry said. “It’s hard. Some people are working one two jobs, most couples are working couples. Every industry that’s changed has been about making things more accessible. In the case of Shopify, at one point building, an online store required hundreds of thousands of dollars and a bunch of skilled people. Now you can start a store for $20 in five minutes – 20 years ago, that was unfathomable.”

For Perry, Maple represents a path to that kind of shift in the economics of parenting and a network of family services, including goods, care, leisure and more. The startup has plans to eventually enlist other parents to provide services, which Perry says will unlock part-time income generation for full-time parents, allowing parents to help each other at the same time.

I asked him if he thought people would be reluctant to treat their family lives with the same kind of optimization approach favored by enterprise and commercial platform tools, but he suggested that in fact, not taking advantage of those same technologies in our personal lives is a missed opportunity.

“We believe that, uniquely, we’re living through a generation where we can start creating more time for people,” Perry said. “I think what makes Maple so unique is that no company has approached this by asking ‘How do we create more time for you so that you can spend more time with your kids?’ in the consolidated way that we have.”

Disclosure: I worked at Shopify from 2018 to 2019 while Perry was employed there, but we did not work together directly.

#america, #android, #api, #business, #co-founder, #companies, #evelyn-rusli, #family, #food, #inspired-capital, #iphone, #machine-learning, #platform, #president, #publishing, #recent-funding, #shopify, #social, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #yumi


#Brandneu – 5 neue Startups, die Ihr euch jetzt ansehen solltet präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

Jentis ist im Segment “Server-Side Tracking” unterwegs. Anders als beim konventionellen Tracking kommt bei Jentis ein einziges First-Party-JavaScript zum Einsatz. “Fehlerhafte Daten durch kompromittierende Browser-Erweiterungen lassen sich so eliminieren”, verspricht die Jungfirma.

Das Unternehmen ooohne aus Telgte entwickelt und verkauft pulverförmiges Hand-Spülmittel. “Es ist komplett plastikfrei und in Papier verpackt. Man kann es ganz einfach mit Leitungswasser zu flüssigem Spüli anmischen”, teilt die Jungfirma, die von Jan Schütz und Carolin Mo?llenbeck gegründet wurde, mit.

Das junge Hamburger Startup bee.neo tritt an, um den Honigmarkt aufzumischen. Die Hanseaten teilen dazu mit: “Wir denken Honig neu und out of the box und verbinden eines der reinsten Naturprodukte mit den Erwartungen einer modernen und anspruchsvollen Zielgruppe”.

Das Kölner Startup Sunvigo setzt seinen Kunden eine kostenlose Solaranlage aufs Dach. Im Gegenzug bietet Sunvigo, das von Michael Peters, Bastian Bauwens und Vigen Nikogosian gegründet wurde, seinen Kunden einen Stromvertrag an. Dabei müssen die Kunden nur den verbrauchten Strom zahlen.

Facts for Friends
Facts for Friends liefert Info-Material im Kampf gegen Fake-News. Das Hamburger Startup setzt dabei auf sogenannte FactSnacks, “kurze, prägnante Klar- und Richtigstellungen”. Diese kann jeder Nutzer schnell und einfach in seinem Social Media-Stream oder über Messenger-Dienste teilen.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#adtech, #aktuell, #bee-neo, #brandneu, #energie, #facts-for-friends, #food, #hamburg, #jentis, #koln, #medien, #ooohne, #startup-radar, #sunvigo, #telgte, #wien


India’s Zomato valued at $5.4 billion in new $250 million investment

Zomato has raised $250 million, two months after closing a $660 million Series J financing round, as the Indian food delivery startup builds a war-chest ahead of its IPO later this year.

Kora (which contributed $115 million), Fidelity ($55 million), Tiger Global ($50 million), Bow Wave ($20 million), and Dragoneer ($10 million) pumped the new capital into the 12-year-old Gurgaon-headquartered startup, Info Edge, a publicly listed investor in Zomato, disclosed in a filing (PDF) to a local stock exchange. The new investment gives Zomato a post-money valuation of $5.4 billion, up from $3.9 billion in December last year, said Info Edge, which owns 18.4% stake in the Indian startup.

The new investment reinforces the strong confidence investors have in Zomato, which struggled to raise money for much of last year. Zomato, which acquired the Indian food delivery business of Uber early last year, competes with Prosus Ventures-backed Swiggy (valued at about $3.6 billion) in India. Together they work with over 440,000 delivery partners, a larger workforce than that employed by Indian Department of Posts.

A third player, Amazon, also entered the food delivery market in India last year, though its operations are still limited to parts of Bangalore.

At stake is India’s food delivery market, which analysts at Bernstein expect to balloon to be worth $12 billion by 2022, they wrote in a report to clients. With about 50% of the market share, Zomato is the current leader among the three, Bernstein analysts wrote.

“We find the food-tech industry in India to be well positioned to sustained growth with improving unit economics. Take-rates are one of the highest in India at 20-25% and consumer traction is increasing. Market is largely a duopoly between Zomato and Swiggy with 80%+ share,” wrote analysts at Bank of America in a recent report, reviewed by TechCrunch.

Zomato and Swiggy have improved their finances in recent years, which is especially impressive because making money with food delivery is very even more challenging in India. Unlike Western markets such as the U.S., where the value of each delivery item is about $33, in India, a similar item carries the price tag of $3 to $4, according to research firms.

Both the startups eliminated hundreds of jobs last year as coronavirus pandemic hit their businesses. Zomato co-founder and chief executive Deepinder Goyal said in December that the food delivery market was “rapidly coming out of COVID-19 shadows.”

“December 2020 is expected to be the highest ever GMV month in our history. We are now clocking ~25% higher GMV than our previous peaks in February 2020. I am supremely excited about what lies ahead and the impact that we will create for our customers, delivery partners, and restaurant partners,” he said.

In an email to employees in September last year, Goyal said Zomato was working on its IPO for “sometime in the first half” of 2021 and was raising money to build a war-chest for “future M&A, and fighting off any mischief or price wars from our competition in various areas of our business.”

#amazon, #apps, #asia, #food, #funding, #india, #swiggy, #tiger-global, #zomato


Book Review: ‘Animal, Vegetable, Junk,’ by Mark Bittman

In “Animal, Vegetable, Junk,” Mark Bittman tells the long, unfolding story of our food sources, tracking the shift from agriculture to agribusiness.

#agriculture-and-farming, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animal-vegetable-junk-a-history-of-food-from-sustainable-to-suicidal-book, #bittman-mark, #books-and-literature, #food


My Wife Was Wary of My Lab-Made Dinner Party. The Faux Whiskey Won Her Over.

A slew of start-ups are engineering faux meats, eggs and dairy products that conjure a future in which we move from farm-to-table to lab-to-table.

#ava-food-labs-inc-endless-west, #biotechnology-and-bioengineering, #diamond-foundry-inc, #eat-just-inc, #food, #genetic-engineering, #graeters-inc, #meat, #perfect-day-inc, #veganism


Annie’s Pledges to Purge a Class of Chemicals From Its Mac and Cheese

The move comes nearly four years after a study showed that chemicals believed to cause health problems in children and reproductive issues in adults were found in mass-market macaroni and cheese packets.

#containers-and-packaging, #food, #food-and-drug-administration, #general-mills-inc, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #kraft-foods-group-inc, #organic-trade-assn, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #swan-shanna-h, #taco-bell-corp, #testosterone


The Activists Working to Remake the Food System

They’re committed not just to securing better meals for everyone, but to dismantling the very structures that have long exploited both workers and consumers.

#agriculture-and-farming, #andres-jose-1969, #arkansas, #atlanta-ga, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #food, #food-insecurity, #income-inequality, #new-york-city, #organic-foods-and-products


How to Help Winter Storm Relief in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana

These organizations are providing food, supplies and shelter to devastated communities. If you want to give aid, here are some research pointers.

#blood-donation, #food, #food-banks-and-pantries, #homeless-persons, #humanitarian-aid, #nonprofit-organizations, #philanthropy, #snow-and-snowstorms, #weather, #winter-season


Are Some Foods Addictive

Food researchers debate whether highly processed foods like potato chips and ice cream are addictive, triggering our brains to overeat.

#addiction-psychology, #alcohol-abuse, #american-journal-of-clinical-nutrition, #anxiety-and-stress, #brain, #carbohydrates, #diet-and-nutrition, #emotions, #fast-food-industry, #food, #loneliness, #obesity, #psychology-and-psychologists, #salt, #smoking-and-tobacco, #weight


#Brandneu – 6 neue Startups, die uns zuletzt begeistert haben präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

Das Unternehmen hearo versucht sich als “Softwarelösung für interne Unternehmens Podcasts” zu etablieren. Mit hearo, das von Dan Freisem, Leo Antunes und Flo De Felice gegründet wurde, haben Unternehmen die Möglichkeit Podcasts aufzunehmen, zu hosten und intern zu veröffentlichen.

Das Unternehmen Abcalis entwickelt und produziert DNA-sequenzdefinierte Antikörper für die Diagnostik. Diese sollen als “hochqualitative Alternative zu Tierblutprodukten” dienen und so Tierversuche unnötig machen. Das Startup verspricht, dass alles im Reagenzglas in gleicher Qualität reproduzierbar ist”.

Das Nürnberger Startup Superwave setzt – wie einige andere junge deutsche Firmen auch – auf den neuen Getränketrend Hard Selzer (Sprudelwasser mit Alkohol).Derzeit gibt es Superwave, das von Fabian Raum geführt wird in den Sorten Passion Fruit und Green Lime.

Bei Furnable können sich Unternehmen Möbel mieten. “Das Startup wurde mit dem Ziel gegründet, Organisationen bei der Transformation ihrer Arbeitswelten zu unterstützen. Mit Hilfe von Mietmöbeln kann agil, flexibel und schnell auf Veränderungen reagiert werden”. Hinter Furnable steckt die designfunktion Gruppe.

The Big Grin
Das Düsseldorfer Food-Startup The Big Grin liefert seinen Kunden 3-Gänge-Menüs nach Hause. Die Rheinländer versprechen dabei: “Es spielt absolut keine Rolle, wie begabt Du normalerweise am Herd bist. Denn mit der innovativen ‘Ready-to-Finish’ Idee ist ein Menü mit 3 Gängen im Handumdrehen fertig”.

Mit Cuppa haben Robin Bulz, Guntram Göres und Sabrina Münter eine App bzw. ein digitales Schwarzes Brett geschaffen, mit dem man sich mit anderen Menschen aus der Umgebung treffen kann. “Spontan und unkompliziert hat man so die Möglichkeit, die neue Umgebung zu erkunden”, teilen die Macher mit.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#abcalis, #aktuell, #brandneu, #braunschweig, #cuppa, #dusseldorf, #e-health, #food, #furnable, #hearo, #heilbronn, #munchen, #nurnberg, #startup-radar, #superwave, #the-big-grin, #wendlingen


Store in Oregon That Threw Out Food Is Confronted by Angry Activists

The police responded to a Fred Meyer grocery store in Portland that had tossed its refrigerated food after a winter storm knocked out power throughout the city, infuriating residents.

#demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #food, #kroger-company, #portland-ore, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #waste-materials-and-disposal, #winter-season


YC-backed Taste brings multi-course fine dining into your home

Jeff Chen has a pithy pitch for his new startup Taste: “We made the Instagram of nice food.”

In other words, just as Instagram made it easy for regular smartphone users to look like talented photographers, Taste makes it easy for customers to prepare impressive meals at home.

That’s because the real preparation is being done by fine-dining restaurants — Chen told me there are 16 Michelin-starred and Michelin-rated restaurants currently on the platform — whose food doesn’t translate easily to a delivery or takeout experience. Taste offers “dinner kits,” which Chen said are neither standard takeout (where everything has been fully prepared but doesn’t necessarily travel well) or a regular meal kit (where “everything is separate and raw”).

Instead, he suggested Taste’s dinner kits are “this in-between thing” where the food is mostly, but not entirely, prepared in advance, allowing customers to “heat and assemble much faster.”

For example, when I tried out Taste last week, my girlfriend and I received three-course meals from Intersect by Lexus and its “restaurant in residence” The Grey. A couple of the (delicious) courses and sides had to be heated in the oven or the microwave for five, 10 or 20 minutes, but there was no real prep or cooking required — the real work was cleaning up afterwards.

Taste screenshot

Image Credits: Taste

Even the packaging was impressive (if a little overwhelming), with a large, fancy box for each kit, and then individual packages for each course, plus a separate package for spices. There are optional wine pairings, and some restaurants will also provide plating instructions and a Spotify playlist for the meal.

Taste — which is part of the current batch of startups at Y Combinator — is currently New York City-only, where it works with restaurants including Dirt Candy, Meadowsweet and the Musket Room. As you might expect, these kits cost more than your standard dinner delivery. Many of them are in the $60-to-$100 per person range, although there are also dinners below $40, as well as a la carte options.

Chen (who sold his last startup Joyride to Google) said that he and his co-founder Daryl Sew have been excited to help New York City chefs reinvent their offerings for delivery and weather the pandemic.

“We also do a very key thing, which is pre-ordering and batching for the restaurant,” he added. “When a restaurant works with Taste, all the orders come in two days before to the restaurant, and we pick it up at designated times, which help tremendously with capacity lift.”

Taste founders Daryl Sew, Jeff Chen

Taste founders Daryl Sew and Jeff Chen

And while Taste might seem particularly appealing now, when indoor fine dining options are either illegal, unsafe or transformed by social distancing and mask-wearing, Chen anticipates healthy demand even after the pandemic. After all, he suggested that before COVID-19, there were many people — busy parents, for example, or people who work long hours — who felt like they could’t take advantage of these restaurants as often as they wanted, or at all.

“Everything is getting moved into the home,” he said. “Movies are getting moved into the home with Netflix, workouts are getting moved into the home with Peloton and Tonal, and now we’re going to move nice dining experiences into the home.”

#ecommerce, #food, #jeff-chen, #startups, #tc, #y-combinator


Tata Group reaches agreement to buy majority stake in BigBasket

Indian conglomerate Tata Group has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in grocery delivery startup BigBasket, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The salt-to-software giant is buying over 60% stake in BigBasket, valuing the Indian startup between $1.8 billion to $2 billion, the source said, requesting anonymity as the deal is still private. BigBasket had raised over $720 million prior to the deal with Tata.

Indian news network ET Now reported on Tuesday that the two firms were in advanced talks, signals of which began to emerge in local media two quarters ago. Two BigBasket co-founders and Tata Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Chinese backer Alibaba and a handful of other investors are getting a near complete exit from BigBasket as part of the deal, the source said.

The move comes as Tata Group looks to expand to more consumer businesses and works to develop a so-called superapp in the world’s second largest internet market.

Bangalore-headquartered BigBasket, which competes with SoftBank-backed Grofers and Reliance’s JioMart, operates in over two dozen cities in India and turned profitable months into the coronavirus pandemic as sales skyrocketed on the platform.

In a recent note to clients, Bank of America analysts estimated that the online grocery delivery market could be worth $12 billion in India by 2023.

“Competition is high in the sector with large verticals like BigBasket/Grofers and horizontal like Amazon/Flipkart trying to convert the unorganized market to organized one. Based on media articles, till recently the No 1 player in the space was BigBasket, ,with it hitting $1 bn annualized GMV & selling over 300K orders every day. RIL also threw its hat with the company launching its JioMart app in May-20 across 200 cites,” they wrote.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#apps, #asia, #bigbasket, #food, #funding, #fundings-exits, #india


After raising $150 million in equity and debt, Nature’s Fynd opens its fungus food for pre-orders

Nature’s Fynd, the food technology company with a new food offering cultivated from fungus found in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, is releasing its first products for pre-order. 

Pitching both a non-dairy cream cheese and meatless breakfast patties, Nature’s Fynd had managed to attract some serious investors including Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and the Bill Gates-backed investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The company most recently raised $80 million in its last round of funding.

The company is part of a wave of innovative products using a range of bacteria, fungi, and plants to create meat alternatives.  Last year, companies developing meat alternatives raised well over $1 billion in financing and investors show no sign of slowing down in their commitments to the industry.

The commercial launch of the Fy Breakfast Bundle, vegan and non-GMO alternatives to traditional breakfast products will be the first commercial test for Nature’s Fynd as it looks to go to market.

These limited release bundles are available for $14,99 plus shipping, according to the company, and the products will be available across the 48 contiguous U.S. states.

The company’s product is grown using fermentation technology to cultivate the bacteria that Nature’s Fynd’s chief scientists discovered during their research into organisms around Yellowstone National Park.

Nature’s Fynd touts the resilience and efficiency of the microbe it discovered, leading to a more sustainable production process that uses a fraction of the land, water, and energy resources that traditional animal husbandry requires, the company said.

“We choose optimism so that we can find a way to do more with less. Using our novel liquid-air surface fermentation technology, we’re creating a range of sustainable foods that nourish our bodies and nurture our planet for generations to come. We’re really excited to be at the beginning of this journey with the launch of our first-ever limited release of Fy Breakfast Bundles,” said Nature’s Fynd CEO Thomas Jonas. “We’ve deeply studied our consumers and we know that Fy’s unique versatility, which delivers great tasting meat and dairy alternatives for every occasion, is highly appealing.” 

Nature’s Fynd chief executive, Thomas Jonas. Image Credit: Nature’s Fynd

#articles, #breakthrough-energy-ventures, #ceo, #chief, #fermentation, #food, #food-and-drink, #food-technology, #generation-investment-management, #meat-substitutes, #tc, #united-states


Pizza Was the Restaurant Hero of 2020

Its ease and affordability made it a pandemic staple for many families and a rare bright spot in an industry that has been decimated.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dominos-pizza-inc, #food, #little-caesar-enterprises, #papa-johns-international-inc, #pizza, #pizza-hut, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants


Planning 500,000 charging points for EVs by 2025, Shell becomes the latest company swept up in EV charging boom

Shell’s plan to roll out 500,000 electric charging station in just four years is the latest sign of an EV charging infrastructure boom that has prompted investors to pour cash into the industry and inspired a few companies to become public companies in search of the capital needed to meet demand.

Since the beginning of the year, three companies have been acquired by special purpose acquisition vehicles and are on a path to go public, while a third has raised tens of millions from some of the biggest names in private equity investing for its own path to commercial viability.

The SPAC attack began in September when an electric vehicle charging network ChargePoint struck a deal to merge with special-purpose acquisition company Switchback Energy Acquisition Corporation, with a market valuation of $2.4 billion. The company’s public listing will debut February 16 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, EVgo, an owner and operator of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, agreed to merge with the SPAC Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition for a valuation of $2.6 billion— a huge win for the company’s privately held owner, the power development and investment company LS Power. LS Power and EVgo management, which today own 100% of the company will be rolling all of its equity into the transaction. Once the transaction closes in the second quarter, LS Power and EVgo will hold a 74% stake in the newly combined company.

One more deal soon followed. Volta Industries agreed to merge this month with Tortoise Acquisition II, a tie-up that would give the charging company named after battery inventor Alessandro Volta a $1.4 billion valuation. The deal sent shares of the SPAC company, trading under the ticker SNPR, rocketing up 31.9% in trading earlier this week to $17.01. The stock is currently trading around $15 per-share.


Not to be outdone, private equity firms are also getting into the game. Riverstone Holdings, one of the biggest names in private equity energy investment, placed its own bet on the charging space with an investment in FreeWire. That company raised $50 million in new round of funding earlier this year.

“The writing is on the wall and the investors have to take the time. There’s been a flight out of the traditional investment opportunities in markets,” said FreeWire chief executive, Arcady Sosinov, in an interview. “There’s been a flight out fo the oil and gas companies and out fo the traditional utilities. You have to look at other opportunities… This is going to be the largest growth opportunity of the next ten years.”

FreeWire deploys its infrastructure with BP currently, but the company’s charging technology can be rolled out to fast food companies, post offices, grocery stores, or anywhere where people go and spend somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour. With the Biden Administration’s plan to boost EV adoption in federal fleets, post offices actually represent another big opportunity for charging networks, Sosinov said.

“One of the reasons we find electrification of mobility so attractive is because it’s not if or how, it’s when,” said Robert Tichio, a partner at Riverstone in charge of the firm’s ESG efforts. “Penetration rates are incredibly low… compare that to Norway or Northern Europe. They have already achieved double digit percentages.”

A recent Super Bowl commercial from GM featuring Will Farrell showed just how far ahead Norway is when it comes to electric vehicle adoption. 

“The demands onc capital in the electrification of transport will begin to approach three quarters of a trillion annually,” Tichio said. “The short answer to your question is that the needs for capital now that we have collectively, politically, socially economically come to a consensus in terms of where we’re going and we couldn’t say that 18 months ago is going to be at a tipping point.”

Shell already has electric vehicle charging infrastructure that it has deployed in some markets. Back in 2019 the company acquired the Los Angeles-based company Greenlots, an EV charging developer. And earlier this year Shell made another move into electric vehicle charging with the acquisition of Ubitricity in the UK.

“As our customers’ needs evolve, we will increasingly offer a range of alternative energy sources, supported by digital technologies, to give people choice and the flexibility, wherever they need to go and whatever they drive,” said Mark Gainsborough, Executive Vice President, New Energies for Shell, in a statement at the time of the Greenlots acquisition. “This latest investment in meeting the low-carbon energy needs of US drivers today is part of our wider efforts to make a better tomorrow. It is a step towards making EV charging more accessible and more attractive to utilities, businesses and communities.”


#biden-administration, #chargepoint, #charging-station, #corporate-finance, #economy, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #evgo, #food, #greenlots, #inductive-charging, #los-angeles, #norway, #nrg-energy, #oil-and-gas, #partner, #private-equity, #riverstone-holdings, #special-purpose-acquisition-company, #super-bowl, #tc, #ubitricity, #united-kingdom, #united-states


Can Technology Help Us Eat Better?

A new crop of digital health companies is using blood glucose monitors to transform the way we eat.

#anxiety-and-stress, #diabetes, #exercise, #food, #heart, #salad-dressings, #sugar, #wearable-computing


Some Baby Food May Contain Toxic Metals, U.S. Reports

Testing found high levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium in some ingredients, congressional investigators said.

#arsenic, #baby-foods, #food, #food-contamination-and-poisoning, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #infant-formulas, #krishnamoorthi-raja, #lead, #parenting, #product-tests, #rice, #united-states, #your-feed-science


Tovala, the smart oven and meal kit service, heats up with $30M more in funding

With more of us spending significant amounts of time at home because of Covid-19, our attention has turned increasingly to how and what we eat. Today, one of the startups that has seen a lift in its business as a result of that is announcing a round of funding to expand its operations.

Tovala, the smart oven and meal kit service — has closed a Series C of $30 million. David Rabie, the Chicago startup’s co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that it plans to use the funding in large part to open a second facility, most likely in Utah, to help with fresh food distribution to the western half of the U.S. Other investments will include improving customer service and bringing in more talent.

It will also slowly start to bring in more options for pre-made meals and recipes: Rabie said it is working on ways of working with leading restaurants and chefs to create meals to sell and cook in the Tovala oven.

“We think we can come closer to the restaurant experience because of the oven,” said Rabie. “By pre-making food rather than just reheating, we think we can open up reach for a local restaurant.”

The funding is being led by Left Lane Capital, with Finistere Ventures, Comcast Ventures, OurCrowd, Origin Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and Joe Mansueto — all previous backers — also participating.

Originally incubated a Y Combinator, Tovala has attracted other interesting investors in the company, including poultry giant Tyson. Notably, this is the second round of funding for the startup in the space of six months, after it picked up $20 million in a Series B last June.

As with that round, the valuation is not being disclosed, but the company has hit some significant numbers, evidenced by this funding, which points to how its value may well be on the rise. Annualized revenue grew tenfold in the last 18 months (that is, including growth before Covid-19); employee numbers were up 40%; the company has passed 3 million meals shipped; and the company says that their ovens are being used 32 times on average each month by their owners (stats it can rack up because those devices are connected).

It is still not disclosing total user numbers, Rabie said.

Tovala’s oven sells for $299, but the company usually knocks off $100 if you also commit to six of its $11.99 meals over the next six months. Right now — possibly to tap into the wave of people who are rethinking how they eat in the wake of restaurant closures and simply spending more time at home — it seems Tovala is offering discounts of up to $130 to those buying the oven without the meal obligation, dropping the oven price down to about $170.

In addition to the company’s own pre-made meals, Tovala’s oven can cook hundreds of pre-made dishes and meals sold in stores by way of scanning package barcodes; and recipes that it devises and you can make yourself and program the oven to cook by way of the Tovala app. You can also use it in the same way that you might use any countertop oven, to toast, steam, bake and broil whatever you choose to independent of all that.

A profusion of meal kit and food delivery businesses have changed how a lot of people think about food at home, and Tovala has been building out a business in the hopes that it can cover a specific niche: people who want to eat fresh food they cook at home, but who don’t have time or interest in putting those meals together — not even when they come with items precut and measured by meal kit companies.

However, that is just one side of the business: Tovala’s ovens, Rabie said, are a central part of the vertical integration that the company has built, and they are here to stay as part of the proposition.

“We are in the business of getting high quality meals to people, and the oven is our vehicle for doing that,” he said. “We are both a tech and food company, and at no point do I see us getting out of oven business.”

Having said that, the company is also expanding with partnerships with others that produce ovens, too. Specifically, Tovala has a deal with LG to embed its software in LG ovens, to enable them to cook Tovala’s meals and the other dishes that can be programmed with its app an barcode scanning system. Rabie said the deal made sense since the kinds of full-sized ovens that will run Tovala’s software are “not the kind of product line that we will get into.”

It appears that LG is not an investor, and it’s not clear when these new devices will be rolled out: the deal between the two was announced back in 2019.

That partnership is a mark of how the hardware companies that are building connected appliances, and services around them, are knitting together more closely with incumbents to take their next scaling steps. In at lest two instances that has led to those startups getting acquired: BBQ giant Weber acquired June (which it had also invested in) earlier this year; and previously Electrolux acquired pressure cooker company Anova for $250 million.

An exit of that kind may or may not be on the menu for Tovala, but it’s a signal of the options that the startup has for moving from appetiser to main course in the future.

Rabie had told me that Left Lane’s interest was based on how it saw Tovala as a “Peloton”-like category definer for smart food preparation at home, in part because of how it could become part of a person’s daily habits and routines.

“The pairing of a meal subscription with a connected device has enabled Tovala to achieve a customer retention rate that is a step-function better than anything else we’ve seen in food delivery — in many ways similar to what Peloton achieved in a traditionally low-retention fitness industry,” said Jason Fiedler, co-founder and managing partner at Left Lane Capital, in a statement. “Our team brings a proven track record of investing in category-defining consumer subscription businesses, and we’re excited about Tovala’s potential to be the next major food tech company.” Fiedler is joining the board.

#chicago, #ecommerce, #food, #fundings-exits, #gadgets, #meal-kits, #smart-oven, #tc, #tovala


Good Eggs raises $100M and plans to launch in Southern California

Grocery delivery startup Good Eggs is announcing that it has raised $100 million in new funding, and that it’s planning to launch in Southern California in either the summer or fall of this year.

Parts of this story might sound familiar to readers familiar with Good Eggs — when the startup raised its most recent, $50 million funding round in 2018, CEO Bentley Hall also mentioned plans for geographic expansion.

It seems, however, that the company has found plenty of opportunity for growth while remaining focused on the San Francisco Bay Area. Good Eggs says that in the past year, revenue has grown to the nine figures (more than $100 million), hired more than 400 employees and nearly doubled its customer base.

Hall also noted that the company opened a new, larger warehouse in Oakland just a few days before shelter-in-place orders took effect last March. So the team was busy enough trying to operate a new warehouse, meet increased demand for grocery delivery and keep workers safe in the process.

Good Eggs box

Image Credits: Good Eggs

And while the grocery delivery market has become increasingly competitive, Hall argued that Good Eggs stands out thanks to the quality and breadth of its products — 70% of its products are locally sourced, and it often delivers them within 48 hours of harvesting.

“There’s lots of people offering groceries, meal kits, prepared meals, alcohol — we do all of that, with a certain sourcing criteria,” Hall said. As a result, Good Eggs has become the “primary source” for many of its consumers, representing 65% to 85% of their home food purchases.

It’s also worth noting that this represents a bit of a turnaround for the company, after the it shut down operations in Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans in 2015, with Hall coming on as CEO shortly afterwards. And it sounds like he isn’t in a rush to launch in a bunch of new markets.

“I think of [Southern California] not as one big region, but as several small sub-regions,” Hall said. “There’s the LA region, northern San Diego, Orange County — those areas collectively are the size of two or three Bay Areas. That’s a meaningful increase in our addressable market.”

Good Eggs CEO Bentley Hall

Good Eggs CEO Bentley Hall

The new funding was led by Glade Brook Capital Partners, with participation from GV, Tao Invest, Finistere Ventures and Rich’s, as well as previous investors Benchmark Partners, Index Ventures, S2G, DNS Capital and Obvious Ventures. Glade Brook’s J.P. Van Arsdale is joining the company’s board of directors.

“The grocery market is undergoing fundamental change and the shift to e-commerce and higher quality products and services is accelerating,” Van Arsdale said in a statement. “Good Eggs is experiencing rapid growth with strong unit economics and is well-positioned to become a category-defining leader. We are excited to partner with their team to help drive future growth and expansion.”

In addition to geographic expansion, Hall said the money will allow Good Eggs to continue adding new products and to find ways to improve the e-commerce experience.

In addition to the funding, Good Eggs is also announcing that it has hired Vineet Mehra as its chief growth and customer experience officer. Mehra was previously chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, and before that as executive vice president and global chief marketing and revenue officer at Ancestry.

#bentley-hall, #ecommerce, #food, #food-and-drink, #funding, #fundings-exits, #glade-brook-capital-partners, #good-eggs, #grocery-store, #los-angeles, #oakland, #retailers, #san-diego, #startups


#DealMonitor – Jurafuchs sammelt Millionensumme ein – eCAPITAL investiert in Kendaxa – Ionos kauft WE22

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 1. Februar werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber IBB Ventures und einige Business Angels – darunter Stephanie Hundertmark, Partnerin einer international tätigen Großkanzlei, – investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Jurafuchs. Das junge Unternehmen möchte Juristeninnen und Juristen mit Lernapps helfen, sich auf Prüfungen vorzubereiten. Jurafuchs wurde 2018 von Christian Leupold-Wendling, Steffen Schebesta und Wendelin Neubert gegründet. Nach eigenen Angaben ist Jurafuchs mit 15 Millionen Lernerfahrungen und 140.000 Nutzer:innen schon jetzt “die führende Lern-App für juristische Bildung in Deutschland”.

+++ Der Tech-Investor eCAPITAL und nicht genannte “namhafte Family Offices und Privatinvestoren” investieren eine ungenannte Summe – sicherlich aber eine niedrige siebenstellige Summe – in Kendaxa. Das Unternehmen aus Leipzig, das 2017 von Christopher Blaschke gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um KI- und datengetriebene Intelligent Automation Lösungen. Mit dem frischen Kapital sollen “die Aktivitäten der Gruppe vor allem in den Marktsegmenten Fertigungsindustrie und Finanzdienstleistungen weiter ausgebaut werden”.

+++ Zuger Spicehouse Ventures und Bexio-Gründer Jeremias Meier investieren 1 Million Schweizer Franken in das Marketing-Tech-Startup Aioma – siehe Das Unternehmen, das von Marc Gasser und Valentin Binnendijk gegründet wurde, beliefert seine Kunden über eine AI-gestützte SaaS-Plattform mit Inhalten.

+++ Der European Super Angels Club (ESAC) investiert erneut in Sponsoo – diesmal eine sechsstellige Summe.  “Mit dem Second Closing kann Sponsoo noch schneller neue Märkte erschließen und wird etwa sein Engagement in Spanien ausbauen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Sponsoo aus Hamburg digitalisiert seit einigen Jahren das Sport-Sponsoring.

+++ Der Medienkonzern Hubert Burda Media, dem seit 2019 betreibt, übernimmt und “Mit dem Erwerb der beiden Netdoktor-Plattformen in Österreich und in der Schweiz ist Burda künftig der größte Anbieter von digitalen Gesundheitsinformationen im deutschsprachigen Raum (DACH). Über den Kaufpreis haben beide Parteien Stillschweigen vereinbart”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

+++ Der Cloud- und Hostinganbieter Ionos, ein Unternehmen der United Internet Gruppe, übernimmt WE22. Das Kölner Unternehmen entwickelt Software zur Erstellung, Pflege und dem Hosting von Webseiten. WE22 wurde 1999 von Robert Schovenberg und Cornel Schnietz als Content Management AG gegründet. WE22 beschäftigt derzeit mehr als 140 Mitarbeiter:innen. Bekannt geworden ist das Unternehmen durch seinen White-Label-Website-Builder CM4all.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aioma, #aktuell, #berlin, #cm4all, #e-learning, #ecapital, #european-super-angels-club, #food, #hamburg, #heycater, #ibb-ventures, #ionos, #jurafuchs, #kendaxa, #koln, #leipzig, #netdoktor-de, #sponsoo, #venture-capital, #we22


$20,000 for a Permit? New York May Finally Offer Vendors Some Relief

In an attempt to shut down a thriving black market, the City Council passed a bill that would increase the number of permits for street vendors.

#black-markets, #city-council-nyc, #food, #food-trucks-and-vendors, #new-york-city, #small-business


#DealMonitor – Compeon bekommt 15 Millionen – Landis+Gyr kauft Rhebo (>10 Millionen)

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 28. Januar werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Der französische Geldgeber Iris Capital, die NRW.BANK, die Qatar Development Bank und Alt-Investoren wie Tengelmann Ventures, btov Partners und DvH Ventures investieren 15 Millionen Euro in Compeon, eine Plattformen für gewerbliche Finanzierungen (Firmenkredite, Leasing oder auch alternative Finanzierungsprodukte). Der B2B-Finanzmarktplatz wurde 2012 von Nico Peters, Frank Wüller und Kai Böringschulte ins Leben gerufen. Den Einstieg von  Iris Capital hatten wir bereits im April des vergangenen Jahres im Insider-Podcast enthüllt. Tengelmann Ventures, btov Partners und DvH Ventures investierten zuvor bereits  12 Millionen Euro in das Düsseldorfer FinTech. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 35 Millionen in Compeon. Nach Firmenangaben bieten derzeit “rund 300 Banken, Sparkassen und andere Finanzdienstleister Finanzierungslösungen über die Plattform an”. 

+++ Change Ventures und der Schweizer Versicherer Helvetia investieren 3,1 Millionen Euro in das Berliner Insurtech Inzmo. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 5,2 Millionen Euro in das junge Unternehmen, das 2015 von Meeri Rebane gegründet wurde. Zum Start positioniert sich Inzmo als App, bei der Nutzer ihren Drahtesel gegen Diebstahl registrieren konnten, inzwischen können Nutzer über Inzmo ihre Fahrräder auch versichern. “The startup focuses on B2B2C solutions across multiple verticals from consumer electronics and bike insurance to rental deposit insurance”, heißt es in der Selbstbeschreibung.

+++ Engelhardt Kaupp Kiefer & Co. aus Stuttgart investiert “zusammen mit privaten Investoren” 1,6 Millionen Euro in Megadev. Das junge Unternehmen baut mit Plitch einen “All-In-One-PC-Spiele-Assistenten”. Bereits seit 2016 versorgt das Münchner Unternehmen MegaDev Gamer mit seinem MegaTrainer mit Cheats und Trainingcodes. “Mit diesem Investment soll Plitch als globaler Standard für die Anpassung des Spielerlebnisses etabliert werden und die Nutzung von Trainern und Mods für Einzelspieler-Spiele weiter verbreiten, um deren Langlebigkeit zu erhöhen und das Spielerlebnis der Gamer zu optimieren”, teilt Megadev mit.

Berlin Organics
+++ Nicht genannte Angel-Investoren und “Unternehmern aus dem Food-Bereich, private Angel aus Investment Capital, der Medienindustrie sowie eine Berliner Werbeagentur” investieren eine sechsstellige Summe in  Berlin Organics. Das 2015 gegründete Unternehmen setzt auf “pflanzliche Bio-Nahrungsmittel mit einer hohen Nährstoffdichte und auf Fitness-Ernährung”. Das frische Kapital soll “dem Ausbau des Vertriebs und des Marketings sowie zur Erweiterung der Produktpalette” dienen.


+++ Landis+Gyr, ein Schweizer Unternehmen rund um Energiemanagement-Lösungen, übernimmt Rhebo. Das 2014 von Klaus Mochalski, Martin Menschner und Frank Stummer in Leipzig gegründete Startup bietet eine “Lösung zur vollständig automatisierten Echtzeit-Überwachung des Datenverkehrs in Industriesteuernetzen” an. eCapital, der Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen (TGFS), VNG Innovation und SHS Ventures Steel investierten in den vergangenen Jahren rund 5 Millionen in Rhebo. Der Kaufpreis liegt im zweistelligen Millionenbereich.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #berlin, #berlin-organics, #btov-partners, #change-ventures, #compeon, #dusseldorf, #dvh-ventures, #fintech, #food, #helvetia-venture, #insurtech, #iris-capital, #landisgyr, #leipzig, #megadev, #munchen, #nrw-bank, #qatar-development-bank, #rhebo, #tengelmann-ventures, #venture-capital


Mealco raises $7M to launch new delivery-centric restaurants

Mealco, a startup promising to help chefs launch new restaurants designed around delivery, is announcing that it has raised $7 million in seed funding.

It’s probably not news to anyone reading this that opening a restaurant can be an expensive, risky proposition — and of course, many restaurants have gone out of business during the pandemic.

But founder and CEO Daniel Simon (who was previously a developer and product lead at Applicaster, and has also worked with Tel Aviv restaurant group R2M) said that even in the best of times, it can take $1 or $2 million to get started, and “if you want to hit the ground running, 98% of your focus is not on the food or the customers.”

With Mealco, on the other hand, there’s no upfront cost for the chefs, and they get to focus on actually creating the dishes and the menu. Mealco locally sources the ingredients, which are then cooked using the startup’s kitchen infrastructure and offered for delivery via the standard delivery apps — Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates and Seamless.

Simon said that with Mealco, the process of getting a new restaurant up and running only takes six to eight weeks: “We tell [the chefs] they don’t need to chop any more onions or tomatoes. There’s Mealco software that can tell employees at the Mealco kitchen how to prepare [each dish].”


Cayenne. Image Credits: Mealco

Mealco also provides support around branding, marketing and social media, and gives chefs data about how the business is performing. The chef, he said, can “manage the restaurant from their mobile phone.”

The startup has already launched two restaurants delivering in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens — Mexican restaurant Tributo and Nashville hot chicken restaurant Cayenne (the latter with chef Hillary Sterling). And it says there are 50 chefs on the waitlist.

Asked whether any of Mealco’s partners mind being separated from the food preparation and the dining experience, Simon said it depends on the chef.

“If you want to open a single location and be in the kitchen every morning,” then he said Mealco isn’t for you. “That not wrong or right, it’s a preference … But most chefs are creators, they’re artists. They express themselves through food.” And in his view, Mealco allows them to focus on that creativity.

Rucker Park Capital led the round with participation from FJLabs, Reshape,, Oceans Ventures, WLP and angel investors including former Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky. Simon said the plan is to launch throughout New York City and surrounding areas this year, before moving on to new cities next year.

“We had the opportunity to see the evolution of the food ecosystem firsthand in the past few years,” said Wes Tang-Wymer, general partner at Rucker Park Capital, in a statement. “The time is ripe to embrace all these advances to launch new brands in a new format. In Mealco, we found the most compelling model to push the frontier of restaurant innovation further by empowering chefs to take ‘idea-to-table’ faster and cheaper than ever before.”

#food, #funding, #fundings-exits, #startups, #tc


How America’s Food System Could Change Under Biden

New school meal standards? Help for small farmers? Maybe, but first the new administration has to deal with hunger, food safety and a diminished U.S.D.A.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #diet-and-nutrition, #food, #food-insecurity, #food-stamps, #kass-sam, #organic-foods-and-products, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vilsack-tom


Zero, a plastic-free grocery-delivery startup, to launch in LA

Plastic-free grocery-delivery startup Zero is gearing up to launch in Los Angeles on February 10, after solely operating in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zero works directly with suppliers to sell food and other household items in jars, boxes and other types of sustainable packaging, and offers next-day delivery.

Zero works with both big-name brands like Sightglass Coffee, Annie’s and Newman’s Own, as well as emerging vendors that are focused on sustainability, like Planet FWD, founded by Zume co-founder Julia Collins.

Zero members pay $25 per month to access discounted prices on food along with free deliveries. Zero is also available without a subscription, but prices on individual items cost a bit more, and delivery costs $7.99.

I’ve used Zero a couple of times and overall had a pleasant experience. The selection of food is pretty good, but I wasn’t able to find certain types of items like tortilla chips and mandarin oranges. On the plus side, Zero sells my favorite candy of all-time, Tony’s Chocolonely.

In total, Zero founder and CEO Zuleyka Strasner says there are just over 1,100 different items available in the store.

That’s partly because of the leg work that’s required to ensure the food manufactures are meeting Zero’s internal standards for packaging. In the case of chicken, Zero has worked directly with butchers to ensure they package it in compostable paper, which then goes into a compostable resealable bag, Strasner said. That took a lot of time, effort, energy and technology, she said.

Zero does allow plastic at some point in the supply chain process but ensures that plastic is not passed on to consumers. Using chicken as an example again, the chicken starts at the farm and then must travel to one of Zero’s butcher networks and then to a facility to get packaged and processed.

“So those farms and those parts of that transportation process do oftentimes involve plastic in there,” Strasner said. “And as the company grows, we get involved more and more and more into changing more and more of the processes and removing more and more of the plastic for each of our new manufacturing suppliers. So it’s always a journey for each farm, to start with that product going out to the customer plastic-free and then working backwards backwards backwards to removing more and more and more plastics.”

While it would be ideal for all of Zero’s partners to operate fully plastic-free, Strasner said it was important to make it as easy as possible for farms, suppliers and other stakeholders to get on board, “rather than setting up a set of rules and regulations that say either you’re plastic-free from the minute the chicken gets slaughtered all the way to getting it to the customer,” she said.

“That would not create the shift in the industry that we’re looking to create.”

The idea for Zero started to come into fruition for Strasner during her honeymoon in the Corn Islands in Nicaragua. During her trip, she was shocked at how much single-use plastic washed up on the shore, she told TechCrunch. Meanwhile, she had seen the zero-waste, anti-plastic movement growing and began to wonder what would happen if she went plastic-free. Going plastic-free made her think more about the supply chain and how foods are packed in the country, she said.

Given her background in technology, she began to think about how technology could be applied to the problem of plastic waste, “which must be solved within the next seven to 10 years,” she said. “Time is truly finite here and that’s the mission I decided to undertake.”

Zero began testing in 2018 and officially launched in November 2019. The majority of Zero’s customers are members and, overall, the company has “many, many thousands of customers,” Strasner said.

To date, Zero has raised $4.7 million in funding from investors like Precursor Ventures, Backstage Capital, 1984 and others.

“We aim to be and we will be the largest sustainability platform in this country,” Strasner said. “So whatever you need and desire — food, homewares or otherwise, certainly plastic-free but also just sustainable in general — you would come to us. Zero really is a movement beyond just food.”


#climate-change, #food, #tc, #techcrunch-include-company, #zero


Club Feast raises $3.5M to help restaurants deliver meals that only cost $5.99

Club Feast, a startup with a more affordable approach to meal delivery, is announcing that it has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by General Catalyst.

The company was founded by Atallah Atallah, Gazi Atallah and Chris Miao. The basic concept is pretty simple: Restaurant delivery that only costs $5.99 per dish — cheaper that almost anything you’d find on other delivery services. (The startup also charges diners a $2 delivery fee, as well as a $1 fee for single meal orders.)

Atallah Atallah, who previously co-founded restaurant rewards company Seated and serves as Club Feast’s CEO, said the startup works with restaurants to select a few meals that they can afford to offer at the $5.99 price. Diners, meanwhile, sign up for a weekly meal plan and place their orders at least 24 hours ahead of time. The restaurant then knows exactly how much of a dish will be purchased, so they can plan ahead and cook in an efficient and economical way.

“We really work with them to create a meal that they can make at a price that works for their users,” Atallah said. Plus, he noted that with all the orders placed ahead of time, Club Feast and its partners can plan efficient delivery routes without having to build sophisticated algorithms for optimizing on-demand deliveries: “Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.”

Club Feast CEO Atallah Atallah

Club Feast CEO Atallah Atallah

Of course, that requires more planning and upfront commitment from diners. However, Atallah noted that while meal credits are bought via weekly subscription, they can be paused or spent at any time. He also suggested that he doesn’t see Club Feast as a direct competitor to on-demand food delivery — instead, he suggested that he continues to use DoorDash and Uber Eats for spur-of-the-moment orders or special occasions, while Club Feast is a more affordable option for regular meals.

“With our price point, our average user orders eight times a month,” he said. “Why not make the pie much bigger?”

Atallah added that Club Feast is diversifying the food options on the platform by adding side dishes and desserts. And it could eventually introduce higher prices for fancier meals, but he said, “We want to make sure that does not affect the $5.99 concept.”

The startup currently makes deliveries in San Francisco and San Mateo, where it works with restaurants including The Halal Guys, Kasa Indian Eatery, HRD and Kitava. With the new funding, it plans to expand throughout the Bay Area and into New York City.

“The pandemic exposed significant gaps in the food delivery industry, and we’re proud to support Club Feast on their mission to make the experience more affordable for both restaurants and consumers,” said General Catalyst Managing Director Niko Bonatsos in a statement.

#food, #food-delivery, #funding, #fundings-exits, #general-catalyst, #meal, #niko-bonatsos, #seated, #startups


Nomad’s charcoal grill suitcase is modern ingenuity combined with classic cooking

Dallas-based Nomad set out to take an age-old cooking method and modernize it – but not by introducing connected or smart features. Instead, the Nomad Grill & Smoker takes classic charcoal grilling and relies on clever industrial design to make it packable and portable, while making sure cooks of all expertise levels can make great-tasting food even if they’re cooking with charcoal for the first time.


Nomad’s grill looks like some kind of fancy protective case that you’d expect to see traveling with a film crew, crossed with maybe a modern Mac Pro. It has an anodized aluminum build that uses a unibody casting in manufacturing, with high external durability and internal heat retention. It measures roughly 2 feet by 2 foot, and is around 9.5 inches tall when closed, with a total weight of 28 lbs including the cast stainless steel grill grate that’s included int the basic package.

28 lbs may seem like a lot, but it’s remarkably light for the cook surface you get with Nomad, which adds up to either 212 square inches of space in single-grate closed mode (good for smoking) or up to 425 square inches in open grill mode, which can double the cooking surface with the purchase of an optional second grate and charcoal placed in either side (better for open flame BBQing).

The case features a strong and durable dual latch closure system, and a reinforced handle for toting it around. Silicon skids offer protection for surfaces when laying the grill down to cook, and there are two magnetic air vents on either side for controlling airflow and flame, which are adjusted simply by manually sliding.

Design and performance

Image Credits: Nomad

The Nomad design is deceptively simple – at heart it’s essentially a metal box. But looking below the surface a bit, it actually hides some very advanced construction, including a layered shell design that means the outside never actually gets too hot, which is great not only for chef safety but also for setting it down on a wide range of materials during the actual cook process. For a portable grill, that’s a huge benefit.

Looking at the grill grate specifically, it features a honeycomb design that helps better distribute the heat, which is also domed subtly to allow more clearance for the charcoal underneath. It’s removable, but also snaps into place in the grill itself using magnets, which is great for transport and also for ensuring things don’t move around with any bumps.

One other huge benefit that seems like a small thing at first glance is a built-in thermometer that’s molded into the case. This provides you easy, clear temperature readings for the grill, and it’s analog so there’s no power required – another big benefit for portability.

In practice, the grill works exactly as you’d expect a great charcoal grill to work, which is amazing given its size and portability. It should definitely be mentioned that you’re going to be much happier getting the grill lit if you pick yourself up a charcoal chimney, which eases the lighting process – but that’s a great accessory regardless what kind of charcoal grill you’re using.

Image Credits: Nomad

I was particularly impressed at the Nomad grill’s performance when it comes to smoking. It maintains an even and consistent temperature with the box closed, and it’s easy to moderate the temperature with the built-in vents if you need to adjust the cooking intensity. The proximity of the charcoal to the food also imbues it with great flavor.

Bottom line

The Nomad Grill & Smoker is $599, which is a fairly high asking price, but it’s also unique in the market for the convenience it provides combined with the performance it offers. Whether at home or on road trips, Nomad is a wonderful addition to any home cook’s arsenal, and an all-in-one supplement that can replace even a dedicated, more fixed installation charcoal grill if that’s the way you want to go.

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#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV IBB Ventures investiert in Kindaling – Atlantic Labs steigt bei Mimetik ein – Atlantic Food Labs investiert in Holy

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 26. Januar werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber IBB Ventures investiert gemeinsam mit Business Angels wie Alex Sutter (Kitchen Stories, Keleya) und Christian Dereser  (StudySmarter, vetevo) in das Berliner Startup Kindaling. Die Plattform für Freizeitaktivitäten mit Kind wurde 2016 Christopher Lansloot (Foto unten) gegründet. 2019 kam Mitstreiterin Elena Margulis mit ins Boot. “Mit über 2.000 Anbietern und über 6.000 Veranstaltungen & Aktivitäten sind wir die größte Plattform für Freizeitgestaltung in Deutschland und sorgen für ein diverses Angebot für jedes Alter”, heißt es in der Selbstbeschreibung des Unternehmens. Das frische Kapital soll in das “weitere Wachstum in den bereits gelaunchten Großstädten Berlin, Hamburg, München, Köln, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt und Zürich” fließen sowie in die weitere Expansion im DACH-Raum.  “Außerdem soll das Team vergrößert werden”, teilt das Parent-Tech-Startup mit. Die Nutzung der Plattform bleibt für Eltern weiter komplett kostenlos. Das Unternehmen refinanziert sich über ein Provisionsmodell bei den aufgeführten Anbietern. IBB Ventures hält nun 10,4 % an Kindaling. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Der Berliner Frühphasen-Investor Atlantic Labs investiert in das Dresdner Startup Mimetik. Das junge Unternehmen, das kürzlich von Ievgenii Tsokalo gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um die Mensch-Maschinen-Kommunikation. “Our technology allows to precisely track hand motion in real time with negative latency. Artificial Intelligence processes the hand motion data and environmental information to give a human-like perception to machines. No need of keyboard, mouse, joystick, or tablet. Seamlessly embedded in a textile glove it does not interfere with the work process, but guides the user through intuitive feedback”, heißt es in der Selbstbeschreibung der Jungfirma.  Atlantic Labs hält nun 10 % an Mimetik.  #EXKLUSIV

+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber Atlantic Food Labs, von uns immer liebevoll Leckerschmecker Kapitalgeber genannt, investiert in Holy. Das Food-Startup, das 2020 von Philipp Naß, Mathias Horsch und Frederick Jost gegründet wurde, bietet einen Energy Drink für Gamer an. Dazu teilen die Hauptstädter mit: “Unsere Mission: Energy Drinks für deine Gaming Sessions neu zu erfinden. Wie? Kein Bullshit mehr. HOLY Energy kombiniert erstmals fruchtig-explosiven Geschmack mit gaming-optimierter Rezeptur und gutem Gewissen. Garantiert!” Atlantic Food Labs hält bereits 27,4 % an Holy. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Ein nicht genannter Investor aus Großbritannien sowie Business Angels wie Jonathan Weiner und Michael Vaughn investieren 20 Millionen Euro in die brandneue Business-Bank Remagine, die von Julia Profeta Johansson und Sebastian Dienst gegründet wurde – siehe Handelsblatt. Bei der Investmentsumme handelt es sich um Eigenkapital- als auch um Fremdkapital. “We are here to reshape banking through founder-friendly and tech-driven financial solutions that inspire businesses to be more successful, sustainable, regenerative, and impactful”, teilt das FinTech aus Berlin mit. Remagine setzt konkret auf “gründerfreundliche Finanzierung, die nicht auf Beteiligung setzen”.

++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investiert in Sunvigo. “Zuvor investierten bereits der ehemalige RWE-Deutschland-Chef Arndt Neuhaus, Ecosummit, der Schweizer Climate-Tech-VC Übermorgen Ventures und weitere Gründer. So sammelte Sunvigo eine Finanzierung von ins­ge­samt 1,1 Millionen Euro in nur sechs Monaten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit  Sunvigo setzt seinen Kunden eine kostenlose Solaranlage aufs Dach. Im Gegenzug bietet Sunvigo, das von Michael Peters, Bastian Bauwens und Vigen Nikogosian gegründet wurde, seinen Kunden einen Stromvertrag an. Dabei müssen die Kunden nur den verbrauchten Strom zahlen.

Planty Of Meat
+++ Das Berliner Unternehmen Social Chain, hinter dem TV-Löwe Georg Kofler steckt, steigt über seine Tochter Food Chain bei Planty Of Meat, einem Unternehmen für pflanzenbasierte Fleischalternativen ein. Zunächst sichert sich Food Chain 10 % an der jungen Food-Firma. Dazu sicherte sich der Inevstor eine Option auf die Mehrheit von Planty Of Meat. Das Unternehmen wurde 2019 von Christoph Schöppl und Johannes Biel gegründet. Neben Planty Of Meat gehören derzeit Clasen Bio (100%), KoRo (57 %), 3Bears (15 %) und VYTAL (12,5 %) zur Food Chain-Familie.

+++ Das Flaschenpost-Management und Oliver Flaskämper, Gründer von, sowie mehrere mittelständische Unternehmen investieren rund 600.000 Euro in Echometer – siehe Gründerszene. Das junge Unternehmen entwickelt Lösungen für digitales Mitarbeiter-Feedback und Teamentwicklung in Unternehmen. Dabei verspricht das Startup aus Münster: “Echometer gibt dir alles, um deine Teams erfolgreich entwickeln zu können”. Gründer sind Robin Roschlau, Jean Michel Diaz und Christian Heidemeyer.

+++ Die Baden-Württembergs L-Bank und Business Angels wie Swen Laempe, Gründer von vioma, sowie die beiden sevDesk-Gründer Fabian Silberer und Marco Reinbold investieren eine sechsstellige Summe in das Offenburger Startup happyhotel. Das junge Unternehmen “hilft dabei, Umsätze von Hotels mit einer cloudbasierten Software zu maximieren”. happyhotel wurde 2019 von Marius Müller, Sebastian Kuhnhardt und Rafael Weißmüller gegründet.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, was wir im #DealMonitor aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren anonymen Briefkasten.

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Foto (oben): azrael74

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