Hamburger-flipping robotics company Miso introduces an automated beverage dispenser

How do you follow up a burger-flipping robot? If you’re Miso Robotics (which you likely are, if you’ve created a burger-flipping robot), the answer is simple: beverages. The robotics startup continues to focus on the fast food service industry with the planned launch of an automated beverage-dispensing robot.

The system, which is being created as part of a partnership with beverage dispenser manufacturer Lancer, brings an added level of automation to your standard fast food fountain. It has a point of sale system directly integrated, which kicks off the process of pouring, sealing and advancing the drink. Beyond that, it’s integrated with a larger sales system to ensure that it’s getting orders right, between in-person customers and delivery drivers.

Image Credits: Miso Robotics

Basically it’s a much smarter version of the fountain you encounter in every fast food restaurant and movie theater. Naturally, the company says that interest in the category has only increased amid labor shortages and a pandemic that froze much of the available workforce over the past year and a half.

“Lancer has a legacy of stand-out industry quality and shares in our vision for beverage innovation and futuristic design,” Miso Chief Strategy Officer Jake Brewer said in a press release tied to this morning’s news. “Order fulfillment is a major factor for customer satisfaction and operators can’t afford to have a beverage left behind when a delivery driver or customer visits. We are extremely excited to create a product that will not only make the lives of those working in commercial kitchens better, but will be a game changer for the industry as a whole to deliver a world-class customer experience.”

Image Credits: Miso Robotics

Speaking of striking while the iron is hot, the company is also using the opportunity to announce a planned Series D, following up on a recently closed $25 million Series C.

#beverages, #fast-food, #food, #lancer, #miso-robotics, #robotics


Grocery-to-Table Is a Challenge for Restaurants in the Pandemic

Looking for new ways to get their food to customers, chefs are reinventing their dishes as retail offerings — and it can be tricky.

#bakeries-and-baked-products, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #levain-bakery, #major-food-group, #restaurants, #shopping-and-retail, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #whole-foods-market-inc


Industrial cybersecurity startup Claroty raises $140M in pre-IPO funding round

Claroty, an industrial cybersecurity company that helps customers protect and manage their Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) assets, has raised $140 million in its latest, and potentially last round of funding. 

With the new round of Series D funding, co-led by Bessemer Venture and 40 North, the company has now amassed a total of $235 million. Additional strategic investors include LG and I Squared Capital’s ISQ Global InfraTech Fund, with all previous investors — Team8, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, and Schneider Electric — also participating. 

Founded in 2015, the late-stage startup focuses on the industrial side of cybersecurity. Its customers include General Motors, Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners, and Pfizer, with Claroty helping the pharmaceutical firm to secure its COVID-19 vaccine supply chain. Claroty tells TechCrunch it has seen “significant” customer growth over the past 18 months, largely fueled by the pandemic, with 110% year-over-year net new logo growth and 100% customer retention. 

It will use the newly raised funds to meet this rapidly accelerating global demand for The Claroty Platform, an end-to-end solution that provides visibility into industrial networks and combines secure remote access with continuous monitoring for threats and vulnerabilities. 

“Our mission is to drive visibility, continuity, and resiliency in the industrial economy by delivering the most comprehensive solutions that secure all connected devices within the four walls of an industrial site, including all operational technology (OT), Internet of Things (IoT), and industrial IoT (IIoT) assets,” said Claroty CEO Yaniv Vardi.

To meet this growing demand, the startup is planning to expand into new regions and verticals, including transportation government-owned industries, as well as increase its global headcount. The company, which is based in New York, currently has around 240 employees. 

Claroty hasn’t yet made any acquisitions, though CEO Yaniv Vardi tells TechCrunch that this could be part of the startup’s roadmap going forward.

“We’re waiting for the right opportunity at the right time, but it’s definitely part of the plan as part of the financial runway we just secured,” he said, adding that this latest funding round will likely be the company’s last before it explores a potential IPO.

“We are thinking that this is a pre-IPO funding round,” he said. “The end goal here is to be the market leader for industrial cybersecurity. One of the mascots can be going public with an IPO, but there are different options too, such as SPAC.”

The funding round comes amid a sharp increase in cyber targeting organizations that underpin the world’s critical infrastructure and supply chains. According to a recent survey carried out by Claroty, the majority (53%) of US industrial enterprises have seen an increase in cybersecurity threats since the start of 2020. The survey of 1,110 IT and OT security professionals also found that over half believed their organization is now more of a target for cybercriminals, with 67% having seen cybercriminals use new tactics amid the pandemic. 

“The number of attacks, and impact of these attacks, is increasing significantly, especially in verticals like food, automotive, and critical infrastructure. Vardi said. “That creates a lot of risk assessments public companies had to do, and these risks needed to be addressed with a security solution on the industrial side.”

#articles, #ceo, #coca-cola, #computer-security, #computing, #data-security, #food, #funding, #general-motors, #industrial-automation, #industrial-internet-of-things, #internet-of-things, #lg, #new-york, #operational-technology, #pfizer, #pharmaceutical, #siemens, #startup-company, #startups, #team8, #techcrunch, #technology, #united-states


Kenyan foodtech startup Kune raises $1M pre-seed for its ready-to-eat meals service

While there has been a wave of innovation in food tech worldwide, it’s still in early days for Africa. There are only a handful of African food-tech startups, and a year and a half’s worth of global pandemic has added a couple to that list.

Kune is one of the most recent food-tech startups, and today, the six-month-old Kenyan-based company is announcing that it has closed a $1 million pre-seed round to launch its on-demand food service in August.

Pan-African venture capital firm Launch Africa Ventures led the pre-seed round. Other investors that took part include Century Oak Capital GmbH and Consonance, with a contribution from ecosystem management firm Pariti

Founded by CEO Robin Reecht in December 2020, Kune delivers freshly made, ready-to-eat meals at arguably affordable prices. When Reetch first came to Kenya from France in November 2020, it wasn’t easy to get affordable ready-to-eat meals.

“After three days of coming into Kenya, I asked where I can get great food at a cheap price, and everybody tell me it’s impossible,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s impossible because either you go to the street and you eat street food, which is really cheap but with not-so-good quality, or you order on Uber Eats, Glovo or Jumia, where you get quality but you have to pay at least $10.”

Reetch noticed a gap in the market and sought to fill it. The next month, he decided to start Kune. The goal? To provide affordable, convenient and tasty meals. It took a week to develop a pilot, and with a ready waitlist of 50 customers in a particular office space, his plans were in motion. Kune sold more than 500 meals ($4 average) and tripled its customer base from 50 to 150.

Customers were particularly excited about the product and Kune raised $50,000 from them to continue operations, Reetch said. After that, however, the orders became too large for the small team that they couldn’t keep up; at one point, it received 50 orders per day. Thus, instead of advancing with a momentum that could break down, the team took a hiatus.

“We had started to mess up the order because, you know, it’s complicated to get food right when you’re just in a small kitchen setting. So I said okay, that there is no point doing that, and the demand is so high and better to do things right.”

The next months were spent restructuring the company, making hires and building a factory to produce 5,000 meals per day. Then, when the company was ready to raise, Reetch said he saw the same enthusiasm from customers and investors. In two months, Kune closed this round, one of the largest in East Africa, and is one of the few non-fintechs to have raised a seven-figure pre-seed round on the continent.

In a fast-growing and crowded restaurant and food delivery marketplace in Kenya, Kune wants to offer a new way for busy people in Nairobi to access meals by finding a balance between Kibanda pricing (usually referred to as the typical local roadside food shop) and on-demand food delivery prices from global companies.

Kune applies a hybrid model, combining both cloud and dark kitchen concepts. Kune meals are cooked and packaged in its factory and delivered directly to online, retail and corporate customers.

The hybrid model speaks to why Launch Africa cut a check for Kune. And according to the director of the firm, Baljinder Sharma, “leveraging the cloud kitchen model and owning the entire supply chain provides a massive growth and scaling opportunity for Kune Africa.” He added: “We are looking forward to seeing the business take off and grow.”

Kune plans to fully launch in August after its new factory is completed. Per details on its site, the company is promising customers that delivery will be done on an average of 30 minutes daily.

To achieve this, Kune ensures that it owns the entire supply chain, from cooking to packaging to delivery with its own drivers and motorbikes. “Our strategy is to internalize all production and human resources capacities,” he stated. That’s where Kune will put most of the funds to use going forward. In addition to the factory, which costs about 10% of the total investment, Kune will be looking to build a huge team. Reetch tells me that judging by how operations-heavy Kune is, the team size will reach 100 come December.

Once launched, the company will build its own fleet of 100 electric motorcycles by early 2022. In addition, there are plans to hire 100 female drivers.

Currently, Kune showcases three different meals daily: two continental dishes and one foreign meal. In the coming months and quarters, Kune’s offerings will cut across microwavable meals, weight reduction meals and retail meals to target European and U.S. clients. For the latter, Reetch is enthusiastic about exporting the African food culture to Western countries. As someone who travels a lot, the CEO thinks Kenya, unlike other countries, doesn’t have a strong food culture. He references food media like TV shows where various meals and cuisines and tutorings on how to cook food are showcased. Reetch wants Kune to be the go-to for such programs in Kenya.

“In Kenya, we don’t have any culinary show. So we are going to take that position as the culinary major of Kenya, and how do you create this? By creating amazing content, which we plan to do by creating videos and writing articles on how to cook or maybe just food business in general.”

#africa, #east-africa, #food, #food-delivery, #food-tech, #funding, #glovo, #kenya, #kune, #launch-africa, #online-food-ordering, #pariti, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc


#Interview – “Wir haben fast jeden Prozesschritt zunächst selber gemacht”

Wie starten ganz normale Gründerinnen und Gründer so in einen ganz normalen Startup-Arbeitsalltag? Wie schalten junge Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer nach der Arbeit mal so richtig ab und was hätten die aufstrebenden Firmenlenker gerne gewusst bevor sie ihr Startup gegründet haben? Wir haben genau diese Sachen abgefragt. Heute antwortet Friedrich Kalthoff von Kraftling. Das Startup aus Köln bietet energiegeladene Saft-Kick-Drinks an.

Wie startest Du in einen ganz normalen Startup-Arbeitsalltag?
Die ersten 30 Minuten sind für Mails und Tagesplanung reserviert. Danach kurze Check-In Calls mit den Teams, die im Home Office oder im Außendienst unterwegs sind. Wenn dann nicht gerade irgendwelche Notfälle sind, liegt der Fokus auf den wesentlichen Wachstumshebeln. Dabei darf natürlich ein Kraftling nicht fehlen – meist in Kombi mit einem doppelten Espresso.

Wie schaltest du nach der Arbeit ab?
Ein perfekter Tag endet mit Joggen oder einer Runde Tennis mit den Co-Founder oder Freunden. Meistens ist das allerdings zeitlich nicht drin. Ansonsten versuche ich mich zunehmend als Home-Chef in der Küche, tausche mich gerne mit anderen Unternehmern aus und versuche mich durch diverse Podcasts weiterzubilden.

Was über das Gründer:innen-Dasein hättest du gerne vor der Gründung gewusst?
Ich glaube, dass ich eine gute Vorstellung davon hatte was es heißt zu gründen und komme auch mit den meist unglamorösen Seiten des Gründerlebens gut klar. Dennoch hätte ich sicherlich nicht vor Gründung gedacht, dass wir die ersten 80.000 Stück mit den eigenen Händen in der WG etikettieren würden. Aber auch das gehört dazu und ist im Nachhinein eine wertvolle Erfahrung. Wir haben fast jeden Prozesschritt zunächst selber gemacht, daraus viel gelernt und können jetzt besser bestimme Prozesse und Kosten bei externen Dienstleistern einschätzen.

Was waren die größten Hürden, die Du auf dem Weg zur Gründung überwinden musstet?
Die größte Herausforderung war es den 100%-igen Fokus zu erlangen. Alle anderen Themen müssen radikal abgeschnitten werden. Der Fokus muss einzig und allein auf der Firmengründung und dem Wachstum liegen. Damit einhergehend auch harte Einschnitte bei Gehalt, Sicherheit und Lifestyle.

Was waren die größten Fehler, die Du bisher gemacht hast – und was hast Du aus diesen gelernt?
Wir hätten sicherlich schon früher anfangen müssen mit professionellen Marktdaten zu arbeiten. Mittlerweile sind das für uns wesentliche Entscheidungsgrundlagen geworden.

Wie findet man die passenden Mitarbeiter für sein Startup?
Es gibt vermutlich nicht den einen Kanal, der für Recruiting super funktioniert oder wir haben ihn noch nicht gefunden. Dennoch zeigt sich immer wieder, dass unsere Kraftlinge auch andere tolle Menschen von unserem Purpose begeistern können und somit immer gute neue Kraftlinge ins Team kommen. Ganz nach dem Motto: Great people know great people!

Welchen Tipp hast Du für andere Gründer:innen?
Die Liste ist lang aber hier ein wesentlicher Tipp: Sucht Euch Co-Founder, denen Ihr vertraut und die genauso committed und ambitioniert seid wie Ihr. Wichtig dabei: Ein komplementäres Skillset und einen gleichen Wertekompass.

Ohne welches externes Tool würde dein Startup quasi nicht mehr existieren?

Wie sorgt ihr bei eurem Team für gute Stimmung?
Zum einen sind es die Erfolge, die gute Stimmung ins Team bringen und die wir gemeinsam in Townhalls feiern. Auf der anderen Seite motivieren wir uns gegenseitig vor allem in harten, stressigen Zeiten und sind füreinander da. Es ist vor allem der positive Spirit im Team, der für gute Stimmung sorgt.

Was war Dein bisher wildestes Startup-Erlebnis?
Im Januar 2018 brauchten wir eine ordentliche Saftpresse nach industriellen Maßstäben – ein bisschen mehr als nur der Handmixer. Wir haben also online eine Maschine gefunden und die Bezahlung via Escrow abgewickelt. Wir sind dann mit einem Transporter mit Ladefläche morgens früh mit der ersten Fähre nach England gefahren und haben in einem Hinterhof diese Maschine gekauft und eingepackt. Nach dieser 24Uhr Tour stand die Maschine dann endlich in unserer ersten eigenen Produktionsumgebung – in dem 19m2 Restaurantkeller von Olli&Sohn im Mediapark in Köln und nach 2 Std. Power-Nap haben wir direkt den ersten großen Batch produziert. Ein absolutes Highlight!

Tipp: Wie sieht ein Startup-Arbeitsalltag? Noch mehr Interviews gibt es in unserem Themenschwerpunkt Gründeralltag.

Durchstarten in Köln – #Koelnbusiness

In unserem Themenschwerpunkt Köln berichten wir gezielt über die Digitalaktivitäten in der Rheinmetropole. Mit circa 400 Startups, über 60 Coworking Spaces, Acceleratoren und Inkubatoren sowie attraktiven Investoren, zahlreichen Veranstaltungen und Netzwerken bieten Köln und das Umland ein spannendes Ökosystem für Gründerinnen und Gründer. Diese Rubrik wird unterstützt von der KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH#Koelnbusiness auf LinkedInFacebook und Instagram.


Foto (oben): Kraftling

#aktuell, #food, #grunderalltag, #interview, #koln, #kraftling


Trigo bags $10M for computer-vision based checkout tech to rival Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’

While Amazon continues to expand its self-service, computer-vision-based grocery checkout technology by bringing it to bigger stores, an AI startup out of Israel that’s built something to rival it has picked up funding and a new strategic investor as a customer.

Trigo, which has produced a computer vision system that includes both camera hardware and encrypted, privacy-compliant software to enable “grab and go” shopping — where customers can pick up items that get automatically detected and billed before they leave the store — has bagged $10 million in funding from German supermarket chain REWE Group and Viola Growth.

The exact amount of the investment was not being disclosed (perhaps because $10 million, in these crazy times, suddenly sounds like a modest amount?), but Pitchbook notes that Trigo had up to now raised $87 million, and Trigo has confirmed that it has now raised “over $100 million,” including a Series A in 2019, and a Series B of $60 million that it raised in December of last year. The company has confirmed that the amount raised is $10 million today, and $104 million in total.

The company is not disclosing its valuation. We have asked and will update as we learn more.

“Trigo is immensely proud and honored to be deepening its strategic partnership with REWE Group, one of Europe’s biggest and most innovative grocery retailers,” said Michael Gabay, Trigo co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “REWE have placed their trust in Trigo’s privacy-by-design architecture, and we look forward to bringing this exciting technology to German grocery shoppers. We are also looking forward to working with Viola Growth, an iconic investment firm backing some of Israel’s top startups.”

The REWE investment is part of a bigger partnership between the two companies, which will begin with a new “grab and go” REWE store in Cologne. REWE has 3,700 stores across Germany, so there is a lot of scope there for expansion. REWE is Trigo’s second strategic investor: Tesco has also backed the startup and has been trialling its technology in the U.K.. Trigo’s also being used by Shufersal, a grocery chain in Israel.

REWE’s investment comes amid a spate of tech engagements by the grocery giant, which recently also announced a partnership with Flink, a new grocery delivery startup out of Germany that recently raised a big round of funding to expand. It’s also working with Yamo, a healthy eating startup; and Whisk, an AI powered buy-to-cook startup.

“With today’s rapid technological developments, it is crucial to find the right partners,” said Christoph Eltze, Executive Board Member Digital, Customer & Analytics REWE Group. “REWE Group is investing in its strategic partnership with Trigo, who we believe is one of the leading companies in computer vision technologies for smart stores.”

More generally, consumer habits are changing, fast. Whether we are talking about the average family, or the average individual, people are simply not shopping, cooking and eating in the same way that they were even 10 years ago, let alone 20 or 30 years ago.

And so like many others in the very established brick-and-mortar grocery business, REWE — founded in 1927 — is hoping to tie up with some of the more interesting innovators to better keep ahead in the game.

“I don’t actually think people really want grocery e-commerce,” Ran Peled, Trigo’s VP of marketing, told me back in 2019. “They do that because the supermarket experience has become worse with the years. We are very much committed to helping brick and mortar stores return to the time of a few decades ago, when it was fun to go to the supermarket. What would happen if a store could have an entirely new OS that is based on computer vision?”

It will be interesting to see how widely used and “fun” smart checkout services will become in that context, and whether it will be a winner-takes-all market, or whether we’ll see a proliferation of others emerge to provide similar tools.

In addition to Amazon and Trigo, there is also Standard Cognition, which earlier this year raised money at a $1 billion valuation, among others and other approaches. One thing that more competition could mean is also more competitive pricing for systems that otherwise could prove costly to implement and run except for in the busiest locations.

There is also a bigger question over what the optimal size will be for cashierless, grab-and-go technology. Trigo cites data from Juniper Research that forecasts $400 billion in smart checkout transactions annually by 2025, but it seems that the focus in that market will likely be, in Juniper’s view, on smaller grocery and convenience stores rather than the cavernous cathedrals to consumerism that many of these chains operate. In that category, the market size is 500,000 stores globally, 120,000 of them in Europe.

#ai, #artificial-intelligence, #computer-vision, #europe, #food, #funding, #grocery, #trigo


Covid Survivors Smell Foods Differently

Long after some people have recovered from the virus, they find certain foods off-putting.

#chemical-senses-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #food, #monell-chemical-senses-center, #research, #senses-and-sensation, #smell-olfaction, #taste, #your-feed-healthcare


#Brandneu – 6 neue Startups: Yababa, Angle Audio, Boyoca, pryntad, Earnest, Unchained Robotics 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.

Hinter Yababa verbirgt sich ein Lieferservice für orientalische Lebensmittel und Gerichte. Das Berliner Startup von Atlantic Labs angeschoben, verspricht seinen Kundinnen und Kunden “niedrige Preise” und eine “Lieferung am gleichen Tag”. Geführt wird der orientalische Supermarkt von Ralph Hage.

Angle Audio
Das Startup Angle Audio, das von Matthias D. Strodtkoetter, Valerius Huonder und Matthias Karg gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als Clubhouse-Alternative. Die Jungfirma aus Zürich bietet zudem aber auch Funktionen wie eine Bildschirmfreigabe und eine Text-Chat Funktion an.

Über Boyoca kann jeder Campingplätze online buchen. Die Betreiber von Campingplätzen möchte das Kölner Team “mit kuratierten Services unterstützen, die ihnen dabei helfen, ihre alltäglichen Herausforderungen in einer dynamischen, digitalen Welt erfolgreich zu meistern”.

Hinter pryntad verbirgt sich ein Marktplatz für Printanzeigen. Das Hamburger Startup, das von Anja Visscher, Martin Kaltwasser und Philipp Wolde gegründet wurde, verspricht dabei eine “unkomplizierte Buchung – ganz ohne Preisliste”. Über 300 Zeitungen mit mehr als 1.700 Ausgaben bietet die Jungfirma derzeit an.

Earnest bietet Nutzer:innen Tipps und Tricks sowie, Analysen rund um nachhaltiges Leben. Dabei setzt das Projekt aus dem Hause uptodate Ventures auf Edutainment. “Die App sensibilisiert, inspiriert und motiviert zur Eigeninitiative – nicht mit erhobenem Zeigefinger und Informationsüberfluss”, lautet dabei die Vorgabe.

Unchained Robotics
Das Paderborner Startup Unchained Robotics entwickelt eine auf künstlicher Intelligenz basierte Steuerung von Robotern für die Elektronik-Fertigung. “Somit eröffnet man den Weg zur kostspieligen Automatisierung für jede Fabrik in Deutschland und Europa”, teilt das Unternehmen zum Konzept mit. Unchained Robotics war zuletzt auch in unserem Pitch-Podcast zu Gast.

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, #angle-audio, #audio, #berlin, #boyoca, #brandneu, #camping, #climatetech, #earnest, #food, #hamburg, #koln, #munchen, #paderborn, #pryntad, #travel, #unchained-robotics, #uptodate-ventures, #yababa, #zurich


Out of the Pandemic, a New Marketplace for Native Ingredients

The owners of Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace aim to build one of the most comprehensive shops of its kind.

#cooking-and-cookbooks, #e-commerce, #food, #indigenous-people, #native-americans, #tocabe-indigenous-marketplace


Feeding the Hungry, One Wholesome Meal at a Time

An empire for feeding the hungry started with one woman and some sandwiches.

#food, #food-insecurity, #nashville-tenn


F.D.A. Still Lacks a Permanent Commissioner

With the pandemic easing, the federal agency’s long-term agenda for drug approvals or new issues is languishing without a permanent commissioner.

#aduhelm-drug, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #food, #food-and-drug-administration, #smoking-and-tobacco, #united-states-politics-and-government, #woodcock-janet, #your-feed-healthcare


Nuggs creator Simulate raises $50M

New York-based Simulate today announced a $50 million fundraise. Led by Alexis Ohanian’s 776, the Series B brings the meat alternative’s total funding to north of $60 million and values it at $260 million.

Simulate’s first product, Nuggs (formerly also the startup’s name), has already caused a splash, thanks in no small part to aggressive online advertising. The company notes a massive push in retail availability in the last six months. The chicken nugget alternative was available direct to consumers through online ordering when it launched in Summer 2019 — availability that moved the needle during U.S. shutdowns over the past year.

“During the height of the pandemic, people really wanted frozen food shipped directly to their door,” founder and CEO Ben Pasternak tells TechCrunch. “At the time, we were DTC only, so we saw a lot of growth there prior to our pivot to retail.”

He adds that the majority of the company’s sales now currently come from retail, due to accessibility and more restrictive DTC pricing. Currently, the product is available in 5,000 retail locations, a list that includes pretty massive retail names like Walmart/ Sam’s Club, Target and Whole Foods.

“We are getting ready to launch in restaurants and in fast food,” says Pasternak. “Internationally, we recently launched across Canada, and have plans to expand to other countries too.”

Funding will also go toward expanding the company’s headcount. Currently at 20, Simulate expects to expand employment to 50 people by 2022. “Over half of that expansion will be focused on growing our engineering team,” Pasternak says.


#776, #food, #funding, #meat-alternative, #nuggs, #recent-funding, #simulate, #startups


#Brandneu – 5 leckere Startups: Steeped, Organic Labs, dunatura, Befoode und ZeroBullshit 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 Karlsruher Startup Steeped positioniert sich als “ultimativer Begleiter für jeden Tee-Liebhaber”. Ziel dabei ist es, den Nutzer:innen – basierend auf ihrem Geschmacksprofil – personalisierte Vorschläge zu liefern. Das Startup wurde von Janek Wunderlich, Marcel Bechler und Tristan Otto gegründet.

Organic Labs
Bei Organic Labs können Onliner Super Hafer, einen Haferdrink in Pulverform zum Selbermachen, bestellen. “Die Vorteile: Wir vermeiden CO2-Emissionen durch den überflüssig gewordenen Transport von Wasser und können auch noch Verpackungsmüll einsparen”, schreibt das Startup.

Das Augsburger Startup dunatura setzt bei der Versorgung mit Vitaminen und Mikronährstoffen auf “individualisierte vorportionierte Tagesrationen”. Die jeweiligen Pillchen und Tabletten werden dabei für jeden Kunden “nach neuesten wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen zusammengestellt”.

Bei Befoode finden Onliner Essensangebote – etwa Mittagstisch-Specials – aus ihrer Umgebung. Das Startup verspricht dabei: “Du siehst auf einen Blick, welche Angebote wo verfügbar sind und verschwendest keine Zeit mehr mit endlosem suchen und vergleichen”.

Das Stuttgarter Startup ZeroBullshit kämpft gegen Lebensmittelverschwendung und bringt deswegen gerettete Lebensmittel als Snack in den Supermarkt. Der sogenannte “Retter Kräcker” der Jungfirma besteht aus geretteten Rohstoffen wie Kürbiskernmehl, Sonnenblumenprotein und Apfelfasern. ZeroBullshit war kürzlich auch in unserem Pitch-Podcast zu Gast.

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

#aktuell, #augsburg, #bad-wurzach, #befoode, #brandneu, #dunatura, #food, #karlsruhe, #kehl-kittersburg, #munchen, #organic-labs, #steeped, #stuttgart, #zerobullshit


6 U.S. Destinations for a Remote-Working Vacation

As workers prepare to return to the office in coming months, here are six towns and cities to consider squeezing in a working vacation or two.

#airbnb, #arizona, #auburn-ny, #brunswick-me, #california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diamond-head-oahu-hawaii, #finger-lakes-region-ny, #food, #hawaii, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #ithaca-ny, #kansas, #maine, #names-geographical, #petaluma-calif, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #rivers, #shawnee-kan, #sonoma-county-calif, #sonoran-desert, #telecommuting, #topeka-kan, #travel-and-vacations, #tucson-ariz, #watkins-glen-ny, #wines


Flink, the German grocery delivery startup, raises $240M after launching just 6 months ago

On-demand grocery delivery, which really came into its own with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, continues to command huge attention from investors. The jury is still out on how people will use those services in the longer term, but in the meantime, the most ambitious of the startups in the field are raising big.

In the latest development, Flink — a Berlin-based on-demand “instant” grocery delivery service built around self-operated dark stores and a smaller assortment (2,400 items) of items that it says it will deliver in 10 minutes or less — has raised $240 million to expand its business into more cities, and more countries, on the heels of strong demand.

Flink — which means “quick” in German — is currently active in 24 cities across Germany, France and the Netherlands. It hasn’t disclosed how many active customers it has, but it targets younger consumers, those with small fridges, those who have forgotten items in their bigger shops, and people who simply don’t want to or can’t shop in the old-style of once every one or two weeks.

“We are on a mission to give people back some of their valuable time during their hectic days and impress them with our service every time they order,” said Flink CEO Oliver Merkel — who co-founded the company with Julian Dames and Christoph Cordes — in a statement. “We want to establish Flink as the top destination for their day-to-day goods at great prices and with instant delivery by our amazing riders. The order growth we have seen over the past weeks has been explosive and we attribute that to the excellent service we are providing to our consumers.”

The size of this all-equity Series A is extraordinary considering that company only launched in December last year. The company is not disclosing its valuation but one person close to the company said it’s “not a unicorn yet.” (Not worth $1 billion on paper, that is.)

The round is being co-led by Prosus, BOND, and Mubadala Capital, and it comes with a very interesting deal attached. REWE — a German supermarket giant — has inked a strategic partnership with the company that will make Flink its preferred partner for smaller shopping grabs, which looks like it will complement the work that REWE is doing to build out its own grocery delivery businesses for bigger baskets. It’s not clear if REWE is actually investing.

This latest investment comes on the heels of Flink announcing, back in March when it was only three months old, a $52 million round from Target Global and earlier backers Northzone, Cherry Ventures and TriplePoint Capital, along with Cristina Stenbeck from Kinnevik, who invested in a personal capacity.

The opportunity for a new startup to get into the market for food — and in this case specifically grocery — delivery, is an interesting one at the moment. On one hand, we’ve been through a year where many cities across Europe have been under shelter in place orders, pushing many more people to turn on online food delivery to get essential things to their doors.

That is to say, demand — at least under current circumstances — has been more than proven out, with many of the biggest providers completely buckling under pressure with crashing sites, very few delivery slots available and many items out of stock on a too-regular basis.

On the other, it’s led to a huge profusion of companies swooping in to fill that gap.

There are other new players like Gorillas, another outfit out of Berlin, which has also been raising big money and has boasted its own $1 billion+ valuation (for what it’s worth: remember, this is all just on paper). Alongside those are also a rush of more mature startups like Glovo (which raised $528 million earlier this year), Kolonial ($265 million earlier this year), Everli and Rohlik (respectively, $100 million and $230 million rounds this spring),  as well as much bigger players like Ocado and of course the brick-and-mortar grocers who are investing big in their own operations.

And just earlier this morning, Getir out of Turkey, another fast-grocery startup that has been investing a lot in growth (its delivery bikes are visible to me every time I go outside at the moment here in London) announced a $550 million round at a $7.5 billion valuation — a piece of news that likely was one part of the calculus for Flink also announcing today.

And there are so many more I’m not mentioning here.

The big question will be whether the market can sustain all of this, and if not, what that will mean for all of these, and all of the money invested in the space. It’s not unlike some of the scramble that took place in restaurant delivery, where a big profusion of regional giants first started out and then started land grabs to pick up others to get better economies of scale, a process that eventually took the most well-capitalized of them global. All of that is still playing out, and in fact some of the biggest of the hot-food delivery companies, such as Deliveroo out of the UK, are also moving into grocery to better diversify.

In that regard, it’s very interesting to see Prosus in this round. The company — the tech giant that was divided out from the rest of Naspers some time ago to better focus investment and attention on the space (it holds a huge stake in Tencent, among other things) — really got burned last year when its long, hostile attempt to acquire Just Eat to combine it with its existing holdings in food delivery was left bobbing in the water after Just Eat instead eloped with Takeaway.

Since then, it’s been very proactive in using capital to plot out its own course. That’s included stakes in Swiggy in India, investing in that Kolonial round, and also today’s news backing Flink.

“The opportunity that exists for online grocery delivery is vast, with the grocery market in Germany alone expected to reach more than €300 billion in the coming years,” said Larry Illg, CEO of Food Delivery at Prosus, in a statement. “The past year has seen many new players entering the nascent market, vying to fulfill the increasing consumer demands. Flink comes to the market offering ultra-fast delivery of items, mostly under 10 minutes, getting consumers what they need almost immediately. Flink’s innovative tech-enabled logistics service combined with the expertise of the team, the quality of the partnerships they have quickly established and the pace of execution within Germany, has been nothing short of impressive.”

“Flink is a pioneer in a new model of commerce that is purpose-built for consumers who expect better, faster, cheaper services,” added Daegwon Chae, general partner at BOND. “We have been impressed by Flink’s ability to scale rapidly while delighting customers through a seamless experience, and are excited to partner together as Flink builds the grocery store of the future.”

“Flink is the rare combination of a great founding team tackling a huge market with a truly disruptive proposition. The grocery retail market in Germany is one of the largest undigitized markets at only 3% online penetration. We believe that the grocery store of the future will be hyper-local, instantly available, and always delighting its customers. With best-in-class operations and strong momentum, Flink can become a major player in the digital grocery sector, and we look forward to partnering with them on the journey,” said Amer Alaily at Mubadala Capital, in a statement.

#europe, #flink, #food, #funding, #groceries, #grocery, #grocery-delivery


‘Food Is Culture’: Alice Waters on the Cookbook That Changed Her Life

“All I wanted to do was live like the French.”

#books-and-literature, #content-type-personal-profile, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #waters-alice, #writing-and-writers


#Interview – “Wir sind durch Corona bessere Telefonverkäufer geworden”

Das Kölner Startup Nomoo, das von Rebecca Göckel und Jan Grabow gegründet wurde, setzt seit 2016 auf veganes Eis. “Unser Ziel ist es, den gesamten Milchspeiseeismarkt zu revolutionieren, indem wir pflanzliches Eis aus der Nische holen und einem breiten Publikum über den Geschmack zugänglich machen”, sagt Gründerin Göckel. Im vergangenen Jahr legten die  Rheinländer um mehr als 100 % zu und erwirtschafteten erstmals einen siebenstelligen Umsatz.

Wie würdest Du Deiner Großmutter Nomoo erklären?
Nomoo steht für “keine Kuh” und ist ein rein pflanzliches Bio-Eis, das extrem geschmacksintensiv ist. Das Eis überzeugt zudem mit schlanker, natürlicher Zutatenliste, weniger Zucker sowie nachhaltiger Produktion. So möchten wir es mit Nomoo möglich machen, mit reinem Gewissen zu genießen – sich selbst und der Umwelt gegenüber. Dabei sind wir mit Nomoo die erste Eismarke Deutschlands, die von Beginn an und aus Überzeugung nur pflanzliches Eis produziert. Unser Ziel ist es, den gesamten Milchspeiseeismarkt zu revolutionieren, indem wir pflanzliches Eis aus der Nische holen und einem breiten Publikum über den Geschmack zugänglich machen.

Hat sich das Konzept, das Geschäftsmodell, in den vergangenen Jahren irgendwie verändert?
Wir haben schon immer einen starken Fokus auf die stationäre Verfügbarkeit im Lebensmitteleinzel- und Biofachhandel gelegt. Dieses Jahr konzentrieren wir uns zusätzlich auf den Bereich Eis
E-Commerce, da Online-Lebensmittel Lieferdienste immer wichtiger werden und wir somit viele Kunden erreichen können, die Nomoo eben noch nicht im Supermarkt vor Ort kaufen können. Kam früher der Eismann, so bringen wir das Eis heute per Post direkt vor die Haustür.

Die Corona-Krise traf die Startup-Szene zuletzt teilweise hart. Wie habt ihr die Auswirkungen gespürt?
Die Umsätze im Handel sind enorm in die Höhe geschossen. Dieses Mehr an Verkauf konnten auch wir spüren, denn viele Menschen haben sich plötzlich mehr Zeit im Supermarkt genommen und viele neue Produkte entdeckt oder sich auch bewusst etwas Neues gegönnt. Das hat dazu geführt, dass viele neue Kunden unser Eis kennengelernt haben. Im operativen Geschäft sind wir durch Corona definitiv bessere Telefonverkäufer geworden, da wir zuvor noch vieles face-to-face gemacht und den Händlern das Eis direkt im persönlichen Termin vorgestellt haben. Das fiel plötzlich weg und wir mussten unsere Handelskunden am Telefon von unserem Produkt überzeugen. Heute sind wir sehr glücklich darüber, dass wir auch während Corona unsere Ziele erreichen und gesund wachsen konnten.

Wie ist überhaupt die Idee zu Nomoo entstanden?
Die Idee zu Nomoo ist durch die Dokumentation Cowspiracy entstanden, welche zeigte, wie stark die Umwelt unter der Produktion von tierischen Produkten leidet. Da wollten wir ein rein pflanzliches Lebensmittel produzieren, das es allen Menschen leicht macht, sich nachhaltig und genussvoll zugleich zu ernähren.

Wie genau hat Nomoo seit der Gründung entwickelt?
Nomoo ist in den letzten Jahren stark gewachsen. Wir konnten die Verfügbarkeit in Deutschland ausweiten und sind jetzt auch dabei, mit unserem Eis in die Nachbarländer Schweiz und Österreich zu gehen. Nicht zuletzt ist auch unser Team kräftig mitgewachsen auf mittlerweile knapp 30 Personen, wir haben damit einhergehend viele Prozesse und Strukturen aufgebaut, sodass wir in Zukunft möglichst erfolgreich weiter wachsen können. Aber das Wichtigste: Wir haben etliche neue Eis- Sorten gelauncht, zuletzt die Sorten Vanille und Banane-Schokolade und seit diesem Jahr bieten wir auch weitere Limited Editions exklusiv im eigenen Online-Shop an.

Nun aber einmal Butter bei die Fische: Wie groß ist Nomoo inzwischen?
Mittlerweile sind wir mit Nomoo in 1.500 Supermärkten deutschlandweit vertreten, wir vertreiben ein Sortiment bestehend aus elf Sorten à zwei Größen, haben letztes Jahr das erste Mal einen siebenstelligen Umsatz eingefahren und wachsen weiterhin um mehr als 100 % jährlich. Ein Team aus knapp 30 Eis-Enthusiasten macht das möglich.

Blicke bitte einmal zurück: Was ist in den vergangenen Jahren so richtig schief gegangen?
Bedingt durch unser starkes Wachstum hatten wir schon den ein oder anderen Produktengpass. Im Sommer 2019 drohte uns der Eis-Leerlauf, da wir nicht rechtzeitig nachproduzieren konnten. Zum Glück half uns dann eine Behindertenwerkstatt über 100.000 Leerverpackungen zu etikettieren, sodass wir neues Eis abfüllen und einen Leerlauf im Hochsommer damit verhindern konnten.

Und wo habt Ihr bisher alles richtig gemacht?
Was uns bei Nomoo auszeichnet, ist unser enger Kontakt mit unseren Kunden. Das Feedback der Kunden ist uns extrem wichtig, sodass wir es einmal wöchentlich besprechen und dann prüfen, was wir verbessern, stoppen oder auch Neues starten können. Viele unserer Sorten wie beispielsweise die Sorte Banane-Schokolade ist dem Feedback unserer Kunden entsprungen. Für uns ist wichtig, neue Impulse und Ideen schnell umzusetzen, sodass wir uns als Unternehmen schnell weiterentwickeln können.

Wo steht Nomoo in einem Jahr?
In 2021 treten wir in neue Märkte und Verkaufskanäle ein, um uns dann in 2022 dort etablieren zu können. Bis 2025 möchten wir die Nummer 1 der pflanzlichen Eismarken in der gesamten
DACH-Region sein.

Reden wir über den Standort Köln. Wenn es um Startups in Deutschland geht, richtet sich der Blick sofort nach Berlin. Was spricht für Köln als Startup-Standort?
Köln hat eine Top-Lage, sei es für die Logistik oder auch für den Handel. So hat die REWE National hier in Köln ihren Sitz, was für uns als Food Unternehmen ein toller Asset ist. Außerdem kann man meist sehr schnell jeden wichtigen Ort erreichen, um sich mit potentiellen neuen Partnern zu treffen. Würde ich bspw. in Hamburg sitzen und möchte zu einem Termin nach München, dann bin ich schon einen gesamten Tag lang unterwegs. Außerdem sind die Menschen in Köln einfach genial: Herzlich, offen und hilfsbereit. Das ist sehr besonders!

Was fehlt in Köln noch?
Ein Inkubator speziell für Food-Innovationen mit eigener Testküche.

Zum Schluss hast Du drei Wünsche frei: Was wünscht Du Dir für den Startup-Standort Köln?
Mehr Außenwirkung für den Standort Köln als wichtiges Startup-Zentrum, sodass internationale Talente noch mehr von der Stadt angezogen werden, wie Berlin es das tut. Ansonsten bin ich hier wunschlos glücklich!

Durchstarten in Köln – #Koelnbusiness

In unserem Themenschwerpunkt Köln berichten wir gezielt über die Digitalaktivitäten in der Rheinmetropole. Mit circa 400 Startups, über 60 Coworking Spaces, Acceleratoren und Inkubatoren sowie attraktiven Investoren, zahlreichen Veranstaltungen und Netzwerken bieten Köln und das Umland ein spannendes Ökosystem für Gründerinnen und Gründer. Diese Rubrik wird unterstützt von der KölnBusiness Wirtschaftsförderungs-GmbH#Koelnbusiness auf LinkedInFacebook und Instagram.


Foto (oben): Nomoo

#aktuell, #food, #interview, #koln, #nomoo


Tesla files trademark, hinting at Elon Musk’s restaurant concept plans

Tesla has recently filed a new trademark for its brand under restaurant services, a sign the company might be finally gearing up to deliver on an idea that CEO Elon Musk and other company executives have discussed publicly since at least 2017.

The company applied for three new trademarks that will cover the categories of: “Restaurant services, pop-up restaurant services, self-service restaurant services, take-out restaurant services, according to the May 27 filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that was first reported by Electrek. The application is awaiting examination and will be reviewed by an attorney around August 27.

You might be thinking, how does the restaurant industry fit in with the world’s most influential luxury electric car company? Let’s take it back to 2017, when then-CTO JB Straubel said at a FSTEC restaurant-technology conference that the company might move into the restaurant business. The idea was to turn EV charging stations into full-service convenience stores that also serve food. Tesla has tried out a scaled down version of that idea by creating lounges like the one at its Kettleman City, California Supercharger station.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk then expanded upon the convenience store idea and tossed out on Twitter — as he does — a restaurant concept. “Gonna put an old school drive-in, roller skates & rock restaurant at one of the new Tesla Supercharger locations in LA.”

A few months later, Tesla did in fact apply for a restaurant and supercharger station, but has been relatively quiet about the potential business venture since. The company, which recently dissolved its communications team, did not respond to requests for more information on Tesla’s plans to open a restaurant charging station, or whether other restaurants would be able to use the logo to create a similar business model.

Tesla’s iconic ‘T’ logo is featured on the USTPO application to be trademarked for use by restaurants. The company also applied for trademarks for the word ‘Tesla’ itself, as well as a stylized version of the word.

Tesla applied for a trademark under restaurant services for a stylized version of the company name.

With this filing, it looks like Tesla might be taking the necessary steps to move forwards with Musk’s plans to create a Sonic-meets-fueling station. This is not the first time the restaurant industry and the auto industry have collided. The Michelin Guide, in which the loss or acquisition of a star might make or break a restaurant, was originally compiled in 1900 by brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin who wanted to create demand for automobiles, and therefore, the tires they manufactured. So they created an extensive guide of restaurants and hotels, as well as mechanics and gas stations along the way, so people might be encouraged to use their newfound mobility to explore their taste buds and the world.

Tesla’s supercharger restaurant isn’t quite as revolutionary as that, but it does invite creativity to the EV game by providing people with another incentive structure to purchase a new vehicle – even if that incentive is only to appear trendy while basking in the nostalgic glow of the past. And who knows, maybe the waiters will serve up burgers on electric roller skates, too.

#food, #tc, #tesla, #transportation


By working with home entrepreneurs, Jakarta-based DishServe is creating an even more asset-light version of cloud kitchens

Cloud kitchens are already meant to reduce the burden of infrastructure on food and beverage brands by providing them with centralized facilities to prepare meals for delivery. This means the responsibility falls on cloud kitchen operators to make sure they have enough locations to meet demand from F&B clients, while ensuring fast deliveries to end customers.

Indonesian network DishServe has figured out a way to make running cloud kitchen networks even more asset-light. Launched by budget hotel startup RedDoorz’s former chief operating officer, DishServe partners with home kitchens instead of renting or buying its own facilities. It currently works with almost 100 home kitchens in Jakarta, and focuses on small- to medium-sized F&B brands, serving as their last-mile delivery network. Launched in fall 2020, DishServe has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Insignia Ventures Partners.

DishServe was founded in September 2020 by Rishabh Singhi. After leaving RedDoorz at the end of 2019, Singhi moved to New York, with plans to launch a new hospitality startup that could quickly convert any commercial space into members’ clubs like Soho House. The nascent company had already created sample pre-fabricated rooms and was about to start leasing property when the COVID-19 lockdown hit New York City in March 2020. Singhi said he went on a “soul searching spree” for a couple of months, deciding what to do and if he should return to Southeast Asia.

He realized that since many restaurants had to switch to online orders and delivery to survive the pandemic, this could potentially be an equalizer for small F&B brands that compete with larger players, like McDonald’s. But lockdowns meant that a lot of people had to pick from a limited range of restaurants close to where they lived. At the same time, Singhi saw that there were a lot of people who wanted to make more money, but couldn’t work outside of their homes, like stay-at-home moms.

DishServe was created to connect all three sides: F&B brands that want to expand without spending a lot of money, home entrepreneurs and diners hungry for more food options. Its other founders include Stefanie Irma, an early RedDoorz employee who served as its country head for the Philippines; serial entrepreneur Vinav Bhanawat; and Fathhi Mohamed, who also co-founded Sri Lankan on-demand taxi service PickMe.

The company works with F&B brands that typically have between just one to 15 retail locations, and want to increase their deliveries without opening new outlets. DishServe’s clients also include cloud kitchen companies who use its home kitchen network for last-mile distribution to expand their delivery coverage and catering services.

“The brands don’t to have to incur any upfront costs, and it’s a cheaper way to distribute as well because they don’t have to pay for electricity, plumbing and other things like that,” said Singhi. “And for agents, it gives them a chance to earn money from their homes.”

How it works

Before adding a home kitchen to its network, DishServe screens applicants by asking them to send in a series of photos, then doing an in-person check. If a kitchen is accepted, DishServe upgrades it so it has the same equipment and functionality as the other home kitchens in its network. The company covers the cost of the conversion process, which usually takes about three hours and costs $500 USD, and maintains ownership of the equipment, taking it back if a kitchen decided to stop working with DishServe. Singhi said DishServe is usually able to recover the cost of a conversion four months after a kitchen begins operating.

Home kitchens start out by serving DishServe’s own white-label brand as a trial run before it opens to other brands. Each can serve up to three additional brands at a time.

One important thing to note is that DishServe’s home kitchens, which are usually run by one person, don’t actually cook any food. Ingredients are provided by F&B brands, and home kitchen operators follow a standard set of procedures to heat, assemble and package meals for pick-up and delivery.

Screenshots of DishServe's apps for home kitchen operators and customers

Screenshots of DishServe’s apps for home kitchen operators and customers

DishServe makes sure standard operating procedures and hygiene standards are being maintained through frequent online audits. Agents, or kitchen operators, regularly submit photos and videos of kitchens based on a checklist (i.e. food preparation area, floors, walls, hand-washing area and the inside of their freezers). Singhi said about 90% of its agents are women between the ages of 30 to 55, with an average household income of $1,000. By working with DishServe, they typically make an additional $600 a month once their kitchen is operating at full capacity with four brands. DishServe monetizes through a revenue-sharing model, charging F&B brands and splitting that with its agents.

After joining DishServe, F&B brands pick what home kitchens they want to work with, and then distribute ingredients to kitchens, using DishServe’s real-time dashboard to monitor stock. Some ingredients have a shelf life of up to six months, while perishables, like produce, dairy and eggs, are delivered daily. DishServe’s “starter pack” for onboarding new brands lets them pick pick five kitchens, but Singhi said most brands usually begin with between 10 to 20 kitchens so they can deliver to more spots in Jakarta and save money by preparing meals in bulk.

DishServe plans to focus on growing its network in Jakarta until at least the end of this year, before expanding into other cities. “One thing we are trying to change about the F&B industry is that instead of highly-concentrated, centralized food business, like what exists today, we are decentralizing it by enabling micro-entrepreneurs to act as a distribution network,” Singhi said.

#cloud-kitchen, #dishserve, #fb, #food, #indonesia, #jakarta, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Glovo splurges $208M on three Delivery Hero brands in the Balkans

The high stakes game of chess (or, well, consolidation chicken) that is on-demand food delivery rolls on today with a little more territorial swapping in Europe: Barcelona-based Glovo has agreed to buy three of Berlin-based Delivery Hero’s food delivery brands in Central and Eastern Europe — with deals that it said are worth a total value of €170 million (~$208M).

Specifically, it’s picking up Delivery Hero’s foodpanda brand in Romania and Bulgaria; the Donesi brand in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Pauza in Croatia.

There’s some notable symmetry here: Last year Delivery Hero shelled out $272M for a bunch of Glovo’s LatAm brands, as the latter gave up on a region it had already started withdrawing from in its quest for profitability.

Glovo said then that it would be focusing on “key markets where we can build a long-term sustainable business and continue to provide our unique multi-category offering to our customers”.

Earlier this month the Barcelona-based ‘deliver anything’ app also announced it was picking up Ehrana, a local delivery company in Slovenia. So it’s been on quite the (local) shopping spree of late.

Its existing operational footprint covers markets in South West Europe, Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. So its attention here, on the Balkans, suggests it sees a chance to eke out profitable potential in more of Central Europe too.

Glovo said the transactions in Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia are expected to close “within the next few weeks”, subject to fulfilment of closing conditions and relevant regulatory approvals.

While it said Romania will be completed following approval from the competition authority — but gave no timeline for that.

Its splurge on Central and Eastern European rival food delivery brands follows a $528M Series F funding round in April — so it’s evidently not short of VC cash to burn spend.

Commenting in a statement, Oscar Pierre, CEO and co-founder, said: “It’s always been central to our long-term strategy to focus on markets where we see clear opportunities to lead and where we can build a sustainable business. Central and Eastern Europe is a very important part of that plan. The region has really embraced on-demand delivery platforms and we’re very excited to be strengthening our presence and increasing our footprint in countries that continue to show enormous potential for growth.” 

In another supporting statement Delivery Hero made it clear it has bigger fish to fry (than can be served up to hungry customers in the Balkans) right now.

“Delivery Hero has built a clear leading business in the Balkan region in the last couple of years. However, with a lot of operational priorities on our plate, we believe Glovo would be better positioned to continue building an amazing experience for our customers in this region,” said Niklas Östberg, its CEO and co-founder.

A relevant, recent development for Delivery Hero‘s business is the decision to re-enter its home market of Germany — Europe’s biggest economy — under its foodpanda brand, starting in its home city of Berlin this summer (but with a national expansion planned to follow).

This is notable because back in 2018 it sold its German operations to another on-demand food delivery rival, the Dutch giant — in a $1.1BN deal which included the Lieferheld, and foodora brands — temporarily stepping out of the competitive fray. (Meanwhile has since merged with the UK’s Just Eat to become… Just Eat Takeaway so, uh, keep up.)

Delivery Hero is returning to Germany now because it can, and because the market is huge. A two-year non-compete clause between it and Just Eat Takeaway recently expired — allowing for reheating (rehashing?) of the competitive food delivery mix in German cities.

Speaking to the FT back in May about this market return, Östberg suggested Delivery Hero has girded itself (and its investors) for a long fight.

“We don’t see necessarily that we are going to go in and win the market in the next year or so. This is a 10-year game,” he said. “Of course we will definitely make sure we put in enough money to be the clear number two, the clear challenger [to Just Eat].”

Winning at food delivery is certainly a(n expensive) marathon, not a sprint.

There are also of course multiple races being run in markets around the world, depending on local conditions and competitive mix — with the chance that the winner of the biggest and most lucrative races will reach such a position of VC-sponsored glory that it can buy up the top competitors from the smaller races and consolidate everything — maximizing economies of scale and gaining the ability to squeeze out fresh competition to grab a juicy profit for themselves.

Or, well, that’s the theory. Competition regulators are likely to take increasing interest in this space, for one thing. Rising awareness of gig economy workers rights is also putting pressure on the model.

For now, the thin-margin food delivery business needs the right base conditions to survive. The model only functions in cities and ideally in highly dense urban environments. Most of the players in this space also do not employ the armies of riders that are needed to make deliveries — because doing so would make the model far more costly. And in Europe political attention on gig economy workers rights could force reforms that raise regional operational costs, putting further pressure on margins.

Spain has its own labor reforms in train that will affect Glovo in its home market, for example.

Achieving sustainability (i.e. profitability without the need for ongoing VC funding injections) remains a huge hurdle for delivery apps. It will likely require massive market consolidation and/or convincing users to switch from making the occasional order of a hot meal on a weekend to relying on app-based delivery for far more of their local shopping needs — not just lunch/dinner but groceries and toiletries, and other fast moving consumers goods and household items.

It’s notable that super fast grocery delivery is a major focus for Glovo, for example — which has recently been building out networks of inner city dark stores to service in-app convenience store shopping.

Lots of other on-demand app players are also ramping up on that front. Including Delivery Hero — which has been paying more attention to groceries (picking up InstaShop last year in a deal worth $360M).

Glovo building out in Central Europe while exiting markets further afield suggests it believes it can use a concentrated market footprint to drive operational efficiencies and strong order margins through a tightly integrated meal delivery and dark store play.

If it can do that — and offer at least the whiff of profitability — it could make its business an attractive future acquisition target for a larger global giant that’s looking to up the ‘consolidation chicken’ stakes by bolting on new regions.

A larger player like Delivery Hero may even be a potential future suitor — having shown it’s happy to return to markets it left earlier. After all, it surely knows Glovo’s business pretty well since they’ve done a number of market swaps. But, for now, that’s pure speculation.

Zooming out, what the on-demand model of app-based urban convenience means for the future of urban environments is a whole other question — and one which both competition and urban regulators will need to ponder very carefully.

If the rush to scale delivery platforms drives unstoppable consolidation that sees smaller players gobbled up by a few global giants — that can then use their size and scale to outcompete local shops — it may spell even more dark times for the traditional High Street and its family-run bodegas which have already been hammered by Internet giants like Amazon.

Touch of a button convenience does carry wider costs.


#amazon, #apps, #balkans, #barcelona, #berlin, #bulgaria, #central-europe, #croatia, #delivery-hero, #eastern-europe, #europe, #food, #food-delivery, #foodpanda, #fundings-exits, #germany, #glovo, #just-eat-takeaway, #just-eat, #montenegro, #niklas-ostberg, #online-food-ordering, #oscar-pierre, #retailers, #romania, #take-out, #takeaway-com, #tc, #united-kingdom


Indoor farming company Bowery raises $300M

New York City-based vertical farming startup Bowery Farming this week has announced a $300 million Series C. The round, which brings its total funding north of $472 million, values the company at $2.3 billion.

Fidelity Management & Research Company led the beefy round, with participation from existing investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), General Catalyst, GGV Capital, Temasek and Groupe Artémis. Amplo and Gaingels participated, as well, along with some celebrity individual investors, including Lewis Hamilton, Chris Paul, Natalie Portman, José Andrés and Justin Timberlake.

The funding comes as Bowery has experienced some impressive real-world growth, touting a 750% increase in availability since January of last year. If anything, the company appears to have thrived during the pandemic. Its vertically farmed produce is now available in 850 grocery stores, including big-name chains like Albertsons (incl. Safeway and Acme), Giant Food, Walmart and Whole Foods.

Image Credits: Bowery Farming

Amazon Fresh has also provided a sizable e-commerce footprint — a big must during the pandemic-fueled shutdowns of the past year.

“This infusion of new capital from Fidelity, other new investors, and the additional support of our long-term investor partners is acknowledgement of the critical need for new solutions to our current agricultural system, and the enormous economic opportunity that comes with supporting our mission,” CEO Irving Fain said in a release. “This funding not only fuels our continued expansion but the ongoing development of our proprietary technology, which sits at the core of our business and our ability to rapidly and efficiently scale towards an increasingly important opportunity in front of us.”

Image Credits: Bowery Farming

The company says the massive windfall will go toward expanding its indoor farms to additional locations in the United States, as well as investing in headcount and R&D. Included in the former is a new site located in an industrial area in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which Bowery says will be its largest to date.


#bowery-farming, #farming, #fidelity-management-research-company, #food, #funding, #gv, #indoor-farming, #recent-funding, #startups, #vertical-farming


TikTok, the Fastest Way on Earth to Become a Food Star

The app offers explosive growth for content creators. Gen Z cooks are taking advantage.

#content-type-personal-profile, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #social-media, #tiktok-bytedance, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming


Indonesian agritech platform TaniHub Group harvests a $65.5M Series B round

TaniHub Group, an Indonesian startup that helps farmers get better prices and more customers for their crops, has raised a $65.5 million Series B. The funding was led by MDI Ventures, the investment arm of Telkom Group, one of Indonesia’s largest telecoms, with participation from Add Ventures, BRI Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Intudo Ventures, Openspace Ventures, Tenaya Capital, UOB Venture Management and Vertex Ventures.

Openspace and Intudo are returning investors from TaniHub’s $10 million Series A, announced in May 2019. The new funding brings its total raised to about $94 million.

Founded in 2016, TaniHub now has more than 45,000 farmers and 350,000 buyers (including businesses and consumers) in its network. The company helps farmers earn more for their crops by streamlining distribution channels so there are less middlemen between farms and the restaurants, grocery stores, vendors and other businesses that buy their products. It does this through three units: TaniHub, TaniSupply and TaniFund.

TaniHub is its B2B e-commerce platform, which connects farmers directly to customers. Then orders are fulfilled through TaniSupply, the company’s logistics platform, which currently operates six warehousing and processing facilities where harvests can be washed, sorted and packed within an hour, before being delivered to buyers by TaniHub’s own couriers or third-party logistics providers.

Finally, TaniFund is a fintech platform that provides loans to farmers they can use while growing crops and pay off by selling through TaniHub. Co-founder and chief executive officer Eka Pamitra told TechCrunch its credit scoring system is based on three years of performance, the company’s agriculture value chain expertise and partnerships with financial institutions.

“More than 100 data points are considered when doing the credit risk assessment. For example, for cultivation financing products, TaniFund tailors each credit scoring based on agriculture risks and market risk of each commodity, on top of the typical borrower E-KYC scoring and process,” he explained. “Beyond credit scoring, having TaniSupply and TaniHub as a standby buyer within the ecosystem also helps to mitigate risk of each loan.  TaniFund aims to further boost its credit scoring system with smarter data processing and better machine learning models.”

Pamitra said TaniHub will use its new funding to build the upstream and midstream parts of its supply chain—in other words, new cultivation areas, processing, packing centers and warehouses. The company will also expand its coverage beyond Java and Bali to source and sell locally, and continue improving its supply-demand forecast model to help farmers plans crop cultivation and timing, with the goal of reducing price fluctuations and maintaining a consistent supply. Pamitra added that TaniHub will also explore precision farming technology.

Over the last couple of years, TaniHub has started exporting several types of fruits and spices to the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and South Korea. This year, it plans to focus on expanding within Indonesia because the F&B (food and beverage) market there is worth $137 billion and the Indonesian agriculture sector is still highly fragmented, Pamitra said.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, TaniHub says it was able to grow its revenue 600% year-on-year in 2020 as demand for online groceries increased.

“We postponed our branch expansion plan and focused on increasing the seven existing warehouses’ since there was a surge of demand on the B2C segment and the process of onboarding farmers. This benefited us since the adoption of purchasing fresh groceries online increased significantly, and the willingness of farmers to work with us became remarkably high because the local traditional markets were closed due to lockdowns,” Pamitra said. “Since COVID-19, the eagerness of provincial governments to open communications for TaniHub to work with local farmers and SMEs in their region has been quite impactful.”

TaniHub is now working with several Indonesian government agencies, including the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, to onboard more farmers, F&B businesses and increase exports.

In a press statement, MDI Ventures director of portfolio management Sandhy Widyasthana said, “TaniHub Group has an important role in transforming the agriculture sector and has proven that its presence can deliver positive impact on the quality of life of farmers. We hope our investment can help them continue their work and expand their coverage to more and more farming communities in Indonesia.”

#agriculture, #agritech, #asia, #farm-to-table, #farming, #food, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tanihub, #tanihub-group, #tc


Rakuten and Beyond Next invest $1M seed funding in farm-to-table startup Secai Marche

Farmers and food businesses, like restaurants, deal with the same issue: a fragmented supply chain. Secai Marche wants to streamline agricultural logistics, making fulfillment more cost-efficient and enabling food businesses to bundle products from different farmers into the same order. The company is headquartered in Japan, with operations in Malaysia, and plans to expand into Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This week, it announced 150 million JPY (about $1.4 million USD) in pre-Series A funding from Rakuten Ventures and Beyond Next Ventures to build a B2B logistics platform for farmers that sell to restaurants, hotels and other F&B (food and beverage) businesses.

This round brings Secai Marche’s total raised to about $3 million. The capital will be used to expand its fulfillment infrastructure, including a network of warehouses and cold chain logistics, hire more people for its engineering team, and sales and marketing.

Secai Marche was founded in 2018 by Ami Sugiyama and Shusaku Hayakawa, and currently serves 130 farmers and more than 300 F&B businesses. Before launching the startup, Sugiyama spent seven years working in Southeast Asia, including managing restaurants and cafes in Malaysia. During that time, she started to import green tea from Japan, intending to sell it directly to customers in Malaysia. But she realized supply chain inefficiencies not only made it hard to meet demand, but also ensure quality for all kinds of ingredients.

Meanwhile, Hayakawa was operating a farm in Japan and working on agriculture control systems that predicted weather and crop growth to help farmers maintain consistent quality.

Both Sugiyama and Hayakawa ended up at consulting firm Deloitte, researching how to create a more efficient supply chain for Japanese agricultural exports to Singaporean F&B businesses. Policies implemented by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration aim to increase Japanese agricultural exports from 922.3 billion JPY (about $8.5 billion) in 2020 to 2 trillion JPY (about $18.5 billion) by 2025, and 5 trillion JPY (about $46.1 billion) in 2030.

Seche Marche’s goal is to make it easier for farmers to sell their crops to F&B businesses domestically or overseas.

“We found that not only farmers in Japan, but also all farmers in Southeast Asia have the same problem in terms of the current supply chain,” Sugiyama told TechCrunch. “So we left Deloitte and started our own business to connect not only farmers in Japan, but farmers in all Asian countries.”

Secai Marche’s logistics management tech is what differentiates it from other wholesaler platforms. It uses an AI-based algorithm to predict demand based on consumption trends, seasonal products and farmer recommendations, said Hayakawa. Secai Marche runs its own warehouse network, but mostly relies on third-party logistics providers for fulfillment, and its platform assigns orders to the most efficient transportation method.

This allows F&B businesses to consolidate orders from farmers, so they can order smaller batches from different places without spending more money. About 30% of Secai Marche’s products are shipped to other countries, while the rest are sold domestically.

Secai Marche is reaching out to farmers who want to increase their customer base. About 30% of its products currently come from Japanese farms, 50% from Malaysia and the rest from other ASEAN countries. Sugiyama and Hayakawa said the COVID-19 pandemic affected Secai Marche’s expansion plans because it originally planned to enter Singapore this year, but had to slow down since they were unable to travel and meet with farmers.

On the other hand, many farmers have started selling directly to consumers through social media like Instagram or Facebook, and have approached Secai Marche for help with fulfillment, logistics, repacking and quality control.

#agritech, #asia, #farm-to-table, #food, #fundings-exits, #japan, #logistics, #malaysia, #secai-marche, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc


Slicing up pizza robots

So, true story. Over the weekend I was talking to someone about restaurant robotics. It’s a concept people often have trouble visualizing — and understandably so. Among other things, there’s really no commonly accepted form factor in a category that sometimes is literally a robot arm flipping hamburgers.

My short response was, “they’re large kiosks that make pizza.” And honestly, that’s not really far from the truth. These sorts of self-contained assembly line robots are probably about as close as we have to a consensus design in the category — and for good reason. They’re designed to operate with minimal interaction — largely the employee’s involvement is limited to order input, restocking ingredients and cleaning.

The pizza part is two-fold. First: people like pizza. It’s plentiful and popular, so it makes sense that it would be one of the first foodstuffs you’d want to automate. Second: it’s relatively easy to automate. The process for making it is consistent and the constraints are clear. It’s something that can be broken down into an easy to follow, step by step set of instructions.

I covered two restaurant robots in the past week. It’s a category that saw a pretty sizable boost in interest during the pandemic, as restaurants were short-staffed essential services looking for ways to minimize human contact with food as the scientific world was scrambling to determine how the novel coronavirus is spread.

Picnic very much fits in with the aforementioned description. It is, quite literally, a big, pizza-making box. This week the Seattle-based company announced a $16.3 million raise that includes a $3 million bridge filed last fall. It’s targeting restaurants, as well as public gathering spaces (remember those?) like schools, stadiums and hospitals. There are a handful of companies in the category, including XRobotics — though the formerly best known, Zume, bailed out of the pizza robot space a while back.

Chef Robotics announced a $7.7 million raise this week. I can’t really tell you what the final robot looks like yet, because that’s still trade secret stuff. Here’s what the company says:

Chef is designed to mimic the flexibility of humans, allowing customers to handle thousands of different kinds of food using minimal hardware changes. Chef does this using artificial intelligence that can learn how to handle more and more ingredients over time and that also improves. This allows customers to do things like change their menu often. Additionally, Chef’s modular architecture allows customers to quickly scale up just as they would by hiring more staff (but unlike humans, Chef always shows up on time and doesn’t need breaks).

Not a lot to go off there, but the modularity bit is interesting — and something a lot of these companies are exploring. If you can get a robot to automate a simple, repetitive task, you can potentially offer swappable hardware that can apply the technology to different kinds of food.

Other notable raises for the week include Mech-Mind robots. The Beijing-based company announced a Series C. It hasn’t revealed a specific figure, but given that it says the raise brings its total funding to over $100 million and it had previously raised a total of $79 million (including a $15 million Series B last year), you can extrapolate from there.

Mech-Mind is an industrial robotics and AI company focused on various manufacturing tasks.

#chef-robotics, #food, #robotics, #robotics-roundup


In Praise of Congee

I grew up eating rice porridge, and every culture has its version. From mush we originate — to mush we’ll return.

#cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #hong-kong, #quarantine-life-and-culture


The Profound Significance of ‘High on the Hog’

A new limited series on Netflix is a nuanced celebration of African Americans and their food. It is also sorely overdue.

#black-people, #carter-gabrielle-e-w, #chase-leah, #chefs, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #gadsden-martha-lou-1930-2021, #guy-jerrelle-1990, #harris-jessica-b, #high-on-the-hog-how-african-american-cuisine-transformed-america-tv-program, #miller-adrian-historian, #netflix-inc, #satterfield-stephen, #soul-food-cuisine, #tate-omar, #television, #twitty-michael-w, #williams-roger-ross


The Making of ‘High on the Hog,’ Bringing Black Food History to TV

The new Netflix series tapped years of scholarship and the life experience of its creators to chart how African Americans have shaped the country’s cuisine.

#black-people, #books-and-literature, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #documentary-films-and-programs, #food, #harris-jessica-b, #high-on-the-hog-how-african-american-cuisine-transformed-america-tv-program, #netflix-inc, #satterfield-stephen, #slavery-historical, #television, #united-states, #williams-roger-ross


America is Reopening. Here’s What it Looks Like

With safety restrictions easing, Americans from Maine to Montana are returning to concert halls, worship services and soapbox derbies in all 50 states. 

#athletics-and-sports, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #culture-arts, #food, #labor-and-jobs, #photography, #puerto-rico, #religion-and-belief, #united-states, #virgin-islands-us


In the Virgin Islands, Fungi Tells a Story

Once a staple on dinner tables, the cornmeal-based dish is becoming harder to find on restaurant menus. These chefs are working to preserve it.

#cooking-and-cookbooks, #corn, #food, #petite-pump-room-charlotte-amalie-virgin-islands-restaurant, #restaurants, #st-thomas-virgin-islands


Chef Robotics raises $7.7M to help automate kitchens

A year and a half’s worth of global pandemic has had a profound impact on virtually every sector of the workforce. When it comes to future automation food prep isn’t quite at the top of the list (that distinction likely goes to warehouse fulfillment, for the time being), but it’s certainly up there. And it’s easy to see why the events of 2020 and beyond have left many kitchens looking for alternative sources of labor.

San Francisco-based Chef Robotics today announced that it has raised a combined $7.7 million pre-seed and seed round, with the goal of helping automate certain aspects of food preparation. The list of investors is pretty long on this one (with seed and pre-seed rolled up into one), including Kleiner Perkins, Promus Ventures, Construct, Bloomberg Beta, BOLD Capital Partners, Red and Blue Ventures, Gaingels, Schox VC, Stewart Alsop and Tau Ventures, among others.

The product team includes ex-employees of Cruise, Google, Verb Surgical, Zoox, and Strateos. Chef’s team isn’t quite ready to show off its robot just yet (hence generic kitchen stock photo #8952 up top) – not entirely unusual for a robotics company still in the early stages. What it has outlined, thus far, is a robotics and vision system destined to increase production volume and enhance consistency, while removing some food waste from the process. Fast casual restaurants appear to be a key focus for this sort of tech.

The company describes it thusly,

Chef is designed to mimic the flexibility of humans, allowing customers to handle thousands of different kinds of food using minimal hardware changes. Chef does this using artificial intelligence that can learn how to handle more and more ingredients over time and that also improves. This allows customers to do things like change their menu often. Additionally, Chef’s modular architecture allows customers to quickly scale up just as they would by hiring more staff (but unlike humans, Chef always shows up on time and doesn’t need breaks).

More details on the underlying tech soon, no doubt.


#chef-robotics, #food, #robotics


Second Life for Shipping Containers: Selling Bao Buns and Baked Goods

The brightly colored steel boxes are being repurposed by developers in an effort to liven up bars, cafes and restaurants inside food halls.

#architecture, #area-planning-and-renewal, #food, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-commercial


The Lure of H Mart, Where the Shelves Can Seem as Wide as Asia

The huge grocery chain and other megastores like it have revolutionized the way many Asian-Americans shop and eat.

#asian-americans, #chinese-americans, #food, #h-mart, #japanese-americans, #korean-food-cuisine, #korean-americans, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #united-states


Diet Companies See Gains as Americans Try to Drop Pandemic Pounds

In recent weeks and months, as people have ventured out more often, business has jumped for companies that sell plans to help lose weight.

#diet-and-nutrition, #food, #medifast-inc, #noom, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #weight, #weight-watchers-international-inc


Think Outside the Banana. Eat the Peel.

After the British chefs Nadiya Hussain and Nigella Lawson developed recipes using banana skins, the British cooking public is perplexed.

#bananas, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #hussain-nadiya-per, #lawson-nigella, #veganism


Hustle Fund wants to help spawn a new generation of angel investors

Kara Penn is the mother of four daughters and owner of Mission Spark, a management and strategy consulting company.

And now, thanks to Hustle Fund, she is also an angel investor.

Hustle Fund is coming out of stealth today with Angel Squad, a new initiative aimed at making angel investing more accessible to more people. To more people like Colorado-based Penn.

We believe that in order to increase diversity in the startup ecosystem, one thing that we must do is increase diversity — whether it be in regard to gender, race or geography — amongst angel investors,” said Hustle Fund co-founder and general partner Elizabeth Yin.

Via Angel Squad, Hustle Fund specifically aims to build an inclusive investor community, make minimum check sizes low and accessible (think as little as $1,000), provide “angel education” and give investors a way to invest alongside Hustle Fund.

“There’s been this misnomer, or at least I had this incorrect assumption that in order to become an angel investor, you have to be super rich and write $25,000 checks,” Yin told TechCrunch. “But the reality is actually in Silicon Valley, there are all these people running around investing $1,000 checks…and that’s something that’s a lot more accessible than then most people might think. And, part of the value of having this group is then we can accumulate a bunch of smaller checks to then write one larger check for a company.”

So far, Penn has invested in five startups across a range of sectors including real estate, food, apparel and finance. 

She describes herself as “a complete novice” in angel investing, and so far, she’s loving the experience.

I love Hustle Fund’s perspective that great hustlers can look like anyone and come from anywhere,” Penn told TechCrunch. “I’ve enjoyed being in a supportive community with differing levels of expertise, but where every question is welcomed.”

The experience is also broadening her exposure to technology and AI, the collection and use of data and the creation of new marketplaces in ways she never would have been exposed to before.

“As someone whose own company focuses exclusively on strategy in social impact organizations, I am also looking for how founders identify and bring to market creative solutions to complex problems, as well as exposure to a network of innovative people looking to solve hard issues in smart ways,” Penn said. “This exposure is helping me begin to think about applications of these approaches to difficult social problems.”

For some context, Hustle Fund is a venture firm founded by Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn, two former 500 Startups partners, with the goal of investing in pre-seed software startups. The firm has traditionally operated by investing $25,000 in a company, usually with a minimum-viable product, and then works with the team to help them grow. It does around 50 investments per year, according to its website. 

It recently closed on $33.6 million for a new fund.

“One of the things most important to us is this bigger mission of wanting to change the way the startup ecosystem is,” Yin said. “I noticed both as an entrepreneur and while running an accelerator, if you have a certain resume, went to certain schools, or were a certain race or gender, you have advantages in starting a company and getting funding. For many people, if you don’t tick those boxes, it can be very challenging. That’s why we’re investing in a lot of founders from all walks of life.”

Hustle Fund Venture Partner Brian Nichols had started a syndicate of Lyft alumni on AngelList. After doing a few deals, he opened up the syndicate to people outside of AngelList.

“I found there was a wide range of people looking to diversify into private markets, from all over the world with all types of backgrounds,” he said. “Hustle Fund and I had similar taste in companies I was investing in and I built a relationship with them in co-investments.”

Today, he’s helping run the fund’s Angel Squad initiative. So far, it has had two cohorts with over 150 investors total and true to the fund’s mission, those investors have been more diverse than typical angel syndicates: 46% of the members are female, 9% are underrepresented minorities and 32% are people who work outside of tech with professional roles such as lawyers, doctors and artists. Just one-third are based in Silicon Valley.

Every week, Angel Squad hosts an event which ranges from networking to a peek behind the curtain at opportunities at Hustle Fund is considering investing in to talking through why or why not to take a meeting with a founder.

“Imagine starting from zero, and if you could skip a bunch of steps and have Elizabeth (Yin) tell you how to do this before you lose a bunch of money in the process of evaluating a startup,” Nichols told TechCrunch. “Angel Squad is exactly what I wish had existed three or four years ago when I became interested in investing.”

Silicon Valley, Yin acknowledges, can be intimidating but the reality is that no one is an expert in everything.

“We’re trying to cultivate an environment where people are very kind — we have a no asshole rule, and that is a safe space where people can learn and feel like they can ask questions, and not have to know everything about angel investing. The reality is most people don’t. And we want to bring new people into this system.”

Besides not being an a-hole, other criteria in becoming a Squad Member include being able to add value and being an accredited investor.

“With rounds as competitive as they are today, we are looking for people who want to be actively supportive of the portfolio companies we’re investing in,” Nichols said. “Every person who wants to join the program is interviewed by someone from our team, who asks questions such as ‘What can you help a founder with?’ We are not looking for passive capital. That’s not super helpful at this point in the ecosystem.

#angel-investing, #angel-investors, #angellist, #co-founder, #colorado, #diversity, #elizabeth-yin, #entrepreneur, #entrepreneurship, #eric-bahn, #finance, #food, #funding, #hustle-fund, #investment, #lyft, #minimum-viable-product, #money, #pennsylvania, #private-equity, #real-estate, #silicon-valley, #startup, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #venture-capitalists


#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV Berliner Gorillas-Investor Atlantic Food Labs setzt auf Lieferdienst Yababa

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 10. Mai 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 Gorillas-Investor Atlantic Food Labs schiebt Yababa, einen Lieferservice für orientalische Lebensmittel und Gerichte, an. Das Berliner Startup, bisher ein 100-prozentiger Ableger des bekannten Kapitalgebers, verspricht seinen Kunden “niedrige Preise” und eine “Lieferung am gleichen Tag”. Geführt wird der orientalische Supermarkt von Ralph Hage. Mehr im neuen News-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV
+++ und OptioPay-Gründer Marcus Börner investiert in Das junge Berliner Unternehmen, das Anfang 2021 von Max Große Lutermann und Janis Künkler gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als White-Label Plattform in Sachen Re-Commerce. Die Berliner versprechen dabei ein “komplett gebrandetes Onlineportal zur Initiierung, Abwicklung und Tracking des Annahme- und Verkaufsprozesse für Verkäufer”. Börner hält nun 6 % am Unternehmen. Mehr im neuen News-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Mehrere Angel-Investoren – darunter Lucas von Cranach (OneFootball), Verena Pausder und Federico Pappalardo investieren in Zippeo. Mit Zippeo, zum Start noch als unterwegs, möchte Gründerin Selina Brauns die Produktivität von Software-Teams steigern. Auf der Website des jungen Startups heißt es dazu: “Less meetings, more coding. The first software workflow automation tool that works out of the box”. Mehr im neuen News-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Earlybird Venture Capital und eine “Gruppe renommierter Angel-Investoren” investieren 4,5 Millionen Euro in semantha. Das DeepTech-Startup, eine Ausgründung des Karlsruher Instituts für Technologie (KIT), möchte mit Hilfe von Künstlicher Intelligenz “natürliches Sprachverständnis nutzen, um Dokumentenprozesse zu beschleunigen”. Das Unternehmen hinter semantha, das auf den Namen thingsTHINKING hört, wurde 2017 von Sven J. Körner, Mathias Landhäußer, Georg A. Müller und Abdelmalik El Guesaoui gegründet.

+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber Earlybird Venture Capital und N26-Gründer Maximilian Tayenthal investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Finmid – siehe FinanceFWD. Das Berliner Startup, das von den beiden ehemaligen N26-Mitarbeiter Max Schertel und Alexander Talkanitsa gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als “Financial services infrastructure for software businesses”.

+++ Der Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen (TGFS) investiert erneut in Wundera bzw. den Betreiber sciendis. Das Leipziger E-Health-Startup, das von Michael Aleithe und Philipp Skowron gegründet wurde, entwicklet mit Wundera eine App zur Dokumentation chronischer Wunden. “Mit Wundera können Pflegedienste ihre Prozesse optimieren, um mehr Zeit für den Patienten zu haben”, teilt das junge Unternehmen mit.

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, #atlantic-food-labs, #deeptech, #earlybird-venture-capital, #food, #karlsruhe, #leipzig, #reverse-supply, #sciendis, #semantha, #technologiegrunderfonds-sachsen, #venture-capital, #yababa, #zippeo, #zippr-io


Are Plant Milks Good for You?

They can be, but in most cases, they should not be considered a nutritional substitute for dairy.

#dairy-products, #diet-and-nutrition, #food, #health-foods, #labeling-and-labels-product, #milk, #sugar, #vitamins


From bootstrapped to a $2.1B valuation, ReCharge raises $227M for subscription management platform

ReCharge, a provider of subscription management software for e-commerce, announced today that it has raised $227 million in a Series B growth round at a $2.1 billion valuation. 

Summit Partners, ICONIQ Growth and Bain Capital Ventures provided the capital.

Notably, Santa Monica, California-based ReCharge was bootstrapped for several years before raising $50 million in a previously undisclosed Series A from Summit Partners in January of 2020. And, it’s currently cash flow positive, according to company execs. With this round, ReCharge has raised a total of $277 million in funding.

Over the years, the company’s SaaS platform has evolved from a subscription billing/payments platform to include a broader set of offerings aimed at helping e-commerce businesses boost revenues and cut operating costs.

Specifically, ReCharge’s cloud-based software is designed to give e-commerce merchants a way to offer and manage subscriptions for physical products. It also aims to help these brands, primarily direct to consumer companies, grow by providing them with ways to “easily” add subscription offerings to their business with the goal of turning one-time purchasers “into loyal, repeat customers.”

The company has some impressive growth metrics, no doubt in part driven by the COVID-19 pandemic’s push to all things digital. ReCharge’s ARR grew 146% in 2020, while revenue grew over 136% over the same period, according to co-founder and CEO Oisin O’Connor, although he declined to reveal hard numbers. The startup has 15,000 customers and 20 million subscribers across 180 countries on its platform. Customers include Harry’s, Oatly, Fiji Water, Billie and Native. But even prior to the pandemic, it had doubled its processing volume each year for the past five years and has processed over $5.3 billion in transactions since its 2014 inception.

ReCharge also has 328 employees, up from 140 in January of 2020.

“We saw many brick and mortar stores, such as Oatly, offer their products through subscriptions as a result of the pandemic in 2020,” O’Connor told TechCrunch. “Certain categories such as food & beverage and pet foods were some of the fastest growing segments in total subscriber count, with 100% and 147% increases, respectively, as non-discretionary spending shifted online.”

He was surprised to see that growth also extend beyond the most obvious categories. For example, ReCharge saw beauty care products subscribers grow by 120% last year.

“Overall, we saw a 91% subscriber growth in 2020 across the board in all categories of subscriptions,” O’Connor told TechCrunch. “We believe there is a combination of factors at play: the pandemic, the rise of physical subscriptions and the rise of direct-to-consumer buying.”

ReCharge plans to use its fresh capital to accelerate hiring in both R&D (engineering and product) and go-to-market functions such as sales, marketing and customer success. It plans to continue its expansion into other e-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Magento, and outside of North America into other geographic markets, starting with Europe. ReCharge also plans to “broaden” its acquisition scope so that it can “accelerate” its time-to-market in certain domains, according to O’Connor, and of course build upon its products and services.

Yoonkee Sull, partner at ICONIQ Growth, said his firm has been watching the rapid rise of subscription commerce for several years “as more merchants have looked for ways to deepen relationships with loyal customers and consumers increasingly have sought out more convenient and flexible ways to buy from their favorite brands.”

Ultimately, ICONIQ is betting on its belief that ReCharge “will continue to take significant share in a fast-growing market,” he told TechCrunch.

Sull believes the ReCharge team identified the subscription e-commerce opportunity early on and addresses the numerous nuanced needs of the market with “a fully-featured product that uniquely enables both the smallest merchants and largest brands to easily adopt and scale with their platform.”

Andrew Collins, managing director at Summit Partners, was impressed that the company saw so much growth without external capital for years, due to its “efficiency and discipline.”

The ReCharge team identified a true product-market fit and built a product that customers love — which has fueled strong organic growth as the business has scaled,” Collins added.

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