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Main article: Food

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Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 329

Soylent shakes up its executive team, naming Demir Vangelov as its new CEO

00:44 | 14 February

Soylent, the once high-flying Los Angeles-based meal replacement startup that has raised $72.4 million in financing from investors including Google Ventures, Lerer Hippeau and Andreessen Horowitz, has shaken up its executive team.

This week, the company announced in a blog post that the company’s chief financial officer, Demir Vangelov, would be taking over the top spot at the company and current chief executive Bryan Crowley would be stepping down.

“We would like to thank Bryan Crowley for his immense contributions to the company,” wrote Soylent chairman and founder Rob Rhinehart, in a statement.

Vangelov, who’s taking over from Crowley, previously served as an executive at the milk alternative company Califia Foods and at Oberto Foods, so he knows consumer packaged brands.

Crowley came to the company with grand ambitions to revitalize the Soylent brand and product line. The company had introduced a line of snack bars to complement its line of powders and drinks, while updating its drink line with a nootropic beverage containing caffeine and supplements supposedly designed to boost cognitive performance in addition to providing a meal replacement.

Soylent also set up fancy digs in Los Angeles’ arts district and established a Food Innovation Lab, which only a year ago awarded $25,000 to a few food startups working there.

Now, only a year later, the Food Innovation Lab is shuttered and Soylent has moved to a smaller office space. The company declined to comment on the news or its new strategy.

In some ways, Soylent may suffer from being a progenitor of an investment thesis which has passed it by. When the company launched in 2013, it was a fairly novel idea to start a new food brand, as Rhinehart notes in the blog post announcing the executive change:

Soylent started as a movement. In 2013, there was scarcely any innovation or attention to one of the world’s most important product sectors: our food. Today, innovative food companies are performing record-breaking IPOs, new retailers are raising massive growth rounds, and food, agriculture, and ingredient technologies are some of the most disruptive startups in the ecosystem. But we still have a lot of work to do to fulfill Soylent’s mission of nutrition for all.

Today we are making some changes at the company. We are renewing our commitment to being transparent, authentic and science-driven, all while putting the customer first. To do this we are going to re-focus on our core products. We will be improving our current product line as well as bringing some truly innovative ideas off the shelf and into the market, and we will be improving our prices by focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to distribution and marketing.

 


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Spaceflight Industries to sell its satellite rideshare launch business to Japan’s Mitsui & Co. and Yamasa

04:09 | 12 February

Spaceflight Industries, owner of both Spaceflight, Inc. and BlackSky, is selling the Spaceflight, Inc. portion of its business to Japanese industrial megacorporation Mitsui & Co, and Yamasa both of which will co-own the company in a 50/50 joint venture after its closing. The deal will see Spaceflight continue to operate as an independent business based in the U.S. and headquartered in Seattle, with the same mission of providing rideshare launch services for small satellite payloads.

Meanwhile, Spaceflight Industries will use the funds generated from the sale (the terms of the deal were not disclosed) to re-invest in its BlackSky business. BlackSky is an Earth observation company that deals in geospatial intelligence, and that currently operates four satellites in orbit, with eight more planned to join its constellation sometime later this year.

The deal also means that Mistui & Co, which is one of Japan’s largest businesses and which operates in a variety of sectors including infrastructure, energy production, IT, food, consumer products, mining, chemicals and more, will now be in the rocket launch rideshare business as well. Mitsui also has an aerospace arm that includes a space business which provides satellite development, launch and operation services, but noted in a press release that Spaceflight will become “the cornerstone” of its space strategy pending close of the deal.

Spaceflight, Inc. has been offering its services since 2010, and has launched a total of 271 satellites on 29 separate rocket launches, with 10 missions set to take place in 2020 alone. The company’s business seems poised to grow as more launch providers and more small satellite operators enter the market, with many predictions indicating sharp uptakes in orbit-based businesses to come over the next decade.

This arrangement is perhaps indicative of things to come in the space industry, as more young companies look at their overall business and determine how best to delineate things to continue their growth and return funds on investment to stay on mission. SpaceX, for instance, has confirmed it’s looking at spinning out its Starlink business and taking that public, a move that could generate significant funds for it to then funnel back into its core launch business in pursuit of its goals of making humans multi-planetary.

The deal still has to undergo review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) because there’s a national security interest involved, given Spaceflight’s past work. This is expected to take multiple months, and the companies say they anticipate the deal will close sometime during Q2 2020 if everything is approved.

 


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Alpha Foods raises $28 million for its vegetarian prepared foods

19:01 | 11 February

Alpha Foods, the vegetarian prepared food manufacturer, has raised $28 million in financing for its portfolio of vegetarian burritos, tamales, nuggets, pizzas, burgers, patties, and sausages.

The Glendale, Calif.-based company was launched by Loren Wallis, the founder of the dairy substitute, Good Karma Foods, and Cole Orobetz, a former director with the agricultural debt lending firm Avrio Capital.

First launched in 2015, Alpha Foods previously raised $9.5 million in financing from investments firms like New Crop Capital and AccelFoods, whose other brands include Kite Hill, Good Catch, BRAMi, and Evoke Healthy Foods.

As more Americans move to supplement their diets with plant-based products, companies like Alpha Foods have found willing investors for new food brands. The company’s new round was led by AccelFoods with existing investors including New Crop Capital, Green Monday Ventures and Blue Horizon also participating.

Companies like Alpha compete with huge consumer packaged goods companies like Kelloggs (through its Morningstar Farms line of vegetarian products) and Nestle (through Sweet Earth Foods).

While the Morningstar Farms brand might seem a bit stale, the market has been reinvigorated through the marketing muscle and venture dollars supplied by companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods whose products have captured contracts from some of the world’s biggest fast food chains — including McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King.

Alpha Foods said it will use the latest money to launch new products, make new hires and expand its distribution channels nationally and internationally.

The company is already sold in well over 6,000 stores at chains including Wegmans, Walmart, Krogers, and Publix.

“As more and more people actively seek out plant-based options, whether for their health or the environment, we are looking to expand our innovations within the category and bring easy to prepare products to a wider audience,” said Cole Orobetz, Co-Founder and President of Alpha Foods, in a statement.

The sale of pre-prepared plant-based meals reached $387 million in 2019, up 6% over the past year, according to data from the Good Food Institute.

“We are in the early days of plant-based consumption. As a portable, functional food business geared towards the newly emergent flexitarian consumer, the Alpha platform meets all of its customers snack and mealtime needs,” said AccelFoods Managing Partner, Jordan Gaspar. “We couldn’t be prouder to lead this strong nexus of collaborative investors, who had the opportunity to organically build trust this past year allowing for an incredibly successful outcome in this financing.”

 


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WholyMe, which makes natural products for chronic pain, closes Seed round

18:14 | 27 January

WholyMe, a London startup that makes and markets ‘natural relief’ products to manage chronic pain, has closed a £500,000 Seed round from investors Financière Saint James, V1 Capital, Guibor and business angels. The round also includes Joyance Partners, a New York-based VC concentrating on the new science emerging around ‘health and happiness’ which recently expanded to the UK and Europe.

The funding will be used to manufacture WholyMe’s first range of 100% organic supplements and topicals for muscle and joint health, starting with a cannabis-based ointment slated to launch Spring 2020. Formulated in-house and manufactured in Europe, WholyMe products will be sold online and the start-up also has plans to partner with gym clubs to support athletic millennials by preventing injuries.

Its direct competitors include natural health brands like Tiger Balm, BetterYou, Weleda but also adjacent competitors such as Voltarol and Deep Heat.

They say their differentiating factors are that, at the product level, their products “have no adverse effects as opposed to conventional pain killers”, while they say the ingredients are organic and contain no synthetics, petroleum, GMOs etc.

The market they are aiming at is certainly large. The natural medicine products market is now worth €16bn in Europe and has grown +7% CAGR from 2017-2023, according to the latest figures.

Co-Founders Celine Ivari and Quitterie de Rivoyre researched and developed of WholyMe’s first products while trying to solve chronic inflammation problems plaguing family members.

Ivari says: “When my mother suffered from severe inflammation, she was overloaded with painkillers and prescription drugs, which had terrible side effects. Having studied the genetics of human disease, I knew there were alternative solutions to manage her pain. I helped her improve her wellbeing through natural remedies.”

Paolo Pio, European managing director for Joyance Partners, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled to support WholyMe as they push the boundaries of health & pain management to bring greater happiness to the world.”

 


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Memphis Meats raised $161 million from SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek

02:42 | 23 January

Memphis Meats, a developer of technologies to manufacture meat, seafood and poultry from animal cells, has raised $161 million in financing from investors including Softbank Group, Norwest and Temasek, the investment fund backed by the government of Singapore.

The investment brings the company’s total financing to $180 million. Previous investors include individual and institutional investors like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Threshold Ventures, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Finistere, Future Ventures, Kimbal Musk, Fifty Years and CPT Capital.

Other companies including Future Meat Technologies, Aleph Farms, Higher Steaks, Mosa Meat and Meatable are pursuing meat grown from cell cultures as a replacement for animal husbandry, whose environmental impact is a large contributor to deforestation and climate change around the world.

Innovations in computational biology, bio-engineering and materials science are creating new opportunities for companies to develop and commercialize technologies that could replace traditional farming with new ways to produce foods that have a much lower carbon footprint and bring about an age of superabundance, according to investors.

The race is on to see who will be the first to market with a product.

“For the entire industry, an investment of this size strengthens confidence that this technology is here today rather than some far-off future endeavor. Once there is a “proof of concept” for cultivated meat — a commercially available product at a reasonable price point — this should accelerate interest and investment in the industry,” said Bruce Friedrich, the executive director of the Good Food Institute, in an email. “This is still an industry that has sprung up almost overnight and it’s important to keep a sense of perspective here. While the idea of cultivated meat has been percolating for close to a century, the very first prototype was only produced six years ago.”

 


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Nigeria’s Paga acquires Apposit, confirms Mexico and Ethiopia expansion

08:30 | 22 January

Nigerian digital payments startup Paga has acquired Apposit, a software development company based in Ethiopia, for an undisclosed amount.

That’s just part of Paga’s news. The Lagos based startup will also launch its payment products in Mexico this year and in Ethiopia imminently, CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch

The moves come a little over a year after Paga raised a $10 million Series B round and Oviosu announced the company’s intent to expand globally, while speaking at Disrupt San Francisco.

Paga will leverage Apposit — which is U.S. incorporated but operates in Addis Ababa — to support that expansion into East Africa and Latin America.

Repat founders

Behind the acquisition is a story threaded with serendipity, return, and collaboration.

Both Paga and Apposit were founded by repatriate entrepreneurs. Oviosu did his MBA at Stanford University and worked at Cisco Systems before returning to Nigeria.

Apposit CEO Adam Abate moved back to Ethiopia 17 years ago for an assignment in the country’s Ministry of Finance, after studying at Brown University and working in fintech in New York.

“I put together a team…to build…public financial management systems for the country. And during the process…brought in my best friend Eric Chijioke…to be a technical engineer,” said Abate.

The two teamed up with Simon Solomon in 2007 to co-found Apposit, with a focus on building large-scale enterprise software for Africa.

Apposit partners (L-R) Adam Abate, Simon Solomon, Eric Chijioke, Gideon Abate

A year later, Oviosu met Chijioke when he crashed at his house while visiting Ethiopia for a wedding. It just so happened Chijioke’s brother was his roommate at Stanford.

That meeting began an extended conversation between the two on digital-finance innovation in Africa and eventually led to a Paga partnership with Apposit in 2010.

Apposit dedicated an engineering team to build Paga’s payment platform, Eric Chijioke became Paga’s CTO (while maintaining his Apposit role) and Apposit backed Paga.

“We aligned ourselves as African entrepreneurs…which then developed into a close relationship where we became…investors in Paga and strategically aligned,” said Abate.

African roots, global ambitions

Fast forward a decade, and the two companies have come pretty far. Apposit has grown its business into a team of 63 engineers and technicians and has racked up a list of client partnerships. The company helped digitize the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange and has contracted on IT and software solutions with banks non-profits and brick and mortar companies.

For a decade, Apposit has also supported Paga’s payment product development.

Paga Interfaces

Over that period, Oviosu and team went to work building Paga’s platform and driving digital payment adoption in Nigeria, home to Africa’s largest economy and population of 200 million.

That’s been no small task considering Nigeria’s percentage of unbanked was pegged as high as at 70% in 2011 and still lingers around 60%, according to The Global Findex database.

Paga has created a multi-channel network to transfer money, pay-bills, and buy things digitally. The company has 14 million customers in Nigeria who can transfer funds from one of Paga’s 24,411 agents or through the startup’s mobile apps.

Paga products work on iOS, Android, and basic USSD phones using a star, hashtag option. The company has remittance partnerships with the likes of Western Union and allows for third-party integration of its app.

Since inception, the startup has processed 104 million transactions worth $6.6 billion, according to Oviosu.

With the acquisition, Paga absorbs Apposit’s tech capabilities and team of 63 engineers.  The company will direct its boosted capabilities and total workforce of 530 to support expansion.

Paga plans its Mexico launch in 2020, according to Oviosu.

Adam Abate is now CEO of Paga Ethiopia, where Paga plans to go live as soon as it gains a local banking license. The East African nation of 100 million, with the continent’s seventh largest economy, is bidding to become Africa’s next startup hub, though it still lags the continent’s tech standouts — like Nigeria and Kenya — in startup formation, ISP options and VC.

Ethiopia has also been slow to adopt digital finance, with less than 1% of the population using mobile-money, compared to 73% for Kenya, Africa’s mobile-payments leader.

Paga aims to shift the financial needle in the country. “The goal is straight-forward. We want Ethiopians to use the Paga wallet as their payment account. So it’s about digitizing cash transactions and driving financial services,” said Oviosu.

Paga CEO Tayo Oviosu

With the Apposit acquisition and country expansion, he also looks to grow Paga’s model in Africa and beyond, as an emerging markets fintech solution.

“There are several very large countries around the world in Africa, Latin America, Asia where these [financial inclusion] problems still exist. So our strategy is not an African strategy…We want to go where these problems exist in a large way and build a global payments business,” Oviosu said.

Fintech competition in Nigeria

As it grows abroad, Paga faces greater competition in Nigeria. For the last decade, South Africa and Kenya — with the success of Safaricom’s  M-Pesa product — have been Africa’s standouts in digital payments.

But over the last several years, Nigeria has become a magnet for VC and fintech startups. This trend reached a high-point in 2019 when Chinese investors put $220 million into Opera owned OPay and Transsion backed PalmPay — two fledgling startups with plans to scale in Nigeria and broader Africa.

That’s a hefty war chest compared to Paga’s total VC haul of $34 million, according to Crunchbase.

Oviosu names product market fit and benefits from the company’s expansion as factors that will keep it ahead of these well-funded new entrants.

“That’s where the world-class technology comes in,” he said.

“We also take a perspective that we cannot build every use-case,” he said — contrasting Paga’s model to Opera in Africa, which has launched multiple startup verticals around its OPay product, from ride-hailing to food-delivery.

Oviosu compares Paga’s approach to PayPal, which allows third-party developers to shape businesses around PayPal as the payment solution.

With its Apposit acquisition and plans for continued expansion, PayPal may become more than a model for Paga.

Founder Tayo Oviosu sees big fintech players, such as PayPal and Alipay, as future competitors with Paga’s planned expansion into more emerging markets.

 


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Is Instacart’s wider rollout of Pickup an attempt to sidestep labor laws?

00:19 | 15 January

Earlier today, Instacart more widely rolled out its Pickup product, which enables customers to retrieve groceries directly from stores. The move comes just a day after Instacart shoppers unveiled their latest action to #DeleteInstacart, another step in the ongoing series of protests against the grocery startup’s wage and tipping practices.

Next Monday, Instacart workers are asking customers and the general public to tweet at Instacart, telling the company they will delete Instacart until the company meets their demands. They wrote:

We have fought for fair pay, but Instacart continues to lower it. This current protest only has one small demand — to raise the app’s default tip amount back to 10%. This is the same default setting Instacart had originally, but the company has repeatedly lowered it (as well as resorted to outright theft) to take it away from us. Combined with their recent bonus-cutting act of retaliation, workers are now bleeding out of both sides — our pay is too low AND the default tip amount is too low.

In light of a new California gig worker protections law, which Instacart opposes, the greater push into pickup services could be a way for the company to beef up its argument that gig workers are free from the control of Instacart. If so, Instacart’s efforts line up with Uber’s recent steps to ensure its drivers will be able to remain independent contractors.

 


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Weber’s new Smart Grilling Hub uses June tech to make everyone a grillmaster

19:21 | 6 January

Weber is deepening its partnership with smart cooking startup June, with a new product debuting at CES 2020 today that can turn any grill into a smart grill – and providing expert guidance and grilling advice to even novice home cooks.

The new Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub includes a small device with ports for connecting wired thermometers that you can use to monitor the temperature of your meats or other foods as they cook. The Hub supports use of up to four temperature sensors at once, so you can monitor the temperature of different dishes all at the same time, and you connect to the hub with your smartphone via Weber’s dedicated app to receive up-to-date info about the current internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking. The app will alert you when your meats reach the proper temperature for whatever level of doneness you’re shooting for.

The app also provides step-by-step cooking instructions, notifications for things like when it’s time to flip food if that’s part of the cooking process, and tips and tricks culled from actual expert grillers about how best to cook your stuff. Weber also says it plans to add Alexa support to the Hub later in the year, as well as provide other new features via software updates.

Weber previously partnered with June on their forthcoming Weber SmokeFire pellet grill, the first pellet grill made by Weber, which also has smart cooking technology similar to what the Smart Grilling Hub provides, but built-in.

The Smart Grilling Hub will launch in over 30 countries initially starting in “early 2020,” and will sell for $129.99 in the U.S..

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

 


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Snackpass snags $21M to let you earn friends free takeout

17:58 | 19 December

“We were in the back washing blenders so they could keep taking Snackpass orders” recalls co-founder and CEO Kevin Tan. The team from order-ahead food startup Snackpass was willing to get their hands dirty to keep up with demand at one of their first restaurant partners, Tropical Smoothie Cafe on the Yale college campus.

Why were people so eager to pay for takeout through Snackpass? Because it lets them earn loyalty points to redeem for free food — both for themselves and as gifts for their friends. Sending people Snackpass rewards became a new way to flirt or show gratitude at Yale. And through the Venmo-esque Snackpass social feed, users could keep up with a fresh form of gossip while discovering restaurants.

“Anywhere someone is standing in line to order something, we can solve that with Snackpass” says Tan. “Consumer spending will be social in the future.”

That future is already taking hold. Two years after launch, Snackpass is on 11 college campuses across the US, often boasting a 75% penetration rate amongst students within 6 months. It takes a cut of every order and keeps margins high since users pick up the food themselves rather than waiting for delivery. While other food ordering startups battle to offer discounts as marauding users deal-hop between apps, Snackpass keeps users coming back through its loyalty program.

Its momentum, retention, and opportunity to expand from colleges to dense cities has now won Snackpass a $21 million Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz partner Andrew Chen. The round was joined by other heavy hitters like Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Inspired Capital, and First Round plus angels including musician Nas, NFL star Larry Fitzgerald, and legendary talent agent Michael Ovitz. Building on Snackpass’ $2.7 million seed, the cash will go towards hiring up with the goal of reaching 100 campuses in 2 years.

“Takeout is an important market because it’s huge — also in the hundreds of billions — and fragmented” writes Chen. “The opportunity complements the food delivery market in a big way: For the average restaurant, there are 6 takeout orders for every delivery order!”

“It’s Own Language”

Like many of the best startup ideas, Snackpass was born out of the founders’ own needs at Yale. Slow and expensive food delivery services didn’t make sense for smaller orders like a coffee, ice cream, or a pepperoni slice on campuses small enough for customers to walk or bike to the restaurant. Tan says “I was dabbling in several side projects, including helping a friend who managed a local pizza shop build a website to help better reach the local student community.” He realized how tough it was for restaurants around colleges to retain and reward customers, especially as regulars graduated.

Tan joined up with neuroscience student and Thiel Fellow Jamie Marshall, who became Snackpass’ COO. “I had grown up calling in every order” Marshall tells me. “Waiting in line didn’t make sense for me. I used every order-ahead platform and thought this was the future.” Jonathan Cameron, a serial entrepreneur who’d built his own order-ahead app called Happy Hour, rounded out the founding team.

Snackpass founders (from left): Jamie Marshall and Kevin Tan

Snackpass offers users a list of nearby restaurants they can order ahead from, with special tags for ones offering deals. Menu items include counts of how many people have ordered them and how many rewards points you’ll earn buying them. You pay in the app, skip the line at the restaurant, and grab your order from the counter. Each restaurant can configure their own rewards system with how much items earn and cost, such as giving you a free coffee for every 10 you buy.

Users can then spend their points to get themselves free menu items, or send a virtual Snackpass gift card to any of their phone contacts or people they find via search. This gives Snackpass a way to grow virally that most food apps lack. Thankfully, you can block people on Snackpass if they get creepy showering you with gifts.

Each purchase and gift on Snackpass shows up in its social feed unless you make it private. “That’s become its own language. People use it to flirt with each other, or bond and connect with someone new” Tan tells me. “There’s some drama or intrigue there seeing who’s sending gifts to who. People even look at the feed in the way they look at someone’s Instagram to see what’s going on with them.”

Snackpass has also done some integration work specifically for the college market that sets it apart from other order-ahead and delivery services. It can sync with students’ campus meal plans so they can spend them through the app. And student groups from clubs to fraternities can pre-load and replenish accounts for their members. Snackpass works with the same organizations to launch on new campuses. “We host parties, sponsor tailgates, and make it feel like a student-led effort so it grows organically across campus communities” Tan explains. “These efforts, combined with the social feed which would give anyone FOMO if they’re not in the app.”

Network Effect Commerce

With all the competition in the space, restaurants can be inundated with apps to manage, some of which just exacerbate spikes in demand that overwhelm kitchens. “There is certainly a risk that local restaurants will start to get platform fatigue, finding that using some apps will take too big of a bite out of their margins” says Tan. That’s why Snackpass built features that let restaurants batch orders and control how many come in at a certain time so dine-in patients and non-app users aren’t stuck with unreasonable delays.

Snackpass has recruited talent from Uber Eats and an advisor from Yelp’s executive team to help it navigate the tricky SMB sales process. One ace up its sleeve is that it can offer to send push notifications to announce recently signed partners or specials they’re launching, driving the new customers restaurants are desperate for. Tan says his startup is considering if it could charge for this kind of promotion down the line. Most customers who walk into restaurants are effectively in incognito mode, but Snackpass provides its partners with analytics to help them improve their own businesses.

“At the surface level there is a lot of competition in this space” Tan admits. “The social aspect of the app has been the key differentiator for us. Other companies have been focused on creating the fastest, cheapest, most efficient delivery service, but it’s really hard to make those margins work and consumers are trained to shop around on different apps to get
the best deal or fastest delivery time . . . Eating food is supposed to be fun and social,
and our generation grew up online and in social networks. We’re combining the social aspect of eating with the utility of order ahead, which has helped us build loyalty and enable retention
amongst our users.”

It will still be a battle to overtake long-running competitors like Allset, Level Up, and Ritual, plus incumbents that offer takeout pickup like Uber and Grubhub. Logistics is a cut-throat business, and plenty of startups have already failed in the restaurant loyalty space.

Having Andreessen Horowitz’s support could give Snackpass some extra fire power. “A16z has better support and services for their portfolio companies than any other VC we’ve come across and they’ve delivered” Tan tells me. “We knew that Andrew Chen understands growth and marketplaces from his blog and his Twitter.” That’s critical in a crowded space where such a precise balance of customer acquisition and lifetime value is necessary.

Snapchat, TikTok, and Fortnite have all tapped into the youth market with a lighthearted nature that keeps users coming back until they develop network effect. Snackpass is managing to do the same not with a messaging app or game, but a commerce platform. “We play up creativity, silliness and delight in areas where most companies focus on utility and convenience” Tan concludes. “We built Snackpass for ourselves and our friends. We’ve carried on this philosophy: if something makes us laugh, we put it in the app.”

 


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Drone delivery startup Manna boosts seed funding ahead of launch in Ireland

17:51 | 18 December

Listening yo the radio (yes it still exists) the other day I realized that the ‘futurist’ that was being interviewed was speculating that drones would “one day be delivering food, but not any time soon”.

Well, so much for that prediction. Because coming to an Irish household early next year will be drones delivering exactly that.

For Manna, a B2B2 drone delivery ‘as-a-service’ company, today announced an additional funding round of $3M, led by Dynamo VC, a logistics-focused fund. The move brings Manna’s total seed funding to $5.2M.

Manna pitches itself as an ‘aviation-grade’ drone delivery company, and plans to roll-out a fully autonomous drone delivery platform beginning early 2020, first in Europe and then in the US.

Manna’s drone itself is different. It is far more ‘modular’ that other drones you might have seen and therefore lends itself to logistics, like deliveries. It also uses custom-designed aerospace-grade drones built in  Europe and the USA.  

The drones are designed for ‘all weathers’ and do not fly above 500 feet, taking them out of the airspace of planes. The initial food deliveries in Ireland will be in rural areas, eventually reaching the suburbs of towns and cities.

The first services offered will be to online meal ordering platforms, restaurant chains and ‘dark kitchens’ with an incredible 3-minute delivery promise. Obviously this would be far cheaper and faster than road-based deliveries, especially in rural areas.

It’s also teamed up with Flipdish, the company that operates an online delivery platform used by restaurants and takeaways, in Ireland.

The Manna drone fleet will, they say, be operated directly from the restaurant or dark kitchen premises and will be accessible via API to food tech providers and online food platforms alike in a channel-agnostic manner. That means you end up with one drone fleet serving all and any of the providers, based on demand.

Founder and serial entrepreneur Bobby Healy previously built and sold Eland Technologies to ‘SITA.AERO’ in 2003, and more recently built CarTrawler, a b2b mobility marketplace for the airline industry where he is still on the board after several private equity LBOs.

Healy says: “We are on the cusp of the fifth industrial revolution – powered by drones – and our intention with Manna is to make drone delivery as pervasive as running water – to literally transform marketplaces, economies, and communities all over the world in a way that not just reduces our carbon footprint, but saves lives and creates jobs while doing so.”
 
Jon Bradford who led the investment for Dynamo Ventures said: “It’s hard to find a rockstar team as ambitious and as capable as the Manna team, and in a domain that is as massive as it is difficult. In Bobby and his incredible team, we see a path to capture a real beachhead in this new emerging market that is truly unprecedented and we look forward to helping accelerate their vision in the US in 2020”.

 


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Great
Peter Short

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?
Peter Short
It need to be taxed also any organic substance ie food than is used as a calorie transfer needs tax…
Peter Short

Twitter Is Testing A Dedicated GIF Button On Mobile
Peter Short
Sounds great Facebook got a button a few years ago
Then it disappeared Twitter needs a bottom maybe…
Peter Short

Apple’s Next iPhone Rumored To Debut On September 9th
Peter Short
Looks like a nice cycle of a round year;)
Peter Short

AncestryDNA And Google’s Calico Team Up To Study Genetic Longevity
Peter Short
I'm still fascinated by DNA though I favour pure chemistry what could be
Offered is for future gen…
Peter Short

U.K. Push For Better Broadband For Startups
Verg Matthews
There has to an email option icon to send to the clowns in MTNL ... the govt of India's service pro…
Verg Matthews

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short