Freshub, an Israel based kitchen commerce startup that powers in-home grocery shopping through IoT technology, has been acquired in an all-stock transaction by New York City-based IKAN Holdings, an early pioneer in tech-powered shopping in the kitchen.
In a related move, IKAN has also raised $8 million in fresh financing to, according to the announcement, “fund the further development of the merged company’s smart kitchen commerce solution, while enforcing its IP rights based on representation by Kramer Levin in the United States.”
The investor was not disclosed as part of the announcement.
While details on IKAN are hard to come by, way back in 2007 the company debuted a product called the IKAN Grocery Scanner, a barcode reader that allowed users to create a online shopping list and order groceries through website Ikan.net (which is now non-functional) and have it delivered through Peapod or other third party partners.
From the New York Times article by David Pogue who tested out the product in 2008:
Each time you’re about to throw away an empty container — for ketchup, cereal, pickles, milk, macaroni, paper towels, dog food or whatever — you just pass its bar code under the scanner. With amazing speed and accuracy, the Ikan beeps, consults its online database of one million products, and displays the full name and description.
Not only could you scan packaged item barcodes, but it also included what could roughly be described as voice shopping. From the article:
“…if you want something that has no bar code, like fresh fruit, you can press a Voice Reminder button and simply speak it: “Six green bananas.” A D’Agostino representative on the other end will manually add the requested item to your order.”
If 2008 sounds early for what is essentially a functional connected grocery scanner with integrated voice shopping, that’s because it is. While obviously not as seamless as today’s modern voice shopping platforms such as Alexa or Google Assistant, IKAN’s early product still allowed consumers to add items to a grocery order with their voice.
All of which makes the announcement’s mention of IP rights enforcement make sense. I’m sure the newly combined company will pursue licensing deals from those building connected and voice-powered home grocery replenishment products, including possibly even Amazon and Google themselves.
So what is IKAN getting in Freshub? For one, the Israel-based startup has been at it a long time (Freshub received their first seed funding in 2013), so they bring their IP to add to the combined entity’s arsenal. Freshub also has established relationships with grocery stores such as Woodmans and had worked early on with in-store retail commerce giant NCR. They also have been working with consumer hardware manufacturers such as XtremeMac and Gourmia to build products, though it’s not clear if any are currently shipping.