It feels trivial to cobble together a newsletter highlighting recent food tech news, given the events of this week.
But if there is any tenuous connection that can make it worth your reading, perhaps it’s that food creates small acts of kindness, and these small acts of kindness can connect us. And advances in technology that help more people make (or sure, get delivery of) more food can, in turn, create more small acts of kindness that have big impacts with our families, our friends and our communities.
We are excited to bring our community together in-person at our Smart Kitchen Summit in Seattle, which is just days away. We’re going to take two days to really explore the future of food, and what that future means. We look forward to seeing everyone who can make it there in person, and if you bump into myself or Mike or Catherine or Jenn in the crowded halls, please say hi. We’d love to connect.
With that said, here are some of the big stories we ran this week:
“Convenience isn’t a trend,” is something the CEO of Ordermark told me this year, and three companies made moves to deliver greater convenience for its customers. Amazon opened up its first 4-star Store in NYC, carrying only products that rate 4 stars or higher on its site. Translation: All killer, no filler. Can you think of another company that could pull this off?
No matter how many stars you’d give Little Caesar’s pizza (pizza), its new Pizza Portal is a good example of giving customers more choice. As Jenn Marston wrote, users can order and pay with the Little Caesar’s mobile app and when they arrive at the store, they skip the line and pick up their hot pizza.
If instead of pizza you’re going for a night out, Cargo raised $22.5 million to scale up its rideshare vending service. The company outfits the likes of Uber cars with small plastic boxes that hold snacks, cosmetics and even USB cords. It’s a shrunken, mobile convenience store that travels with you to your destination and gives drivers a chance to make a little extra money.
One place Seattle-ites will be lining up is the impending Shake Shack (our first). One of the featured menu items will be a local-themed burger with craft beef provided by Seattle startup Crowd Cow, which even avowed vegetarian Catherine Lamb wants to try.
Students were also in the news this week. We uncovered a trend of kids meal companies shutting down. Nomsly, Wide Apple and Red Apple all either closed completely or hit the pause button. Perhaps mail order wasn’t the way to go.
And finally, Grubhub is going after college students with the $150 million acquisition of Tapingo. Already in more than 150 colleges and universities, Tapingo lets students order ahead from campus eateries and cafeterias. Presumably, this means that students will continue to use Grubhub after they graduate from college.
That’s it for this week. Enjoy the weekend. Be kind and be sure to introduce yourself at SKS!
Stories in this issue:
Amazon 4-Star Store is Kinda Like a Wirecutter in Real Life
The concept of the new physical store is that it only stocks products that are rated 4 stars or higher, is a top seller or is new and trending on Amazon.com.
Little Caesars Pizza Portal Could Boost Mobile Sales and Pizza Innovation
While everyone else has been duking it out for space in the delivery sector, Little Caesars — who does not and maybe never will deliver — has been hard at work perfecting a totally different tactic.
Snack on This, Cargo Raises $22.5 Million
Cargo, the startup that helps rideshare drivers sell snacks and such inside their cars, announced today that it has raised a $22.5 million Series A round of funding led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.
provided by Seattle startup Crowd Cow
The Montlake Double Cut, is a double cheeseburger made with local beef sourced from Crowd Cow, topped with Just Jack cheese from Seattle institution Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, caramelized onions, and a mustard-mayo sauce on a locally made Macrina bakery bun.
Nomsly, Red Apple, Wise Apple All Shut Down. What can Save Kids’ Meal Kits?
Yumble was a a bright spot in the flailing meal kit sector, Nomsly launched a Kickstarter campaign, and Chicago-based Wise Apple was peddling its pre-packed lunch subscription service to families. Over in Boston, Red Apple offered the same thing to East Coasters.
Grubhub announced an agreement to acquire Tapingo, whose platform enables college students to order ahead at on-campus restaurants, cafes, and dining halls. The acquisition is for $150 million, according to the Grubhub press release.
Ordermark Raises $9.5 Million for its Online Order Management Tools
Ordermark, a startup that helps restaurants unify and organize online orders, announced that it has closed a $9.5 million Series A round.