Minnow Technologies, which make IoT-enabled, contactless delivery lockers, announced today that it has raised a $2.2 million seed round led by Elevate Capital with participation from Portland See Fund and the venture capital arm of Lincoln Property Company. This brings the total amount of funding raised by Minnow to $3.4 million.
With the pandemic still raging across the country, contactless delivery is basically table stakes for food operators and consumers alike. Minnow’s pods are installed in high-traffic locations and allow food deliveries to be stored in specified cubbies and unlocked by customers using their mobile phones.
Minnow’s go-to market strategy (and company name) has evolved since its inception back in 2017. The company was first called Veebie and the food locker was meant to be mobile. When the company changed its name to Kadabra, it took the wheels off the locker, installing them in locations and added IoT capablities. When it re-branded as Minnow (and moved headquarters from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon), and officially launched in March of this year, it installed seven Minnow pods in office buildings in the Portland, Oregon area.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, meant that office buildings weren’t exactly bustling any longer, so the company started looking at apartment and other multi-family residential buildings as installation locations. In today’s funding announcement, Minnow added that its pods were also available for ghost kitchens and other cafeterias (a la Brightloom) to act as a contactless intermediary between kitchen and delivery people or customers. Minnow even added UV lights to the interior of its cubbies to further help with sterilization.
Minnow is certainly raising money at the right time. With restaurants going back and forth between opening and closing, off-premises eating is the really the main way for them to stay afloat. Delivery cubbies like Minnow’s also have the added benefit of flexibility for the customer. Instead of having to be at the door when the delivery person comes, food can be dropped off in the insulated cubby and picked up when its most convenient (the Minnow FAQ says that the cubbies are designed to hold food for 90 minutes).
With its move into residential buildings, having Lincoln Property Company, which has buildings in 28 states, is a good investor to have. Even after the pandemic recedes (whenever that will be), people will still be getting food delivered, and having a special locker in your lobby will be a nice perk for residents.