While cooking tech startups have had a hard time of it lately when it comes to raising funding, it appears investors aren’t shying away from products that help consumers manage excess food waste.
The latest example is a new seed funding round for Victoria BC-based Sepura, a startup that makes an under-counter food separation device. The company announced today it had received a $3.7 million seed round led by Blanco, a German manufacturer of faucets, sinks, and home food waste management systems.
Unlike other systems like the Lomi, the Sepura doesn’t accelerate composting of food scraps. Instead, it helps you separate them. The machine goes under the sink and separates water from food, and pushes the food into a small bin within the Sepura device.
You can watch how the Sepura works in the video below:
Installing the Sepura requires a little more effort than countertop composters. Standing approximately 20 inches tall, the device is mounted under the sink and connected to the under-sink plumbing, allowing it to transfer water from the sink and dishwasher into the grey water pipes.
The Sepura operates differently from traditional garbage disposals that use grinding mechanisms. Instead, it has a spinner separating water from food and deposits it into the waste bin below. Users press a button, and the device works automatically, stopping once the food has been separated. Light indicators on the Sepura inform users when the appliance is full, but users don’t have to worry about monitoring the lights since the appliance will not activate if the disposal bin is already full.
What the Sepura won’t do is take your food waste and grind it into useable food grounds or compost. In this sense, it differs from the Mill (which raised $100 million from the likes of Google Ventures), the system developed by ex-Nest executives that makes food scraps for chickens, or the Smartcycle, the popular home compost machine made by Vitamix.
I have two concerns about the Sepura. The first is whether enough consumers will pay for a device that separates food. In many towns like mine, curbside yard waste/food waste pickup is available. Our kitchen has an under-counter scrap bin where we dump food scraps. It’s not a lot of work, and I’m not sure we’d need to automate the process through an appliance.
My second question is whether consumers will cede that much space to an under-sink waste handler. In our kitchen, we store our kitchen waste bags, detergent, and other kitchen cleaning items underneath the sink, and I’m not sure there’d be enough room for all these items if we installed the Sepura.
Still, I think there are probably enough consumers out there looking for smart solutions for waste management to make a market for Sepura. Blanco, which sells its own kitchen waste management products, could target the same customer segment they sell its waste sorting systems to (and likely will) with a Blanco-branded version of the Sepura.
If you’re interested in getting a Sepura, the company is taking deposits for the appliance, which costs $799. Sepura says it is planning to begin shipping the device this summer.
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