food

Burgerbot startup Creator hires inventor of Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog

Disney Imagineering animatronics wizard Dr. Martin Buehler is a legend in the robotics world. His work leading development of the galloping Big Dog quadruped at Boston Dynamics both inspired and terrified a new generation of makers. But after playing in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction that consumers can’t buy, Buehler has been poached to work on something much more tangible. In fact, it’s edible. He’s joining burger-making robot startup Creator as VP of engineering. “It was a great experience working on experimental validation [at Boston Dynamics]” Buehler tells me, “But one of the things I really value at Creator is the immediacy of real impact to real people. With burgers being such a big segment of the food market, we have the potential to touch millions of people.” Creator op...

Agrifood — the $8 trillion industry that’s worth your salt

Esther Delignat-Lavaud Rodriguez Contributor Cannabis-infused drinks. Burgers grown in laboratories. Entire meals in bottles. Consumers, retailers and farmers alike are hungry for the next generation of food, and investors are beginning to acquire the taste, too. Early-stage investment in agrifood tech startups reached $10.1 billion in 2017, a 29 percent increase on the previous year. Agrifood can be split into two parts. “Agritech” refers to technologies that target farmers. “Foodtech,” by contrast, targets manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and consumers. Jointly, the two have enough reach to impact every part of the production line, from farm to fork. Recently, foodtech investments have led the charge, with Delivery Hero’s IPO and multi-million rounds in ele.me and Instacart. However...

DoorDash customers say their accounts have been hacked

Food delivery startup DoorDash has received dozens of complaints from customers who say their accounts have been hacked. Dozens of people have tweeted at @DoorDash with complaints that their accounts had been improperly accessed and had fraudulent food deliveries charged to their account. In many cases, the hackers changed their email addresses so that the user could not regain access to their account until they contacted customer services. Yet, many said that they never got a response from DoorDash, or if they did, there was no resolution. Several Reddit threads also point to similar complaints. DoorDash is now a $4 billion company after raising $250 million last month, and serves more than 1,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada. After receiving a tip, TechCrunch contacted some of the af...

Nima launches food sensor to detect peanuts

[embedded content] I’m deathly allergic to nuts, so I felt super excited when I heard about the Nima peanut sensor. I’ve ended up in the emergency room numerous times because there were nuts in something I thought did not contain nuts. With Nima, I could’ve tested those specific foods before consumption and probably avoided a trip to the ER. Nima, a TechCrunch Battlefield alum, is gearing up to launch a peanut sensor, its second product, on September 12. The sensor is able to detect even the tiniest trace (10 parts per million) of peanut protein. To use Nima, you insert the food into a disposable test capsule, which goes into the device to figure out if there’s any peanut protein in the food. In under five minutes, the Nima sensor will tell you if your food is peanut-free. The device conne...

Southeast Asia’s Fave raises $20M and adds mystery strategic investor from China

So you thought group-buying was dead?! Not in Southeast Asia where Fave, a company that aims to connect local merchants with customers using discount sales, has closed a $20 million Series B round as it explores expansion opportunities. The startup began as fitness subscription service KFit, but it pivoted group-buying and coupons after it acquired Groupon’s businesses in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. KFit continues to run, but the Groupon deal saw Fave CEO Joel Neoh return to the e-commerce space — Neoh previously started Malaysia-based GroupsMore which Groupon acquired within months of launch. He then went on to lead Groupon’s operations in Asia before leaving to start KFit in 2015. Fellow KFit/Fave co-founder Yeoh Chen Chow also spent time with Groupon as its regional operations di...

Kencko wants to help you eat more fruit and vegetables

People don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, that’s despite an embarrassment of options today that include fast grocery delivery and takeout services with a focus on health. A study from the U.S-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last November found that just one in ten adults in America “meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations” each day. The bar isn’t that high. The recommendation is just 1.5-2 cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day, but failing to meet it can put people at risk of chronic diseases, the CDC said. The problem is universal the world over, but perhaps most acute in the U.S, where finding healthy food is easier than ever. Amazon’s same-day grocery deliveries, make-it-at-home services like Blue Apron and various healt...

Apeel Sciences is combating food waste with plant-derived second peels

In a world bursting with abundances like self-driving cars and robotic personal assistants, you would think that basic needs like sustainable food sourcing and distribution would be a problem of the past. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), every year roughly a third — 1.3 billion tons — of food grown for consumption is lost or wasted. In industrialized countries like the U.S., this results in a loss of $680 billion per year, and in countries without standardized infrastructure (such as proper cooling systems), this results in a loss of $310 billion per year. Among the billions of tons of food lost per year, the largest percentage is in vital, nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables and roots an...

This 3D-printed camp stove is extra-efficient and wind-resistant

I love camping, but there’s always an awkward period when you’ve left the tent but haven’t yet created coffee that I hate camping. It’s hard not to watch the pot not boil and not want to just go back to bed, but since the warm air escaped when I opened the tent it’s pointless! Anyway, the Swiss figured out a great way to boil water faster, and I want one of these sweet stoves now. The PeakBoil stove comes from design students at ETH Zurich, who have clearly faced the same problems as myself. But since they actually camp in inclement weather, they also have to deal with wind blowing out the feeble flame of an ordinary gas burner. Their attempt to improve on the design takes the controversial step of essentially installing a stovepipe inside the vessel and heating it from the inside out rath...

Go-Jek kicks off Southeast Asia expansion with Vietnam launch

Go-Jek, the Indonesia-based ride-sharing company valued at $5 billion, has begun its ambitious plan to increase its rivalry with Grab by expanding into three new markets after it opened shop in Vietnam. The service — which is known as Go-Viet — covers an initial 12 districts in Ho Chi Minh City with a motorbike on-demand service. Rival Grab is in five cities in Vietnam and its services include motorbikes, taxis, private cars and food delivery. The August 1 Vietnam launch as TechCrunch reported in June. The plan is to then expand into Thailand in September, and the Philippines before the end of this year. Singapore remains a market that Go-Jek would like to enter — it has held partnership talks with taxi operator ComfortDelGro — but it remains unclear whether, and when, that might happen. G...

Doughbies’ cookie crumbles in a cautionary tale of venture scale

Doughbies should have been a bakery, not a venture-backed startup. Founded in the frothy days of 2013 and funded with $670,000 by investors, including 500 Startups, Doughbies built a same-day cookie delivery service. But it was never destined to be capable of delivering the returns required by the VC model that depends on massive successes to cover the majority of bets that fail. The startup became the butt of jokes about how anything could get funding. This weekend, Doughbies announced it was shutting down immediately. Surprisingly, it didn’t run out of money. Doughbies was profitable, with 36 percent gross margins and 12 percent net profit, co-founder and CEO Daniel Conway told TechCrunch. “The reason we were able to succeed, at this level and thus far, is because we focused on unit econ...

Chowly is raising $5.8 million to help restaurants manage on-demand delivery orders

Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million. The round is led by MATH Venture Partners with participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and others. Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture Partners, Domenick Montanile and others. Chowly aims to help restaurants better manage the influx of delivery orders they receive from a variety of services, such as Grubhub, Delivery.com and Chownow. In May, Square launched a point-of-sale system for restaurants that integrates on-demand delivery platform Caviar. Down the road, Square said it envisions third-party applications from companies like Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash.

A new $124 million for Brazil’s Movile proves that investors still see promise in Latin American tech

Brazil’s macroeconomic picture may be gloomy, but technology investors still see hope in the nation’s burgeoning technology sector — and a recent $124 million financing for the mobile conglomerate Movile is the latest proof that that the pace of investment isn’t slowing down. Brazil was already the hottest spot for technology investment throughout Latin America — with Sao Paulo drawing in the majority of the record-breaking $1 billion in financing that the region’s startups attracted in 2017. And with this latest funding for Movile, led by Naspers, that trend looks likely to continue. Indeed, Naspers investments in Movile (supplemented by co-investors like Innova, which participated in the most recent round) have been one of the driving forces sustaining the Brazilian startup community. In...