The FeedMay 19, 2020
099- Automating grocery delivery with Ellen Brune of AutoStore
Ellen Brune is the VP of Product Management at AutoStore, a warehouse automation system for online grocery and e-commerce fulfillment for brands like Best Buy, Puma, HEB, and Giant. In this episode, we’ll discuss the tradeoffs between manual and automated grocery fulfillment, how automation can deliver groceries faster and more accurately, and how it might transform the physical shopping experience of the future.
098- Scaling digital hospitality with Sai Alluri of Momos
Sai Alluri is the Co-Founder & CEO of Momos, an all-in-one customer engagement platform that helps restaurants grow and retain their guests. In this episode, we’ll talk about how Momos is consolidating email marketing and feedback management, leveraging AI, and how restaurants are using it to identify key areas to delight their customers.
097- Decentralizing local food with Michael Robinov of Farm To People
Micahel Robinov is the co-founder and CEO of Farm To People, a New York City-based grocery delivery service that procures fresh produce, meat, dairy, and more directly from local farmers. In this episode, we’ll talk about sourcing products from sustainably-grown purveyors, the unit economics powering its delivery service, and the future of hyperlocal, decentralized food production and distribution.
096- Putting food and beverage on-chain with Derek G Taylor of Happy Friday Coffee
Derek G. Taylor is the founder of Menotti’s Coffee Shop and The Park, a on-chain DAO powering food, beverage, and music projects like Happy Friday Coffee. In this episode, we’ll chat about the potential to move offline communities on-chain, how blockchain can create more equity within hospitality, and the pure espresso technology behind Happy Friday Coffee that enables espresso to be served without any machines.
095- Scaling modern salad chains with Nick Kenner of Just Salad
Nick Kenner is the Founder & CEO of Just Salad, a fast casual salad chain on a mission to unlock everyday health and sustainability. In this episode, we’ll chat about technology’s role when it comes to nutrition, automation, and retention, its reusable bowl program, and the whitespace opportunity for salad to steal share away from fast food.
094- Doubling down on natural sugar with Marcus Antebi of goodsugar
Marcus Antebi is the founder & CEO of goodsugar, a NYC-based quick service concept serving unpasteurized organic smoothies and juices as well as plant-based prepared foods and baked goods. In this episode, we’ll explore Marcus’ entrepreneurial journey including the founding story of Juice Press, his unique approach to culinary and retail, and his plans to expand into CPG.
Full disclosure that unlike prior episodes, there is a lot of raw profanity in this conversation.
093- Using generative AI in food with Kevin Brown of Innit
Kevin Brown is the Co-Founder & CEO of Innit, an AI platform purpose-built for large CPGs, grocers, and healthcare companies. In this episode, we’ll talk about the problems with off-the-shelf large language models in food, the future of personalized nutrition, and the promise of smart kitchens.
092 - Building circular economies with Page Schult of Topanga.io
Page Schult is the co-founder & CEO of Topanga.io, a technology platform powering reusable container programs. In this episode, we’ll define what the circular economy really means, how it can help save businesses money in the long run, and talk about its deployments for meal delivery services, college campuses, and more.
091- Redefining plant-based cooking with Matthew Kenney of Ascention
Matthew Kenney is a world renowned plant-based chef, restaurateur, educator, and entrepreneur. In this episode we talk about Matthew’s launch of the first plant-based IP holding company, how he’s transitioned his restaurants from owned-and-operated businesses to asset-light franchises, and his thoughts on the future plant-based dining landscape.
090- Powering next-gen CPG distribution with Arik Keller of Mable
Arik Keller is the Founder & CEO of Mable, a next-generation wholesale technology platform for emerging food & beverage brands. In this episode, we’ll chat about Mable’s three-sided marketplace of retailers, CPGs, and distributors, how it’s enabling c-stores to test new brands, and how technology can play a role in creating a more diverse and flexible ecosystem.
089- Creating new alternative proteins with Martina Lokajova of Tempty Foods
Martina Lokaiova is the Co-Founder & CEO of Tempty Foods, a Danish food innovation company creating fungi-based alternatives to tofu and meat. In this episode, we’ll talk about why Tempty is shying away from imitating meat analogs, its recent partnership with mycoprotein leader Quorn, and the importance of unbundling of food brands from technology R&D.
088- Optimizing restaurant pricing with Colin Webb of Sauce
Colin Webb is the Co-Founder & CEO of Sauce, a dynamic pricing engine that helps restaurants leverage their data to optimize their online sales. In this episode, we’ll chat about the history of dynamic pricing, how restaurants can double their profitability on third-party marketplaces, and how variable pricing can alleviate the many cost pressures facing food delivery.
087- Building America's online bakery with Ismail Salhi of Wildgrain
Ismail Salhi is the Co-Founder of Wildgrain, the first bake-from-frozen subscription food service for artisanal breads, pastries, and pastas. In this episode, we’ll chat about the current state of the over-commercialized American baked goods market, how Wildgrain bootstrapped itself to 44k paying subscribers, and its unique business model that taps into underutilized capacity of local bakeries.
086- Consolidating last-mile deliveries with Alex Blum of Relay
Alex Blum is the Founder & CEO of Relay, a last mile logistics company that consolidates restaurants delivery orders across every channel. In this episode, we’ll talk about how restaurants can save money by switching to self delivery, how Relay is able to more efficiently batch orders compared to DoorDash and Uber Eats, and the impact of the recent minimum wage legislation in NYC on the entire ecosystem.
085- Building "fermentation as a service" with Edward Shenderovich of Synonym
Edward Shenderovich is the Co-Founder & CEO of Synonym, a developer of shared and dedicated commercial-scale biomanufacturing facilities. In this episode we’ll talk about the myriad use cases for fermentation in pharmaceutical to textiles and food, how Synonym is creating a new asset class, and how “fermentation as a service” can unlock a wide range of applications we have yet to fully appreciate.
084- Bringing local markets into the e-commerce era with Bobby Brannigan of Mercato
Bobby Brannigan is the Founder & CEO of Mercato, a local marketplace highlighting over 1,500 top independent grocers and specialty stores in the US. In this episode, we’ll talk about how Mercato is able to quickly digitize merchants, the role of its unique marketplace alongside larger competitors, and how it strives to make grocery delivery profitable for its markets.
083- Digitizing restaurant procurement with Dante DiCicco of Zitti
Dante DiCicco is the Founder & CEO of Zitti, a company on a mission to bring radical transparency to the $300bn wholesale restaurant industry while streamlining vendor payments for operators. In this episode, we’ll talk about the current inefficiencies of pen-and-paper restaurant procurement, the competitive landscape of back-of-house technology companies, and the massive opportunity to create a comprehensive inventory, ordering, and accounts payable solution for small and medium sized restaurants.
082- Building the consumer frontend for future foods with Ben Berman of Tomorrow Farms
Ben Berman is the Co-Founder & CEO of Tomorrow Farms, a CPG startup focused on building irresistible consumer brands around emerging platforms like precision fermentation and upcycling. In this episode, we’ll chat about why foodtech startups should focus on being B2B and R&D centric companies, the nuances behind precision fermentation dairy, and how Tomorrow Farms plans to build the Unilever of sustainable pantry staples.
081- Uncovering the tensions in the restaurant industry with Jensen Cummings of Best Served Creative
Jensen Cummings is a fifth-generation Chef and Restaurateur turned consultant and media operator. In this episode, we’ll talk about where Jensen sees the biggest growth opportunities for restaurants, the tug of war between restaurateurs and tech companies, and the lens operators should use to evaluate new innovations like automation.
080- Empowering the next generation of culinary influencers with Kristen Barnett & Trevor Kerin of CCW
Kristen Barnett and Trevor Kerin are the Co-Founders of Culinary Creators Worldwide, a new agency focused on omnichannel activations for the next generation of culinary influencers. In this episode we’ll chat about the opportunity for influencers to work with brands, ghost kitchens, and tech firms to create tangible consumer experiences, the potential for grocers and restauranteurs to tap into such talent, and the key to successful partnerships in the space.
079- Analyzing the current state of restaurant tech with Stefan Hertzberg of ItsaCheckmate
Stefan Hertzberg is the SVP of Growth at ItsaCheckmate, an integrator between POS systems and online ordering channels for QSRs like Wendy’s, Five Guys, and Jet’s Pizza. In this episode, we’ll talk about the recent M&A activity in the fragmented restaurant tech space, how operators can own their customer data on third-party delivery platforms, and the challenges facing many startups in the space.
078- Leveraging AI to unlock nature’s full potential with Karthik Sekar of Climax Foods
Karthik Shekar is the Head of Data Science at Climax Foods, a producer of specialty dairy-free cheeses currently being used by Michelin-starred chefs. In this episode, we’ll talk about how the startup leverages AI to speed up its R&D cycle, the advantages of natural plant-based alternatives over precision fermentation, and the potential for AI to create new foods we’ve never even dreamed of.
077- Feeding good gut bugs with Marc Washington of Supergut
Marc Washington is the Founder & CEO of Supergut, a line of shakes, snack bars, and powders focused on gut health through prebiotic fiber. In this episode we’ll talk about the misconceptions behind probiotics, the role of the gut in moderating everything from our mood to our metabolism, and the future of clinically-validated health and wellness products like Supergut.
076- Building the plug & play online grocery platform with Brad McNamara of Morrissey Market
Brad McNamara is the founder & CEO of Morrissey Market, an online grocery platform built on top of the existing restaurant distributor infrastructure. In this episode we’ll talk about Brad’s roots in vertical farming, how Morrissey is building online grocery as a service for food as medicine and nonprofit organizations, and the economics behind his asset-light approach.
075- Defining table stakes for modern restaurateurs with Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ
Shawn Walchef is the owner of Cali BBQ and Cali BBQ Media, a 15-year-old BBQ chain located in San Diego, California that also creates B2B content for operators. In this episode, we’ll discuss how Cali BBQ is leveraging smaller-format locations like ghost kitchens and stadium concessions to build the “Amazon Prime of BBQ,” the current state of restaurant technology, and how restaurant operators can leverage the full potential of social media.
074- Delivering dinner from microenterprise home chefs with Morley Ivers of Cookin
Morley Ivers is the Co-Founder & CEO of Cookin, a Toronto-based food delivery marketplace enabling a new crop of creators to sell hot food from their homes or commissary kitchens. In this episode, we’ll talk about the regulatory hurdles facing Cookin and similar platforms, how Cookin is developing its own chef certification program, and the behavioral shift in how consumers will order food over the next five to ten years.
073- Dissecting the robotic delivery pipedream with Dmitry Shevelenko
Dmitry Shevelenko is the former head of Uber’s mobility partnerships and founder of Tortoise, a startup that built slow-moving robotic vending machines for stadiums, parking lots, and other public spaces. In this episode, Dmitry talks about lessons learned from his startup, the current landscape of autonomous delivery bots, and the challenges for hardware startups to become commercially viable businesses.
072- The Willy Wonka of Algae With Elliot Roth of Spira
Elliot Roth is the Founder of Spira, a startup growing algae to be used in protein, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and pigments. In this episode, we’ll talk about Elliot’s personal journey of growing his own spirulina algae while he was food insecure, how algae can replace harmful petrochemicals found in our clothes and food, and the future of hyperlocal, distributed food systems.
071- Building the world’s first caffeine replacement with Jeffrey Dietrich of Rarebird Coffee
Jeffrey Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Rarebird, a modern coffee company building a new replacement to caffeine without the jitters. In this episode, we’ll talk about the 60% of the population who are slow caffeine metabolizers, how Rarebird is leveraging a metabolite called Paraxanthine, and the various adaptogens that it's infusing into its portfolio of coffees to support long-term cognitive health.
070- Reimagining microwave cooking and frozen foods with Steph Chen of Anyday
Steph Chen is the founder of Anyday, a modern cookware brand designed specifically for microwave cooking. In this episode we’ll talk about some of the biggest misconceptions around the health and safety of the home microwave, how culinary influencers like Dave Chang and Kenji Lopez-Alt have become proponents of this way of cooking, and the next generation of CPG brands rethinking your freezer and pantry.
069- Fixing the broken incentives of our food system with Justin Mares of Kettle & Fire
Justin Mares is an entrepreneur behind better-for-you CPG brands like Kettle & Fire, Perfect Keto, & Surely and co-founder in TrueMed, a payment integration that allows health-promoting merchants to accept pre-tax HSA and FSA funds. In this episode, we’ll talk about designing decentralized, local economies around food, uncover some of the perverse incentives of Big Food lobbying that impacts our health, and look at the potential for personalized nutrition and wearables to improve preventative healthcare.
068- Democratizing the private chef with Carlos Ventura Jr. of Feast & Fettle
Carlos Ventura Jr. is the Founder & CEO of Feast & Fettle, a regional meal prep service delivering throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In this episode, we’ll talk about how the service has scaled from a home chef operation to over $20mm in revenue, how it’s differentiated other delivery services, and its new retail strategy.
067- Breaking down Amazon’s fulfillment network with Marc Wulfraat of MWPVL
Marc Wulfraat is the Founder & President of MWPVL International, a global supply chain and logistics consulting firm that advises large retailers on warehouse and automation strategies. In this episode, we’ll dissect the various pieces of Amazon’s global supply chain, its recent changes to its online grocery business, and the role of automation.
Full disclosure, the host is a shareholder of Amazon stock.
066- Arming the coffee rebels against Starbucks with Dane Atkinson of Odeko
Dane Atkinson is the Founder & CEO of Odeko, an online wholesale and technology platform powering a third of independent coffee shops across the US. In this episode we’ll talk about how Odeko’s reverse franchise model arms mom and pops against Starbucks, what the future of loyalty looks like for small businesses, and the myriad of ways technology can build sustainable local economies around the café ecosystem.
065- Engineering a pre-alcohol probiotic with Zack Abbott of ZBiotics
Zack Abbott is the founder & CEO of ZBiotics, a manufacturer of the world’s first genetically engineered probiotics. In this episode we’ll chat about how ZBiotics started with a product that aims to reduce the negative effects of hangovers, the current state of the sober-curious movement, and the implications of GMO labeling.
064- Prescribing food as medicine with Josh Hix of Season Health
Josh Hix is the Co-Founder and CEO of Season, a food-as-medicine platform that enables people with chronic conditions like diabetes to access healthy food through delivery services in partnership with their insurance provider. In this episode we’ll talk about the incentives of the healthcare system to support healthy eating, how Season was born out of meal kit startup Plated, and the role of data when it comes to at-home testing and nutrition.
063- Democratizing investment in agricultural land with Tim Luckow of Farm
Tim Luckow is the founder & CEO of Farm, a platform for investing in farmland to be used in various environmental projects such as regenerative agriculture and wind energy. In this episode we’ll talk about the challenges of quantifying natural capital, how Farm is building technology to identify investment opportunities, and how it’s championing collective land ownership to better align incentives between land owners, farmers, and ranchers.
062- Taking the "ice cream truck" approach to delivery with Baris Karadogan of Jingle
Baris Karadogan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Jingle, a new hyperlocal marketplace enabling mobile commerce of artisanal foods like ice cream, prepared meals, pastas, and more. In this episode we’ll talk about the difficulty in scaling food truck-centered businesses like Wonder, the push vs. pull model of delivery, and how five-minute impulse deliveries from a van could be more sustainable than 15 or 30 minutes.
061- Using microalgae as a future protein source with Yonatan Golan of Brevel
Yonatan Golan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Brevel, a startup growing microalgae indoors to be used as protein in dairy and meat alternatives. In this episode, we’ll chat about the difference between seaweed and microalgae, what its advantages are over conventional soy and pea-based proteins, and Brevel’s unique cultivation process that is able to help bring down its unit cost.
060- Dissecting delivery business models with Professor Len Sherman of Columbia Business School
Len Sherman is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and author who has contributed to business publications such as Forbes, Wired, Financial Times, and The Economist. In this episode, we’ll chat about the macro backdrop that gave rise to on-demand restaurant and grocery delivery, breakdown various holes in current models, and discuss frameworks for success when it comes to delivering food profitably.
Follow Len on Twitter @lenshermanCBS
059- Designing innovative foodservice programs for convenience stores with Jerry Weiner
Jerry Weiner is a foodservice veteran responsible for building out fresh food programs at convenience chains like Rutter’s, MAPCO, and Crown. In this episode, we’ll chat about the history of kitchen automation like TurboChef convection ovens, how delivery services like Wonder are leveraging such technology, and the evolving roles of convenience stores when it comes to serving quality meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner dayparts.
058- Converting convenience stores into delivery hubs with John Nelson of Vroom Delivery
John Nelson is the Founder & CEO of Vroom Delivery, the first white-label online ordering platform designed exclusively for convenience stores. In this episode, we’ll chat about why the c-store industry is unique from grocery and restaurant categories, the technology stack powering these retailers, and how Vroom is helping smaller chains compete against players like Gopuff and DoorDash’s DashMart.
057- Preventing food waste from eating grocers' margins with Stefan Kalb of Shelf Engine
Stefan Kalb is the Co-Founder & CEO of Shelf Engine, an automated ordering and intelligent forecasting system that helps regional and national grocers like Target and Kroger improve their gross margins by an average of 30%. In this episode, we’ll chat about Shelf Engine’s unique pricing model that guarantees gross margin improvements, how it forecasts store-level inventory, and how its auto-replenishment modules create a better customer experience online and offline.
056- Putting local restaurants on the blockchain with Michael Saunders of Captain & Supper Club
Michael Saunders is the Co-Founder & CEO of Captain, a white-label restaurant ordering platform that recently launched Supper Club, a web3 eating community where foodies get rewarded for supporting their favorite restaurants. In this episode we’ll chat about the potential for the blockchain to power restaurant transactions, the evolution of restaurant delivery, and the myriad use cases for web3 at chains like Starbucks and Chipotle.
055- Measuring your gut microbiome using smart toilets with Kevin Honaker of BiomeSense
Kevin Honaker is the Co-Founder & CEO of BiomeSense, a startup developing a novel biosensor platform that continuously measures the trillions of microbes in our guts with just a single piece of toilet paper. BiomeSense counts the leading researchers in the microbiome space like Dr. Jack Gilbert and Dr. Rob Knight as co-founders and advisors. In this episode, we’ll chat about the links between gut bacteria and various aspects of our health, how the industry suffers from unreliable data, and the potential for BiomeSense to develop precision nutrition and probiotic-based interventions.
054- Investing in CPG and the software powering it with Carle Stenmark of VMG Partners
Carle Stenmark is a General Partner at VMG, a hybrid consumer growth equity and software venture fund with over $1.2bn in committed capital. The fund has backed names like Spindrift, Stone Brewing, and Kind on the consumer side and Wee!, Afresh, and Swell on the tech side. In this episode, we’ll chat about how VMG leverages its software investments to help its portfolio brands, the state of valuations for CPG and tech startups, and the future of personalization and sustainability.
053- Owning the end-to-end omnichannel convenience platform with Art Sebastian of Casey's
Art Sebastian is the VP of Digital Experiences at Casey’s, the third-largest convenience chain and the fifth-largest pizza retailer in the US. In this episode we’ll chat about the role of convenience stores in a world of quick commerce, how Casey’s has leveraged loyalty to drive customers to order prepared food alcohol, and groceries, and the digitization of the supply chain.
052- Rebooting the independent grocery operating system with Brandon Hill of Vori
Brandon Hill is the Co-Founder & CEO of Vori, an inventory management platform optimizing the supply chain for underserved independent grocers. In this episode we’ll chat about how Vori’s software helps reduce retailers’ food waste, manages their pricing, and brings real-time inventory to online marketplaces.
051- Building the global first-party QSR delivery logistics network with Zach Noren of Uber Direct
Zach Noren is the Enterprise Partner Manager of Restaurants at Uber Direct. In this episode, we’ll chat about how Uber is providing whitelabel logistics for global QSR, grocery, and convenience chains, how it’s leveraging its earner base to drive down the cost of last mile delivery, and the role of middleware that makes everything talk to each other.
050- Going beyond the luxury of online grocery with Sarah Mastrorocco of Instacart
Sarah Mastrorocco is the VP & General Manager of Access to Food & Nutrition at Instacart. In this episode, we’ll chat about the $100bn+ opportunity for grocers to accept online SNAP EBT payments, how the platform is expanding nutritional access for tens of millions of Americans, and the future of content and commerce.
Note: The host is an investor in a limited partnership that is a shareholder of Instacart.