An Airbnb for Appliances, the Fermentation Frenzy

Erin Browne

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Fermentation May Be Centuries Old, But It’s Attracting a Whole Bunch of New Money ($1.69 Billion to Be Exact)

You know what they say: everything old is new brewed again.

At least that’s true when it comes to fermentation, that ancient food and beverage production process that is currently an overnight sensation. It is going well beyond the time-honored probiotic-rich staples of sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, miso, yogurt, and kombucha. The process of fermentation is being utilized in the creation of alternative, sustainable proteins to take the place of meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy. And it’s projected to get even more significant in its scope and revenue.

Data in The Good Food Institute’s 2021 State of Fermentation Industry Report points to the growth of fermentation as a traditional means to create probiotic-rich foods and plant-based products. According to the report, a total of $1.69 billion was invested in 54 fermentation-based startups in 2021.

Other data from GFI’s report:

  • Fifteen known startups dedicated to fermentation for alternative proteins were founded in 2021, along with new suppliers focused on fermentation-enabled alternative protein ingredients.
  • Eighty-eight known companies are now dedicated to fermentation-enabled alternative proteins, increasing 20 percent from the number of known companies in 2020.
  • 2021 saw the first growth-stage fundraising in the fermentation industry, including three deals >$200 million.

To read the full story, head here.

An Airbnb for Air Fryers? How the Sharing Economy is Slowly Coming to Home Appliances

Back in 2016, the CEO of Swedish appliance company Electrolux floated the idea of possibly using a sharing economy model for washing machines.

“We have a few fun ideas we are testing, like: how about a laundry Uber, where people share their unused laundry time?” Jonas Samuelson said at the time.

While Electrolux never did launch an Uber-for-laundry service, it did eventually launch a subscription vacuum-as-a-service business in Europe for its robotic vacuum. Even so, the idea of sharing economy meets home appliances really hasn’t gotten much traction.

Until now. Kinda.

That’s because Tulu, an Israel/NY startup is bringing a version of the appliance-as-a-service concept to apartments and condos in the United States, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Israel. The company, which just raised a $20 million Series A funding round, offers short-term rentals on everyday household items like air fryers, printers, micro-mobility products (e-scooters), and more. They also power small shops for consumables like food.

You can read the full post here.

Kitchen Tech

As Political Fight to Ban Natural Gas Rages On, Microsoft and Others are Pressing Ahead With All-Electric Kitchens

If you’ve paid attention to natural gas regulation over the past few years, you’re probably aware a growing number of municipalities and state governments have pushed to ban the use of the gas hookups in new home and office builds as they look for ways to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

It started with Berkeley in 2019, and since that time, a number of cities in California and New York have followed suit with efforts to restrict or outright ban the use of natural gas. Predictably, GOP-controlled legislatures around the country have fought back by passing “preemption laws” that prohibit cities from banning natural gas. According to CNN, twenty states with GOP-controlled legislatures have preemption laws prohibiting cities from banning natural gas.

But while the political battle between old-world gas adherents and those looking to reduce our reliance on gas rages on, big companies like Microsoft are reading the tea leaves and building electric kitchens. According to a story in Fast Company, the software giant is building an all-electric kitchen in one of its newest buildings in Redmond, Washington.

You can read the full post here. 

Restaurant Tech

Ghost Kitchen Startup Hungry House Partners With JOKR, Omsom and Others For Season Two

Hungry House, a ghost kitchen startup based in New York City, announced today it has formed a partnership with 10-minute delivery startup JOKR to distribute chef-created meals around New York City.

The company, founded by Zuul alum Kristen Barnett, announced the news today as part of the launch of its “season two,” which also includes news of new featured chefs and other partnerships. The deal is interesting in that JOKR and other ultra-fast grocery apps are where customers generally order shelf-stable packaged goods and maybe a little fresh produce. Under this new partnership, JOKR users will now be able to order fresh meals designed by chefs and cooked up in Hungry House’s facilities.

Speaking of facilities, Hungry House also announced an expansion beyond its first location in Brooklyn. Working with “nightlife experts” the No Thing Group, the company will open up a new multi-purpose location in Manhattan’s West Village. After Hungry House serves takeout and delivery out of the ghost kitchen during the day, No Thing Group will transform the new location “into a destination for craft cocktails” in the evening.

To read the full story, head here.

DoorDash Opens Ghost Kitchen in Brooklyn, Serving Up Little Caesars, MilkBar & More

When DoorDash opened the first DoorDash Kitchen in California back in 2019, we speculated when they’d be expanding their ghost kitchen business beyond their home state.

As it turns out, that answer is almost three years as the company opens its first location on the east coast. The latest location will be in Brooklyn, where the delivery company will partner up with five restaurants to offer menus for the delivery and take-out location. The restaurant partners for what DoorDash is calling a “delivery-forward food hall” are DOMODOMO, Kings Co Imperial, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, moonbowls, and Little Caesars. DoorDash Kitchens will also offer Birch Coffee and Milk Bar items, two popular NYC-founded chains.

DoorDash’s facilities partner for its NYC food hall ghost kitchen is commercial kitchen-as-a-service startup Nimbus. Nimbus, founded by Camilla Opperman and Samantha Slager, has two (soon to be three) locations in NYC, including Brooklyn, where DoorDash will set up shop. Like many newer commercial kitchen concepts, the idea behind Nimbus was to create space to power virtual brands for delivery and curbside pickup. The new location also has event space, where DoorDash and their restaurant partners can hold community meetings, dinners, and panel conversations.

To read the full story, head here.

Future Food

Sea & Believe is Making Plant-Based Whole Cut ‘Cod’ That Flakes Like Real Fish

Sea & Believe is a little different than the typical IndieBio company in that they already have a successful product on the market. The Ireland-based company sells two alt-fish products, an Irish seaweed burger and seaweed goujons, and today they are available in 50 stores across Ireland.

But as the company showed last week at IndieBio’s Demo Day, they are close to launching what they see as their biggest breakthrough yet: a plant-based whole-cut filet of ‘cod’ that flakes like real fish.

For company founder Jennifer O’Brien, Irish seaweed is a natural choice as a foundational building block for an alt-seafood product. Growing up in Ireland, O’Brien would eat seaweed to find relief for chronic asthma. The more she studied it, the more she realized the other benefits of seaweed, including its ability to deacidify the ocean, sequestering carbon at a rate three times higher per acre than forests.

Read the full post at here.

IndieBio Startup CellCrine is Developing Serum-Free Growth Media That Reduces Costs by 90%

Growth medium is widely recognized in the cell-cultured meat industry as one of the nascent sector’s biggest cost drivers. According to a survey conducted by the Good Food Institute in 2020, growth media made up 80% or more of the total operating cost for 38% of those cell-cultured meat manufacturers who responded, while 72% of respondents indicated that growth media made up half or more of their total operating costs.

As a result, a number of startups have been working on developing new approaches to create lower-cost growth media. One of these companies is CellCrine, which claims to be developing the world’s cheapest serum-free growth media. As a member of IndieBio’s 12th cohort, CellCrine pitched their idea this week at the biotech accelerator’s Demo Day.

CellCrine’s media utilizes what it says are proteins that are currently not a component of any media sold today. These proteins act as “cell culture activator” that coordinates the cell growth process and brings out the best performance from within cells. According to the company, adding these proteins as a supplement to cultured cell growth media “reduces the need for all other growth factors and recombinant proteins 90% or more.”

Read the full post here.

Food Robotics

Jack in the Box Pilot Testing Fryer & Drink Station Robots

Last month Miso Robotics and Jack in the Box announced a pilot test of robotic fryer and drink fulfillment systems. The new trial, which will take place in the San Diego market, will utilize the Flippy 2 and the Sippy product lines from Miso Robotics.

“This collaboration with Miso Robotics is a steppingstone for our back-of-house restaurant operations,” Jack in the Box COO Tony Darden said in the release. “We are confident that this technology will be a good fit to support our growing business needs with intentions of having a positive impact on our operations while promoting safety and comfort to our team members.”

The Flippy 2 will be used to automate the fryer station to cook up curly fries, tacos, chicken nuggets, and other fried food. The Sippy will automate cup dispensing and beverage filling and top the drinks with an airtight drink seal (think boba drinks) rather than the typical plastic lid.

To read the full story, click here!

The Spoon Food Tech Weekly: An Airbnb for Appliances, the Fermentation Frenzy

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