Recognizing that Chicago’s immigrant communities were underserved by existing grocery delivery platforms, Boyede Sobitan and Fola Dada decided to build a solution. OjaExpress, is an on-demand ethnic grocery delivery platform, which seeks to address the issues of food access and convenience for immigrant communities and foodies.
Many companies have attempted to solve this problem in the past, but the team behind Freevo, thinks it’s cracked the code once and for all. Their fix? Just give food away for free. Here’s how it works: Restaurants list between 5 and 10 menu items to offer and can select at which times the deals go live. Freevo members’ gets access to unlimited offers on the app they can only have one coupon active at a time. Each deal must be redeemed within 45 minutes and in order to gain access to new coupons users upload photos of their paper receipts.
The incredible access to information that we have today sometimes makes the simplest decisions take way too long. Have you ever found yourself looking for a cool new restaurant, only to become trapped in an hour-long spiral of indecision? Check out Sugr – a Chicago startup that uses machine learning to recommend new restaurants, bars and events. Unlike traditional discovery services like Yelp or Google Places, Sugr only shows users a handful of options based on location, budget, cuisine, and desired vibe.
Cash continues to pour into the CPG marketplace. Private investment group VMG Partners closed a $550 million fund to go towards emerging, lower middle market companies. Japanese pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, bought out Canadian plant-based food company Daiya for $326 million. Investment platform CircleUp began issuing loans to food startups, ranging from $25K to $600,000 to help small companies with cash flow.
Would people be willing to buy takeout meals from their neighbors? Shmeal is an app that lets you share homemade meals with your neighbors and friends. One can cook meals at their place and post them on the app, and then their neighbors and friends can come over and pick them up. Cooks post their meals ahead of time, and diners can reserve a portion as soon as it goes live. Customers can also put orders in at the last minute –as long as supplies last.
Blue Apron has an agroecology team and they are committed to regenerative agriculture, which does further than sustainable, organic agriculture by focusing on regenerating soil and ecosystems. It already provides a free soil testing service to the farmers that allows them to evaluate the nutrient load is their soil. With that data, Blue Apron then makes recommendations for crop families the farmers could be growing to improve soil health and yields. As demand for sustainable food outplaces supply, the companies that have the best chance of winning hearts and dollars of eaters are those are investing in the growth of the supply chain.