The Weekly Spoon: Amazon Buys Whole Foods; Smart Gardens Bloom; Barilla 3D Prints Pasta + Blue Apron Pre-IPO

Amazon is officially an omnichannel business. This is clear after this morning's blockbuster announcement that the retail giant has agreed to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Amazon has clearly had a strategy to own the grocery store and dry goods, taking aim at Wal-Mart and Target with its Dash and Pantry programs and working to capture produce with Amazon Fresh. But the company has signaled that it believes in the power of brick and mortar and its role in truly dominating commerce. 

Earlier this year, Amazon debuted its experiment with future grocery shopping concepts through its cashierless, fully automated store Amazon Go. The purchase of Whole Foods not only expands Amazon's ability to increase delivery pickup centers but gives the company a huge reach into typically wealthier corners of the U.S. to experiment with its "grocery store of the future" concepts. 

We dive into the news and look at why the deal makes perfect sense for Amazon - check out our analysis

The poditization of...well, everything is still going strong as evidenced by the next Keurig for indoor growing, Ava Byte. The Indiegogo startup calls itself the "best automated smart garden" and makes a compact growing station with spots for refillable pods to grow really anything you might imagine. Will the recurring revenue of seed pods prove to be successful?

There are a lot of Blue Apron IPO analysis out there, but one, in particular, caught our eye - written by a marketing professor at Emory, it looks at customer retention and the meal kit startup's struggle to keep a loyal customer base. Does this spell bad news for Blue Apron or is it a symptom of the meal kit market as a whole? Don't miss our breakdown.

Also - why is Barilla so interested in 3D printed Christmas tree pasta? 3D food printing is making waves across the food and culinary world, from restaurants to the consumer kitchen, food scientists and Big Food companies are paying attention. 

Applications are pouring in for the 3rd annual Startup Showcase at the Smart Kitchen Summit this fall; if you're a food tech or smart kitchen startup, you don't want to miss the chance to demo and pitch your product in front of the industry's leaders -- deadline to apply is August 15

As thanks for being a subscriber, you can take 25% off early bird prices with code NEWSLETTER for the 2017 Smart Kitchen Summit, coming this October to Benaroya Hall in Seattle. 

Happy Friday!
Mike

P.S. Tell your friends to subscribe!

In the 06/16/2017 edition:

Podcast: Amazon Buys Whole Foods

By Michael Wolf on Jun 16, 2017 10:53 am
Every now and then a deal of such magnitude happens, it makes you almost speechless when you first hear about it. Amazon buying Whole Foods is one of those deals. On this quick-take podcast, Mike gets together with Nomiku CEO Lisa Fetterman to discuss this mind-blowing deal, what it could mean for Amazon, what a […]
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Analysis: Here’s Why Amazon & Whole Foods Make Perfect Sense

By Michael Wolf on Jun 16, 2017 06:48 am
Blockbuster news this morning: Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Needless to say, this is a huge deal. My immediate thoughts are this: This deal signifies Amazon’s entry into physical brick and mortar in a big way. The company, which has been toying around with future store concepts like its own bookstore and […]
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Why Synthetic Sensors Could Be The Future Of Smart Kitchen Monitoring

By Sam Dean on Jun 16, 2017 06:08 am
Will the smart kitchen of the future be stocked with arrays of distributed sensors or could a single suite of sensors, localized on a credit-card sized housing, plug into an outlet to imbue the kitchen with all the intelligence it needs? According to Carnegie Mellon researchers in the Future Interfaces Group, the latter concept is […]
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Smart Gardens Follow a Familiar Business Path

By Allen Weiner on Jun 15, 2017 09:03 am
Entrepreneurs behind the recent raft of smart indoor gardens are following the digital commerce wisdom of those who understand the value of subscription-based businesses. The old, “buy the camera for cheap and we will sell you lots of film” concept has been successful for companies such as Keurig and Nespresso in maintaining multiple revenue streams. […]
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Blue Apron’s Biggest Problem Pre-IPO? Finding Loyal Customers

By Ashley Daigneault on Jun 13, 2017 10:09 am
Blue Apron’s impending IPO has been the subject of much speculation and anticipation in the recent months, especially as the meal kit delivery market has experienced great fluctuation in the past few years. The S-1 filing has been analyzed by hordes of financial analysts, but perhaps the most important deep dive into Blue Apron’s documents […]
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Technology Innovation Adds New Dimension To Pasta Making

By Allen Weiner on Jun 13, 2017 05:13 am
Alas, finally technology for those who like to play with their food. Give its universal popularity, pasta is a natural prime target for entrepreneurs wanting to leave an imprint on the future of food. Living at the intersection of smart food techniques and future consumer trends are methods to shapeshift ordinary macaroni noodles into 3D […]
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Weekly Spoon: New Food Funding Models, The Anova Nano, Apple's HomePod, State of RF Cooking

Without a doubt, food and cooking entrepreneurs have benefitted greatly from the arrival of democratized funding models in recent years. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have enabled startups like PicoBrew and Anova to launch major new product lines, while providing big companies like GE and Whirlpool a much quicker way to validate new product concepts than traditional methods.

But sometimes general-purpose crowdfunding isn't the right avenue to fund a food business. A food business may have short-term working capital needs or just need tailored advice about which market to target. This need for specialized approaches have given rise to new food funding platforms, and this week at The Spoon, our newest writer, Gigaom alum Sam Dean, takes a look at food-centric funding platforms such as PieShell and Credibles. 

Last week was a big one for the connected home, with Apple finally launching their competitor to the Amazon Echo and Google Home in the HomePod at WWDC. The HomePod is a connected speaker - but also a clear indicator of where Apple plans to take HomeKit and the smart home. Don't miss our analysis.

The sous vide market continues to heat up, with Anova announcing a $99 sous vide machine that's lighter and cheaper than previous versions. The company joins Gourmia with a sub $100 sous vide device and proof that sous vide has come a long way from French kitchens in the 18th century.

The microwave just turned 50, but advancements in cooking engineering might threaten its dominance as the fast-cook machine in our kitchens.One of the technologies taking aim at the old-school microwave is RF solid state cooking. Listen to our podcast with Goji Solutions President Yuval Ben-Haim to learn about where Goji sees the state of RF cooking.

As always some quick Smart Kitchen Summit news - if you're a startup in the food tech or connected kitchen market, you don't want to miss the chance to be in our Startup Showcase. Top 15 companies get a free demo table at the Summit -- deadline to apply is August 15

If you're not a startup but want to come to SKS in October -  Take 25% off early bird prices with code NEWSLETTER.

Have a great week,
Mike

P.S. Tell your friends to subscribe!

In the 06/12/2017 edition:

Hungry for Funding? New Avenues for Food Startup Financing are Opening Up

By Sam Dean on Jun 12, 2017 09:41 am
Ask many people how to find funding for emerging food projects, and lots of them will point to crowdsourcing sites. After all, sites such as Kickstarter have driven concepts ranging from PicoBrew to the Anova Precision Cooker to levels of funding that would put a smile on any startup founder’s face. Indeed, when it comes […]
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Kickstarter Entrepreneurs Ride the Popularity Wave of Probiotic Foods

By Allen Weiner on Jun 12, 2017 06:34 am
Probiotics are a budding segment of the food part of the crowdsourcing world. While most new efforts are focused on pickles, fermented sodas and kombucha, a team of Slovenian Kickstarter veterans are showcasing the wonders of probiotic cheese. Kefirko Cheese Maker comes on the heels of the successful 2015 launch of Kefirko, a device that […]
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The Smart Home Weekly: HomeKit’s Big Week & The Debut of HomePod

By Michael Wolf on Jun 09, 2017 10:03 am
Each week I look at the biggest story in smart home and give context to what’s happening in the connected home around the web. This was the most important week for HomeKit since Apple announced it in June 2014. That’s because, on Monday the company announced a host of critical updates to their smart home […]
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Podcast: The State of RF Cooking With Yuval Ben-Haim

By Michael Wolf on Jun 09, 2017 07:15 am
On the 50th birthday on the microwave, the core technology behind the fast-cook workhorse faces an uncertain future. One of the technologies taking aim at the old-school microwave is RF solid state cooking. A company that figures to be a key player in the RF cooking space is Goji Solutions. With a portfolio of technology […]
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Meet U-Bruu, The Latest Take On The Modern Home Kegerator

By Michael Wolf on Jun 08, 2017 07:37 am
Back when I was a kid, my dad converted an old fridge in our garage into a kegerator that served both beer and soft drinks from small minikegs he’d buy from a local distributor. While I was too young to consume the beer, I downed frosty mugs of cold Coca-Cola and root beer and became […]
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Anova Opens Pre-Orders For The Sub-$100 Nano

By Michael Wolf on Jun 07, 2017 05:41 pm
This week, Anova opened up pre-orders for their Nano, the company’s first sub-$100 sous vide circulator. The device, which ships in October, is 25% smaller and a full pound lighter than the company’s Wi-Fi Precision Cooker. Perhaps more importantly, the Nano comes in about $70 less than the company’s flagship product. The full price for the […]
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Analysis: With HomePod, Apple May Finally Deliver On The Promise Of HomeKit

By Michael Wolf on Jun 06, 2017 04:21 pm
After months of rumors, Apple finally introduced a wireless streaming speaker called HomePod this week, their first new hardware product since the Apple Watch debuted in 2015.  The Siri-enabled wireless speaker also doubles as a HomeKit powered smart home hub, giving Apple a new fixed HomeKit control point beyond Apple TV. The HomePod will ship in […]
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Yes, Millennials Are Staying Home To Cook. Here’s What They’re Making

By Michael Wolf on Jun 05, 2017 10:49 am
Last week, Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith wrote a letter to investors to tell them that times are tough in the world of fast casual dining. According to Smith, one of the big reasons for the struggles of Applebee’s and others in the world of fast dining is millennials are eschewing mountainous plates of fried fare to […]
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The WWDC 2017 Prediction Show (Smart Home Edition)

By Michael Wolf on Jun 03, 2017 07:28 am
Are you ready for WWDC? Apple’s big developer conference is just three days away, and so it’s time to make some predictions. I get together with my old friend Adam Justice from Connectsense to discuss what we can expect this coming Monday from Apple on the smart home front. Topics discussed include: We speculate whether Apple will […]
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ChefSteps Expands Further Into Food With Launch Of Pre-Cooked Meals

By Michael Wolf on Jun 02, 2017 11:16 am
Back in February, I  wrote about ChefSteps’ plan to create a meat ‘marketplace’ that would connect “independent ranchers with ChefSteps users, offering them direct access to high-quality meat and ingredients at great prices.” As it turns out, this effort was part of a larger initiative to expand into food sales that is starting to come […]
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The Weekly Spoon: Andy Rubin's Smart Home Play; IKEA's Startup Bootcamp; Nest Gets Into AI

The big news in smart home - and smart kitchen - this week was all about Essential. Tech star and Android creator Andy Rubin joined Walt Mossberg on stage to talk about his new company and how they're creating a new OS for the home. Read our first take on the Essential smart speaker and ecosystem and what they might mean for the space.

Want more Essential analysis? Don't miss Mike's podcast with further discussion on Rubin's announcement plus special guest Pawel Orzechowski, the Director of Systems Software at Neato Robotics to talk how robotics will impact the smart home.

Amidst the Essential noise, Nest announced a new Nest Cam with face recognition software built in. Is Nest's integration of AI the first effort at a big comeback? There are signs that say yes.

IKEA is getting into the startup accelerator game, announcing the IKEA Bootcamp for entrepreneurs looking to solve the world’s “Big Problems.” Interest areas include food innovation, commerce disruption and robotics and selected startups will get a chance to live in Sweden and work alongside IKEA's greatest minds. 

Speaking of startups, did you miss our Startup Showcase announcement? Read all about the third edition of the smart kitchen and food tech startup competition at the 2017 Smart Kitchen Summit and get your application ready - deadline to apply is August 15

Other quick notes - it's June, which means we're just 4 months away from the 2017 Smart Kitchen Summit in Seattle. You've got until July 31 to get early bird tickets PLUS take 25% off of any ticket price using code SPRING.

Love The Spoon? Follow us on Twitter for the latest news.

Happy weekend!

Mike

P.S. Tell your friends to subscribe!

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 06/02/2017 edition:

Podcast: Robot, Meet Chatbot

By Michael Wolf on Jun 01, 2017 09:57 am
In this episode, Mike looks at Andy Rubin’s new smart home platform, Essential Home. Rubin believes he can eliminate all the friction and fragmentation consumers face today with all the various platforms by focusing on integration. He’s created a smart home platform that plans to play nice with other platforms and hopefully get us out […]
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Is Nest’s New Face Recognition Cam A Sign It’s Waking From Its Slumber?

By Michael Wolf on Jun 01, 2017 09:11 am
One of the great mysteries of the smart home world over the past few years has been the relative quiet of Nest, the one-time connected home star that burst onto the scene with the launch of its impressive Nest Learning Thermostat and, two years later, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector by the name of […]
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Calling All Startups: Apply To Pitch & Demo At 2017 Smart Kitchen Summit

By Ashley Daigneault on May 31, 2017 09:11 am
One of the best parts of attending the Smart Kitchen Summit is getting a front row seat to brand new technology and innovative products that are coming down the pipeline. The event’s startup showcase is now in its third year and invites all startups in the food tech and smart kitchen space to apply for […]
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Rubin: Essential Home Will Be The “Bridge” Between Competing Smart Home Ecosystems

By Michael Wolf on May 31, 2017 06:50 am
Last night Andy Rubin got on stage with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference to discuss his new company. The two spent a good chunk of the conversation talking about the Essential Phone, but when they finally got to the Essential Home, they didn’t disappoint. I wrote yesterday about what we already knew about the […]
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IKEA Gets In The Startup Game With Bootcamp Accelerator

By Ashley Daigneault on May 30, 2017 12:51 pm
In the last several years, we’ve seen major home, tech and food brands reach out to the startup community in the form of VC funds and accelerators to try and harness the massive innovation taking place in their markets. From General Mills, Kellogg and Google, companies are looking at hot areas like food, agriculture and […]
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First Look At Essential Home, An AI-Powered Smart Home Platform From Andy Rubin

By Michael Wolf on May 30, 2017 11:21 am
Anyone who’s followed tech over the past decade knows what a huge role Andy Rubin has played in mobile computing. As one of the principals behind the Sidekick mobile device, co-creator of the Android operating system and the architect of Google’s mobile strategy, it’s not an exaggeration to say Rubin is one of a handful of people […]
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Meet Heston Bot, A Skype Bot That Helps You Figure Out What To Make For Dinner

By Sam Dean on May 29, 2017 01:45 pm
At the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and the future of food, the race is on to build the bot that truly hits the spot. From bots that “go where consumers are,” to chatbots that help you track food consumption, you can now interact with virtual personalities of many types. Microsoft, one of many companies […]
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The Weekly Spoon: Echo Show Is The New Kitchen Computer, The Microwave Turns 50 and Microsoft Unveils Echo Competitor

Amazon turned heads in the smart home market by dominating the space in 2016 with Alexa and has turned its sights to cameras. In a matter of weeks, the company has the Echo Show, the new Alexa-powered device with a touchscreen and built-in camera and Echo Look, the personal stylist with a selfie cam. But beyond adding cameras to our homes, what's Amazon up to?

We take a look at the implications of Echo Show as a kitchen computer, with touch, voice and video integrated to deliver powerful Alexa skills that compliment kitchen needs. Don't miss our full analysis on the Show's implications for the most popular room in the house.

Speaking of Echo, Microsoft finally unveiled their answer to Amazon and Google's voice AI devices in the form of a speaker partnership with Harman Kardon. Invoke, a smart speaker manufactured by the audio brand will feature Microsoft's voice AI platform Cortana and a native Skype integration. Check out our piece on Invoke and what to watch for next in the space.

Happy 50th Birthday Microwave! Did you know the most beloved and perhaps outdated kitchen appliance was middle-aged? Here's why it probably won't live to be 100 - and what is likely to replace it.

Have you picked up tickets to the Smart Kitchen Summit yet? Guess what - it's officially just FIVE months away. For now, you can get 25% off of any ticket price (including early bird!) using the code SPRING.

Use this link or apply the code at checkout on the SKS site.

If you tweet one link before the weekend, make it our subscribe link and share some Spoon goodness with your friends. 

Cheers!

Mike


In the 05/12/2017 edition:

PicoBrew Surpasses Anova To Become Top Food Kickstarter Campaign Of All Time

By Michael Wolf on May 12, 2017 07:43 am
With just one day to go, PicoBrew’s latest Kickstarter campaign surpassed Anova to become the top campaign of all time in the food category. The company’s Pico C campaign reached $1.812 million to eclipse Anova’s $1.811 million campaign for the Anova’s 2014 Precision Cooker campaign.  The company announced the milestone in a livestream update on the […]
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Entrepreneur Hopes To Transform Shanghai Into Food Startup Hub

By Ashley Daigneault on May 12, 2017 06:19 am
China’s middle class is changing and with that change comes emerging differences in the way their population consumes food. This week Fast Company introduced the new food tech accelerator, Bits x Bites – the first of its kind in China – and how it’s looking to help shape the nation’s food and agricultural systems. According […]
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Alchema Brews Up An IoT Approach to Home Fermentation

By Allen Weiner on May 10, 2017 06:08 am
The world has discovered hard cider. With annual sales skyrocketing and a continual parade of newcomers entering the market, cider is having its moment. The sudden popularity of this age-old alcoholic beverage is a convergence of three popular food trends–interest in fermented foods, understanding of probiotic’s health benefits and DIY driven by new technology. At […]
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Here’s Why The Echo Show Is Amazon’s Kitchen Computer

By Michael Wolf on May 09, 2017 09:45 pm
Two years after rumors first surfaced about a top secret Amazon project to develop a kitchen computer, today we may finally have a hint of what the company had in mind when rumors first surfaced in August 2015. Not that Amazon is calling the Echo Show a kitchen computer since, after all, the new device can […]
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Microsoft Unveils Echo Competitor Powered By Cortana

By Lauren Knope on May 09, 2017 02:43 pm
Microsoft is not necessarily a leader in the smart home these days, trailing Samsung, Apple and Google in platforms and hardware offerings and instead focusing on other core offerings. But as the Amazon Echo and then Google Home voice assistants jumped onto the scene, the tech world speculated about whether Apple and Microsoft would put […]
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Happy 50th Birthday, Microwave. Here’s Why You Won’t Make It To 100

By Michael Wolf on May 09, 2017 08:54 am
Happy 50th birthday, microwave oven. This year, the ubiquitous cooking box born out of an accidental discovery by a Ratheon military researcher has reached the half century mark, and as the last new cooking appliance category to become indispensable in nearly every American home, it’s certainly a milestone worth celebrating. However, there are signs that the fast-cook workhorse […]
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Google Hopes Investment in AgTech Bears Fruit

By Allen Weiner on May 06, 2017 08:39 am
Google and Apple together in an investment deal? Wait, it appears to be Google and apples—as in the fruit. GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) is among those leading an investment round for Abundant Robotics, a Hayward, Calif.-based company whose robotic apple-picking machine has gained a lot of interest from the agricultural and financial sectors. […]
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Recent Articles:

Podcast: Here’s A Fresh, Hand-Squeezed Podcast For Your Enjoyment
Whirlpool Buys Yummly In Effort To Bolster Smart Kitchen Strategy
Flatev Extends Expert Tortilla Making to the Masses

The Weekly Spoon for 05/05/17 : Whirlpool Acquires Yummly: PicoBrew Seeks Kickstarter Record; Scripps Scoops Up Food Media Startup

This was the week of acquisitions in the smart kitchen and food media space, capped off by the news that appliance giant Whirlpool acquired food and recipe website Yummly

Whirlpool has spent the last several years working out a smart kitchen strategy, first partnering with food data platform startup Innit and then pivoting to pursue its own technology ecosystem. At CES, the company announced new interactive features to its connected appliances and Yummly's database of recipe content will certainly help make these offerings more robust. 

Interestingly, the Whirlpool/Yummly deal demonstrates how messy the early stage of a market can be, with various players shuffling around from Whirlpool, Innit, Yummly and previously acquired by Yummly startup Orange Chef. Our piece on the deal is worth a read.

Also not to be missed in this week's newsletter is more acquisition news: Scripps Network, owner of Food Network, Cooking Channel and HGTV, scooped up food media startup Spoon University

In other startup news, Smart Kitchen Summit 2016 Startup Showcase alum Flatev successfully raised over $130k to bring their artisanal tortilla maker to life and PicoBrew added another stretch goal to try and become the largest food Kickstarter in history.

Big things are ahead for the Smart Kitchen Summit - we're about to announce an amazing slate of speakers and partners for the 2017 event. (If you can't wait, take a sneak peek at the beginning of our rockstar lineup.) And - good news for our subscribers - in addition to our early bird ticket pricing, you can save even more by using code SPRING to get 25% off of any ticket price. 

Simply use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or go to the SKS17 website and use the code SPRING at checkout.


Do you rely on The Spoon for all your kitchen and food tech news? We'd love you to help us spread the word and forward to your friends to subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Happy Friday!

Mike

The Spoon

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 05/05/2017 edition:

Podcast: Here’s A Fresh, Hand-Squeezed Podcast For Your Enjoyment

By Michael Wolf on May 05, 2017 08:10 am
This week’s guest is Home:On’s Richard Gunther. Richard and I discuss the Bloomberg story about Juicero that showed you can bypass the company’s $400 juicer and squeeze the Juicero packs with your hands. We also talk about the ongoing story of Ring’s acquihire of Zonoff, the acquisition of iDevices by Hubbell, IKEA’s smart lights, and Samsung investment […]
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Whirlpool Buys Yummly In Effort To Bolster Smart Kitchen Strategy

By Michael Wolf on May 04, 2017 10:06 am
This week Whirlpool announced their intention to acquire Yummly, one of the Internet’s biggest food and recipe sites. The acquisition comes as part of Whirlpool’s effort to accelerate its development for the smart kitchen of the future. At CES this year, the company announced new cooking automation features for its lineup of smart appliances, including […]
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Flatev Extends Expert Tortilla Making to the Masses

By Allen Weiner on May 04, 2017 06:12 am
As food cultures blend into a culinary melting pot, staples such as savory tortillas have become a frequent fixture in homes, regardless of their heritage. A $4 billion business, tortillas are generally purchased at a supermarket, bakery or ethnic grocer as most home cooks lack the skill and equipment to create warm, soft pillows of […]
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Scripps Networks Buys Online Food Content Startup Spoon University

By Ashley Daigneault on May 03, 2017 02:36 pm
Scripps Network acquires online food content platform Spoon University for an undisclosed sum to push further into the digital media space.
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PicoBrew Adds PicoFerm In Effort To Become #1 Food Kickstarter

By Michael Wolf on May 02, 2017 07:45 am
Today PicoBrew announced a new stretch goal in an effort to become the #1 food Kickstarter campaign of all time.  The new goal features the PicoFerm, a web-connected fermentation monitor that lets brewers monitor the status of their fermenting beer. The reigning food champ is Anova, which has held the top spot ever since its highly successful Kickstarter […]
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Wanna Sous Vide Some Bacon? Smart Kitchen Data Shows You’ll Do It On Saturday

By Michael Wolf on May 01, 2017 10:38 am
I don’t know about you, but Sunday evening dinner at my house usually means something simple like sloppy Joes, tacos or even the occasional brinner. But not everyone mails it in when it comes to the end of the weekend meal. According to data gathered by ChefSteps, which recently reached the milestone of a million meals cooked by users of their […]
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Is Meal Kit Delivery Finally Turning The Corner on Profitability?

By Amy Cravens on May 01, 2017 09:38 am
If you were ask someone like Fabian Siegel, meal kits are the future of consumer food buying. According to the founder of Marley Spoon, “Supermarkets will be replaced. Amazon will take care of the pantry; meal kit delivery services will take care of the what we are cooking tonight.” Ignore for a moment that Siegel is most […]
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Recent Articles:

Podcast: Nomiku’s Lisa Fetterman Talks New Hardware, Meal Kits & Samsung Investment
Podcast: Imagining A Food Self-Sufficient Village Of The Future
Ok Google, What’s For Dinner?

 

The Weekly Spoon for 04/28/17 : Samsung Invests In Nomiku, Uber For Home Cooking, Juicero's Tough Week

2017 is turning out to be a big year for connected cooking startups.

Just two months after Electrolux scooped up Anova, Nomiku announced this week that Samsung Ventures had invested in the sous vide startup. 

For Nomiku, the news was part of a bigger announcement that included a new immersion circulator and a meal delivery service featuring frozen, fast-cook meals tailored specifically for the new Nomiku circulator.

It's an interesting move by the company on a number of fronts. First of all it gives Nomiku a recurring revenue stream and marks their entry into food delivery.

I think it's also a possible signal of the future direction for meal delivery services. While Nomiku rolled their own offering, I expect other food delivery players to start partnering with connected cooking hardware makers to provided simplified, guided cooking experiences as a value-add. 

In this week's newsletter we also look at why Juicero became an Internet meme last week (not in a good way), and cover recent moves by the California legislature that could open the door for "Uber for home cooking" startups in the state. 

Make sure to also check out our most recent podcast with Lisa Fetterman where we talk about this week's Nomiku news. We also hear from James Ehrlich, who is trying to create a world with self-sustaining, regenerative homes and neighborhoods that produce their own food. 

If you haven't already purchased your ticket to Smart Kitchen Summit, good news: Not only can you take advantage of  Early Bird tickets right now, you can also use our limited time special discount code SPRING to get 25% off of any ticket price. Simply use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or go to the SKS17 website and use the code SPRING at checkout.

Also, a request: If you're a loyal reader of this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Have a great weekend.

Mike

Updates from

The Spoon

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 04/28/2017 edition:

Podcast: Nomiku’s Lisa Fetterman Talks New Hardware, Meal Kits & Samsung Investment

By Michael Wolf on Apr 28, 2017 09:57 am
It was a big week for Lisa Fetterman, who not only was named top 30 under 30 by Inc. magazine, but her company also happened to drop the news of new hardware, a new meal delivery service and, to top it all off, an investment by Samsung Ventures. I caught up with Lisa the day before […]
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Podcast: Imagining A Food Self-Sufficient Village Of The Future

By Michael Wolf on Apr 27, 2017 09:49 am
When we think about the smart home, most of us think about what is doable today. But what will new homes and neighborhoods look like twenty five, fifty, hundred years from now as we face a world of dwindling resources?
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Ok Google, What’s For Dinner?

By Lauren Knope on Apr 27, 2017 09:22 am
When Google Home first arrived on the scene, Mike and Ashley speculated on the Smart Kitchen Show about how it would stack up against Amazon Echo. Amazon’s big entrance into the smart home, Echo came with convenient functions like timers, grocery lists, playing on-demand streaming music and radio services and eventually included recipe skills. It […]
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California Health Committee Approves Homemade Food Act, Further Opening Door For Cottage Food Platforms

By Michael Wolf on Apr 26, 2017 10:43 am
Yesterday I wrote about a piece of legislation before the California Assembly’s Health Committee, the “2017 Homemade Food Act (AB 626)”. After yesterday’s vote, it looks like California may be on its way to allowing entrepreneurial home cooks to start selling their food to neighbors, opening the door to “Uber for Home Cooking” platforms like […]
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Why Did The Internet Hate On Juicero?

By Michael Wolf on Apr 26, 2017 06:53 am
The Internet can be a cruel place. That’s especially true when you or your company becomes the subject of a widely shared article where everyone piles on and has some fun at your expense. That’s exactly what happened last week to Juicero, maker of a connected juicer, when Bloomberg posted an article entitled Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer […]
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With Investment In Nomiku, Samsung Expands Presence In The “Connected Kitchen”

By Michael Wolf on Apr 26, 2017 12:01 am
Today Nomiku, maker of sous vide immersion circulators, announced their latest generation connected cooking appliance and the launch of a subscription meal service that will deliver frozen, pre-cooked meals that owners of the new Nomiku can cook in 30 minutes or less. As part of the announcement, Nomiku also announced that Samsung Ventures had invested in […]
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Josephine Looks To Change Cottage Food Laws In Effort To Expand Home Cooking Marketplace

By Michael Wolf on Apr 25, 2017 10:50 am
Today’s a big day for Josephine, the startup behind the ‘cottage food’ sharing platform and marketplace that enable home cooks to sell food to their neighbors. That’s because today is the day a bill is being considered by the Health Committee of the California state legislature called the 2017 CA Homemade Food Operations Act (edit: […]
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MasterCard Sees Bot Applications As A Way To “Go Where Consumers Are”

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 24, 2017 02:16 pm
We know the potential for the chatbot interface to be one of the defining stories of connected living in 2017 is there. Mike has covered the variety of ways that “social messaging chatbots” will impact the smart home and of course, the smart kitchen. MasterCard isn’t new to the smart home game – you might […]
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Newcomers Try to Innovate and Deliver on the Lucrative Baby-Food Market

By Allen Weiner on Apr 24, 2017 06:11 am
Baby food is big business. While it might not be an industry ripe for innovation, several startups feel they have the magic formula to grab marketshare and mindshare. One of the latest to enter the fray is Little Spoon, a San Francisco baby food manufacturer and delivery company in its early “invite” stage.  The company […]
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We Use 50 Billion Water Bottles Per Year. Here’s An Edible Container That Can Stop The Insanity

By Lauren Knope on Apr 21, 2017 10:30 am
It’s hard to deny that the food industry is experiencing lots of disruption from startups around the globe who are trying to solve the market’s tough problems. Things like delivery, supply chain, sustainability, waste and sourcing are all on the minds of startups like Skipping Rocks Lab. The particular problem they’re trying to tackle? The […]
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The Weekly Spoon for 04/17/17 : Meet The PicoStill, Home Distilling 2017, Language For The Internet of Food

In our last newsletter, I wrote about how PicoBrew had just broke the record for the fastest funded food project of all time. 

Turns out, they were just getting started.

Since then, the company has announced Pico users will soon be able to make kombucha. If that wasn't enough, the company also announced the PicoStill, an add-on to the Pico brewing appliance that will allow a user to make essential oils and, if they're so inclined, whiskey or other spirits in the comfort of their own home.

Of course, making spirits at home is still illegal at the federal level in the US and could be for some time. As I wrote in this piece on the state of home distilling in 2017, there has been an effort in recent years to craft legislation to make home distilling legal, but the outlook for such efforts has become murky under the Trump administration. 

That said, home distilling is practiced by what is likely hundreds of thousands of people in US today and PicoBrew hopes to expand that market even more by giving consumers an easy way to get started.

We've got lots of other great stories this week, including a look at the newly renamed Chowbotics and their salad making robot (named Sally, of course), Grubhub's effort to survive against deep pocketed competition, a newly hot foodtech investment landscape and more. 

Make sure to also check out our most recent podcast where I talk to Dr. Matthew Lange about how an experience as a young medical intern set him on his course to help define a common language for the Internet of Food. 

Also, remember: If you missed out on our March 31st deadline for Super Early Bird tickets for the Smart Kitchen Summit, don't worry: we still have some great deals. You can get Early Bird tickets and when you apply our discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of any ticket price. Simply use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

If you're a loyal reader of this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Have a great week.

Mike

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 04/17/2017 edition:

PicoBrew Announces PicoStill, A Home Still That Makes Whiskey (And Oh Yeah, Essential Oils)

By Michael Wolf on Apr 17, 2017 06:02 am
One of the worst kept secrets in craft distilling is nearly every whiskey maker gets their start making the good stuff at home. One only has to look at the many home stills for sale online to see there’s a strong market for home distillation equipment. Everything from big vats for making moonshine to smaller copper pot […]
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The Robots Are Coming, And They’re Bringing Salads

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 17, 2017 05:00 am
The restaurant salad bar is often a mixed bag – sometimes it’s great, other times the ingredients are sad, with wilted lettuce and less-than-fresh cucumbers side-by-side. And sometimes the salad options at traditionally fast food chains are just downright sad. That’s where Sally comes in. She’s the robot from Chowbotics Inc., a robotics and AI […]
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PicoBrew Expands Beyond Beer By Adding Kombucha To The Menu

By Allen Weiner on Apr 15, 2017 06:49 am
Once the domain of hippies and diehard health foodies, kombucha is making a major impact on the world of ready-to-drink beverages. It is made with a simple fermentation process that uses tea, sugar, water and a gelatinous mushroom-like culture called a scoby. One global research firm estimates the fizzy, probiotic drink will hit close to […]
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Can You Make Hooch At Home? Not Yet. Here’s The State Of Home Distilling in 2017

By Michael Wolf on Apr 14, 2017 08:55 am
If you want to create your own booze, I have good news for you: With home distilling kits widely available online and an abundance of of information about how to make liquor through books and websites, it’s easier than ever to make hooch at home. But there’s still one problem for all you aspiring Jasper Newton Daniels […]
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Grubhub’s Future Clouded by Big-Monied Competition

By Allen Weiner on Apr 14, 2017 05:13 am
Once the darling of the restaurant-to-home delivery business, Grubhub’s TV commercial tagline “click, click, food,” may be in danger of becoming an internet relic.  With the explosive growth of well-heeled competition in this market space, there is increased skepticism from Wall Street and investors. Despite its current lofty standing, in which the Chicago-based company works […]
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The Future Of How (And What) We Eat

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 13, 2017 09:22 am
Could technology change the way we eat?
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Podcast: Creating A Common Language For The Internet of Food

By Michael Wolf on Apr 13, 2017 06:30 am
A traumatic early experience as a young medical intern set Dr. Matthew Lange on a career course to change the way the world thinks about nutrition. He realized early on that medical community had it backward: by focusing on treatment of people sick from years of poor eating habits rather than helping people to better […]
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Freshub Partners With Big Data To Make Smart Kitchen Shopping Easier

By Ashley Daigneault on Apr 13, 2017 06:10 am
Freshub announces a partnership with IRI to create a recommendation engine for appliances and devices with in-home and digital grocery shopping platforms.
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Reheated: Q1 2017 Shows Food & Beverage Investment Is Hot Once Again

By Amy Cravens on Apr 12, 2017 09:35 am
Food and beverage are hot again. After a sluggish 2016, a strong first quarter of 2017 suggests investment in the food and beverage sector could be set for a comeback on an annualized basis according to CB Insights.  This would be a reversal from the past couple years, which has seen food and beverage sector investment decelerate […]
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Here’s The Most Exciting New Coffee Tech Of 2017

By Michael Wolf on Apr 11, 2017 02:04 pm
Ready for a jolt of innovation with your morning caffeine fix? Good thing, because 2017 looks like it could serve up a double shot of disruptive coffee technology. Due to a combination of emerging taste trends, technologies, and good timing, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the world of coffee. Here are the products that […]
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The Weekly Spoon for 04/05/17 : PicoBrew Breaks Kickstarter Record, Mellow Gets New CEO, A Conversation with Crowd Cow

If crowdfunding is a science, then there's no doubt that PicoBrew has a PhD in the subject. 

That's because the company launched their latest Kickstarter campaign this week and managed to break the record for the fastest funded food project in Kickstarter history. The record breaking campaign is for the Pico C, the company's latest home beer brewing appliance, which early backers could buy starting at $279 this past Monday. 

I've followed a lot of hardware crowdfunding campaigns and believe there is a recipe for success. One of the key factors is creating lots of interesting pledge options and rolling them out over the course of the campaign. This is something PicoBrew has proved masterful at in the past, so I'm sure we'll see some new enticements later in the campaign.  

Another is offering good value compared to full retail price. At $279, there's no doubt this campaign provided a compelling reason for the homebrew curious among us but didn't want to take a flyer on an $800 home brew machine (the retail price of the first generation Pico). 

Lastly, success begets success. Having done three of these, the company has checked this box. This success has allowed the company to build a big community that continues to grow and support them in each successive campaign. 

We've got the news about the campaign so make sure to check it out

Speaking of crowdfunding, I invited Crowd Cow CEO Ethan Lowry onto the podcast to hear more about the company's crowdfunding for meat platform. If last month's interview with Ethan had you asking more questions about cattle crowdfunding, hopefully this podcast will provide the answers.

There are lots more stories in this week's newsletter, including a CEO change at Mellow, a look at how some companies are trying to reduce the number of kitchen fires and what Samsung's new AI platform Bixby means for the smart kitchen.

If you missed out on our March 31st deadline for Super Early Bird tickets for the Smart Kitchen Summit, don't worry: we still have some great deals. You can get Early Bird tickets and when you apply our discount code NEWSLETTER to get 15% off of any ticket price. Simply use this link which has the discount automatically applied, or go to the SKS17 website and use the code NEWSLETTER at checkout.

If you're a loyal reader of this newsletter, make sure to share and suggest your friends and coworkers subscribe.  They (and you) can catch up on past issues here.

Talk to you next week.

Mike

The Spoon

Analyzing the future of food, cooking & the kitchen.

In the 04/05/2017 edition:

 

Podcast: Tipping Cows With Crowd Cow’s Ethan Lowry

By Michael Wolf on Apr 05, 2017 10:28 am
Here’s one thing you probably haven’t tried: crowdfunding a cow. But now you can with Seattle area startup Crowd Cow. The brainchild of former Urban Spoon cofounder Ethan Lowry, Crowd Cow lets backers buy their choice of meat by crowdfunding local farm raised cattle one cow at a time. In this episode, I talk to Ethan about how he […]
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PicoBrew Breaks Kickstarter Record In Food Category

By Michael Wolf on Apr 05, 2017 09:36 am
You do this crowdfunding thing for a while, you start to get the hang of it. Especially when you’re a company like PicoBrew, which has had three successful previous campaigns for its beer brewing appliance products. According to a statement made by the company, this time around they reached their target funding goal in just seven […]
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Sous Vide Startup Mellow Gets New CEO, On Track To Ship This May

By Michael Wolf on Apr 05, 2017 07:05 am
The Spoon has learned that Mellow, a startup that has gained attention for development of a hybrid sous vide appliance with unique features such as a built-in refrigeration and a scale, has a new CEO. Long-time supply chain executive Gary Itenson, who served as the company’s COO for the past year, has stepped into the top spot […]
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Cooking Is The Number One Cause of Home Fires; Innohome Wants To Change That

By Michael Wolf on Apr 04, 2017 04:38 pm
If a house catches fire, there’s a good chance the culprit is a cooking device. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of all home structure fires – 46% – are started by some type of cooking equipment, and while more people die from fires started from cigarettes (stop smoking in bed, people), […]
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Dutch Grocery Delivery Service Picnic Cuts out the Middleman and Possible Profits

By Allen Weiner on Apr 04, 2017 08:16 am
All eyes are on Amsterdam-based grocery-delivery startup Picnic, fresh out of a 100 million euro ($123.5 million dollars) investment from a number of Dutch firms which will allow them to fund a national rollout of their service. The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands, will be the newest marquee name added to the […]
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A Look At The New Machine Washable Pico C Keg

By Michael Wolf on Apr 03, 2017 10:59 am
This morning I wrote about PicoBrew’s new Kickstarter campaign and their new lower-priced Pico C homebrew appliance (starting at $279). While much of the focus for PicoBrew in this most recent product launch was reaching a more affordable price for new brewers, the company also focused on making the process of home brewing a little easier. […]
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PicoBrew Debuts All-You-Can-Brew Subscriptions With New Lower-Priced HomeBrew Appliance

By Michael Wolf on Apr 03, 2017 06:00 am
Today PicoBrew announced the latest addition to their connected homebrew appliance lineup, the Pico C, in a newly launched Kickstarter campaign. Alongside the lower-priced entry, the company also is debuting BrewUnlimited, an all-you-can-brew subscription service for $59 a month. The newest Pico is a cost-reduced version of the Pico S, the original Pico model. By offering their […]
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The Cubit Is A Modern Tape Measure That Makes Home Design A Drag & Drop Experience

By Michael Wolf on Apr 02, 2017 06:44 am
Hanging pictures or measuring for simple home decorating tasks can be arduous. Not only is it time consuming to get things exactly right using that pencil and old school tape measure, it’s also hard to visualize how things will look until you have that picture hanging on the wall, which often means there’s a hole or two […]
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Believe It Or Not, We Now Have A Connected Salt Shaker

By Michael Wolf on Apr 01, 2017 11:01 am
Like many people motivated to create products, Bipan Singh found inspiration in words spoken by his child. And just what were the magic words that turned this health executive into a connected home entrepreneur? “Daddy, you’re putting too much salt” said Singh. When Singh heard those words from his daughter as she complained about the scrambled eggs he had made her, he […]
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What Does Samsung’s Bixby Mean For The Smart Kitchen?

By Lauren Knope on Apr 01, 2017 06:58 am
If you follow any tech news, you’ve seen announcements in the past week coming out of Samsung around their Galaxy S8 launch. One of the most intriguing parts of the Samsung event was the news around Bixby, Samsung’s AI assistant and answer to Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant. In some ways, it competes with the […]
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