Smart Kitchen Notes: What's Next For Cooking Tech, Starship's Robot Fleet, Amazon Delivers Lunch
This is Smart Kitchen Notes, our weekly newsletter with news and analysis about the connected kitchen and the Smart Kitchen Summit. If you were forwarded this email and enjoy our content, do yourself and us a favor and subscribe!
In This Edition...
- How the sous vide pioneers are creating the next generation of cooking technology
- How (and why) the creator of Skype is building a fleet of food delivery robots
- Innit raises another $18 million to build a connected kitchen platform
- Amazon's growing food delivery aspirations
- IT giant Cisco is now into foodtech
We're really excited to talk about the future of cooking come October. The arrival of new technologies is expected to change how we find, prepare and cook meals drastically over the next decade, so we've lined up some amazing speakers from the culinary, appliance, discovery and food brand worlds to come chart the direction of cooking with us in Seattle.
One of the most exciting trends in consumer kitchens in recent years has been the arrival of sous vide cooking devices. The technique made popular by Nathan Myhrvold and Modernist Cuisine has been democratized through affordable home sous vide circulators from the likes of Anova and Sansaire, and our own research shows 2.5% of self-professed cooks say they have a sous vide circulator at home.
So what are those behind the sous vide revolution thinking about next? That's what we ask (and answer) in our feature post this week. Check it out here and get ready to talk to the folks who are working on the what's next at this year's Summit in October.
This week we also had a chance to talk to Ahti Heinla, the founder of Starship, a company building a fleet of sidewalk robots for grocery and food delivery. Heinla was the lead software engineer for Skype, and now his team is busy creating the next-gen delivery technology just a few hundred yards away from where the massively popular Internet calling service was born.
You can read my post and hear the podcast here.
And, fair warning: there is just a little over a week left to get early bird tickets for the Smart Kitchen Summit. We are excited about the main day of programming and the Startup Showcase the night before, and think you might want to hurry to get some of the few early bird tickets that are left!
Lastly, if you've already bought your ticket to the Summit, we've reserved a few rooms at a discount at the Edgewater Hotel, the historic hotel just a block away from the main day of programming and the location of the opening night reception/Startup Showcase. You can can read more and find the discount code here.
On to the stories of the week...
When you look at the recent history of kitchen tech, one of the biggest categories to emerge over the past decade is sous vide. What started as a fixation for molecular gastronomy explorers like Nathan Myhrvold has moved to the early stages of becoming mainstream as big retailers like Target and Best Buy plan nationwide rollouts of consumer sous vide circulators.
And while sous vide is still early in its life from a consumer adoption standpoint, many of those who helped consumerize the technique and the products are busy working on their next act to help make people better cooks through the application of precision, technology and understanding. Read More
In 2003, Ahti Heinla sat in a small office in Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, writing software. The program he was working on was called Skype, which would go on to become the first mass-market Internet calling software, representing some 40% of all international calling traffic, and change the world along the way. Now, 13 years and a few hundred yards away in downtown Tallinn, Heinla is changing the world once again. Only now, instead of communication software, he's doing it with robots.
Heinla's newest company is called Starship, which he cofounded two years ago with Skype cofounder Janus Friis. The original idea for Starship came to Heinla and Friis as they were trying to think of ways in which they could change the world and, like so many of today's big thinkers, found inspiration from science fiction movies. Read More
It's been a pretty good couple months for Innit. First was the debut of the Pirch smart kitchen concept store in May, and last month they announced that Whirlpool, one of the world's biggest appliance makers, would use the Innit platform across their various kitchen brands. And this week they announced a new funding round, raising an additional $18 million to bring their total funding to $43 million.
The company did not say who the investors were for this round (they also didn't disclose the investors for their initial funding round). The investment comes about eight months after they announced their initial funding round at last year's Smart Kitchen Summit in Seattle. Press Release.
Amazon has made it clear: they like food delivery. First they launched their Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service years ago, and more recently launched the Amazon Restaurants meal delivery service late last year. And now they want to own the business lunch dollar via their new lunch delivery service for Amazon Prime members called the Daily Dish (has someone not already used that name?).
The service looks a lot like Peach, the Seattle-based lunch delivery service company started by former Amazon employees. The Daily Dish is available to Amazon Prime customers and is available only in Seattle for the time being, but like with the Amazon Restaurants service, expect it to expand to other cities soon. Unlike food delivery services like Uber Eats, the model for the Daily Dish looks to be limited to a small set of specific partners, and has featured meal selections every day from one or two of those partners in a given city. Our take: Amazon's growing ambitions around food delivery is both impressive and scary (if you are a competitor). Food delivery is a capital intensive business, but the total market size is massive and Amazon (clearly) has the capital for a sustained push into this market. Read More.
As one would expect, the world's biggest networking company is known for casting its net fairly wide, but foodtech is a little farther afield than one usually would expect for even for Cisco. That's why the news that the company was launching a foodtech accelerator in Europe in partnership with H-Farm, an Italian based innovation hub, is both surprising and exciting. While the news didn't go into too many details around Cisco's reasoning for this initiative, one clear trend over the past few years has been the deployment of IoT tech into farms and the broader food supply chain, which could be fueling Cisco's interest in getting involved early on with startups in the space. Read More