Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, the weekly rundown of deals which may have flown under your radar.
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There are plenty of companies operating outside the unicorn and public company spotlight, but their stories are worth sharing. In them, we find current trends and get a glimpse of the future.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some stories from the week that was in venture-land.
Two Ventures Tackling Food Waste
Food waste is a trillion-dollar opportunity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide goes to waste, every year. That’s about $680 billion in industrialized countries, and $310 billion in developing countries.
It’s terrible for the planet and, also, bad for businesses’ bottom lines. Much of the restaurant industry operates on surprisingly thin margins. In the past two weeks, two ventures operating in the sector raised capital to tackle the problem of restaurant food waste.
Based in Beaverton, Oregon, Leanpath builds a suite of solutions for food service businesses to track food waste across the product lifecycle: from kitchen losses due to bad trimming or spoilage to the food that comes back on diners’ dirty plates. Companies like Google, IKEA, and Sodexho use Leanpath’s scales and monitoring services to reduce waste at their facilities. Leanpath raised $7 million in growth funding this week from SaaS Capital.
On the other side of the pond is London-based Winnow, which last week raised $20 million in a blended financing deal. The company said in a blog post announcing the deal that its customers save the equivalent of 23 million meals per year from going to waste by using its sensing and tracking technologies. Last week, the company raised $12 million in equity financing led by Mustard Seed; Ingka Group, D-Ax Corporate Venture Capital, Circularity Capital, and The Ingenious Group participated in the deal. The European Investment Bank made an $8 million loan to Winnow as well.
Halloween is coming up and you know what that means? In this case, not much, but there’s a blogging company with a spooky name. And it has a financing model that might make VCs a little scared. Why? It didn’t need ’em.
Ghost is an open source content management system managed by the nonprofit Ghost Foundation. This week, Ghost rolled out version 3.0, which introduces paid subscriptions to its service offering. That way, solo and indie publishers can make money from the words they write on the internet, directly from the folks who derive the most value from that content: readers. Company founder John O’Nolan sat for an interview with successful solo publisher Ben Thompson on Thompson’s blog, Stratechery, to discuss the business model further.
Ghost has opted not to raise outside funding. Writing on Ghost’s blog, O’Nolan said that “[w]e decided that rather than selling share capital and control of a business in return for money to operate, we would instead sell goods and services in return for money to operate. As a result of this choice, we were very fortunate to attract some of the world’s most forward thinking investors to help steer the company: Our customers. To date, Ghost has made $5,000,000 in customer revenue whilst maintaining complete independence and giving away 0% of the business.”
Ghost is now used by a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit organizations ranging from Mozilla and NASA to Apple and DuckDuckGo. Now a globally distributed team of 15 people, Ghost is one upstart that proves that raising venture capital isn’t a prerequisite for making a big impact.
So I’ve got these short stubby legs and, let me tell you, buying dress pants is a pain in the backside. I go to the store, try on everything, find something that kinda-sorta fits, and then go through the rigamarole of getting them tailored. Because, again, I’ve got these stubby little legs.
Everybody is different though, and few of us are proportionally sized to the standards of the off-the-rack clothing industry. For me, it’s pants; for you, it might be jackets. We all have something that doesn’t quite fit. For those who don’t have a go-to tailor, Hemster is a San Francisco-based company that pairs you with a local clothes fit expert who measures you, coordinates with a tailor in its network to do the alterations, and delivers your better-fitting clothes back to you. It currently serves metro areas in New York and California.
Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by David Dilbert, via Unsplash.