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October 30, 2018

Led by Elevate Capital venture fund, Minnow closes $1.2M seed round

Courtesy / Minnow
Courtesy / Minnow
Minnow, the developer of the first internet-of-things-enabled food pickup kiosk that helps restaurants manage online and delivery orders, announced Monday that it closed a $1.2M seed round led by Portland, Ore.-based Elevate Capital.

About Elevate Capital

Elevate Capital is a Pacific Northwest-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage under-represented entrepreneurs, including women, minorities that include communities of color, veterans, and entrepreneurs located in underserved areas. These investments are made through two funds, the Elevate Capital Fund and the Elevate Inclusive Fund.

Minnow, the developer of the first internet-of-things-enabled food pickup kiosk that helps restaurants manage online and delivery orders, announced Monday that it closed a $1.2M seed round led by Portland, Ore.-based Elevate Capital.

The funds will be used to accelerate product development, marketing, and sales efforts, as well as to open an office in Portland, Ore.

Minnow was founded in Portland, Maine, by Steven Sperry, a former entrepreneur in residence at Venture Hall.

Minnow set out to raise $1M, but due to strong investor interest the round was oversubscribed and the company raised $1.2M. Elevate Capital led the round with a $500,000 investment, while individual investors provided the remaining $700,000. Because Minnow is located in one of the Opportunity Zones created under last year's federal tax reform law, qualifying investments can enjoy lower capital gains taxes and other tax benefits.

In a news release announcing its successful investment round, Minnow said its self-service pickup pod offers restaurants an easier way to manage their growing volume of online and delivery orders, while improving the in-store pickup experience. It eliminates guesswork by notifying customers (through the free Minnow app) when their orders are ready, and it keeps their food fresh and secure until they arrive to pick it up. With a Minnow pod, restaurants can reduce the cost of managing order pickups, eliminate losses caused by theft and pickup mistakes and offer their customers a more convenient pickup experience, the company stated.

"Minnow solves an important problem for restaurants, which is how to manage the increase in takeout orders caused by the emergence of food delivery services and changing consumer habits," said Nitin Rai, Managing Partner of Elevate Capital. "Beyond that, Minnow's pickup pods enable new business models for food service, food delivery and retailing. Elevate Capital is delighted to partner with Minnow as they bring their innovative technology to market."

Minnow CEO Steven Sperry said the pod was developed to help restaurants manage the growth in online and delivery ordering and to "meet customers' demand for more convenience.

"According to Statista, 33% of Americans order takeout or delivery at least once a week," he said. "Even more remarkably, over the last few years digital ordering and delivery have grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic. To stay competitive, restaurants will have to adopt solutions that offer their customers more convenience."

Minnow said its pods take up less than five square feet of floor space and require only a standard 120V electrical outlet. In 2018, Minnow beta-tested a prototype with Garden Bar, a 10-location fast casual salad concept based in Portland, Ore. Nearly 300 customers participated in the beta test.

"Garden Bar was ecstatic to have partnered with Minnow to beta test its pod prototype," said Ana Chaud, CEO of Garden Bar. "By offering our fresh, healthy and delicious salads, the Minnow pod helped us be more accessible and reach new customers at a lower cost than traditional delivery services."

In early 2019, Minnow will deliver its first production-quality pickup pods.

The company said restaurants can trial a pod for 30 days through the Minnow Pilot Program as a way of seeing how a Minnow pod can lower costs and improve their customers' in-store experience,

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