Can Mom-and-Pop Pizzerias Be Modernized?

When Saroj Poudel worked as an employee at Papa John’s and Domino’s pizza franchises in North Carolina, he saw firsthand how important convenience was to customers: Sixty percent of sales at those chains, he says, came from online orders. So last year, when Poudel bought Pop's Backdoor Pizza, an independent pizza shop in Durham, he knew that if he had any chance to compete with the big pizza chains, he needed to offer the same conveniences.

When delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless first hit the scene, they were hailed as saviors for independent restaurants like Poudel’s, but restaurants quickly saw their profits eaten by commissions. As of 2014, GrubHub and Seamless received an average commission of 13.5 percent per order. But going at it alone and trying to build the technology wielded by delivery apps and big chains is often prohibitively costly to independent restaurants.

Most food delivery and ordering startups aim to solve a problem for the eater: namely, get them their food, fast. IT professional Ilir Sela, whose grandparents owned pizzerias in Manhattan and Brooklyn, started Slice, an independent pizza-ordering platform, with another group of customers in mind — the restaurants. Poudel started working with Slice in September, and estimates 20 percent of Pop’s orders come through the company’s website and app.

Read the full article on Eater.
 

BounceX: The Behavioral Marketing Startup Shifting How Brands Reach Consumers

Since being founded in 2012, Bounce Exchange has swiftly grown to become the leader in cloud-based behavioral marketing and analytics software.

Their technology has been adopted by marketers looking to shift their marketing strategy, moving away from audience segmentation and fragmented targeting to build more complete profiles of their consumers. Based on these robust profiles, marketers can execute direct marketing efforts and curated personal experiences rooted in holistic behavioral patterns, instead of focusing on very nuanced lifestyles and interests.

Bounce Exchange has raised $7.8 million to date, receiving $6.3 million in Series A funding. In August of 2016, Inc. named BounceX the fastest growing software company in the United States, ranking the startup seventh overall on the Inc. 5000. In just three years, the company experienced an astonishing 14,500% spike in revenue.

Headquartered in New York City, the company is also widely recognized as a leader in employee retention and workplace culture. Internet Week, Crain’s New York, Computerworld and Fortune have each honored the company for its commitment to building a diverse and innovative workplace, citing Bounce Exchange among the best places to work in tech.

Read the full article here.

Shoptalk Infused With $2M VC Investment, Sets Sights on Europe

Organizers of Shoptalk said today that is received $2 million in venture capital funding to launch “Shoptalk Europe,” which will be held at the Bella Center in Copenhagen on Oct. 9 through the 11th.


Confirmed speakers of the event include: Edoardo Manitto, vice president of corporate development and innovation at Galeries Lafayette; Jonathan Alferness, vice president of product management for shopping and travel at Google VP; Michael Ward, managing director at Harrods; Julian Burnett, chief information officer at  House of Fraser; Jerry Storch, chief executive officer of Hudson’s Bay Co.; Simona Scarpaleggia, ceo of IKEA Switzerland; Stephan Schambach, e-commerce pioneer and founder of Demandware and Intershop, and founder and current ceo of Newstore; Tim Kendall, president of Pinterest; and Adrian Letts, managing director of online at Tesco; among many others.

Shotalk said the investment was led by New York-based Primary Venture Partners “and included participation from San Francisco-based Commerce Ventures as well as individual partners at Bain Capital Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA).”

Shoptalk said total funding raised exceeds $5 million. Ben Sun, general partner at Primary Venture Partners, said Shoptalk “has successfully reframed the conversation for the U.S. retail and e-commerce ecosystem to focus on disruptive technologies and trends as well as reset the standard for industry events. We believe a similar opportunity exists to deliver incredible value in Europe, and we’re excited to support the launch of Shoptalk Europe with our investment.”

Read the full article here.

Despite Small Fund, Primary Venture Partners Showcases Array of Services

At $3.3 billion, the amount Wal-Mart Stores Inc. paid for Jet.com Inc., the online retailer became the largest venture-backed company at time of exit ever in the New York metropolitan area. But the record-setter had just one local investor that backed it in its early stages: seed firm Primary Venture Partners.

Primary’s general partners, Brad Svrluga and Benjamin Sun, have been investing in New York for a long time, earlier under the High Peaks Venture Partners moniker. Most of their major deals have a New York connection and were sourced locally, including Jet.com; Ticketfly LLC, acquired by Pandora Media Inc. for about $450 million; and even South Korea-based Coupang, valued at $5 billion last year.

It was at a game of pickup basketball open to all New Yorkers in the gym at Stuyvesant High School where Mr. Sun met Bom Kim in 2009, said Mr. Sun. At that time, Mr. Kim, who had just sold a small media company, wanted to start something new. Mr. Sun ended up investing in Mr. Kim’s new e-commerce startup, Coupang, first as an angel investor and then through Primary and is still on the company’s board.

Jet.com and Coupang together showcase Primary’s eye for New York startup talent, but also the firm’s service approach to venture capital.

Primary—which closed a $60 million pool last year—hopes to demonstrate that even small funds can offer portfolio companies a bevy of services, from recruiting to business development, that have become par for the course at large firms, especially at West Coast VCs such as Andreessen Horowitz.

Read the full text from The Wall Street Journal.

Electric.ai Raises Seed Round to Provide IT Support Via Slack Chat

After selling his Swarm Mobile startup toGroupon and working at the public company in San Francisco, Ryan Denehy has made an unusual move: He returned to New York to launch a new business, Electric.ai.

The startup, incorporated as Electric AI Inc., provides chat-based information technology support to small businesses in the Slack Technologies Inc. messenger. It plans to launch its service next month to a few paying customers, Mr. Denehy said. It is one of many forthcoming uses of chatbots in business.

Bowery Capital just led a $2 million seed round for Electric.ai with participation from another local seed venture firm, Primary Venture Partners.

Read the full text from The Wall Street Journal.

This startup wants to stop sick people Googling their symptoms and worrying they're about to die

We've all done it: Feeling under the weather, we've turned to the web to work out what might be wrong with us, only to find out that we're on the verge of certain death.

While forums and online health websites can be useful in terms of researching what your symptoms may be caused by, they often cause a lot of unnecessary worry and are no match for seeking the advice of a medical expert, in person — and even then, doctors can make mistakes.

A New York City-based startup wants to empower consumers by providing user-generated data on how other people with similar symptoms to them were treated and how they recovered so they can more accurately assess what is wrong with them and ask the right questions of their physicians.

Kang Health announced on Wednesday it has raised a $3.3 million seed round, led by Mangrove Capital Partners, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Primary Ventures, and Comcast Ventures.

Read the full text on Business Insider.

New York Gets a New Ratings Service for Restaurants

A new service for rating restaurants has released its first results for New York City, and the winners are: Eleven Madison Park, Atera and a host of similar restaurants that often end up on such lists.

The system is called Renzell. Created by Bo Peabody, an entrepreneur who owns restaurants in Massachusetts, it claims to report the experience of high-end diners more accurately than professional critics, books like the Michelin Guides, collected ratings on Yelp and in the Zagat guides or rankings like the World’s 50 Best Restaurants do.

Renzell’s rating panel consists of more than 2,000 members, many of whom answered the company’s call for people who dine out frequently at upscale restaurants; word of mouth attracted many participants. They dine at a selected group of restaurants at their own expense, anonymously, then use an app to complete a lengthy questionnaire about the experience. The data they submit is run through an algorithm that the company has developed to determine the rankings.

Read the full text from The New York Times.

This one-person startup that sells pizza is so profitable, the founder has hired over 100 people in less than a year with hardly any investors

Ilir Sela's friends and family learned to get used to his ring tone. When it went off, they knew they had to quiet down and turn off the music so Sela could take care of business. 

That business was turning an online pizza order into a real-life delivery to someone's home. Sela was doing it manually: He'd get an email with an order and call it in himself. 

"I remember going to switch from Verizon to AT&T, because AT&T allowed you to browse the internet and take phone calls at the same time," Sela told Business Insider. "At the time, I was getting orders once every few hours. I didn’t have a staff to transmit the order, I didn’t even have the technology to transmit the order."

Read the full article at Business Insider.