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Byte Foods Inc. Raises $5.5 Million, Plans To Expand 'Smart' Vending Fridge Operations In Bay Area

Posted On: 12/28/2016

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TAGS: vending, micro markets, smart vending machine, Byte Foods Inc., Spring Creek Investment Management, Jin Park, Pantry Retail Inc., smart vending refrigerator

SAN RAFAEL, CA -- Byte Foods Inc., headquartered here, has reportedly raised $5.5 million in a seed round led by Spring Creek Investment Management, a family fund based in Philadelphia with a focus on food and agriculture. Additional investors include Bolt Ventures, a hardware-focused group, and Bessemer Venture Partners, which has an interest in information systems, retail and healthcare. TechCrunch, an online publisher of technology industry news, reported the news today.

Spring Creek partner Jin Park, who is now a board member at Byte, told TechCrunch that he expects the company to invest its seed funding into growth initiatives.

In May, Byte Foods acquired Pantry Retail Inc., the hardware and software provider for the intelligent swipe, grab and go refrigerators that Byte operated in the San Francisco Bay Area. Byte's married cofounders Lee and Megan Mokri previously ran a business called 180 Eats, which delivered chef-prepared meals to subscribers. They licensed the Pantry technology, as an alternative to distributing individual meals, before buying it.

Byte has one of several "smart vending refrigerator" systems that are employed by today's vending and foodservice industries. To use Byte's system, customers swipe a credit card to open the refrigerator door and take as many items as they want. They are only charged for what is removed from the fridge. Byte applies an RFID tag to each item to charge the patron.

The TechCrunch article said that Byte plans to saturate the Bay Area with its self-service equipment and temperature-controlled food delivery trucks. It is also developing software that will allow customers to opt in for deals on their favorite items, freebie samples of new foods or for alerts about specific product availability. Byte did not say whether or not it has plans to expand operations beyond San Francisco or to license its technology.