FRV leads $4.5m round for Halla

Taste intelligence company Halla has raised $4.5 million in Series A1 funding.

Taste intelligence company Halla has raised $4.5 million in Series A1 funding. Food Retail Ventures led the round.


New York, NY, – July 16, 2021 — Halla, the Taste Intelligence company and creator of the only human preference engine designed for grocery, announced today that it raised $4.5 million in Series A1 funding. The investment round was led by James McCann’s Food Retail Ventures (FRV), whose previous investments include Fetch Rewards, Takeoff Technologies, Bowery Farming, Weee! and more. A former CEO at Tesco, Carrefour, and Ahold USA, McCann has also been appointed as Halla’s newest board member.

Grocers have historically relied on shopping trends, lagging sales data, and intuition, or “people like you also bought” algorithms to predict what shoppers wanted. Unfortunately, these methods work poorly, and may even lead to negative outcomes like bad substitutions for out-of-stock incidents, which drive up to 20% of grocery shoppers to competitors, according to McKinsey.

Halla’s Taste Intelligence technology was designed to fulfill this market demand. It is the world’s only human preference engine designed specifically for grocery. The AI-based technology leverages over 100 billion shopper and product data points to predict, with remarkable accuracy, what grocery shoppers are actually looking for. Solutions within the Taste Intelligence engine include:

Halla Substitute identifies the most similar and personally relevant replacement products available and within the context of real-time inventory.
Halla Recommend returns contextually relevant complementary products when and where shoppers are most likely to buy.
Halla Search results are prioritized by each consumer’s unique preferences and household objectives, not just by what’s popular with other shoppers. This makes product discovery intuitive and enjoyable.

“Halla’s Taste Intelligence engine redefines personalization in grocery by introducing a solution that predicts what individual customers will want to buy next,” said McCann. “To provide an exceptional customer experience today, grocers must be able to recognize customer intent in the moment. They then must ensure that the shopper is presented with options that meet their individual needs across all touchpoints, and in real-time. Halla has solved this challenging set of demands in one engine, and has already delivered double-digit basket size growth to its grocery partners. I’m delighted to be backing this team and look forward to working with them closely as they continue to scale.”

Halla’s Taste Intelligence engine leverages API-first technology to easily plug into any digital touchpoint within the grocers’ existing platform. From cart pages online to printed coupons in-store, Halla drives value for both the grocer and the shopper across all shopping channels. With Taste Intelligence grocers can show shoppers the most enticing product recommendations, the best possible substitutions for out-of-stock items, and the most relevant search results for each specific shopper, at every digital touchpoint in the customer journey—all in real-time. This results in bigger baskets for grocers and better shopping experiences for customers.

“Our Taste Intelligence engine offers grocers a unique opportunity to make each of their customers feel like the grocery store was curated just for them whether they’re shopping in-store or online,” said Spencer Price, co-founder and CEO of Halla. “For us, the most exciting part is creating an experience so individualized to each shopper that it feels like magic—when in reality, it’s just very advanced science and technology. We’re honored to have a grocery industry visionary like James McCann recognize the value that our technology brings to grocers and join the Halla family. This round of funding will allow us to expand our team and roll out our Taste Intelligence engine even faster to help more grocers increase basket size and customer loyalty by offering their shoppers the best possible shopping experience.”

Halla’s Taste Intelligence technology is now live in over 1,100 ecommerce storefronts for a top-5 U.S. grocer, driving best-in-class digital ad media performance and improvement in ecommerce profitability. The company plans to use the latest infusion of capital to double the number of stores it supports across accounts, as well as double its headcount by 2022. The company recently relocated its headquarters to New York City and will be hiring positions across technology, science, sales, and marketing both remotely and for its TriBeCa office.
The $4.5M Series A1 round brings Halla’s total capital raised to $8.5M.

About Halla
Halla is The Taste Intelligence Company, founded in 2016 by Gabriel Nipote, Henry Michaelson, and Spencer Price. Taste Intelligence is the world’s only human preference engine designed specifically for grocery. Halla was formed to help grocers better understand and answer the fundamental human query, How do people decide what to eat? Today, Halla’s industry-leading Taste Intelligence engine helps shoppers intuitively find and discover grocery items they want via solutions that map 1:1 to their unique shopping behavior, in real-time. From cart pages online to printed coupons in-store, Halla drives value for the retailer and shopper at every digital touchpoint along the customer journey. Shoppers see the most enticing products at the perfect moment, resulting in bigger baskets, better rewards, and the best grocery experience possible.