Vancouver-based UpMeals, a white-label, prepared-meal solution for businesses, has collected C$800,000 in a seed-stage financing. The round was backed by angel investors, such as Robert Angel, the creator of Pictionary, as well as unidentified private equity investors.
VANCOUVER, BC, Feb. 4, 2021 /CNW/ – UpMeals, the leading white-label, prepared-meal solution for businesses, recently closed its seed capital raise at $800,000, oversubscribing due to strong investor demand. The money raised will enable UpMeals to expand its proprietary software for its SmartVending machines and deliver its innovative app. In November, UpMeals announced the launch of its SmartVending solution which delivers healthy, sustainable, packaged meals that are available 24/7 through refrigerated vending solutions to offices and customer-facing businesses. This round of funding involved participation from high-profile investors such as Robert Angel, the creator of Pictionary, and private equity investors.
The funds raised will support the further expansion of UpMeals’ proprietary software to provide automation for all levels of the creative, production, ordering and delivery processes of its SmartVending technology. The SmartVending hardware is a refrigerated machine installed in a lobby or storefront with an interface branded to a company’s look and feel. Customized meals are delivered to the machines at a regular cadence to ensure ultimate freshness. Users can monitor their SmartVending machine remotely, create plans for meals nearing their expiry date and build menus based on the popularity of food items. Data analytics and back end management was built by technology partner, SMRT1 Technologies.
“My 15 years of experience in the food industry has opened my eyes to the opportunities to automate processes to solve issues in our food system,” said Drew Munro, CEO and Co-Founder of UpMeals. “There is a largely untapped opportunity for businesses to optimize the food, nutrition and sourcing needs of their employees and customers. Creating efficiencies in menu customization, branding and waste reduction saves time and energy for everyone involved. The future of food is rooted in technology and UpMeals’ proprietary software and app will help streamline these processes.”
Though Drew and business partner Ryan Angel, a Red Seal Chef and Registered Holistic Nutritionist thought up the concept of the SmartVending machines prior to COVID-19, they’ve found that a hands-free meal solution is extremely valuable for employees that are required to be at a physical location. Many companies with high foot traffic or service-based industries have come to them asking for the solution. As well, a number of apartment and condo buildings have sought out the SmartVending solutions for their residents due to the increasing demand for food delivery services.
“The role of technology is critical in the future of feeding employees and customers,” said Robert Angel, UpMeals investor, advisor and inventor of the game Pictionary. “UpMeals understands the opportunity to evaluate food preferences, source locally and sustainably and create meals that its customers will actually enjoy. As employees return to the office, feeding them healthy, delicious meals will be of the utmost importance.”
Robust features of the SmartVending solution provide the ability to offer instant promotions, and an intelligent scan system stores best before dates of each product. Powerful analytics are fully customized to fit each retail location or company’s experience. The innovative refrigerated machines feature a 49 inch, 4K interactive screen with a built-in computer module and custom management software.
The UpMeals app uses an algorithm to generate customized, healthy meal programs based on inputs from partners. Client partners are guided through an interactive questionnaire, designed by professional nutritionists, and a customized meal program is generated in seconds. Each meal program is unique and designed to meet the goals of each partner organization’s employees or customers. The app automatically creates detailed nutritional reports, CFIA compliant labelling, suggestions based on popularity and consumption trends, and sends data to the UpMeals production team for preparation.
Munro continues, “we strongly believe that what we are building is the future of how large organizations will feed their employees, or sell healthy meals to their customers. What would previously take a professional chef, consultant, nutritionist and designer weeks or months to complete, our app can perform intelligently in seconds. Corporate wellness programs were previously thought of as something only provided by huge tech companies – our platform makes them significantly more accessible to organizations wanting to provide affordable, healthy, safe and delicious meal options to their teams.”
UpMeals has big expansion plans, too. Its technology can retrofit into most major vending machines around the world, allowing UpMeals to seamlessly integrate into new markets and local payment processing options. New markets include Kobe, Japan, where UpMeals was recently awarded one of the top prizes at the international Shibuya FoodTech Challenge for Social Innovation. As winners, UpMeals will work with Kobe city officials, receive resources, government support, and industry-specific consulting to bring their SmartVending concept to the Japanese Market. UpMeals has plans to be operating internationally within one year.
To align with their growth, UpMeals has launched the process to recruit for open board of director roles and executive positions, guided by shareholder and advisor to the company, Margaret Chisholm, former Executive Chef and founder of Coast Culinary Consulting.
“UpMeals is solving unique problems around the future of food accessibility, that’s why I wanted to be involved,” said Margaret Chisholm, UpMeals shareholder and advisor. “In my 40 years in the industry, I haven’t seen anything like UpMeals in the marketplace. They are taking a unique approach with technology to automate and streamline food accessibility processes. Their app and software will provide a very high level of efficiency, lowering costs and allowing for a unique focus on healthy food and customized solutions.” Margaret is a Culinary Consultant at Coast Culinary Consulting.
UpMeals is a food accessibility solution on a mission to make healthy, nutritious meals available 24/7 via SmartVending machines or grab ‘n go retail bars. They provide custom, healthy, sustainably packaged meals that meet the highest food safety standards. Each meal is professionally white-labeled to create beautifully branded meals and SmartVending interfaces. A custom app provides data and feedback on sales and food availability so the business can make informed decisions and reduce waste.