Toronto’s Flashfood has announced a new funding round led by U.S. venture capital firm General Catalyst that founder and CEO Josh Domingues says will allow the company to significantly expand its operations.
The funding round has enabled the two-year-old company to significantly expand its staff, which has grown to 21 people from eight in December. Most of the new hires are engineers, though it has also added marketing staff.
Flashfood is a mobile platform that works with grocery retailers to divert food that has reached its best before date from landfill by offering it at drastically reduced prices. The company estimates that it has diverted more than 50,000 pounds of food from North American landfills since its inception.
Flashfood also announced a new Quebec partnership with Loblaw Companies Limited, with which it conducted a pilot test in four stores across London
and Oakville last year. Flashfood began offering its service through nine Quebec Maxi stores this month, with plans to expand to all 113 of the banner’s stores—as well as 25 Provigo stores—by the end of April. (Despite the Ontario pilot, Loblaw thought Quebec was the best place to launch as the customer base in that province is environmentally conscious, says Domingues.)
“We’re partnered right now with arguably the best grocer in the country, and they’re willing to offer us to an entire market,” says Domingues. “It’s a significant step, and a testament to what we’ve built. We really believe this is going to provide a significant bump for our business.”
Loblaw president Sarah Davis alluded to the app rollout during the grocery company’s fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts late February. “This not only pleases customers, delivers value and draws traffic, it moderates our shrink costs and food waste, two major focal points for 2019,” said Davis.
Flashfood has also embarked on a pilot with three Hy-Vee stores in Madison, WI, as well as Target stores—part of a concerted effort by the company to break into the lucrative U.S. market. Domingues says the company is prioritizing the U.S. both because of its size and willingness to adopt tech-based solutions.
“[Canada] is far behind,” says Domingues. “The uptake in the U.S. has been a lot quicker than working with Canadian companies.” Flashfood ran pilot projects with both Longo’s and Farm Boy, though both were subsequently terminated.
Flashfood’s iOS and Android app has been downloaded approximately 80,000 times since its debut. According to Domingues, more than half of users who make an initial purchase use the app again, with the app driving an average of one extra trip a week to partner grocers. It says it has sold more than 75% of the products it has made available through its platform.