Shelf Engine — created by Stefan Kalb, founder of Seattle salad maker Molly’s — has raised $800,000 in funding for the company that helps restaurants and grocery stores manage food orders and sales
Seattle salad maker Molly’s had everything going for it – fresh wraps, healthy sandwiches and filling salads that people around Seattle were gobbling up.
But founder Stefan Kalb had a problem. He had a deal with retailers that he would buy back whatever items didn’t sell, and his predictions of how much to stock were often too far off reality.
Kalb, who previously ran a renewable energy startup, turned to software to fix the issue. Joined by friend Bede Jordan, Kalb created a service that helps restaurants and grocery stores predict how much they need to order and when to do it.
“When we built the first version of Shelf and used it at Molly’s a couple years ago, it made such a massive impact on our bottom line,” Kalb said.
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That led to the creation in 2015 of a new company, Shelf Engine, which announced Monday it had raised $800,000 in funding led by San Francisco-based Initialized Capital, with participation from Founder’s Co-op and Liquid 2 Ventures. Most of that money will go straight into hiring software engineers to join the three-person company.
Shelf Engine gathers data about food orders and sales and uses it to create recommendations for managers that suggest exactly how much of each product should be stocked. The technology, which can be custom built for stores or can be accessed through an app, is a big step up from the spreadsheets Kalb was previously using.
The goal is to save money and reduce food waste. Customers start getting recommendations about a week after entering their order data.
Kalb has stepped down from his CEO role at Molly’s to focus on the startup, where he is CEO.
Molly’s now has 65 employees and sells its food at nearly 300 retailers across Washington and Oregon.