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September, 2012

Highlights from Demo Day 2012

Excelerate Demo Day 2012 brought over 500 investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs together for a day of pitching and high energy. Check out the highlights here.

Tickets are still available for the Community Showcase tomorrow (Tuesday the 18th)! If you want to see this year’s class present their pitches lives, make sure to get your ticket before they sell out.

Filed under: Events,Status Updates — Tags: , , — September 17, 2012

Food Genius snares $1.2 million VC investment

By Steve Hendershot

Food Genius, a Chicago startup that analyzes restaurant menu data to predict food-industry trends, will announce this week it has raised $1.2 million in venture capital.

The lead investors are Hyde Park Venture Partners and Hyde Park Angels; others include New World Ventures, the I2A Fund, Amicus Capital and product-development firm IDEO, where Food Genius was a startup in residence. Food Genius was also part of the 2011 class at Chicago accelerator Excelerate Labs.

Food Genius plans to release its signature product in January: Food Genius Reports, a food-trends dashboard that allows users to search for and analyze menu-level industry trends. Food Genius is also announcing two data partnerships, with CHD Expert and GrubHub. Both deals will provide Food Genius with access to data on restaurant menu data; Food Genius’ database includes 260,000 menus, more than half of all U.S. menus.

Justin Massa, Food Genius’ founder and CEO, tells Silicon City about the investment and Food Genius Reports.

Describe your new flagship product, Food Genius Reports. How does it work?

Justin Massa: Food Genius Reports is designed to help you figure out what to make, how to package it, how to market it, where [it is likely to be popular], how much should you charge for it, all that stuff. It takes you from the beginning point of the creative process, where you’re deciding what to make, to the end, where you’re looking for the right price point and the words you should use to describe it…

Read entire article: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120911/BLOGS06/120919958/food-genius-snares-1-2-million-vc-investment#ixzz26DiMJq7D

Filed under: Excelerate in the News — Tags: , — September 11, 2012

Food Genius Raises $1.2M to Help the Food Industry Understand Restaurant Trends

Chicago, IL – September 11, 2012 - Food Genius, which provides data-based restaurant insights to the food industry, has raised $1.2 million in venture capital. Chicago’s Hyde Park Venture Partners and Hyde Park Angels led the round; other investors include New World Ventures, IDEO, Amicus Capital, and the I2A Fund.

“With this funding, Food Genius is expanding the team in order to bring Food Genius Reports to market,” says founder & CEO Justin Massa. “Food Genius Reports is a leap forward for the food industry, providing intuitive and deep access to restaurant trends as they develop new products and craft marketing strategies.”

“Food Genius is direct evidence that Chicago has truly become a place where ideas evolve into viable businesses, creating jobs and economic growth in the City,” said Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Entities like 1871 and Excelerate Labs play crucial roles in the development of these young companies, and I am pleased to see an environment developing that supports entrepreneurship and business expansion. I look forward to many more small businesses developing out of these facilities and programs and fueling Chicago’s economy in the coming years.”

“The food and restaurant industry is ripe for data disruption, and Food Genius offers astounding insights in this market where the consumers’ voice has been opaque,” says Guy Turner, managing director at Hyde Park Venture Partners. “We are excited to see them grow.”

The company is also announcing that Owen Shapiro of Leo J Shapiro & Associates and Hyde Park Angels as well as Brian Distelburger of Yext have joined Food Genius’ board of directors. Shapiro notes, “Food Genius brings a powerful combination of talent and tools to address the pressing need for better real time information on food sold through restaurants.  Starting with a firm grasp of ‘big data’ techniques and building with a unique set of data sources and tools, Food Genius is quickly positioning itself to be a primary source for insights that can drive innovation and profitability for foodservice and CPG companies that depend on restaurants directly for sales and insights into emerging trends.” According to Distelburger, “As the breadth, depth, and quality of local business data grows, there is an enormous opportunity to build new business intelligence services on top – Food Genius is leading this charge in the food vertical.”

Data Partnerships

In separate, key developments for the company, Food Genius is announcing data partnerships with CHD Expert and GrubHub.

A core element of Food Genius’ approach is to acquire, normalize, and extend massive amounts of menu item-level restaurant data. Food Genius is partnering with GrubHub, which will be the primary source of menu data. “GrubHub has the most comprehensive and highest quality database of restaurant menus,” says Massa. “We’re incredibly excited to work with not only the best data set around but also a company that regularly brings us lunch and dinner.”

Food Genius is also partnering with CHD Expert, a leading provider of data for foodservice sales and marketing strategies, to pair deep menu-level data points with detailed operator information. This new level of detail will provide foodservice sales teams with unparalleled insight into how specific locations use ingredients and preparation techniques.

About Food Genius  

Food Genius is big data for the food industry. By tracking more than 16.3 million restaurant menu items and how consumers interact with them, Food Genius leverages the social web to generate high quality and incredibly granular data for an array of commercial and consumer uses. They provide manufacturers, distributors, operators, and CPG brands with actionable data on consumer behavior and restaurant trends. Their signature product Food Genius Reports, a robust restaurant trends dashboard for the food industry, will launch in early winter 2013.

Food Genius is a graduate of Excelerate Labs (class of ‘11), was the first-ever Startup-in-Residence at IDEO’s Chicago studio, and was the first graduate of 1871. For more information, visit http://www.getfoodgenius.com

About Hyde Park Angels

Hyde Park Angels (HPA)  is an organization that provides a forum for entrepreneurial-minded members to invest in seed and early stage businesses, primarily located in the Midwest. HPA is a group of current and former executives, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists who are interested in investing their time and money into outstanding startups. HPA also provides domain expertise, strategic advice and coaching to its companies. The Chicago-based Hyde Park Angel Network was founded in 2006 by a group of classmates from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive MBA Program. For more information, visit http://www.hydeparkangels.com/

About Hyde Park Venture Partners

Hyde Park Venture Partners (HPVP) is a venture capital fund investing in early stage technology companies in the Midwest, with particular focus in Chicago. HPVP invests in technology-enabled business and consumer services and healthcare IT companies raising their first or second round of institutional capital. HPVP draws on its strategic relationship with Hyde Park Angels (HPA) to provide industry and business expertise to its portfolio companies through a network of more than 90 seasoned business executives, entrepreneurs and service professionals. HPVP’s principals and the HPA network take an active role in mentoring and guiding portfolio companies in product development, business strategy, financing and exit through both formal director roles and informal mentorship relationships.

For more information, visit http://www.hydeparkvp.com/ 

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: ,

Spotlight on Excelerate: Lasso Makes In Person Interactions Better

Wes Dearborn and the team at Lasso are passionate about making day to day interactions better through their innovative iPhone app. Hear how they are making planning outings easier, and how Excelerate is helping them approach their business.

Filed under: Company Blog Post — Tags: , — September 9, 2012

Spotlight on Pictarine: French Photo Sharing Startup

Guillaume Martin came to Chicago from Paris to grow his photo sharing startup Pictarine. Here why he joined Excelerate Labs and how Pictarine will change how we share pictures.

Filed under: About the Companies — Tags: , — September 5, 2012