Irish-founded tech start-up tackling food waste raises €1m seed funding

9 Nov 2021

Elise Weimholt, CTO of FloWaste, and Rian Mc Donnell, CEO of FloWaste. Image: FloWaste

Irishman Rian Mc Donnell founded food waste analytics platform FloWaste last year and now hopes to expand the tech across the US.

US-based FloWaste, which is looking to tackle food waste using data analytics, has raised €1m in seed funding from venture capital firms and angel investors.

Underdog Labs led the funding round, with Rockstart and several angels as co-investors. It comes just a few months after the start-up raised $270,000 in pre-seed funding.

FloWaste, which was founded in 2020 by Irishman Rian Mc Donnell, plans to use the fresh funding to expand its automated food analytics platform and scale to 100 locations across the US over the next nine months.

The technology is aimed at food processors and restaurants that want to cut down on food waste and become more sustainable. According to the UN, around one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year.

“It it clear that the world has finally started to realise the tragedy of global food waste,” said Mc Donnell.

“At FloWaste, we hope to make our own piece of the solution to fight food waste and carbon emissions related to the food chain. We go through all this effort to produce food as a society, and one-third is wasted.”

FloWaste’s analytics platform uses image recognition technology with the aim of optimising meal preparation, ingredient combinations and portion sizing, while reducing labour costs. The company has three paid pilot customers that have signed agreements to expand to more than 100 locations across the US.

“With these customers we will work to improve our core competency of classifying and quantifying food and food waste, and synthesising various data streams to optimise kitchen and industrial food processes,” Mc Donnell added.

According to Alex Chang, co-founder of Underdog Labs, the VC invested in FloWaste because it saw a “powerful use case for machine vision” that could generate cost savings and returns for customers, while also helping to tackle food waste.

“Since our initial investment, the team has continued to impress us as they’ve iterated the product based on real world feedback – and continued to grow the business,” Chang said.

While FloWaste is now based in Chicago, Mc Donnell is originally from Dundalk, Co Louth, and the idea for the start-up came from project he completed at Trinity College Dublin back in 2018.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.