Shelf Engine, a Seattle-based startup who uses artificial intelligence to help retailers and distributors order better to optimize for profits in highly perishable food categories, announced today a seed investment of $800k. The investment from Bay Area and Seattle funds is led by Initialized Capital with participation by Founder’s Co-op, Liquid 2 Venture, and other angel investors enabling Shelf Engine to scale in 2017.
“Most grocery stores leave ordering of fresh food up to individual category managers. But those managers typically lack appropriate tools and data needed to match orders of hundreds or thousands of products to demand,” said Stefan Kalb, co-founder and CEO of Shelf Engine. “As a manager, to sift through and aggregate the data is completely overwhelming. As a result, there is simultaneously significant amounts of food waste, and frequently empty shelves. The financial impact to a store’s bottom line,is on average five times net profits and missed sales being as high as 9% of revenue.”
Shelf Engine’s order prediction engine analyzes historical order and sales data to generate automated order recommendations that maximize sell-through and profits, while minimizing waste. The longer a retailer uses the system the more accurate its recommendations become, allowing stores to double their bottom line by eliminating substantial waste, increasing their sales and reducing the time required to manage their ordering process.
Founded in 2015 by Stefan Kalb and Bede Jordan, Shelf Engine was created to help Kalb’s efforts in reducing waste at his company (Molly’s). Within weeks, Shelf Engine had increased Molly’s net profits significantly. The effect was so striking that the founders decided to quit their day jobs and build Shelf Engine.