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Propelify Semi-Finalist: Meet Tixel Labs, Smarter Inventory Management For Restaurants

Who will win the SamsungNEXT Startup Competition at Propelify 2017 along with tons of cash, prizes and bragging rights? We’re thrilled to introduce you to the 10 semi-finalists of this year’s Startup Competition. They will be pitching to judges in a showdown this Thursday, May 18th during the Propelify Innovation Festival in Hoboken, NJ. Be there to see who is crowned the winner!

Get to know Tixel Labs, Inc, smarter inventory management for restaurants.

Describe the problem you are solving.

Each week, restaurant managers and chefs spend more than 3 hours each manually counting ingredients to efficiently order. Tixel builds flat load sensors that retrofit onto restaurant back-house shelves to automatically track ingredient consumption. In the back-house, inventory-related lost productivity and resources amounts to >$40 billion dollars each year in the US alone.

Why did you start this company? What excites you about it?

Teddy noticed this problem while working at Chipotle when his restaurant ran out of guac. Sean noticed this problem when working in manufacturing. After discussing our vision for better inventory, we interviewed hundreds of restaurant operators and chefs and discovered major issues in the back-house, stemming from inventory inefficiency. Much of these issues can be solved with hardware that completely automates inventory tracking, a manual task prone to human error.

We’re most excited about our potential to reduce food waste. With actual food movement data, we can provide accurate predictive analytics and determine the best quantity to order each week, saving restaurants money and ensuring food is being used efficiently.

What steps have you taken to validate the market? What traction can you share?

We’ve interviewed hundreds of restaurants, from small mom and pop restaurants to major corporations, and have gathered pilot interest from everything in between. We currently have 100+ restaurants in our network, awaiting next steps, including several new fast-casual chains and a Top-10 national fast food chain. We’re looking to ship to our first paying customer in early Summer 2017.

Who is your target demographic?

Restaurant chains with 5-15 locations are optimal for us at this stage. Though, we’re open to conversations with restaurant chains of all sizes. The restaurant group’s management use our web application to figure out if the restaurants are operating efficiently. Managers and chefs working at the restaurant use our application to determine weekly orders.

How do you plan to acquire customers?

The restaurant industry is tight-knit and fairly homogeneous so we’ve had success through restaurateurs referring us to other restaurants who want to reduce unnecessary labor. In DC, we’re in contact with a food incubator that serves 100+ restaurants and alumni. When referrals are saturated, our system should have collected enough data for accurate predictive analytics. At this point, we can cross-sell with other services by integrating ordering, invoicing and logistics APIs to completely automate the back-house.

Does your product solve a social good?

We’re able to reduce food waste in the form of pilferage and shrinkage. In addition to the labor costs we’re reducing, we can effectively eliminate >25% of inventory costs outside of food purchases.

What is your revenue model or expected revenue model?

We use a hardware-as-a-service subscription model that charges restaurants by ingredients tracked. Most restaurants track around 100 ingredients, making each contract worth around $3k each year. With over 630,000 restaurants in the US, we’re confident we can build a huge company just in this industry. We’re more happy to bring our hardware to other industries that require inventory management. For us, restaurants are just the beginning.

Join us on May 18, 2017 in Hoboken, NJ at Propelify Innovation Festival,  where 8,000+ innovators from across the Northeast unite for a must-attend day of tech, investors, talks, exhibitors, VR, drones, and music. Register For Propelify Now.

About the Author mufasa