Taste intelligence startup Halla closes $4.5M Series A1 funding

Halla, a taste intelligence startup, wants to solve the conundrum of how men and women choose what to eat.

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Halla, a firm that wants to know how people decide what to eat, has received $4.5 million in new Series A1 funding from Food Retail Ventures to do so.

Halla, headquartered in New York, was founded in 2016 by Gabriel Nipote, Henry Michaelson, and Spencer Price with the goal of developing “taste intelligence,” which uses human behavior to guide shoppers to food items they want while also discovering new ones as they shop online.

All of this leads to increased basket orders for retailers. SOSV and E&A Venture Capital also participated in the round, bringing Halla’s total capital raised to $8.5 million, according to CEO Price.

The API technology of the company is a plug-and-play channel that utilizes more than 100 billion shopper and product data points and funnels them into three engines: Search, which considers a shopper’s preferences; Recommend, which uncovers relevant similar products as anyone shops; and Substitute, which recognizes replacement options.

halla funding

How are Halla’s services better than others?

Halla’s Substitute product was released earlier this year in response to better recommendations for out-of-stock items, a problem that retailers like Walmart are developing technology to solve. Price cited a McKinsey report that found 20% of grocery shoppers sought out the competition in the market after experiencing a negative outcome from poor substitutions.

None of these data points are linked to any of the shoppers’ personal information, only the attributes associated with the shopping itself. The APIs, on the other hand, seek context in order to return relevant recommendations and substitutions. For example, Halla’s platform would consider how a person adds items to their cart and recommend the next ones: if you decided to add turkey and then bread, the platform might suggest cheese and condiments.

“It’s also about personalization in terms of grocery shopping and food,” Price added. “If you want organic eggs from a particular brand but they are out of stock, it is frequently up to your personal shopper’s discretion. We want to guide them to the appropriate substitutions so that you can still cook the meal you intended rather than ‘close enough.”

How can one access Halla?

Halla’s technology is now available in over 1,100 e-commerce storefronts. The new funding adds fuel to Halla’s fire, which Price described as “ongoing,” including plans to double the number of stores it supports across accounts.

He also anticipates doubling the number of employees to 30 to support the company’s growth and customer base, admitting that there is “more inbound interest than we can handle.” Halla has been working hard to secure large customers for pilots while also planning to expand nationally and globally with additional product lines over the next 18 months.

The company is also experiencing a “near-infinite increase in recurring revenue,” as it attracts six- and seven-figure contracts that bring it closer to cash flow positivity. All of this expansion positions Halla for a Series B if it is required, according to Price.

Meanwhile, James McCann of Food Retail Ventures will join Halla’s board of directors as part of the investment. McCann, who only invests in food and retail technology, stated that grocery stores require a way to inspire customers, and Halla is doing so better than other intelligence versions he has seen.

“Their technology is light years ahead of everyone else,” he continued. “They have a fantastic team and a fantastic product. They are seeing huge increases in terms of suggestions and purchases, and their measurements are out of this world.”

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