It took four years, but WISErg’s geeky machine that turns old produce into fertilizer is attracting investor attention.
The Redmond-based startup has raised $5 million of a $7 million Series B round from private investors, bringing total funding for the company up to $7.75 million.
WISErg helps grocers recycle their old produce and unsold prepared foods with the “Harvester,” a machine that intercepts nutrients still existing in food waste and converts them into a liquid which can be sold to local agricultural farmers, along with other individual consumers. The machine also provides data reports to help grocers and restaurants better manage perishable inventory and ultimately save money.
Already having partnered with stores like Whole Foods and PCC Natural Markets in the Seattle area, the startup will use the fresh funds to enter the California market and double its head count, which is currently 20.
CEO and co-founder Larry LeSueur, a former manager at Microsoft, told GeekWire that it’s taken the company a bit longer than expected to raise capital. Figuring out the regulatory landscape, establishing the right partnerships and building out the infrastructure necessary to grow has not been easy.
But WISErg has some legitimate momentum with the new investment, now that it has a proven business model. There are plans to sell the machines to grocers not just in Washington and California, but rather all over the country.
“Our expectations have gone way up,” LeSueur said. “It’s like going from a grinder to a blender.”
The company finds itself in a nascent industry and has had to get creative about bringing in revenue. LeSueur admits that finding success with the business has been a complicated trek — but that’s what he likes about it.
“Complication is good if no one else can figure it out,” he said. “We think we can own this space.”
Learn more about WISErg with our Startup Spotlight, or watch the video below.