WISErg is raising more money to support demand for its device that turns excess food scraps at grocery stores into a nutrient-rich liquid.
The Redmond startup just reeled in $12.3 million of a larger round, with a second close expected shortly, WISErg CEO Larry LeSueur confirmed with GeekWire today. The CEO wouldn’t provide further details about investors or how the money will be used.
“It is all about scaling up faster and bigger,” he said.
WISErg last raised money just over a year ago, bringing in a $11 million Series B round from Second Avenue Partners, former Microsoft and Amazon.com executive Brian Valentine, and others. Total funding for the 7-year-old company is now north of $20 million.
LeSueur, an ex-Microsoft manager, co-founded WISErg in 2011 with former colleague Jose Lugo. The startup helps grocers recycle their old produce and unsold prepared foods with the “Harvester,” a machine that intercepts nutrients still existing in food waste. The recycled material is then transferred to a nearby WISErg facility, where final steps are taken to convert 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.
The fertilizer being produced by WISErg is of high quality because it is derived from all organic materials, as demand is growing among large agricultural operations. The idea is to target the natural fertilizer to specific non-grain crops, from lettuce to potatoes to tomatoes.
WISErg, one of the “Seattle 10” startup companies in 2014 and one of Fast Company’s top 10 “Most Innovative Companies in Food” for 2015, sells its technology and hardware to stores like PCC, Red Apple, and Whole Foods, which is focusing on zero waste for its new chain of budget grocery stores. Restaurants and other food service facilities are also customers.
Valentine, a former Amazon and Microsoft exec who is a WISErg board member, told GeekWire last year about the opportunity to apply technology to the 40 billion pound food waste problem in the U.S., replacing “archaic” systems in the waste industry with advances in science, biology and analytics.
“If you can think about reducing the 40 billion pounds (of food) by 20 percent, and you think about what is leftover — capturing and re-using it into the actual food chain as opposed to letting it go to waste — than I think that is a pretty good impact you can have on the planet,” he said.