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Tech roundup: Mark Cuban invests in a food packaging startup

SAVRpak says its peel-and-stick patch keeps food fresher. Also, George Lopez has a virtual brand and Paytronix integrates with Google ordering.
SAVRpak patch on burger clamshell
Photograph courtesy of SAVRpak

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Is this little patch the future of food packaging?

SAVRpak patch

Mark Cuban thinks so. The investor and entrepreneur led a $3.5 million funding round for the technology from SAVRpak that promises to keep to-go food fresher by reducing moisture inside the box.

Originally developed by aerospace engineer Bill Birgen for his own lunches, the peel-and-stick patch pictured above is made of paper and plant-based pulp. It can be applied to the inside of a clamshell, pizza box, paper bag, or other packaging, where it absorbs moisture and keeps it away from the food. The patch can reduce humidity by as much as 45%, the company said.

If that's true, it could be a game-changer for the growing delivery industry that has been nagged in part by soggy food. DoorDash has already placed an order with SAVRPak and plans to begin offering the patches to restaurants as one of its packaging options.

"SAVRpaks make food stay fresher, longer while retaining its great taste, all at a price that is affordable," Cuban said in a statement. "It's a unique combination that will change the presentation and delivery of food forever."

About that affordability: Cost per unit will vary depending on quantity, but restaurants can add a patch to a meal "for the cost of a few ketchup packets at most," according to a SAVRPak representative. 

The company based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., will use the Series A funding to ramp up production to 50 million units a month as well as develop applications for the agriculture, grocery and consumer markets.

Virtual brand company Nextbite recently aired plans to launch more celebrity-backed virtual brands. It unveiled the first concept in that new initiative last week. George Lopez Tacos, created in partnership with the actor and comedian, features a lineup of street tacos developed by Lopez himself. 

It joins Nextbite's roster of about a dozen delivery-only brands, including HotBox by Wiz featuring rapper Wiz Khalifa. The company last month hired a VP to head up its celebrity concept business.

George Lopez Tacos will launch June 8 at Nextbite partner restaurants in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. 

Paytronix now integrates with Google food ordering. Restaurants that use the supplier's Order & Delivery product can begin accepting orders through Google's Search and Map platforms. Their Google listing will be accompanied by an "Order Online" button that will allow customers to place an order directly from Google.

Google is an intriguing ordering channel for restaurants because it is many consumers' first stop when searching for food.

GoTab takes its ordering platform to food halls. The cloud-based product will allow customers to order ahead for dine-in or takeout from multiple restaurants, as well as order on-site by scanning a QR code at their table, on a single ticket. The platform debuted recently at Union Market in Washington, D.C., where six of the food hall's restaurants are using the technology. 

The company promises fast and easy setup and the ability to update menus in real-time. It is coming off a $6.5 million funding round.

DoorDash extends perks to more Chase customers. Users of most Chase co-brand cards will get a year of free access to DashPass, the membership program that waives delivery fees on orders over $12. It normally costs $9.99 a month. They'll also get 5% in DoorDash credit on pickup orders.

Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred cardholders already get this benefit; now it's being expanded to more cards. DoorDash places a high value on its more than 5 million DashPass users, saying they show higher levels of engagement and retention.

New hires:

  • QSR Automations appointed Angela Leetas CEO following the death of founder and CEO Lee Leet in March. It also expanded the role of CFO Anthony Griffin to include interim president and is looking to fill the newly created role of VP of product strategy. Angela Leet is an engineer and former Louisville Metro Council member; she ran for mayor in 2018. Louisville, Ky.-based QSR offers a variety of software and hardware products for restaurants including KFC, Shake Shack and The Cheesecake Factory.
  • POS provider Arryved hired a new CEO. Loren Bendele is the founder of Gell, a user-generated content platform, and has been an investor, adviser and leader for other tech companies including Savings.com and Teleflora. He will take over from founder and former CEO David Norman, who is moving to the role of chief product officer in addition to being COO and chairman of the board. Arryved was founded in 2016 and focuses on the craft food and beverage industry including breweries and pizzerias.

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Square now supports alcohol delivery.

Why a virtaul brand probably won't make the Top 500 anytime soon.

Uber Eats is teaming up with Gopuff to expand its selection.

Pepsi launched a virtual brand with Famous Dave's.

The maker of Flippy is now selling the software behind the bot.

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