Bloomington-based capital fund Flywheel Fund invested $75,000 in FloWaste, a South Bend tech company focused on tracking food waste in the food sector, according to a The Mill press release.
In a FloWaste press release, FloWaste is described as a technology startup which will address the business, environmental and ethical issues of food waste. Potential clients include food processors, cafeterias and restaurants.
In the press release, CEO and founder Rian Mc Donnell said FloWaste works by tracking a client’s choice of 20 ingredients by a machine learning system to identify foods. Cameras are installed above workstations, production lines and trash cans to classify those ingredients and how much of them get thrown out.
FloWaste gathers data which they then tailor to present to clients for their use, Mc Donnell said in the release.
The release said FloWaste’s food analytics platform helps clients to optimize food usage, reduce waste and associated costs which FloWaste says will reduce harmful environmental costs.
Flywheel Fund is one investor in a group of investors in FloWaste, which raised 1.1 million dollars in pre-seed funding. The largest investor is RockStart, an international startup investor focused on companies in agrifood, energy and emerging technology.
Flywheel Fund is a project of Bloomington nonprofit The Mill which invests in early stage tech companies and startups based in Indiana. The Mill is housed in an old sawmill factory known as the Dimension Mill.
Some of The Mill’s sponsors include Cook Group, the City of Bloomington and IU. Jason Whitney is chair of The Mill board of directors, executive director of the IU Angel Network and vice president of venture development at IU Ventures.
“I think it’s important that IU is a big piece of the Dimension Mill community,” Whitney said.
It is important to bridge the gap between the IU campus and Bloomington at The Mill and provide opportunities for students and the entrepreneurial community to get engaged with startup companies IU Ventures invests in, Whitney said.
“Our job here is to create jobs and grow wages, and one of the best ways to do that is to start startups,” Pat East, executive director for The Mill and manager of Flywheel Fund, said.
The vast majority of new jobs created in the US are from startup companies that have five people or less. Flywheel Fund acts as a capital source for the startups and helps attract investors and more employment, East said.
East said there are a lot of high net worth people in Bloomington who invest in real estate, especially student housing. Flywheel Fund helps introduce them to startups businesses as well.
“When we are investing in these early stage startups, and they are still kind of figuring out their idea, one of the main criteria we focus on is who is the team,” East said. “We really liked Rian.”
Mc Donnell started FloWaste because of his desire to work towards sustainability, according to the release. Another reason Flywheel Fund chose to invest was because of its business model and ability to assist the food service industry which already has tight margins, East said.
“We want to help inform and create the future,” he said.