Just a year ago, Jasmine Crowe was at the beginning stages of launching Goodr, a tech-enabled logistics startup focused on reducing food waste and fighting hunger in the United States.
A year, later, the Atlanta-based company, which is in the Advanced Technology Development Center’s ATDC Accelerate portfolio, is looking to raise $1.5 million in a seed round.
It also has signed on several marquee customers, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Ponce City Market, the Georgia World Congress Center, and Turner Broadcasting.
“We are a food waste management company that’s leveraging technology fight hunger and reduce waste by taking our clients’ surplus food and giving it to communities in need,” Crowe said, explaining the concept behind her company’s mission. “In turn, our clients that are donating food receive tax credits for those donations.”
In early May, Goodr’s mission earned Crowe a grant from the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation and the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) which have tapped her and seven other female entrepreneurs for the CCI Civic Innovation Residency program.
The foundation was launched by Sara Blakely, the Atlanta entrepreneur behind the Spanx shapewear company. CCI invests in entrepreneurial ideas in the social sector. Each woman will receive capital to support her salary, healthcare, and product development, as well as classes, coaching, and mentorship from CCI’s Downtown Atlanta offices.
“I don’t even know how it happened. I was told a potential investor wanted to meet with me, there were eight of there and we were surprised to be selected to learn it was Sara Blakely and that we were all selected to be Civic Fellows,” Crowe said. “It was a blessing. You really never know who is watching you.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service estimates U.S. consumers waste 150,000 tons of food each day. And Crowe is garnering a lot of attention from media outlets — Fast Company, NPR, and Black Enterprise, among them — for her efforts at food waste reduction in the United States.
“It’s a $218 billion-a-year problem and it’s a growing problem,” Crowe said, explaining the idea for Goodr came to her when she launched her Sunday Soul Popups to help feed the homeless in Downtown Atlanta. She did the popups for about three years — buying food from grocery stores, getting canned goods from food banks, and donations from other organizations — which gave her keen insight into how much food ends up being wasted instead of going to the hungry.
“I couldn’t believe that that much food was going to waste,” she said. “It showed me that the system was broken.”
It’s also showing the investment community that her startup has great potential. Goodr, which is currently raising a $1.5 seed round, already has $400,000 in commitments from investors, including $100,000 from Jesse Draper, founding partner of Halogen Ventures.
Crowe is slated to go to San Francisco on June 1 to meet with a potential lead investor for that round.
The activity follows the announcement earlier this month that her company won a $5,000 grant at The United State of Women’s 2018 Summit — which is how she met Draper.
She credits her early success and growth to ATDC, particularly her work with Jacqui Chew, the incubator’s marketing catalyst, and Michael Maziar, its investor relations manager.
“Having people who are honest with you and tell you the tough things you need to hear as an entrepreneur has been an invaluable part of being in ATDC,” she said. “The classes at ATDC have been amazing, and I can’t say enough about Jacqui and Michael how much ATDC has helped.”
Beyond reducing food waste and looking ahead at projected energy demand growth, Crowe is looking at alternatives for non-edible foods such as biodiesel fuels or composting. The idea, she said, is to give clients two tracks of opportunity for social good — helping the hungry and the environment by reducing landfill waste — and for the good of their bottom lines.
“So, they’re taking the surplus food and giving it to communities in need, putting food that can’t be eaten toward energy initiatives and giving the clients the tax benefit,” she said. “It’s a total solution. We’re not leaving any food behind.”