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Tech-infused fresh food – Communitech

In the heart of the pandemic in 2020, two sisters embarked on a journey that would blend their passion for food with technology. Meet Shriya and Purva Gupta, the co-founders of Daily Blends, an AI tech company with a mission to improve the way people access fresh and healthy food while combating food wastage.

Raised in a family that owned and operated a local restaurant, the Gupta sisters learned the ins and outs of running a traditional eatery from a young age. Serving homemade meals to their community, they witnessed the challenges that plague the restaurant industry, from managing inventory to understanding customer preferences.

"We encountered firsthand challenges in running a typical restaurant, including the absence of real-time insights, data inaccuracies and food wastage,” Shriya said. “There was a lack of customer-preference data. Fast forward to our adult years, we ventured into various technology companies, ranging from startups to corporations, with a specific focus on AI."

This experience laid the foundation for what would later become their driving force. Their brainchild, Daily Blends, marries their intimate knowledge of food and its accessibility with the power of technology. The sisters have developed software that optimizes the performance of fresh-food vending machines.

"We're creating AI-powered vending machines for widespread access to fresh, healthy grab-and-go options,” Shriya said. “This technology provides real-time insights, precise demand forecasting, and optimized customer experiences by tracking millions of data points, ensuring profitability and customer satisfaction."

The company partners with food brands, helping them expand their distribution networks through data-driven vending machines. Local food brands, restaurants and a growing list of businesses are leveraging this technology to tap into previously untapped markets such as transit stations, universities, hospitals and corporate offices.

“We have seen a surge in interest from corporate offices,” Shriya said. “Companies recognize the importance of providing healthy food options for their employees, especially in the post-pandemic era.”

Traditional vending machines sold candy and soda, but consumer preferences have changed. The post-COVID era sees a rising demand for healthier, on-the-go choices. Restaurants and food brands face labor shortages and high real estate costs, prompting a search for better distribution solutions.

“Given these trends, we've been experiencing significant demand for our technology,” Shriya said. “In the upcoming months, you can expect to see around 100 of these vending machines in action. We currently have over 10 locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area and are working on launching more.”

How Fierce Founders helped

The company received a lot of support from Communitech’s Fierce Founders program and community which led to higher engagement and recognition, Shriya said.

“As immigrants, we initially lacked a community and connections,” she added. “Therefore, having supportive communities like the Fierce Founders group has been tremendously beneficial. They are quick to offer assistance, deeply supportive and genuinely dedicated to empowering founders.”

Daily Blends received some great publicity in 2022 when the company was featured on the NASDAQ digital ad board in New York City.

"The recognition we've received stems from the tangible impact our technology is making, proving that we're not just developing technology for its own sake; we're truly moving the needle and we’re beyond thrilled,” Shriya said.

So, what’s next for Daily Blends?

"We're heads down, focused on powering new machines with our technology,” Shriya said. "We've been receiving a lot of inbound requests from offices. Companies recognize the importance of providing healthy food options for their employees, especially in the post-pandemic era."

The Communitech Fierce Founders Uplift and Intensive Track programs are made possible thanks to the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Business Development Bank (BDC), Google for Startups, the City of Kitchener and the Ontario government.

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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