Local Roots Wins CART 2017 Virtual Pitch Event

Finalists include Instapio, Accel Robotics and BoodsKapper

The Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) presented top honors of its Fall 2017 Virtual Pitch Event to Local Roots, which designs, builds, deploys and operates productive indoor farming solutions.

Local Roots was chosen as the most innovative entry by panelists representing over 18,000 retail supermarkets among hundreds of applications CART received for its Fall 2017 Virtual Pitch Event, which focused on the supermarket sector. Any startup was welcome to apply at no cost, as long as it was at least in proof-of-concept stage.

“There is a growing innovation gap in retail as technology-fueled innovation explodes exponentially while retail adoption of new capabilities is more linear,” said Sterling Hawkins, who leads operations and venture relations for Los Angeles-based CART. “We worked with retailers to understand an incredible variety of new retail innovation inside of that gap.”

Local Roots "is building a distributed network of cutting-edge farms throughout the world to grow the freshest, healthiest food possible," according to the company's website. When compared with traditional farming, the plug-and-play Local Roots farms use 99% less water, reduce food waste by 93% and never use pesticides or herbicides. A single TerraFarm produces the equivalent of four acres of outdoor production, harvesting 600 pounds of leafy greens every four days, the company says.

Three finalists who placed as runners-up in CART’s Fall 2017 Virtual Pitch Event include:

  • BoodsKapper, which provides true A.I. powered virtual assistants capable of interacting with customers, employees and vendors.
  • Accel Robotics’ “Grab and Go” vision-based automated shopping system, which is an alternative to the technology used in the Amazon Go store.
  • Instapio, which provides a platform to collect millions of customer data points in real-time combined with a powerful decision-making engine. 

Final decisions were made by panelists representing leading retailers and wholesalers in the U.S. supermarket industry, including Weis Markets, Woodman’s Market and Supervalu.

“Panelists use the CART Virtual Pitch Event to as a way to monitor the pulse of innovation,” said Hawkins. “Local Roots brings together innovation in food growing, transportation and automation making them the perfect winner.”

Among the fall event’s batch of entries, Hawkins said, “We saw everything from drone services, virtual reality based eCommerce, robotic delivery, employee wearables and many more across every imaginable stage. Given the sheer volume, CART processed the initial applications to make sure applicants met the appropriate criterion."

Panelists then spent hours reviewing each solution from advance materials and webinars, “and not surprisingly,” Hawkins added, “there were several that floated to the top. There were 10 main areas through which the applicants were scored, including: target market, problem or need, solution details, team, stability, competition, business model, strategy, engagement potential and an all-inclusive, overall score. We then added up the total scores, which decided the winner.”

The Spring 2018 Retail Innovation Pitch Event will take place in April 2018. The competition will give participants exposure to potential investors, retailers and media. Participation is open to startups of all stages worldwide at no cost.

More details and application for entry can be found here.


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