Chipotle's $50M Venture Fund Aims to Boost Early-Stage Food Tech Startups

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

​Chipotle's latest digital innovation, Chippy, is an autonomous kitchen assistant that makes tortilla chips.
Courtesy of Chipotle

Mexican fast food chain Chipotle has launched a new $50 million venture fund aimed at early-stage restaurant technology startups.

The Cultivate Next fund will focus on startups that “will enhance our employee and guest experience, and quite possibly revolutionize the restaurant industry," Curt Garner, Chipotle's chief technology officer, said in a statement Tuesday.


Chipotle, which is based in Newport Beach, has been active in the food tech space recently. The company partnered with Pasadena-based Miso Robotics to create an automated machine designed to cook and season Chipotle’s signature tortilla chips. The robot, named “Chippy,” is currently being tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center innovation hub in Irvine.

“Investing in forward-thinking ventures that are looking to drive meaningful change at scale will help accelerate Chipotle's aggressive growth plans,” Garner said.

Los Angeles is home to a growing scene of startups active in food tech, a sector that received $39.3 billion of venture capital funding last year, according to PitchBook data. Many startups have looked to assist a restaurant industry that is grappling with supply chain issues and labor shortages; Wavemaker Labs, a food tech incubator based in Santa Monica, has backed several startups that aim to automate food assembly processes—including "Chippy" designer Miso Robotics and robotic pizza vending machine Piestro.

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Relativity Space Launches World’s First 3D-Printed Rocket, But Falls Short of Orbit

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Relativity Space Launches World’s First 3D-Printed Rocket, But Falls Short of Orbit
Photo: Relativity Space

The largest 3D-printed object to ever fly had liftoff yesterday as Long Beach-based Relativity Space launched its Terran 1 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Terran 1 lifted off from Cape Canaveral at around 7 p.m. PST March 22. It was Relativity’s third attempt at sending Terran 1 to the cosmos and the nighttime launch was quite a sight to behold. The clarity of the night sky was perfect to see the blue jets of flame cascading out of Terran 1’s nine Aeon 1 engines, all 3D-printed, as the rocket took off.

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samsonamore@dot.la

What Is ‘Embodied Audio?’ And Can It Help Professional Sports Teams Fill Their Stadiums?

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

What Is ‘Embodied Audio?’ And Can It Help Professional Sports Teams Fill Their Stadiums?
Photo: Edge Sound Research

In 2020, the Minnesota Twins experimented with a new technology that brought fans the ability to physically feel the sounds they were hearing in the stadium in the back of their seats as part of a new immersive way to experience baseball.

The tech was made by Riverside-based startup Edge Sound Research, which built a mobile lounge – basically, a small seating section equipped with its technology and on wheels to travel around the stadium – for Twins fans to experience what it calls “embodied audio” around Target field. It was a bid on the Twins’ part to keep fans more engaged during the game, and Edge Sound Research CEO Valtteri Salomaki said the Twins were impressed.

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samsonamore@dot.la

LA Venture: B Capital’s Howard Morgan on What To Look For in Potential Founders

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Venture: B Capital’s Howard Morgan on What To Look For in Potential Founders
Provided by LAV

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, B Capital Group General Partner and Chair Howard Morgan discusses his thoughts on early stage investing and the importance of company ownership.


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