FooDoo Will Soon Test AI-Based 'Micro-Stores' in South LA

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.

FooDoo Will Soon Test AI-Based 'Micro-Stores' in South LA
Courtesy of FooDoo

On average, Americans waste 108 billion pounds of food, which equates to 130 billion meals that is thrown away each year, according to Feeding America.

Los Angeles-based FooDoo is looking to reduce that waste in the Grab & Go market with its hardware kit technology that is installed in FooDoo’s vending refrigerators. The AI-based microstores, as FooDoo refers to them, can store up to 500 items and are set to launch in Los Angeles this September. In preparation, the company has teamed up with several ghost kitchens across the city that will cook ready-to-eat meals to be stored in FooDoo’s fridges.

Founded in 2021 by CEO Kirill Sizyumov and CPO Nikita Makarov, and CTO Ivan Gurkin, the company was bootstrapped by Sizyumov and now has a few angel investors that believe in FooDoo’s technology.

Once a dish is produced by the ghost kitchens and stocked, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag is attached and all the information about the meal, including the name, its ingredients and its expiration date, is linked to the tag. This information is sent to FooDoo’s data center and will allow the team to track the products where its scanners are installed.

Sizyumov said FooDoo has two issued patents, one is for the system for data transfer between server, and remote vending machine, and computing device of the user; and the second is for vending machines with RFID antennas. In addition to these, the startup has three more pending patents and are waiting to get those issued by this fall.

The hardware installed in each microstore consists of readers and scanners that will track the products and take stock of what is still inside. FooDoo’s technology allows the team to forecast user demands, and provide the ghost kitchens that provide meals with an accurate production plan for the next week.

“We want to make an impact,” Makarov said. “We want to provide people with much more food at high quality, but for the minimum price.”

With 7.7% of Americans still working at home, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, Makarov said the company is targeting multifamily buildings which will give people the opportunity to have a fresh meal in just a few minutes. It will cost $100 a month to have FooDoo’s microstores at these facilities. Instead of waiting for your Postmates or GrubHub delivery to arrive, tenants can walk to the microstore and purchase a meal of their choice.

“During the work week, [many people] don't have an additional hour or two to wait for the delivery app,” Makarov told dot.LA. “So we are a good alternative.”

As soon as a microstore is installed, residents or any guests that want to make a purchase must download the FooDoo app, which will be available for free in the Google Play and Apple Store, where customers must link their form of payment. The app on your phone will act as a key that can unlock the sliding door and give access to the meals. Once an item has been taken, the app will automatically charge the user based on the preferred payment method they linked.

While many food-tech startups have popped up like those selling expiring food at a discounted rate, Makarov said that these companies are working with the consequences of overproduction, whereas FooDoo is trying to tackle it from the very start, which is in production planning.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.