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Capitol Hill startup Shelf Engine gets $800k seed to grow ‘highly perishable food’ AI

Anybody who has made a Capitol Hill coffee shop their office is probably familiar with neighborhood entrepreneur Stefan Kalb’s work. His Molly’s brand sandwiches and snacks are a ubiquitous part of the Seattle-area cafe scene. Another of his ventures just got a big financial vote of confidence:

Shelf Engine, a Seattle-based startup who uses artificial intelligence to help retailers and distributors order better to optimize for profits in highly perishable food categories, announced today a seed investment of $800k. The investment from Bay Area and Seattle funds is lead by Initialized Capital with participation by Founder’s Co-op, Liquid 2 Venture, and other angel investors enabling Shelf Engine to scale in 2017.

Kalb and co-founder Bede Jordan created Shelf Engine to help reduce waste in the Molly’s business, according to an announcement on the funding round. The startup’s office is on 12th Ave below Plum Bistro and La Spiga in the Piston Ring building.

“Most grocery stores leave ordering of fresh food up to individual category managers. But those managers typically lack appropriate tools and data needed to match orders of hundreds or thousands of products to demand,” CEO Kalb said in the announcement.

Shelf Engine’s order prediction engine analyzes historical order and sales data to generate automated order recommendations, according to the company.

Kalb has stepped down from his CEO role at Molly’s to focus on Shelf Engine, the Seattle Time reports. The news will also create a few new 12th Ave jobs. Much of the financing will go toward hiring developers.

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