Chicago Tribune
Farmer’s Fridge, the Chicago-based startup that sells salads and other meals from vending machines, plans to double its operation next year after recently closing a $30 million financing round led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s venture capital fund.

Launched in 2013, Farmer’s Fridge has grown to about 185 machines in Chicago and Milwaukee, with another 225 coming coming on line by the end of this year, said founder and CEO Luke Saunders. This latest round of financing will help the company beef up its Chicago workforce, while adding 400 to 500 more fridges in other Midwestern cities such as Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and St. Louis by the end of next year, Saunders said.

Saunders wouldn’t disclose revenue figures for Farmer’s Fridge, a privately held company. But he said Farmer’s Fridge has gone from selling a “couple hundred” meals per day just three years ago to selling about 15,000 meals per day now, he said.

The company’s recent growth has been fueled in part by its use of technology. Last year, Farmer’s Fridge launched touch-screen technology for its fridges that connected with a new app.

Using the app, customers can check the inventory of the fridges closest to them and access customized deals as part of a loyalty program. About 70 percent of all Farmer’s Fridge transactions are now linked to the loyalty program, Saunders said.

That technology clearly appealed to the lead investor on the financing round, Schmidt’s Silicon Valley-based Innovation Endeavors.

 

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