Comedian Steve Harvey recently announced that he and business partner Greg Calhoun have teamed up with San Juan Capistrano-based TEN Ag Tech to launch a line of food products under the brand name Just Ordinary.
The brand will offer a range of low-cost, healthy foods with the goal of connecting shoppers to the farms that produce their food. Just Ordinary will operate as a jointly owned partnership between TEN Ag Tech and HarCal, with each party holding equal ownership.
HarCal was founded by Harvey and Greg Calhoun, the founder and CEO of Calhoun Enterprises in Montgomery, Ala., which has grocery chain Calhoun Foods as one of four operating units under its umbrella.
The first product to be launched under the Just Ordinary brand will be eggs. TEN Ag Tech imprints each egg with an organic laser light to create a chemical-free marking that adheres to the protein of the shell to create a “trace code.” Shoppers can then punch in their trace code online to get access to information, including the use-by date, the approximate time the egg was laid, and the date and time the egg was packed. In the event of a recall, the company can rapidly track who bought the eggs, which has the potential to save huge costs.
Just Ordinary plans to get its eggs on the shelves of grocery stores nationwide this year and then expand into coffee and meat products. Those items will feature the company’s technology as a way to trace information on pesticide and herbicide use, and animal welfare and safety.
“Steve Harvey and Greg Calhoun are a powerhouse team and … they’re able to empower mass-market consumers with meaningful, immediate and transparent insight into the food they’re buying and the conditions under which (they are) produced,” President and Chief Executive Jonathan Phillips said via email.
TEN AG Tech plans to close a Series A round of $20 million from a variety of investment sources in the coming weeks, Phillips said. TEN Ag Tech was spun off from TEN in December. TEN was established in 2011 as an advertising company for retailers to put their logos on food products.
Candy Lab at SXSW
A startup that enables companies to market themselves in a hyper-localized fashion has been selected to be in a pitch competition at the popular South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
Candy Lab, which relocated its headquarters to Irvine in September, will be pitching March 14 on the topic of marketing and audience engagement. It is one of five companies selected to pitch on the topic.
South by Southwest has evolved from a music festival into a music, film and interactive festival. Candy Lab will pitch and do live demos of its product, CandyBAR, throughout the festival, according to Andrew Kirkland, vice president of business development.
CandyBAR is a blended, augmented reality product. Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Candy Lab has created its own augmented reality mechanism that enables branded logos, animations, and content to be delivered to a mobile device.
The blended part means that it works indoors and outdoors by using beacons, as well as the GPS coordinates of a mobile phone to deliver geographically relevant, local content.
“Think of it as a ‘Groupon on steroids’—the moment you see and interact with a certain message/offer, you are already there,” Kirkland said via email. “The conversion rates absolutely annihilate any other form of mobile marketing because you are steps away from redeeming or interacting with whatever content/brand messaging you have just received.”
Candy Lab was founded in 2011. In 2013, the company won a business plan competition in St. Louis that yielded it a $50,000 grant with a year of support. Then it was accepted into the Global Accelerator Network via BlueStartups.com in Hawaii.
The company raised $600,000 in its seed round.
Immersed in Due Diligence
The Cove Fund 1 is doing due diligence on Immersive Entertainment. The fund of approximately $5.5 million provides startup money for new OC-based ventures. It invests a maximum of $250,000 in any given startup. It is a for-profit fund housed at The Cove, Applied Innovations, home in University Research Park in Irvine.
Immersive Entertainment, based in Irvine, creates virtual reality software for consumers and developers. It differentiates itself from other VR companies, based on its use of computer-generated environments using algorithms and graphics, not pictures or videos, according to co-founder and Chief Executive Ciaran Foley.
“What we’re doing is the next thing in VR,” Foley said. “We’re playing on the true strengths of VR to create immersion and presence. Our goal is to transport you to a place where you’re not being told a story.”
Immersive is in the midst of raising $500,000 from angel investors. It requested $250,000 from the Cove Fund. Immersive has a prototype that it’s selling via Steam, an online entertainment platform. It’s selling it through Steam’s online community market.
Immersive would use the funds from the Cove Fund to take its prototype to commercial release, continue developing its IP strategy and to better position itself for a Series A raise, Foley said.