Early Stage: Turning crooked carrots and weird watermelons into gold

Startup of the week:

Who they are: Imperfect Produce

What they do: This San Francisco-based startup takes the ugly, misshapen and oddly colored fruits and vegetables that farmers would otherwise throw away or use as animal feed, and sells them to you for cheap.

Why it’s cool: Imperfect Produce says it charges between 30 percent and 50 percent less than grocery store prices — a discount that’s good for anyone’s pocket, but is especially important for low-income families who otherwise might not be able to afford fresh fruits and veggies. Because the company delivers to your door, it also helps out people without cars or who live far away from a grocery store or farmer’s market.

And the company is helping to reduce waste. In the U.S. between 30 percent and 40 percent of food is wasted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Imperfect Produce offers customizable boxes of mixed produce, all-fruit or all-veggie boxes, ranging from $11 for the cheapest small box, to $43 for the most expensive extra-large box. There’s an added delivery fee of between $2.99 and $4.99. The company delivers throughout the Bay Area.

Where they stand: After starting in the Bay Area, Imperfect Produce launched in Los Angeles in January and plans to expand to Portland in August. The company has recovered 4.5 million pounds of produce since launching two years ago, said co-founder and CEO Ben Simon.

Only in Silicon Valley:

A screen shot of the LiveaMoment app. (Courtesy of LiveaMoment)

A screen shot of the LiveaMoment app. (Courtesy of LiveaMoment)

Can an app bring world peace? Sausalito-based startup LiveaMoment on Thursday launched an app to do just that. The goal is to help users relax and center themselves for a few moments each day, and then share those moments with the global community as a way to connect and inspire others to also be peaceful.

“By encouraging users to pause for a moment of personal peace and to connect with the ‘emotional pulse’ of the world at any given time,” founder Deborah Greene wrote in a news release, “we hope that the LiveaMoment app will inspire increased global peacefulness and understanding.”

The app lets you watch short, relaxing videos from around the world, track your emotions over time, share your feelings with others globally, and see what other users are thinking and feeling. The app also lets you set reminders to take a daily moment of peace.

Run the numbers:

The iPhone turned 10 this week, and apparently the devices have faced plenty of abuse over the past decade. A new study by SquareTrade, an Allstate-owned company that offers insurance for iPhones and other gadgets, found iPhone owners have spent $14 billion to repair and replace their devices since the phone was released on June 29, 2007. Owners are six times more likely to damage their phone than they are to lose it or have it stolen, according to the study. Of those who have broken an iPhone, 27 percent did it while on vacation, 21 percent were playing a sport, 18 percent were drinking alcohol and 15 percent were taking a photo.

How do you prevent the dreaded iPhone drop that leads to a cracked screen? You could try growing. The SquareTrade study found owners who are over six feet tall are 32 percent less likely to suffer phone damage.

Quotable:

After venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck resigned this week over accusations of sexual harassment, outraged VCs rallied around a “#DecencyPledge” promising to do better. But VC and diversity advocate Ellen Pao isn’t going to let her peers off that easy. In a blog post she challenged investors to take concrete steps to increase diversity in the valley and fight sexual harassment, including employing coaches and requiring their portfolio companies to hit set diversity targets.

“We hear many of the people who through action or inaction are responsible for this problem now speaking up,” Pao wrote. “We’ve laid out a list of actions. Let’s move forward together so the tech sector can live up to its full potential.”

Photo: A worker wears an Imperfect Produce sweatshirt. (Courtesy of Imperfect Produce)

 

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