Sodexo Live!, the leading hospitality partner to the world’s most iconic venues, has selected four startups to join the first North American cohort of its milestone Accelerator program. Sodexo Live! will tap into its extensive network of well-trained hospitality professionals, local purveyors, and culinary expertise to help scale these companies further into the future of live events and entertainment.
The program focused on three key business functions that are relevant for today’s stadiums, arenas, convention centers, zoos, museums, aquariums, ski resorts, airport lounges and more – the themes were Service Excellence, Guest/Fan Experience and Operational Optimization. Over 100 companies submitted applications for consideration.
From the initial global applicant pool, a select group of 12 startups and scale-ups were invited in October to pitch their business and vision to 300+ senior leaders within Sodexo Live! and a select number of venue partners and other industry stakeholders.
From this highly competitive group, VisioLab, Nina Labs, Thermal Smart, and gigl are the emerging technologies identified as the inaugural class of participating companies. The winners were chosen as those best able to bring the most impactful solutions for further testing in the Accelerator program.
Each of these companies will begin collaborating with different facets of the business to drive innovation and adoption of emerging technologies at multiple Sodexo Live! sites across North America. The organization has worked closely with corporate innovation specialist L Marks – which has created over 80 programs throughout Europe, Asia and North America – to launch this effort.
About the inaugural class:
VisioLab, a frictionless self-checkout solution for hospitality and retail locations. The POS innovation utilizes proprietary AI to better identify prepared and prepackaged food. The hardware can be deployed within a day and allows users to check out within a second.
Gigl, a next-gen job app that lets candidates apply to companies with a 60-second video in line with the consumption patterns of Gen Z in a post-COVID environment. This expedites the acquisition of engaged candidates and reduces the training-to-labor time. Gigl seeks to remove barriers to entry, empowering potential employees to put their best self forward.
Nina Labs, which offers a premium self-service experience with IoT pourers on spirits bottles that digitize and track every drop. This allows for real-time tracking of stock and inventory and makes note of each drink self-served resulting in frictionless transactions for fans and guests.
Thermal Smart, an aerogel manufacturer that provides insulation solutions to help companies improve cold chain logistics performance, save operational costs and reduce CO2 emissions. The company offers a variety of materials for a broad range of potential applications – from fabric-like covers for hot food, to spray insulation for large cold storage.
In the upcoming year, the selected entrepreneurs will work one-on-one as part of an innovation lab with dedicated advisors as part of the program’s focus on the revision of go-to-market strategies, user experience, fundraising, sales, marketing and branding, product design and working at enterprise scale.
“In the live events industry, it’s no longer enough to fulfill the status quo. We have to look ahead and future-proof ourselves and our venue partners, and this program is crucial to helping attain those goals,” Matthew Wagner, senior vice president, strategic growth, Sodexo Live!, said in the announcement.
“We’re grateful to all the talented teams who took the time to present their forward-thinking ideas, and we’re excited to now move forward with these four companies,” Greg Fender, executive vice president, Sodexo Live!, said in the announcement. “They all offer smart perspectives on important issues the industry is facing, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they will drive growth across all segments of the business.”
Hannah Page, COO, L Marks, added in the announcement, “We are excited to be working with Sodexo Live! North America for the first time. It was wonderful to see so many great companies partake in Pitch Day, and meet so many engaged and enthusiastic people from across the Sodexo Live! team. Four amazing companies have been selected to pilot within the business from across the globe, whose solutions will tackle some of the key challenges facing the hospitality world right now. I look forward to seeing the promising results in the years ahead.”