DAVIDSON – Grocery Shopii, a digital meal planning software company that works with grocers to optimize their e-commerce platforms to provide individuals and families streamlined shopping and meal planning services, has raised a $1 million seed round, according to CEO and founder Katie Hotze.

“The need for digital meal planning is more burning than it ever has been,” said Hotze in an interview with WRAL TechWire.  That’s due to the acceleration of a trend that was already in place when she founded the company in 2019 to answer a common problem of grocery shoppers: the move toward e-commerce, and the connection of shopping for groceries to meal planning for the household.

“Answering the problem of the shopper is what we do,” said Hotze.  And, during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Hotze came to realize that grocers had a huge opportunity to reimagine how to serve their customers, who were seeking additional digital integrations and contactless shopping.

The company re-engineered the way its proprietary technology captures and deploys data, said Hotze, ‘to answer the shoppers need for convenience, need, and cost-savings.”

Hotze describes the software as a seamless, white-label technology offering that provides grocer’s customers a chance to plan, and purchase, everything needed to prepare meals for a week in under five minutes, doing so through a combination of machine learning and automation.

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Hotze describes the company, and the software, as a retailer-first technology, though it’s designed and developed to benefit a grocer’s customers.  The company recently inked a partnership deal with Microsoft, and plans to use the raised funds to build upon that partnership, which will allow the company to test new ideas with what Hotze termed “conversational AI,” as well as integrate advanced recommendation engines that can expedite a shopper’s experience.

The company will use Microsoft’s suite of products, including Azure and Power BI, “to reach a wide-scale audience in a short time, with built in redundancy and security,” according to a statement issued by the company announcing the partnership in May.

ShiSh Shridhar, the global retail lead for Microsoft Startups, called Grocery Shopii a great fit for its global program in a statement, noting that the company addresses an unresolved problem in a fast-growing segment.

The company, which employs nine people, raised money entirely from angel investors, with the majority of the funding coming from investors based in Atlanta, some from Richmond, and some from Charlotte, said Hotze.  The company recently expanded, and has office locations in Charlotte and Atlanta.

“Allow us to start building and answering different problems within the grocery shopping journey for retailers,” said Hotze.  “Optimize e-commerce opportunity while better serving their shopper with meal planning and online grocery shopping that is streamlined.”