Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.
I recently ate my first freeze pop in years. If Boston Beer Co. has anything to say about it, I will not wait nearly as long to have a second — and you will soon be eating them, too.
The Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program crowned its first Pitch Room contest winner at the beer maker’s Jamaica Plain brewery, awarding $10,000 to a Brooklyn startup called Brewla, which produces all-natural frozen treats.
The nationwide competition brought together six finalists from five states, each of which had two minutes to pitch its business idea to a panel of judges that included Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch and executives from Legal Sea Foods, Delaware North Cos., and the small-business lender Accion.
I wrote about the contest and Brewing the American Dream in October, after the regional round. Basically, they are a way for Koch — who remembers the challenge of starting Sam Adams in his kitchen three decades ago — to help food and beverage companies accelerate their growth.
Brewla is run by the brother-and-sister team of Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove, who set out to upgrade the ice pop with natural ingredients and make it more appealing to adults, with flavors like raspberry and green tea, as well as espresso. There is even one made from hops.
In addition to winning money for business operations, Brewla will get coaching from Koch and his team and help with marketing.
“When we have a question, to be able to go right to this organization could even be more valuable than the cash prize,” said Daniel Dengrove.
Koch said he and the judges saw a market gap they believe Brewla could fill.
“What I was excited about is that they are in a big category that really hasn’t changed that much, despite everything that’s gone on in food and beverage, in terms of higher quality, better ingredients, healthier products,” he said. “Nobody’s offering things that are healthy and have a sophisticated culinary basis, and Brewla is doing that.”
— CALLUM BORCHERS
Startup crowdsources grocery deliveries
With holiday parties and family meals looming, it is easy to see the appeal of Instacart: You can order groceries online and have them delivered to your doorstep in an hour or two, for a delivery charge of as little as $3.99.
And here is the twist: As with errand services such as Task Rabbit and transportation networks such as Lyft, just about anyone who can find their way around the produce section can sign up to earn money as a grocery courier for Instacart. The company says its “personal shoppers” earn an average of $20 an hour. They are paid based on the number of orders they handle and the size of those orders.
It raises the interesting possibility of pocketing some extra dough by shopping for a few neighbors whenever you visit the store.
“My fridge was always empty,” said Instacart founder Apoorva Mehta. “I just never had time to go to the grocery store during the day.”
Mehta previously worked to improve order fulfillment at Amazon and as an engineer at Qualcomm and RIM. Instacart started in San Francisco and expanded to Chicago in September; Boston is Instacart’s third market.
“Our goal is to offer an Amazon-like experience without building any of the infrastructure, using crowdsourcing,” Mehta said.
At first, Instacart will offer only groceries from Shaw’s. But it will eventually expand to Whole Foods, Costco, and other stores, Mehta said, letting consumers purchase certain items from each store. If a consumer chooses items from three stores, that order would be filled by three different shoppers. Instacart representatives have said the food prices on its site can be the same as or higher than the prices a shopper would pay in the store.
For consumers who request delivery in less than two hours, the company charges a $3.99 fee for orders over $35 and $7.99 for orders under $35. The minimum order is $10.
The company says its fastest delivery was made in 19 minutes, but deliveries can be scheduled for specific times. Instacart also offers a service similar to Amazon Prime: For $99 a year, all under two-hour deliveries of more than $35 are free.
— Scott Kirsner