In a world grappling with the critical issue of food waste, one visionary individual stands at the forefront of a culinary revolution, armed not with a chef's apron but with cutting-edge technology. Meet Vincent Garcia, the Co-Founder of Kikleo, a company on a mission to transform the restaurant industry. Kikleo's mission is as bold as it is necessary: to reduce food waste and elevate the performance of restaurants worldwide. How, you ask? By providing restaurateurs with an arsenal of innovative technological tools that delve deep into the intricate world of loss analysis. In this exclusive interview, we'll dive into Vincent Garcia's journey, the inception of Kikleo, and the remarkable potential it holds to reshape the way we think about sustainability and success in the culinary realm. Join Delivery Rank as we explore how Kikleo is revolutionizing the restaurant industry one byte at a time.
I am a co-founder of Kikleo, and there are two founders in our company. Why did we start working on food waste? It all began four years ago when Martin and I were attending an engineering school in Lyon, France. Lyon, if you are not familiar, is where our school was based.
During that time, we had a project focused on addressing food waste at our school's campus. Our mission was to assist the campus restaurants in reducing their food waste. Our initial approach involved meeting with the restaurant managers to understand their challenges and how we could be of assistance.
They acknowledged that they had a food waste issue, but they couldn't pinpoint its source. They weren't sure whether it originated in the kitchen or from the customers' plates.
The first step we took was to begin using scales to weigh all the bins at the end of each meal. This process proved to be quite time-consuming since there were three restaurants on campus. After every meal, for about two hours, and throughout the afternoon, we would visit each restaurant and weigh all the bins. However, this method had its limitations because, by the end of the day, we still couldn't discern the exact contents of the bins.
Recognizing the need for a more efficient and automated approach, we came up with the idea of taking pictures of the bins and the trays at the end of meals. We would then manually identify the wasted items on the plates in the bins. This process led us to realize that there might be a less complicated and more powerful solution. We shared our findings with some friends, and they suggested that we could utilize AI for this purpose, making it a more efficient and powerful tool than our manual observations.
With this new direction in mind, we began working with AI technology. After six months, we presented the results of our efforts to our school for our thesis project and to the restaurants we had collaborated with. They were impressed with the results and found them highly beneficial for making changes in the restaurants, such as adjusting recipes and portion sizes. They expressed their willingness to become our first clients if we decided to start a company. Today, they remain our clients, which is a great outcome.
Furthermore, our school offered to provide us with funding to work on the solution, hire additional personnel, and start a company. Initially, we hadn't planned on entrepreneurship, but we recognized the opportunity and seized it.
We currently have nearly 100 clients located across France. Let me explain how our system works. This camera, which you can see here, captures images of the bins and trays. By the end of the day, it can recognize approximately 100 different types of food items present in the bins and on the trays. If a restaurant has a specific menu, the type of food detected is linked to that menu. For instance, if they serve rice with curry and chicken, our system will identify the chicken and rice and associate them with the menu. This is the process we follow.
It's worth noting that our algorithm is consistent across all the restaurants we work with. We primarily collaborate with the catering industry, specifically large restaurants that prepare a significant number of meals daily. This approach allows us to make a more substantial impact compared to working with smaller, traditional restaurants. Typically, our clients serve around 1000 meals a day.
With regard to our technology, the most significant challenge we encountered occurred when we founded the company at the end of 2019, and just three months later, the COVID-19 crisis hit. This presented a substantial hurdle for us since our work revolves around AI (Artificial Intelligence). In AI, technology is divided into two key components: the algorithm and the data, each contributing 50% to the overall technology.
During the COVID-19 crisis, when all restaurants were forced to close, acquiring data from them became exceedingly difficult. Initially, our partners were university restaurants. However, we had to adapt and seek new partners. We started collaborating with hospitals because they were among the few types of restaurants that remained open during the pandemic. We obtained data from trays used for patient meals. This proved to be a challenging endeavor as we had to develop our technology over the course of two years, navigating the COVID crisis with limited data resources. In retrospect, this was the most significant challenge we faced.
Currently, our technology consists of just a camera. However, we have ambitious plans to enhance it by developing a new version - the second iteration equipped with a screen. This screen will enable us to convey information in real-time. As people pass by the device, they will receive immediate feedback regarding food waste, helping to raise awareness. We intend to support this effort with communication campaigns and other initiatives. This represents one of our major ongoing projects.
Additionally, we continue to collaborate with hospital restaurants, particularly in the Parisian hospital network, where we have established long-term partnerships. Our joint venture focuses on a nutrition solution within catering services. Our goal is to analyze the dietary habits of patients who have specific nutrition-related issues. By examining what they consume and the nutrients they intake, we aim to provide them with tailored dietary recommendations and the appropriate medication to address their nutritional concerns.
With our camera technology, we can capture images of trays both before and after they are served, allowing us to compare the contents and track what has been consumed by the patient.