Analytical Flavor Systems (AFS), the startup that uses artificial intelligence to predict good-tasting food, has raised $4 million in a round of venture funding.
According to a report in VentureBeat the New York startup raised $4 million in a series A round of funding that was led by Leawood Venture Capital and Global Brain. Other investors that participated in the round include Hyperplane Venture Capital, Bits x Bites, Cornes Technologies and others. As part of the investment, the company has added Karl Gemperli, Naoki Kamimaeda, Vivjan Myrto and Eamonn Cary to the board.
In an interview with VentureBeat, Chief Executive and Founder Jason Cohen said AFS’ technology is attracting big-name investors, such as AB InBev‘s global innovation fund, and that the proceeds will go to bringing on new talent and expertise and further developing its AI system. The executive said the company’s recommendations have already been used to create “multiple” successful products.
“The Gastrograph AI platform can help CPG companies big and small create better, more targeted and healthy products for consumers,” Cohen said in the interview. “Too many consumer demographics are underserved by the food and beverage products currently on the market.”
While the startup is facing competition, the executive told VentureBeat that the Gastrograph AI platform is the first one designed specifically for developing new food and beverage products. Cohen has been in the food industry for years, founding and serving as executive director of the Tea Institute at Pennsylvania State University before starting AFS. In 2010, he developed an AI tea tool that did better than expert taste testers when placing the origin of specific teas.
With AFS’ smartphone app, the intensity of flavors is rated based on whether they are meaty, sugary, earthy and spicy, among other traits. The flavors are rated on a scale from one to five, with an overall product preference score being assigned.
“Flavor has always been the forgotten sense,” Cohen said. “Companies would use qualitative research, opinions really, to inform product decisions. Now they can see accurate predictions for what any target consumer around the world will taste in their product and how much they’ll like it. AI-powered product development is creating super-competitive products that people would never have come up with.”