Microsoft’s recent announcement that we are Moving Food-Resilience Data to the Cloud and teaming up with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to host the Innovation Challenge, a series of developer activities related to food resilience in key U.S. metro areas (October 20 through December 10) made me think of a MassChallenge startup interested in food called Rosie.
I had the chance to catch up with Christine Keung, the Director of Rosie Boston to learn more about the business and how they view food resilience in Boston.
Microsoft New England: What is Rosie?
CK: Rosie empowers local merchants with e-commerce, delivery opportunities, and deep data services to compete in a fast changing digital landscape. With Rosie, consumers can shop online from their favorite local stores for same-day delivery or in-store pickup. Rosie improves quality of life for working parents, young professionals, and the mobility-impaired by making it easier than ever to purchase their groceries and take care of their household errands using their laptops, phones, or tablets.
Retailers leverage Rosie’s predictive shopping capabilities to fulfill digital orders, increase average basket size, improve operational performance, and measure individual customer engagement/retention.
Rosie empowers retailers to make data-driven decisions and make “shopping local” more convenient for consumers.
MSNE: Tell me more about how Rosie views food resilience.
CK: According to the USDA, 13.6 million Americans have limited access to nutritious food because they live far away from a supermarket and don’t have easy access to transportation. The USDA recognizes 37 cities in upstate New York as food deserts, areas where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. Food deserts usually exist in rural areas and low-income communities. Rosie is currently live and operating in six locations in these regions. Rosie’s presence in these rural and suburban secondary markets has broken down traditional barriers to access to healthy and nutritious food.
We offer an agile alternative to solving the food desert problem—one that empowers the local businesses to be part of the solution. For example, one of our partners in Farmington, NY, Wade’s Market Center (wadesmarketcenter.com), has set up multiple Local Pickup points to address the food desert problems in their community. Local Pickup provides the convenience of delivery at a reduced cost by meeting customers at centrally located drop-off points. Rosie software helps grocery stores increase their coverage area without physical expansion. By connecting communities with local business, Rosie ensures nutritious healthy food options are available to everyone, everywhere.
MSNE: How does technology help Rosie to serve the civic community?
CK: Rosie uses technology to connect people, improve cities, and make government more effective. Additionally, Rosie spurs local economic development by partnering with local businesses to create innovative civic tech solutions. For example, in Syracuse, NY Rosie is partnered with Nojaim Bros. Supermarket. Nojaim’s is located in Syracuse’s Near West Side and with Rosie, provides residents in the downtown Syracuse area with access to affordable and healthy groceries. Most of the market’s current customers live on the Near West Side and South Side of the city, where the median household income is $13,902 in 2011.
Earlier this month, Rosie and Nojaim Brothers Supermarket publicly answered US Senator Charles Schumer’s and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s call to action to bring a supermarket to downtown Syracuse. Schumer sought to bring a grocery chain from outside the community, yet Rosie’s same day delivery already provides residents in downtown Syracuse access to affordable, nutritious groceries, as well as addresses the transportation and parking issues associated with building a new supermarket in Downtown Syracuse.
Rosie and Nojaim Brothers ensure that residents get their groceries while supporting local businesses, which further invests in Syracuse’s economic growth and development. By advocating for local business, increasing access to fresh food, and operating in non-traditional markets, Rosie uses its innovative technology to make communities like Syracuse a better place to live and work.
Tags: Boston, Charles Schumer, Christine Keung, Civic Tech, cloud, Data, e-commerce, economic development, food deserts, Food-Resilience, Innovation Challenge, Local businesses, masschallenge, microsoft, Rosie, technology, USDA