- Homesome, a grocery e-commerce technology startup focused on independent food retailers, has launched a research and development center in Israel, the company told Grocery Dive.
- The San Jose, California-based company has hired Liad Itzhak, a former executive for Google-owned navigation company Waze, to serve as its chief technology officer and oversee both the newly formed engineering operation and new center in Israel.
- Homesome is aiming to bolster its data-analysis capabilities as it gears up to expand its role in providing online ordering technology for smaller grocery chains.
Itzhak plans to draw on his experience scaling up data-based navigation services at Waze, which he groomed to be acquired by Google, to craft strategies to help Homesome's customers compete online with larger grocery chains.
Homesome's clients include Westside Market, a grocery chain that serves Manhattan; Chicago's Cermak Fresh Market; India Cash & Carry of the San Francisco Bay Area; and Super India, a grocer in San Jose, California, that inaugurated Homesome's e-commerce platform in 2018.
A former head of data for Waze and Here Technologies, another online mapping company, Itzhak said in an interview he believes strong data-analysis capabilities can help small businesses thrive by giving them unique insights they might otherwise overlook. Izhak said Waze's heavy focus on data helped the company, which distinguished itself by combining information contributed by users with its maps, identify areas where it could stand out against Google Maps, its much larger rival. Google acquired Waze in 2013 for $1.1 billion.
Itzhak's appointment follows Homesome's announcement in late July that it had named Ran Makavy, former chief product officer of ridesharing company Lyft, to its board of directors.
Itzhak said his goal is to sharply raise Homesome's profile in the grocery e-commerce space. He plans to bring on between 50 and 60 people to staff the new R&D center he is leading over the next year and also expects Homesome to add staff in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it is headquartered.
"[The] market is vast, and there is a gap in the market. There is a real need for the long tail supermarkets — the smaller retailers, the smaller grocers — to have a solution that will help them become much more competitive," Itzhak said. "I think that's the opportunity of Homesome, and definitely, there are many things we can do very quickly."
Homesome did not offer specifics about how it intends to fund its planned rapid expansion.
"A majority of the $6.70 million we raised last year is still in our bank, and we are building the business for the long term in a capital-efficient manner," Rahul Chabukswar, Homesome's founder and CEO, said in an emailed statement.