Freeosk of St. Joseph gets $6 million in first funding round

When you think of sampling food in the grocery store you might picture a plate held out on a gloved hand of a hairnet-wearing employee, but for samples that don't have to be served warm another solution is being developed.

Freeosk, which has operations in St. Joseph and Chicago, has created kiosks that distribute free samples through a system that looks a bit like that in a vending machine. The company said at TechWeek in Chicago in June that the free sample machines would be available at all Sam's Clubs within the years.

Sam's customers use their member card to get the machine to deliver a sample. And the item being sampled also is dislpayed for sale on the machine.

The company says it has pilot programs set to go in several retail outlets and has contracted to introduce the concept nationwide later this year.

Freeosk recently received a $3 million investment from the private equity firm Beringea of Farmington Hills. The company says it will use the funds to purchase capital equipment, pay for additional staff, install the Freeosk system in a major national retailer and for further product development.

Chicago-based First Analysis also invested $3 million in the first round of funding for the company.

"This investment provides the capital for Freeosk to take a major step forward in becoming a leader in how shoppers adopt new products," says Freeosk President Matt Eichorn. "But we’re equally pleased to gain the support and expertise of two respected partners in Beringea and First Analysis. We hope to benefit greatly from their extensive experience and domain knowledge.”

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Andi Jenkins, Beringea
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