National restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has formed Cultivate Next, a new venture fund which intends to make early-stage investments into companies that further Chipotle’s mission to Cultivate a Better World.
The aim of Cultivate Next is to support seed to Series B stage companies that can accelerate the Company’s strategic priorities such as running great restaurants, amplifying technology and innovation, further advancing its Food With Integrity mission, and expanding access and convenience for consumers. The new venture fund will have an initial size of $50 million and will be financed solely by Chipotle.
“We are exploring investments in emerging innovation that will enhance our employee and guest experience, and quite possibly revolutionize the restaurant industry,” said Curt Garner, Chief Technology Officer, Chipotle. “Investing in forward-thinking ventures that are looking to drive meaningful change at scale will help accelerate Chipotle’s aggressive growth plans.”
As a digital leader, Chipotle recently began testing an artificially intelligent robot, Chippy, to cook its tortilla chips, as well as radio-frequency identification (RFID) to trace and track ingredients in its restaurants. These steps are to both drive efficiencies and enhance the human experience. Chipotle is also leveraging a new scheduling tool that uses machine learning to build more effective schedules and last year, made an investment in a leading autonomous delivery company, Nuro.
Chipotle has over 2,950 restaurants in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. It is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants with no franchising.