Bloomington fund re-ups investment in food waste startup

BLOOMINGTON — Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund run by The Mill, today announced a $75,000 follow-on investment in FloWaste. FloWaste’s technology and analytics help food producers reduce waste and boost margins through sustainable, environmentally friendly processes. Founded by Rian Mc Donnell, FloWaste is currently preparing to launch a pilot program at over 100 locations.

Pat East

Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill, the nonprofit center for entrepreneurship that runs Flywheel Fund out of Bloomington, said, “The food industry has notoriously tight margins, and at the same time, it’s experiencing a surge of interest in sustainability issues. FloWaste has found a way to leverage business interests to also serve a higher purpose that benefits the globe: reducing landfills and greenhouse gasses. It’s truly a win-win.”

FloWaste uses cameras and a proprietary machine learning system to track food-related data at workstations, production lines, and trash cans. The resulting data and analytics help industrial and commercial food processors, cafeterias, quick-service restaurants, and other customers identify patterns in food waste to target. Mc Donnell estimates the serviceable obtainable market for FloWaste’s platform at $580 million within a nearly $3 billion total market.

FloWaste has just closed a $1.1 million pre-seed funding round, led by Rockstart, a global accelerator, and VC that invests in energy, agrifood, and emerging technologies, with additional participation from the U.S. venture funds, including Underdog Labs and Flywheel Fund. This is Flywheel’s second investment in FloWaste. In February of 2021, Flywheel made an initial investment of $20,000.

“Flywheel Fund has been a great partner for FloWaste,” said CEO Mc Donnell. “Working with Pat and Brian has been a huge asset, and having great midwestern syndicate members broadens our network and creates new opportunities.”

Mc Donnell, a native Irishman, studied mechanical and manufacturing engineering at Trinity College Dublin, and currently works out of South Bend. FloWaste’s technology is currently being used in businesses across Indiana and the US, as well as in Europe. For one leading protein producer monitoring waste on a beef production line, Mc Donnell notes, the platform creates significant financial, environmental, and ethical returns.

Brian Hatton

Brian Hatton, Venture Partner for Flywheel Fund, commented, “The global opportunity here, and the fact that Rian is already engaged with European food producers and investors, speaks volumes about the value proposition and where FloWaste can go next. Flywheel is proud to invest not only in this great tech startup, but in a sustainable future.”

About Flywheel Fund

Flywheel Fund is a member-managed capital fund for early-stage tech startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana.

About FloWaste

FloWaste is a technology startup with a mission to address the business, environmental and ethical issues of food waste. FloWaste’s food analytics platform empowers food processors, cafeterias, and restaurants to optimize food usage, reduce waste and associated costs, thereby reducing harmful environmental and supporting ethical business practices. Learn more at

About The Mill

The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its largest coworking space. The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.