Posts by Author Alina Cohen

How to Use Your Alexa to Control Your Home Devices, Water Your Plants or Even Feed Your Cat

By day I'm a general partner at Initialized Capital helping founders and investing in startups. But I've never given up my hunger to build things and hack on projects in my spare time. So in that spirit, I wanted to share a quick tutorial:

In this tutorial, we'll walk through the basics of how to set up an Alexa Skill to control a Raspberry Pi or Arduino. Instead of having to water your plants with a button or turn off your lights with an app you just tell Alexa what to do and it will relay to your device. There’s a whole host of robot minions you can build (more tutorials coming soon!) but with this one I’ll demonstrate the very basic functionality and how to bridge Arduino and Raspberry Pi with Alexa. The tutorial is intended for engineers and should take about an hour.

Why Initialized invested in Plate IQ: Software Eats The Restaurant Industry

Restaurants spend billions of dollars every year without knowing where it goes. Bhavuk Kaul and his cofounder, Ram Jayaraman, have spent years designing and creating product at top companies, now they’re applying their expertise to help restaurant owners.

We are proud to be investing in Plate IQ, a YC graduate that is re-imagining how restaurants manage their expenses.

Restaurants are not an easy business. But they are big one. U.S. restaurants gross $799 billion restaurant revenue each year. Despite the scale, the technology available to the average restaurant owner isn’t much more advanced today than it was 20 years ago. Thanks to Plate IQ, that’s about to change.

Using OCR, Plate IQ is able to automatically process invoices and drastically simplify back office operations. Plate IQ automates payments and to date has saved its customers over 135,000 hours in time that would be spent on manual entry and bill paying. On top of that, they connect each restaurateur with their real time spend, identifying key trends and foregrounding unusual fluctuations. To date, their platform has processed over $675 million dollars worth of invoices, tracking changes in prices across every purchase a restaurant makes.

This previously untracked data allows restaurant owners to understand the real costs of discrete menu items in real time and adjust price and recipes accordingly. Because they are deployed across such a large range of restaurants, from Sprig to French Laundry, they are able to surface price averages for every item in each restaurant vertical. This gives owners never before seen visibility not just into their own restaurant but into the industry as a whole.

As a firm we frequently talk about the divergence of user experience between consumer and enterprise software — people use a beautifully designed application to take a picture of their kale at lunch but use inefficient, antiquated software for 8 hours a day. With Plate IQ we hope all restaurant owners can have a world class experience managing their business and are finally able to replace file cabinets storing year’s worth of invoices with great software.

Try Plate IQ now on your iOS device —, and read more about the company on TechCrunch.