The Carmel-based internet-of-things services provider Mesh Systems LLC recently completed a 10,000-square-foot expansion, in large part driven by a project the firm is doing with multinational food company Kraft Heinz Co.
Founded in 2005, Mesh helps its customers develop and launch internet-connected products ranging from coffee machines to beer tap handles to pest-control systems. The firm has 95 employees, and its clients include well-known companies such as Indianapolis-based Corteva Agriscience and Allison Transmission, as well as PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Mesh’s expansion space, which it calls the Mesh ThingsLab, is located at 1091 Third Ave. SW in Carmel, about a mile away from Mesh’s main offices at 801 Congressional Blvd. The ThingsLab opened last month.
The ThingsLab is a hands-on technology center where the company’s engineers, designers and others can do hands-on work with the products—some of them, quite large—they’re developing for clients.
Until now, “we just did not have ample room for things like prototyping and functional testing,” said Andrew Cohoat, Mesh’s chief commercial officer.
Having the extra space will allow the company to do more of this work in-house rather than at customer facilities or third-party locations, which should also allow the firm to speed up its development process, Cohoat said.
In particular, Cohoat said Mesh’s current and continuing work with Kraft Heinz was a major reason why the firm needed more lab space.
Mesh has worked with Kraft Heinz to develop a high-tech sauce dispenser called the Heinz Remix. The standalone touch-screen machine allows customers to select a base sauce such as ketchup or ranch dressing and add one or more flavorings such as jalapeno or mango, allowing for more than 200 different potential sauce combinations. And because of the technology involved, the machines are also capable of collecting data about which flavors and combinations are most popular.
Following six months of development, the Heinz Remix made its debut in May at the National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show in Chicago. Days later, the prototype machine was featured on a broadcast of NBC’s “Today” morning news show.
In announcing the Heinz Remix in May, Kraft Heinz described the Remix as “more than a sauce dispenser; it’s an insights engine and business model enabler that will help Kraft Heinz understand and respond to consumer trends and flavor preferences in real-time.”
The machine’s debut garnered widespread attention, resulting in news coverage from outlets ranging from USA Today and CNBC to TechCrunch and a variety of food-industry publications.
Kraft Heinz says it plans to do pilot testing of the machines with restaurant operators later this year or early next year, although the company told IBJ this week that it is not yet sharing details on which restaurants or which cities will be part of the pilot.
In connection with its ThingsLab expansion, the company has secured an offer of $1 million in conditional tax credits from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. According to preliminary information on the IEDC’s transparency portal, the offer is based on Mesh’s expectation of adding 50 new jobs.
Full details of the offer are not yet available because the contract was recently signed and has not yet been posted on the IEDC’s transparency portal. The IEDC confirmed that it has offered the incentives but declined to make a copy of the contract available.