Flip camera creator's new venture not as cheesy as it sounds

Jonathan Kaplan combining mobile tech with grilled cheese sandwiches. Really.

At the D9 tech business conference in California, Flip creator Jonathan Kaplan has unveiled his next big business, and for fans of the popular video camera, it's sure to make no sense at all.

According to Venture Beat's Anthony Ha, Kaplan used his stage time to wow the tech industry with his grilled cheese start-up.

I'm just reporting the news.

Called "The Melt," Kaplan's vision is a "next generation fast, casual restaurant," Ha writes. The "next generation" and "fast" part of it is that customers will be able to order from The Melt's mobile website menu, and then pick up their food and drinks at any Melt restaurant.

It sounds pretty lame, I know, but legendary Sand Hill Road VC firm Sequoia Capital has invested in The Melt, Kaplan said. Ha reads between the lines and estimates that Sequoia may have sunk at $10 million in the start-up.

The Melt will launch a handful of stores in the San Francisco Bay Area starting this summer. After that, Kaplan has an aggressive five-year plan that calls for 500 restaurant openings.

So why is this not so crazy? As Ma points out, Kaplan actually may be "trying to invent a new model for the restaurant business" that incorporates mobile and geo-location technology.

Also, Sequoia is an A-list venture capital firm, with a record of having funded Apple, Google, YouTube, PayPal, Cisco Systems, Oracle and LinkedIn, among other companies with which you may be familiar. Sure, they've had some duds, but they must see something here. My guess is they're interested in the business model and how it can be adapted to other things.

And they probably also are betting on Kaplan. VCs place big bets on successful track records, and Kaplan created a video recorder that became the market leader. Why not give the guy another chance at the plate?

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