Photo: Jamie Grill, Getty Images.
When you think of your last great meal, it probably wasn’t lunch at the office. Foodee, a Vancouver-based company expanding all over the United States, aims to change that. The corporate catering service works in tandem with local restaurants to provide customized, satisfying spreads delivered straight to your conference table, break room, or wherever you and your colleagues convene.
“Great teams eat together” is a tenet of Foodee’s philosophy. As CEO Ryan Spong explains, “Companies are understanding that what people eat is a very important perk, especially for millennials. We anecdotally hear that people would rather have a meal program than dental, because ‘I get my teeth cleaned once every six months, but I eat lunch every day.’”
Traditionally, catering’s crux is that is has to be all things to all people; with such a wide variety of options, none is particularly tasty. The other popular option for office lunch is take-out, requiring a gofer to stand in line or stoop to fast-food, which is often notoriously unhealthy.
Foodee avoids both these fates by partnering with top-notch restaurants that are buzzed about in their communities. Venues that offer office-appropriate menu items and use a farm-to-table approach or sustainably-sourced ingredients are abundant among the 250-plus restaurants already working with Foodee.
Restaurant owners are eager to jump on board with the company because the average order size from Foodee is about ten times larger than what an individual might order from other food delivery services like BiteSquad, Grubhub, or UberEats. Because corporate clients tend to plan ahead, Foodee typically gives restaurants more than 48 hours notice, allowing restaurant owners to take advantage of the downtime before and after the lunch hour spike, when employees and equipment would otherwise be idle.
For its corporate clients, Foodee manages accounts, sales, and logistics of ordering and delivery. Because such clients tend to appreciate a personal touch, the company boasts a robust concierge service that assists with the curation of meal options that address dietary restrictions. Delivery from Foodee includes a waiter who provides menus, placards, compostable packaging, and high attention to detail when setting up the meal.
Thus far, Foodee has found its client niche in creative companies, tech companies, and digital studios, places “that understand that having great corporate culture increases happiness in the workplace and productivity,” Spong says. Foodee has already served many Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Amazon, Comcast, eBay, Facebook, Microsoft, and Starbucks.
Foodee was founded in 2011 by Jon Cartwright, a young startup entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing at Invoke, a Canadian digital agency well-known for creating HootSuite. While Cartwright and the Invoke team had experienced some success in the food arena with a street cart finder app that reached half a million downloads, they wanted to develop a product that appealed to both restaurants and consumers.
To that end, Cartwright sought out Spong, an investment banker and restaurateur with whom he had attended high school. Together, they turned Foodee into a viable model that has since expanded to Toronto, Austin, Denver, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Atlanta. Over ten more cities are slated for this year, including Indianapolis and Kansas City. “We want to infuse these cities’ office culture with its food culture,” Spong says.
With a recent $6 million in Series A funding raised, Foodee also plans to invest in software that would allow order-makers to set up authorizations and catalog dietary restrictions within their accounts. It’s all about making office life easier—and more appetizing—for executive assistants, office managers, and the colleagues those people answer to.
“If things are cold, if things are late, if things are wrong or got mixed up, it’s a very stressful time in someone’s day,” Spong says. “This company was set up to reduce that anxiety and turn the office executive assistant into the office hero.”