Long gone are the days when employees in Warby Parker offices shoveled sad looking lunches into their mouths. Why would they eat cheap bags of potato chips and stale microwaved leftovers when they could instead sample some grilled basil, pesto chicken, and Caesar salad?
The Sifted Culinary team is the one to thank for these revolutionary lunches; the catered lunch meals actually taste better than they sound. Corporate catered meals have become popular among tech companies looking to attract the best talent. Currently the catering market is at $9 billion and growing, and funded startups are adding $500 million to their in-office catering budgets each year.
Former employees of Qualifacts, (Kimberly Lexow and Jess Legge) founded Sifted when they learned of the huge demand for catered lunches. They identified this growing need and decided to capitalize on the new found opportunity. Together they brought a software-inspired, culture-centred approach to their food service startup.
A Food Business Built Like a Software Company
“Good food is powerful. When teams come together over chef-made lunches, the experience extends far beyond the lunch hour,” said Lexow.
The food delivery market is growing nationwide and to meet this need several competitors have infiltrated the market such as; Cater2Me, ZeroCater, Foodee, and Fooda
The competitors source food from local restaurants and prioritize one-time transactions. Sifted sets itself apart through its recurring revenue packages, end-to-end process and in-house meal preparation. Sifted has control over the entire process and utilizes data to predict behaviors.
Sifted provides services to clients such as Eventbrite, Lyft, Box, BitPay and Warby Parker. They choose their preferred schedule (daily, weekly, or somewhere in between) and pay the full annual fee at the beginning of the service period.
Scaling a Culturally-Enriched Catering Service
A challenge to the catering service company is the limited variety in the food choices being offered. Of course there are the common alternatives such as vegetarian and vegan, dairy free, or gluten free foods. However, a client may choose to opt out if they don’t like any of the food on the menu.
In regards to the current food pricing, clients have expressed the desire to have their meals subsidized. This is a new undertaking that seeks to cater for startups that aren’t quite ready to foot the entire bill at once.
Sifted endeavors to move into new territory. New offices have been opened in Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, and Denver in tandem with its commitment to culturally-enriched catering. High quality service and products is paramount to solidify success. Future plans to spread to 10 cities in 2017 can prove to be a strain on the standing quality and mission, therefore a proper hiring and training must be done to preserve the Sifted experience.
A Strong Start in a Booming Industry
Following an investment dip in 2016, the online food delivery still presents $210 billion market opportunity. Sifted has proven to be a significant facet in the market which will in turn attract future investment prospects.
If Sifted continues to add innovative, high-profile companies to its client base, it could demonstrate the perks of catered lunch to the tech industry at large.