Lunch can be a surprisingly inefficient time of day for office workers, or at least for the restaurants that serve them. In an era when it is easy for everyone to order a meal and have it delivered, a lot of workers choose that option. And while everyone doesn’t order from the same restaurant, there is certainly a lot of overlap, and therefore the possibility for many redundant trips.
It was that observation that prompted the start of Foodsby in 2012, when the firm launched in Minneapolis to build a better delivery experience. The company is far from the only delivery aggregator in the game and they aren’t the best-known – DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats all have bigger public profiles, and three-quarters of them were founded and are headquartered in San Francisco, the U.S. city where tech buzz is built most of the time. But Foodsby comes into the delivery game a slightly different angle than its compatriots – and with a different outlook on improving the lunch experience.
In short, the service functions by allowing a lunch-seeking worker to pre-order a meal from a restaurant in its network. Choices of eateries can vary among Foodsby’s 17 cities. Its national restaurant partners include TGI Fridays, Smashburger, Noodles World Kitchen, Famous Dave’s, Schlotzky’s and McAlister’s Deli.
Foodsby aggregates all of the lunch orders that come in for each location, and sends them to the restaurants so they can be grouped and delivered all at once.
Restaurants make the deliveries themselves, as Foodsby only handles the order aggregation. Also, Foodsby only works with businesses, and doesn’t do one-off orders for consumers. According to the firm, the net effect is to keep costs down. Joining the service is free for businesses that want to offer the service to their workers, or for restaurants that want to be available as an ordering option in the network.
It’s essentially consumer food delivery with a B2B base, which CEO Ben Cattoor noted was an delivery innovation that was lacking in the market. Apart from being logistically challenging for restaurants, it could also be distracting for businesses if to have delivery drivers showing up at office buildings every 10 minutes during lunchtime hours, he said. And in some cases, Cattoor noted, it could create a security issue.
According to Cattoor, the solution is a better, more streamlined flow of operation, in which the consumers themselves are not the main point of contact.
As Cattoor described, Foodsby aims to “work with businesses and create a better experience where lunch shows up once or twice in an afternoon, not 30 or 40 times, and the worker pays a very low delivery fee and has certainty.”
Foodsby is not a rapid growth-focused firm – with seven years under its belt, it has just recently entered its 17th operating location in the U.S., in San Diego. This marks the firm’s first launch in the crowded and competitive California market, the headquarters of many of its better-known consumer-focused competitors.
For Foodsby though, slow and steady wins the race – or at least makes business operations sustainable. Several delivery startups expanded too quickly and folded thereafter, and the segment continues to be challenging for startup players today. Competitor service Munchery, for examples, shuttered its operations earlier this year, leaving many suppliers high and dry.
Foodsby has managed those kinds of growing pains, and Cattoor is confident the latest expansion into San Diego will be a strong launching point for building its network throughout the state. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to start creating a better lunch experience for restaurants, businesses and office workers in San Diego,” he said. “We believe lunch should be efficient, affordable and delightful for everyone, and we look forward to working with new partners in the area to bring that experience to as many people as possible.”