Food.ee: The Magic of a Catered Office Lunch

August 17, 2012

11:00 am

On her second week on the job as Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer announced that lunches in the company cafeteria would be free.

A longtime offering at Google, Mayer’s previous employer, the free lunch symbolizes a company’s commitment to its employees: they no longer have to rush around in the morning throwing a sandwich into a brown paper bag or waste precious lunch-hour time waiting in line.

Food.ee also believes in the power of an office lunch. The Vancouver startup teams up with restaurants to deliver lunch to local offices, whether it be Thai or Japanese or a customized menu made by the Food.ee team. Food.ee serves over 60 offices in Vancouver, with local hits like vegan and protein-packed donuts from Cartems and rustic Finch’s sandwiches.

“Our goal is to bring that experience that large companies are able to provide to any company that wants it,” says CEO Jon Cartwright.

To start the process, a Food.ee ambassador arrives at your office with a platter of food and some questions about your lunch preferences. That ambassador keeps working with your company long-term to recommend menus. According to Cartwright, they tried bringing in some PhDs to create algorithms to do the recommending, but it was missing a human touch.

When Food.ee meals arrive, they are decorated with the cute Food.ee fox and (in the future) color-coded based on ingredients, like vegan or vegetarian.

Compared to alternatives like ZeroCater, a similar service in San Francisco, Food.ee likes to highlight its local, seasonal food and recyclable packaging. Almost a year in, Cartwright is surprised by how much money companies are willing to spend on food – but if Marissa Mayer is right, it’s an investment that will bear fruit.

Food.ee will be showcasing at the Launch@Grow party in Vancouver on August 22, where Tech Cocktail is a media sponsor. To get a $10 discount on tickets, use the code TechCocktail.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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