Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Food + Tech + Startups = Hot New Thing

Approximately 30% of all of my conversations are about food. I would also add that approximately 20% of my conversations are about startups.

Soooo, it is basically a given that at some point I would write a post combining food and startups.

Essentially there are four major types of food delivery startups that are sweeping the nation.
  1. Restaurant delivery services
  2. Meal delivery services
  3. Grocery delivery services
  4. Meal kit services

Restaurant Delivery Services

These companies deliver food from local restaurants. In my opinion, this is one of the hardest markets to differentiate in. Startups really only differ in what type of restaurants agree to have exclusive partnerships with them. As a restaurant delivery service, it is also hard to create a branded customer experience, as you are simply delivering other restaurants' food. However, there are a few companies in this space that are doing interesting things. I really enjoy Caviar--they have a great selection of top-tier restaurants, and they recently integrated with Square.

Hilary Stone Soup Favorite: Caviar

Meal Delivery Services

This group of startups follow an "Uber for dining" model. Within a mobile app, you request a specific meal (typically from a pre-determined list of two or three daily options), and the startup delivers this specific meal to you. The meals are prepared by in-house chefs. Most deliver your email right away, though Munchery requires you to sign up for meals a few hours in advance. Startups differ by how fast they bring you food and what type of food they delivery. For example, SpoonRocket prides itself on fast service. However, Thistle is bringing you vegan meals with a fresh-squeezed juice.

Hilary Stone Soup Favorite: Sprig

Grocery Delivery Services

This group of startups brings you the groceries of your choice, and sometimes even from the grocery store of your choice. Similarly to restaurant delivery companies, startups in this space have a hard time differentiating from each other. Companies typically charge higher prices for your groceries, in addition to a delivery service charge. While most startups focus on delivering from Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, etc, Good Eggs is slightly different in that they focus on farmers and high-quality producers, essentially delivering groceries from a farmer's market.

Companies: Instacart, Postmates, Amazon Fresh, Google Shopping Express, Good Eggs

Hilary Stone Soup Favorite: TBD

Meal Kit Services

Like the previous category, this group of startups delivers raw ingredients. However, these companies allow you to choose from a range of meals, and they deliver all of the ingredients you need, in perfect portions. They provide you with ingredients and a recipe card to make a delicious-looking meal at home. Prices are typically $10-15 per person, per meal, and there is typically a delivery fee. 

Hilary Stone Soup Favorite: TBD

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