After growing organically in the Canadian market, Vancouver-based startup Foodee entered three major U.S. cities this month. The company’s online platform helps corporate customers order catered food from local restaurants, and entry into Austin, Denver, and Philadelphia could just be the appetizer as Foodee sinks its teeth into a $10 billion corporate catering market in the U.S.
“We proved we have a well-oiled machine here. Now, it’s about putting gas in the tank.”
– Ryan Spong, Foodee CEO
For a company trying to “reinvent the corporate lunch hour,” CEO Ryan Spong says Foodee’s differentiator in a competitive sector is filtering out low-quality providers and un-scalable business systems. The company’s service model that handles all aspects of catering, including sales and marketing, a national customer service desk, delivery and logistics – matching partner restaurants with office administrators for simple ordering and delivery with a click.
“We partner with restaurants that are the very best of each type of food in the city – and they don’t deliver,” Spong explains. “The taco place down the street with a lineup and you can’t go there because you don’t have time – in that case, catering is the way to go. Having 50 partnerships in each city lets us offer the best across the board.”
That said, Foodee is approaching this bigger market cautiously, focusing on cities where no one competitor dominates more than 10 percent of their regional market. Now it’s up to the market to see whether the growth they’ve seen in Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere will translate into new locations. “We proved we have a well-oiled machine here,” Spong adds, pointing to their 2,600 corporate customers, 90 restaurant partners and 1500 percent growth over 24 months. “Now, it’s about putting gas in the tank.”
For Spong, as a former investment banker who has spent time in Silicon Valley, the potential rewards are well worth the risk of the new venture. “As Canadians, we’re often humble and not always looking at the size of the opportunity. This move is about thinking big – and doing that is what we’re trying to get our heads around. At the end of the day, it’s your own shadow chasing you to move forward.”
Disclosure: Foodee is an HIGHLINE portfolio company. BetaKit’s East and West Coast offices are housed in HIGHLINE’s Vancouver and Toronto co-working spaces.