Startup Cater2.me is trying to answer one of the rarely-discussed challenges facing any company that wants to keep a large workforce happy — feeding them meals that aren’t boring.
Cater2.me was founded in late 2010 and has already attracted some positive press attention. Now, its client list includes some startups worth bragging about, such as Yelp, Eventbrite, Tagged, Square, Dropbox, Twilio, Causes, Posterous, and Heyzap. The company is serving 40,000 lunches a month (including many to non-startups, of course.)
Co-founders Alex Lorton and Zach Yungst are both graduates from the Wharton Business School and before starting Cater2.me, both worked finance/consulting jobs in downtown San Francisco. They say it was their time in those offices that convinced them of the opportunity. Outside, they saw a vibrant culinary world of hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants, food carts, and farmers markets. Inside, bland catered food.
So Cater2.me tries to bring that varied world of food into workplaces. Office managers, or whoever else is in charge of a company’s meals, can just go to the Cater2.me website and enter their needs — for example, if they need to feed 50 people every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and five of them are vegetarians. Then Cater2.me handles all of the logistics, bringing in a rotating menu of food from a network of small restaurants and carts — businesses that probably don’t have the time or resources to do large office catering on their own.
Eventbrite’s Brooke Michael says she started testing Cater2.me as a lunch option back in June 2011. Over time, she did more and more ordering for them, because the process was so easy and the company was so responsive to customer feedback. Now Eventbrite is even relying on the service for its breakfasts.
“Overall, they have really improved our meals at Eventbrite and have brought a lot of smiles to our employees,” she says.
This market seems to be catching the interest of investors, too. Two other catering services, Eat Club and Zero Cater, both raised $1.5 million in venture capital recently. (Eat Club reportedly served 60,000 lunches in the past year.) Cater2.me, however, remains self-funded.