Foodles uses connected fridges to modernize your office canteen

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French startup Foodles thinks office canteens should work more like food delivery startups. The company delivers fresh food every morning into smart fridges that sit in your office. Employees can then buy cheap lunches using a card or a phone.

Think about Foodles as a sort of hybrid company between vending machines and those popular full-stack delivery startups in Paris, such as Frichti, Popchef, Nestor and FoodChéri. Instead of delivering individual meals, Foodles delivers enough meals for the entire staff of your company.

In France, employees expect companies to provide a way to have lunch without spending a small fortune. Many companies in France have an office canteen. But it doesn’t make sense to get one if you’re working in a tiny company. The upfront investment is so high that only companies with hundreds of employees have a canteen.

That’s why small companies usually hand out meal vouchers to subsidize everyone’s lunch. This way, you can go out and buy something, or get your lunch delivered to the office. But this solution can also be quite expensive for the employer.

Foodles thinks that there’s a gap in the market and that you can provide canteen-like services to small companies. For $3,400 per month (€3,000), Foodles comes and installs a fridge in your office. You can get additional fridges for $900 for bigger offices (€800).

Then, Foodles comes to your office every day with a refrigerator truck to deliver dozens of meals at once. Every week, you’ll get new options. And if you want something special, you can also plan in advance and order the day’s special when you arrive at the office. There are also vegetarian options.

Overall, it costs less than €5 to eat from your Foodles fridge. You scan your card, open the fridge and Foodles will automatically bills your account as there are RFID chips in all jars.

While this sounds too cheap to work over the long run, Foodles has one main advantage over the competition. There’s a strong commitment from your employer, which improves retention rate and recurring purchases. And a single delivery person can deliver something like 50 meals to your office at once, which greatly lowers delivery costs. The startup works with local caterers so that it doesn’t have to cook everything itself.

Foodles is still quite young as the company is operating in a dozen companies so far. It has raised $2.3 million (€2 million) and only works in the Paris area.

But the go-to-market strategy is quite interesting and different from most food delivery statups out there. Signing up new companies isn’t going to be as easy, but repeat business could be worth it.