Ryan Spong is a reformed investment banker, successful partner and restaurateur of the popular Tacofino and Superbaba brands in Vancouver and now CEO and co-founder of the Vancouver-based food-tech startup, Foodee. Vancouver-based Foodee has since grown by 1125% and serves 12 major North American cities with more than 700 restaurant partners.
Ryan Spong spoke with Grit Daily to answer some burning questions and give us an inside look into how the tech industry has raised the bar; this time at the intersection of corporate office food.
Grit Daily: Why didn’t you just stick with running brands Tacofino and Superbaba?
Ryan Spong: In Foodee, I saw four key opportunities:
Foodee could be an agent of change for an antiquated industry. Foodee allows restaurateurs, like my colleagues at Tacofino and Superbaba, and an entire generation of innovative chefs to address a new, growing market. Restaurant businesses are stronger because they can leverage our tools and new market reach while lengthening their peak-demand times.
Foodee brings local meals to modern offices. Back when I worked in investment banking, brown-bag desk lunches, bad catering and random pizza days at work were acceptable. But the tech industry’s raised the bar for workplace standards—and daily office meals are the new norm cross-industry. Innovative leaders understand the importance of feeding their teams. It’s a simple act that goes a long way to boost company culture, employee happiness and productivity and attract top talent.
Foodee empowers executive assistants and administrative professionals through tailored meal plans, a multitude of local restaurants, and expert service. My mother worked as an office admin and I know how stressful and thankless the job of coordinating office catering can be. It’s often outside of their job description and yet it carries a lot of weight (especially if done wrong). Many EAs manage over 500 daily office meals with a variety of dietary restrictions and allergies—we know because we help them every day.
Lastly, everything about Foodee is hyper-scalable: from Foodee’s platform and suite of front-end ordering tools to its logistics partners.
GD: What spurred the idea behind Foodee?
RS: Mom and pop restaurant owners take great pride in serving fantastic local food. Many of them are institutions in their local communities. They’ve been around for years—or they aim to be. They try to support local farmers and growing families, serve high-quality food and have a smaller carbon footprint on the world (at least compared to chain restaurants).
Unfortunately, so many of them struggle to increase production and sales. I wanted to help local restaurant owners grow their business by delivering their food to an expansive market: corporate offices.
At Tacofino and Superbaba restaurants, we faced the industry’s daily challenge of peak demand. Lunch and dinner rushes took the kitchen and staff by storm and were over in a flash. By partnering with Foodee, restaurants can lengthen their revenue window, often doubling sales, by taking daily, predictable and large office catering orders ahead of the rushes. Local restaurants thrive and modern offices feed their teams delicious meals.
GD: What exactly are you doing for your clients, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Visa, Comcast, and The Weather Channel?
RS: Our top corporate clients understand that providing daily office meals is the new norm across every industry. We take the work out of meal planning for EA’s at companies like this by making it easy to manage dietary restrictions, cuisine and restaurant preferences, and plan meals weeks in advance. They tell us how much or little office catering they want to plan and order.
We work with them to create customized daily or weekly meal plans based on everything from how often they order, how much they want to spend and what they want to eat. They can choose the restaurant and budget, for example, but have their team select their individual meals within our custom branded portals.
We also have local food experts who can suggest the best new and exclusive-to-Foodee local restaurants. We help EA’s navigate dietary and cuisine preferences on a daily basis for over 500 staff.
Foodee’s platform is built to scale and includes a fully-customizable suite of ordering tools, live customer service, delivery execution and technology to follow every order from restaurant to office.
GD: Why partner with DoorDash?
RS: Our vision is to become the largest local food provider to offices, but own no kitchens, cook no meals, and deliver no food. We delivered food out of necessity, but now five years later, final mile logistics are commonplace. We average more than 900 deliveries a week from over 600 restaurant partners across North America.
DoorDash started with facilitating door-to-door delivery and have focused their product and service to specialize in logistics—and make it more efficient—ever since. DoorDash’s Drive product provides us with the excellent service we’re looking for and allows us to focus on developing our suite of ordering tools and restaurant partners that our 4,000 corporate clients cherish. It also enables us to be one step closer to our vision for Foodee’s future.
GD: Are other partnerships in the works? If so, with which companies?
RS: For the same reason we partnered with DoorDash, we have 12 logistics partnerships that address the logistics delivery challenge in various ways, such as with vans, for example. We will continue to integrate technology and partners into our business model wherever possible to maintain our foothold in our primary markets.
GD: What’s behind the Foodee name?
RS: The term foodie describes people who have a serious interest in and enjoy eating good food. That’s us. We’re local food experts who love finding the best new local restaurants and hidden gems. We curate our restaurant partners specifically for our clients who also consider themselves foodies, that is, they don’t want bad corporate catering or the same in-house chefs over and over again, but have too much on their plates to order from a different restaurant every day for 500 staff members. We bring the best of a city’s local food scene right to the workplace.
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