If there’s one issue that still poses a lot of difficulties for tech startups, it is food. The business of moving food from farm to fork is one of the largest in the world—but there is no AirBnB or Uber that dominates the field.
The solutions that have come are local, and more often than not, rooted in the quality of food rather than the quantity of it. Montreal-based FreshMint is no exception to this rule. It is focused on making eating a gourmet meal the most convenient and fastest possible for the consumer.
This kind of solution requires a mix of good cuisine and good technology, and the team behind FreshMint is the ideal one for that proposition. The head chef Marco trained under Gordon Ramsay, and cofounder Cherif comes from a technology background. When I start the interview, one of the first reasons cited for FreshMint’s existence is the idea that "software is eating the world." You could tell that the founders believe in using new technologies to solve old problems.
Their solution is elegant and simple: FreshMint offers a clear value proposition for food. One meal is $12, unless one becomes a member for $10 a month, in which case meals are discounted down to $9 each. One can register in online with all of the information required, pay through credit card, then wait for a steaming hot meal to travel to them. Every day brings a different menu item.
FreshMint optimizes for waste by having one single meal every day—helping to use all of the ingredients bought at once. By keeping the menu short, FreshMint helps ensure that they are as efficient as possible, avoiding the quasi-40% level of waste most restaurants have to suffer through. While this is a trend that the industry as a whole is slowly embracing, FreshMint is definitely on the cutting edge of simplicity.
Behind that simple front-end lies a team dedicated to one of the hardest problem sets in the world: how to coordinate the delivery of fresh ingredients to the delivery fresh food. They employ a technology stack that helps deal with every detail.
A program ported over that deals with the optimization of shipping routes will be used to figure out the best routes for their delivery trucks to go through. Software is used at every level to help smooth over the difficulties associated with managing customer orders, to tracking sales. In-house dashboards constantly turn out business-critical information.
FreshMint not only employs software: it uses the mentality associated with it. The entire organization is lean and agile, constantly looking for ways to save on waste, and to iterate on its experience so that it can bring a better one for consumers.
Chef Marco is busy at work creating a process that tailors ingredients down to the millilitre, so that the food is always consistent, and is easily replicable by even the most unskilled sous-chef. This helps ensure a process that minimizes waste, and scales quickly. They are already thinking of expanding to different cities across Canada.
Revenue is tripling every month. The startup is very close to breaking even on all of its fixed and variable costs. As FreshMint begins to cater events across the city, it has begun to get a reputation for good food delivered efficiently: an idea that can spread from Montreal to the world beyond.
As one looks at how FreshMint is built, one cannot help but think that is the restaurant of tomorrow, rendered today.