Free Lunch Gets a Culinary Makeover

The corporate catering market is at $9 billion and growing, and funded startups are adding $500 million to their in-office catering budgets each year, according to Matt Hunckler’s column at 

Kimberly Lexow and Jess Legge were working at Qualifacts, a health tech company in Nashville, Tenn., when they identified a huge demand for catered lunches among the city’s burgeoning startup community. They founded Sifted to capitalize on the local market, bringing a software-inspired, culture-centered approach to their food services startup, with a mission to provide an “experiential lunch program” to help empower their clients’ corporate cultures and effectiveness. 

Cater2Me, ZeroCater, Foodee and Fooda are just a few of the leading catering firms, and most actually source their food from local restaurants, but Sifted sets itself apart through a recurring revenue model, end-to-end process and in-house meal preparation, and by using data to predict behaviors. 

“We serve the same teams day after day. This means we know exactly who we’re serving and when,” said Legge. “It’s the predictability that’s been missing from the food tech industry, and what’s allowed us to build a playbook to scale the formerly unscalable.” 

Here’s how it works: A business in Atlanta, Austin, Nashville or Denver selects if it wants to have lunch daily, weekly or on another schedule and pays the full annual fee upfront; then Sifted delivers meals prepared by its in-house culinary team that strives for variety in its weekly menus. Requests can be made for dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets. 

This represents a business opportunity for every grocerant with ambition to grow.

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