If you ever work at a restaurant, there are a few things you’ll start to notice that food is thrown out more often than it should be. While throwing out a chicken tender here and there may not be costly at first, it all adds up. Tossing food into the trash may be more expensive than you’d think and it can affect the restaurant as a whole.
David Rodriguez is a Co-Founder and CEO of a startup looking to reduce food waste costs. His company, dubbed Food for All, is allowing restaurants to not only save money but also give customers some last-minute meals before the food is gone.
We connected with Rodriguez to learn more about the company and what restaurants have already partnered up with them. Since Food for All was a part of the MassChallenge cohort and won HUBWeek’s pitch competition, Rodriguez went into detail on the company’s involvement in both. He also shares some advice for companies who are getting ready to pitch.
Colin Barry [CB]: Tell me a little bit about your background. Do you, as well as everyone on the team, have experience working in the restaurant industry?
David Rodriguez [DR]: Yes, my family comes from the hospitality business in Mexico, where I witnessed food waste firsthand while growing up. Also, the three of us have worked at restaurants in different positions both in Mexico and the US.
CB: Now onto the company. How did Food for All come together as a startup?
In 2016, after finishing my MBA, I was working on my previous startup, and Sabine got involved helping me with design & branding. During a conversation about where to eat in Boston without having to cook or going bankrupt (we were both busy and broke), we realized that everybody should know about the amazing establishments that were already doing last hour deals for their customers! After learning more about the huge consequences of food waste in the US, we elaborated the Food for All concept, and were able to raise $50,000 through a Kickstarter campaign - it was a major collective statement against food waste! We met Victor during Kickstarter, and he immediately joined the team.
CB: I used to work as a kitchen supervisor, so I know that food gets wasted all too often. How does the Food for All app work and how is it solving this issue?
DR: Food for All is making quality food accessible and convenient to all, by avoiding perfectly good meals from being wasted. We are an app that allows users to buy and pick up unsold food from restaurants for at least 50% off. Pickup time is within the restaurants working hours (usually one hour before they close).
It’s an easy way for users to get great deals on delicious meals, and for restaurants to generate extra revenue, increase foot traffic in slow hours, and help the environment by reducing food waste.
CB: Who are some of the restaurants that you’ve partnered up with? Are there any use cases that have stood out to you?
DR: We have partnered with more than 200 restaurants in the Greater Boston and NYC. We focus mainly on the restaurants that pre-prepare their food such as fast casuals and coffee shops but are not exclusive to those. Here are some examples:
- Boston - Boloco, Chicken & Rice Guys, Red Apple Farm
- Cambridge - El Jefe’s Taqueria, Persi Pies, Tom’s Bao Bao
- Somerville - Tu y Yo Mexican Fonda, Opa Greek Yeros, Yoshi’s
Boloco and Red Apple Farm are special cases as they agreed to donate their Food for All proceeds to the Greater Boston Food Bank. This means that for every dollar you spend on these restaurants through Food for All, you are generating three meals for someone in need! We call it the “meal multiplier program.”
CB: You were finalists in both the HUBWeek Pitch Competition and MassChallenge. Congrats on both! Can you tell me a little more about your experiences in both the accelerator and competing in such a huge competition?
DR: Thank you! As international entrepreneurs, both HubWeek and MassChallenge were invaluable resources that helped us in two of our biggest challenges: growing our network of mentors and industry leaders and getting exposure. Also, the connections we made with other entrepreneurs in Boston are a big part of the whole experience, as we get to share experiences and pieces of advice with people that are going through (or just went through) similar stages of their companies.
CB: Since you’ve recently won the pitch competition at HUBWeek, what advice can you give to startups that are looking to pitch soon?
DR: An essential task when starting a new business is generating traction that proves people love what you’re building. But when pitching, numbers and facts are not enough: it’s all about creating the right narrative that incorporates these numbers in your story while exciting the audience.
CB: Food for All is a great, straightforward name. How did you come up with that name? Were there others that you considered?
DR: This is a great question! We had to choose the name in less than 24 hrs if we wanted to launch our Kickstarter campaign on time, and we remember sitting in our office thinking about a name that reflected what we were trying to build: not only a tool to reduce food waste, but a whole new behavior towards surplus food, that connects users, restaurants, and non-profits, all committed to providing quality “Food for All”. We immediately loved the name as it continually reminds us of our mission and why we started it.