July 12, 2018

Startup Q&A - Rootastes Provides Fresh, Internationally-Themed Meals to Companies

If you’re a food-oriented startup in Boston, then Branchfood is the coworking space for you. Not only will you be working with other food-oriented companies, but early-stage startups can network with mentors.

One such company to come out of Branchfood is Rootastes, and they are providing various companies across the Boston tech scene with healthy, homemade lunches.

Co-Founder and CEO Mint Pattanan Ketthin spoke with us how her company is making meals and she also shared with us what the company has been up since joining MassChallenge.

Colin Barry [CB]: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins behind Rootastes?

Mint Pattanan Ketthin [MPK]: Rootastes came from an idea from a marketing class that I had pitched when I attended at Boston College. I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both my professor and classmates as they said “We have no comment, just make it happen!”

Mint Pattanan Ketthin
Mint Pattanan Ketthin, Co-Founder and CEO at Rootastes

After I graduated, I started working in a travel tech startup in New York but works remotely from Boston. What I found is that people in the coworking spaces from different tech companies work hard to achieve their projects/goals, but we often miss having lunch on time and ended up grab something quick and unhealthy. So I thought back to myself “If lunch could be better” that’s how Rootastes was born.

As Founder and CEO of Rootastes, I have more than eight years of experience in Corporate Social Responsibility and digital marketing in the hospitality industry. In 2017, within six months in operation, Rootastes was nominated to be one of Bank of America's 100 Boston's High Impact startups. I am also active as a volunteer in the startup community in Boston, which gives me constant visibility and intel into what makes startup workers happy and productive.  

Rootastes' Co-Founder and Director of Culinary Wachira Sittikong became a culinary entrepreneur at the age of 11. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, Boston and brings 15 years experience in kitchen operations and management.

CB: What is the ultimate goal of Rootastes?

MPK: We are on the mission to change the way office employees eat their lunch. Our mission is to improve workplace wellness and increase employee's productivity through corporate lunch consumption.

More companies are focused on improving employees' health and well-being of their workforce to increase retention rate and office morale. Healthy choices in the workplace lead to an improved lifestyle and happiness outside of it. When the team is happy, healthy and engaged, they work harder and with even more significant commitment.

CB: Explain what your company does. If it’s a particular software/platform/service/etc. how does it work?

MPK: We are an online based corporate catering service. We create a lunch plan for companies who provide lunch for the team as a benefit via one-time ordering, and we do offer seasonal and annual lunch subscription plan which benefit to the company to set all the lunch schedule in advance. We will take care of the rest with rotating monthly meal plan throughout the season.

We do also offer a Free Lunch Sample up to 10 people for any company that is interested in giving Rootastes a try. We would like to make sure that they like our product before deciding to purchase.

For one-time ordering, a company can order us online via our website under an ORDER tab, for any seasonal lunch subscription plan, a company can create their account on our website. Our team will reach out to you to learn more about the company’s preferences, dietary restrictions and needs.

CB: Are all of the meals homemade?

MPK: All the recipes are homemade created by Rootastes’ chef team. the co-founder New Wachira, Director of Culinary (previously work at a Four Seasons hotel as a sous chef) and Chef Faye Prapawicha, previously a recipe developer at Dean and Deluca.

We change the lunch menu seasonally based on the best vegetable available in each season, with international cuisine (globally-inspired flavor).

Rootastes Summer Menu
A collection of summer-seasoned meals from Rootastes.

CB: Who are some of the clients of Rootastes? Are there any use cases that stand out to you?

MPK: We have served over 200 companies in Boston and Cambridge so far. Some of our clients are Indigo Agriculture, CarGurus, DataRobot, MIT’s The Engine, TripAdvisor, and Matrix Partners.

Since the beginning, my co-founder and I do the deliveries by ourselves to make sure that we get a chance to talk and learn the problems that our customers are facing. We have found a couple majors on what missing in corporate lunch which is quality of food and dietary restrictions. We have been developing the menu in a Build Your Own Lunch Bowl/Package Concept which makes our menu fits all dietary restrictions and every employees can enjoy a high-quality lunch from Rootastes. Not only the tastes, we have received feedback from our clients that we make their team eat better and healthier.

CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?

MPK: We are now a small group of 8 people. We are looking to hire an account executive or sales person at the end of this summer.

CB: You were part of the Branchfood coworking space and now you’re part of MassChallenge? Congrats! Tell me about your time at Branchfood? What was your reaction to being accepted into MassChallenge? How has the experience been so far?

MPK: We have been a member with Branchfood since we get started and been receiving a lot of support from them over business advice and collaboration through events and many other stuffs.

We were surprised and very excited to hear the news that we officially get accepted to MassChallenge 2018 Boston Cohort. Before this we have been in a fast-track MC bootcamp with the Boston Foundation, and it has been very good experience to us. Since then, as MC staffs are always willing to help us and coordinate to make sure we get the best advice from the experts/mentors in our industry and what we are trying to solve.

CB: Is the company bootstrapped or seeking investments?

MPK: We have bootstrapped this company since the beginning and currently seeking investment as well. We are now doing Rootastes’ Crowdfunding campaign via iFundWomen with the goal of $50,000 starting in July 10 until August 26.

We chose iFundWomen as they empower women to start and grow business with the collaboration with the mayor of City of Boston.

CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did Rootastes get its name?

MPK: We know that root is the most important part of a tree. It is a foundation to keep a tree stay alive. It contains many advantages and nutritions. If the root absorbs enough water and vitamin, it acts to the healthy of the tree. Moreover, when we talk about food, a main purpose is about taste. People loves to enjoy tasty food, no matter what it’s healthy or not.

How the root is related to human body? As we said, root is a foundation of a tree it controls how healthy the tree is. Similarly to a human body, a healthy person should contain a good food inside of their body. A word “healthy” is not only you exercise everyday, also, it includes what you eat everyday. A healthy person should get enough nutritions for their body. If everyone has a good foundation inside of the body, it will effect to their emotion, body and so forth.

After we understand the root of human, we should know what is the root of food? In this case, the root of food means the beginning of the food. A place that we can get the fresh ingredients and the beginning of the sources. A local farm is an answer for Rootastes. It is where ingredients came from. All the best food starts at the farm. We understand a fast-forward thinking company that you are the most important part of the world changes. We believe that you are always busy with your jobs and tried to get all the tasks finished in time. In order to make your life easier, you can push all your time on your work and don’t worry about your meal, we will take care of your eating journey. We select the best fresh ingredients with fully nutrition and tasty in order to boost up your energy and refresh your mind. We want you to come back after lunch with fresh mind and ideas.

Colin Barry is an Editor & Staff Writer to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash

Images courtesy of Rootastes