Interviews

Is the Deliveroo craze over? Meet Feedr, the sustainable, cheaper and nutritious alternative

14 min read

30 April 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

Riya Grover grew up with entrepreneurs as parents, and her dream was to one day start a business that she was just as passionate about as they had been about theirs. This dream became Feedr, a cloud-based canteen that offers customers competitively priced, and sustainably delivered nutritious food produced by artisan vendors. Grover tells us how she's cutting through the Deliveroo domination.

Where can honest, hard-working 9-5ers get their hot and nutritious office meals from these days? More than this, where can they get these options in an easily accessible and budget-conscious way? The answer for many will undoubtedly be  – with difficulty.

Whilst the humble urban worker does have access to food chains such as Leon, Pret, and EAT, and while they may be widely available, they’re certainly not cheap nor necessarily nutritious.

This leaves many office workers stuck between a rock, (a sad home prepared pasta dish that’s gone soggy during the work commute), and a hard-place, (an overly expensive and possibly calorific sandwich from a high-street cafe chain).

This is where nutrition advocate and cloud entrepreneur Riya Grover, and her business, Feedr, comes in. She’s disrupting the Deliveroo/sad homemade sandwich binary via her food provider business that gives office workers hot, healthy and competitively priced dishes straight to their offices. We meet the founder and CEO to find out more…

Feedr: The statistics at first glance

  • Founded in 2016
  • Gained its first seed investment round in 2017
  • Initial product pricing at £7
  • 300% growth last year
  • Works with certified ‘green’ artisan suppliers
  • 100 strong vendor community

The inspiration for starting Feedr: A marriage between food nutrition and disruptive tech

Founder and CEO of Feedr, Riya Grover is the daughter of entrepreneurs. Source: Forbes

“I’ve always had a personal passion for the health and nutrition space,” says Grover.

“I had always been interested in artisan food vendor space too, and how they produce fresh meals,” she adds. “A lot of my own friends cared about health and wellbeing, but they couldn’t access healthy options very easily at work,” she continues.

So the space for health innovation in the office worker food market was clear, but how was Grover going to start a business out of this void?

“I grew up with entrepreneurs as parents, and the business was like their other baby, it was an integral part of their lives,” she says.”I knew I wanted to have a professional life that I loved and was just as passionate about as they were about their own business.”

However, entrepreneurial life didn’t begin right away for Grover, who graduated with a degree in economics at Oxford University and then went on to work in investment banking,” it really wasn’t my calling,” she says.

“At heart, I knew that I was an entrepreneur, so I went to study at Harvard business school after leaving banking. I was introduced to an amazing tech eco-system, and met some inspiring tech entrepreneurs and engineers,” she says.

“It was at that time that I discovered the power of technology and the impact it can have in the trade space. That you can use it to change the price point and ease product accessibility for consumers,” she says.

Feedr: The affordable and health conscious gap in the delivered food market

“In 2016, I started to look more into health-conscious artisan food suppliers and vendors,” says Grover.

“I quickly realised that they had great products and could be selling way more from their kitchens, but they didn’t have the access or the distribution opportunities to do it on a bigger scale,” she says.

So, how does Feedr actually work as a business today?

“We’ve created a cloud canteen, which is a virtual canteen that we’ve integrated with workplaces and university campuses,” says Grover.

“We feature a couple of those suppliers every day where the menus become more personal for the consumers over time depending on what they like to order.”

Is the consumer appetite moving away from ‘fast-food’ models?

Does Grover feel pressured by the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats to provide her customers with a limitless array of options?

“That’s not what we’re about,” says Grover.

“We use limited menus because we use our data to predict what we need to produce more of which we do at a better price and in larger quantities. It’s all about producing at scale and using a more predictive insight to do it better each time.”

“What makes us different from the on-demand Deliveroo model is that by giving limited menus to customers, we’re able to curate menus to the preferences and behaviors of the individual user. Our goal is to give customers the dishes they love by using data insights to make the right food production decisions. Deliveroo broke the door down for online food delivery brands to better target and service consumers, and we’re excited to be part of this wave of growth ourselves.”

Feedr is not Deliveroo, and nor is it trying to be

“We respect the work that Deliveroo’s done in the space, but we’re doing something that’s different to what they’re doing,” says Grover.

“Whilst they’re defined by multiple meal offerings and fast order frequencies, we’re more about having a highly curated content library of recipes, we’re after recipe innovation more than anything.”

Making the pricing more competitive

We’re also happy to drive our standard £7 pricing per meal down via subsidised partnerships with the businesses we service,” she says. “We also help to drive down prices via sourcing our meals from virtual kitchens, and kitchens without restaurants who have fewer overheads, to begin with,” she continues.

“When we launch with a company, we offer them a flexible subsidised model as part of our mantra to encourage companies to help make healthy meals more affordable for their staff. We don’t mandate that they pay full price for a meal.”

A consumer-driven product at heart

B2B relationships aside, it’s clear that Grover wants Feedr to become a consumer-driven product above all else, “we want to build a brand that’s driven by the consumer wallet and not simply something that’s subsidised by a customer’s company,” she adds.

Fighting shallow-wellbeing implementations

It can’t be denied that Feedr is growing at a fitting time, and at a time where businesses are becoming, (by coercion or not), more inclined to look after the health and wellbeing of their workforce, “it’s an undeniable trend that more companies want to play a bigger part in broader wellbeing of their staff,” says Grover.

But the era of quick-fix work perks are well and truly over, she says, “expectations of employees have changed, people are waking up to the ineffectiveness of token perks, and looking for more flexible and effective ways to enjoy extra benefits at work.”

“Real wellbeing implementations are not ‘a one free perk a month kind of thing or even a free cinema ticket,” says Grover. “It’s about integrating something that actually going to improve people’s daily wellbeing which can make their work life better on a daily and consistent basis,” she adds.

Sustainable logistics, impact and green supply chains

Promoting nutrition and staff wellbeing is all well and good, but how does Feedr deliver its products to businesses and consumers in an ethical and sustainable way?

“We use a third-party provider that use non-polluting and carbon neutral bikes to deliver our goods to customers,” says Grover. “But, the important thing to remember about us is that we’re not an on-demand service,” she says.

“Our logistical requirements are different from the likes of Deliveroo,” continues Grover.

“We know what companies we have integration points with, and we do single pickups,” says Grover.

“That means we have lower fleet requirements than the likes of Uber. We cut off the order options at 10.30 am, so customers order their lunch in the morning by that time, following that, we let our vendors know what and how much they need to make for that day, it’s a win-win for model for our producers and our buyers,” she adds.

As we’re on the topic of sustainability, how about the use of plastic utensils in Feedr’s deliveries?

But does this mean that Feedr loses out to the appeal of on-demand fast-paced services that the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats offer consumers?

“It’s a totally different market,” says Grover, “we’re sustainable, we’re as green as we can be, and we’re serving the daily office lunches market with foods that are actually nutritional and tick corporate CSR boxes at the same time, this is no drunk 4 am pizza call,” she continues.

“We want our technology to stop people making bad choices, whether that’s buying overpriced food with poor nutritional value or food that’s transported in a way that’s bad for the environment,” says Grover.

“For example, for us, this includes not providing utensils by default unless a customer asks for them, we’re looking to minimise the use of transport bags, too,” she says.

“We’re unafraid to share information back with our customers about our health agenda and how we’re trying to combat the anti-environmental factors involved in food deliveries, it’s a central part of our mission,” she adds.

“Building a business model that’s sustainable is important to us, as well as employing best-practices that limit the impact our business has on the environment, it’s about not having costs deficits, and always looking forward with our company vision.”

But, how about their suppliers?

“We have a number of standards that we ask for when onboarding suppliers,” says Grover.

“These include certifications, and if our vendors aren’t meeting these conditions we won’t work with them, like our curated recipes, we also have a curated set of suppliers, there’s an element of trust and community to our ecosystem,” she says.

Feedr: A business that’s impacting the way customers look after their bodies and minds – at work

For some Deliveroo fans out there, Feedr may initially sound like an inflexible business and consumer model. But it actually encourages consumers to pursue a more sustainable and health-conscious lifestyle by helping them become proactive about what they put in their bodies.

This lifestyle changing aspect is what the Feedr brand is all about, “we’ve actually seen people order their meals a week in advance,” says Grover. “Our business is encouraging people to be mindful about their nutrition plans whilst at work, which is a busy time anyway, so having an organised and easy-to-access healthy diet plan takes the edge off,” she adds…