You most likely think about it in the morning, a few more times in the afternoon, before dinner, after dinner, and if you’re like me, when you’re in bed trying to fall asleep. I’m talking about food. It’s damn delicious, it’s nutritious, and it’s likely occupying up at least 1/4 of your Instagram feed.
While for many of us, food is exciting and affordable, in many countries this is simply not the case. And sadly, the USA isn’t excluded from this. Many families in the USA are either unable to afford nutritious food, or simply don’t have access to it.
The right to be free from hunger is a human right. If you don’t believe me, ask the General Assembly of The United Nations, which in 1966 adopted The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right, which “recognize(s) the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”
This is what makes the story of Everytable so special and touching. In a market where most businesses are created purely in the pursuit of profit, it’s refreshing to see more and more social enterprises like Everytable tackling serious world issues. According to the World Economic Forum “over the past 25 years, the poorest 20% of households in the US spent between 28.8% and 42.6% on food, compared with 6.5% to 9.2% spent by the wealthiest 20% of households”. We can learn some important lessons from this fact:
- There is a large wealth disparity between the poor and rich.
- In some cases, food expenditure for poorer people is close to 50% of their income. This will invariably result in them purchasing cheaper and less nutritious foods in order to save money to pay for other essential living costs (rent, utilities, medical).
Everytable’s goal is simple: Address the hunger crisis in the United States by providing affordable, convenient and nutritious food.
We spoke with Chad Massura, GM of Subscription at Everytable, to learn about Everytable’s amazing story, the fascinating business model they have created to address the food crisis in the USA, and how Metorik is helping them along the way.
Chapter 1: From hedge fund to head chef
Everytable’s story starts differently from what you might think. After graduating from college, co-founder of Everytable, Sam Polk, went to work for a hedge fund on Wall Street. Sam worked there for 8 years, climbing the corporate ladder. After the recession hit, he started reflecting on his job and how it was having a negative impact on the millions of working-class Americans. This led Sam to quit his job.
One weekend, Sam went on a classic Netflix binge, watching a number of food documentaries. There was one documentary in particular called A Place at the Table which opened his eyes to the hunger crisis in America. How in the richest country in the world, millions of people don't know when their next meal is coming. What makes this even more heartbreaking is that many of these victims are children. It was this that sparked him to create a not for profit called FEAST. FEAST’s goal “is to promote health and wellness in communities through the power of healthy foods and human connection”. They do this by offering 16-week wellness programs which encompass food education, cooking classes, peer-to-peer sharing circles and grocery scholarships in LA. Through FEAST, Sam was able to connect with and learn from many individuals living through the hunger crisis in LA.
And while educating the community about food nutrition was important, it was only addressing part of the problem. The other part was that the community simply did not have access to nutritious and affordable food or the time to prepare healthy meals for their family. “A lot of these groups of people live in what’s called a ‘food desert’, meaning they don’t have access to healthy foods. It’s a neighbourhood where your only option is basically fast food.”
From this, Everytable was born.
Chapter 2: A unique business model to solve a unique problem
How do you keep food affordable and convenient? Well, that one’s easy, fast food chains solved this years ago. Keep your costs low and optimise your processes. Unfortunately, keeping your costs low often results in stores serving unhealthy and low-quality foods.
The real question Everytable was looking to answer was: how do we keep food affordable, convenient, tasty, nutritious and of the highest quality? Now that’s a tough question to answer. Fortunately, Everytable had a pretty interesting solution to this.
Most restaurant chains follow the same pricing model. They have stores scattered throughout the city, with each store having its own staff and kitchen. The price of their food is also the same from store to store. So Subway A, will have the same prices as Subway B (in a given country).
Sam had a unique take on this traditional model. What if rather than each store having its own kitchen (and kitchen staff), there was one central kitchen that prepared the food each morning for every store in LA? And what if rather than having a fixed price for all stores, the price varied based on the affluence of the area? What if a store in a less affluent area would sell the exact same food but for a cheaper price?
Well, this is the exact model that they implemented. One central kitchen in LA freshly prepares and packages all the food each morning in individual takeaway containers. This is then delivered to each Everytable restaurant in the city. This ensures consistent and high-quality food across all stores, while also significantly cutting operating costs.
“A normal restaurant can cost 1-2 million to build out. They are big, often 2000-3000 square feet. Our stores are much less expensive to build out because there is no ‘kitchen’ and no labour associated with meals at the individual store.”
With 7 restaurants open in LA now, and some branches selling a fresh meal for as little as $5, compared to competitors that are selling meals for $10-$15, Everytable is making a truly positive impact on the lives of thousands of people every day.
Chapter 3: Making a unique model even more unique
Everytable started to notice a trend among their customers. “Most of our customers come to the store and buy 3-4 meals that are individually packaged. That’s their meal prep for the week”.
Customers buying the same amount of food, every week, every month, across the whole year. A situation perfectly tailored to a subscription service. So that’s exactly what they did. When Chad was hired, Everytable had already built out an MVP subscription product which was starting to gain modest traction. This was in partnership with DoorDash, who handled the delivery of the food from their stores to their customers (and still does today).
“I’ve come on board to build, grow and optimize the subscription service. We’re starting to put more effort and resources subscription behind growth. So we’ve started doing some paid campaigns, in store marketing strategies and we got a great write up in LA Magazine which called us one of the best subscription services in LA.”
One of Everytable’s biggest costs is overage. As their food is made fresh each day, anything that isn’t sold gets donated to local food banks and charities. Introducing a subscription model is allowing them to better predict the demand of certain products which allows them to vary their supply accordingly. “Subscriptions allow us to know exactly when an order is coming up, so that we can prepare those meals specifically for that person. It’s a better experience for both the customer and us as a business.”
To recap, Everytable operate stores with a variable pricing model that sell healthy and fresh food. And their food costs a third of the price of their competitors in some cases. Additionally, they also operate a subscription service that delivers food to their customers. That must be it? Right?
Nope, they also have a smart fridge. When I was doing research for my chat with Chad, I looked at their website and honestly could believe my eyes when I read about it. An internet-enabled fridge that recognizes exactly which meals are inside of it (and the quantity of each) using RFID technology. Anyone can walk up to it, swipe a credit card which unlocks the fridge door and the sensors in the fridge will know what meals have been taken and charge the credit card accordingly. A true vending machine of the future.
“Vending machines have been around for a long time but they have always been predicated on chips and soda… foods that are really bad for you. We think we can transform the way people have access to healthy affordable food by putting these in offices, schools, universities and eventually on street corners.”
Food is delivered to the fridges multiple times a week, and the actual meals delivered to it are tailored based on the preferences of the people that use it.
Chapter 4: Everytable’s tech stack
As you can imagine, your tech needs to be fine-tuned to successfully execute an operation the size of Everytable. Everytable use WooCommerce to handle their subscriptions and Metorik for eCommerce reporting and analytics.
WooCommerce Subscriptions allows Everytable’s customers to create their own customized recurring order. The prices displayed to customers are based on the zip code they enter, just like in their actual stores. This is a very cool WooCommerce customization. Once the customer creates their subscription:
- The store closest to that customer’s address is notified about the order. That store's team are the ones that actually pack the meals into the boxes for delivery to the customer.
- The main kitchen is also notified about the order. They prepare the food, which is then sent to the store on the day of delivery.
The final piece of the puzzle is notifying DoorDash. DoorDash picks up the packed boxes from the stores and delivers them to the customers.
There are a lot of moving parts to this operation, but WooCommerce Subscriptions ensures that it all runs smoothly.
For many WooCommerce users, it can often be hard to extract the right data and metrics to evaluate your core KPIs. Everytable was no exception to this. “We found Metorik really easy to set up. We set up the integration, installed the plugin, and boom, there was a bunch of data to play around with.”
“Metorik allows you to quickly see what’s going on with your subscriptions, what changes we have made, and how have they impacted our core KIPs (retention, conversion rate)”.
Our takeaway message
The goals that Everytable have set themselves are ambitious. But ambition is exactly what you need when setting out to tackle systemic issues like hunger. It’s a true testament to the fact that businesses can make money while also making the world a better place.
We have no doubt that Everytable will continue to grow and succeed in their mission, and we are excited to keep supporting them along the way.