Foodji, a startup based in Munich, aims to revolutionize vending machines by providing fresh and healthy meals instead of the usual unhealthy snacks. Their vending machines, called Foodjis, resemble typical snack machines, but offer items such as fresh sushi, falafel bowls, and Thai curry instead of lemonade and gummy bears. With this innovative concept, Foodji hopes to replace traditional cafeterias and provide small and medium-sized businesses with a convenient and healthy food option.
Foodji’s target market consists of medium-sized companies that lack sufficient employee numbers to warrant setting up their own canteens. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of employees are returning to their offices, and the startup aims to capitalize on this trend. According to Daniel von Canal, co-founder of Foodji, food plays a central role in boosting employees’ morale and happiness in the office. The company has seen a surge in demand for its vending machines, with many businesses looking for convenient and healthy food options for their employees.
To facilitate further expansion, the Munich startup has secured fresh funding from several investors, including Movendo Capital from the Netherlands, DLF Venture from Luxembourg, Triple Point from the United States, and Kraut Capital and Foodlabs from Germany. In total, the startup has raised $23 million to support its growth plans.
Foodji was founded in 2016 by Felix Munte, Moritz Munte, Daniel von Canal, Oliver Friedmann, and Nicolas Luig. According to Felix Munte, the idea for Foodji emerged when they were working as management consultants and frequently found themselves wondering how they would feed themselves during long nights with clients.
Despite launching their first vending machines during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the company has grown rapidly and now manages several hundred machines with a team of 70 employees. The machines can be found at a variety of locations, including Enpal, a solar startup, the online luxury fashion retailer Mytheresa, Munich Airport, and Cewe.
With over 250 dishes on offer, the startup provides a variety of fresh meals that can be eaten immediately or warmed up. The company’s salad and bowl menu is currently being expanded. Prices for the meals range from 3.80 to 10 euros, depending on the level of company subsidy, and are cooked to order by German manufacturers.
Interested companies can try out their offerings before signing a fee-based contract, which covers filling, cleaning, and other services, following a three-month trial period. Employees can choose their meals directly from the vending machines via touchscreen or through an app in advance.
What are Foodji’s chances?
Investors such as Foodlabs CEO Patrick Huber and DLF Venture’s Louis Kerschen are confident that Foodji has found the right niche in the food delivery industry. Huber praises the company’s ability to provide restaurant-quality meals while minimizing food and packaging waste. Meanwhile, Kerschen sees Foodji’s technology platform as a competitive advantage, allowing the company to manage its business and supply chain using algorithms to forecast demand at different locations. Kerschen estimates that there are around 75,000 German companies that could benefit from Foodji’s vending machines.
However, the German company faces significant challenges in the market, as demonstrated by the struggles of Hellofreshgo, a similar concept operated by cooking box provider Hellofresh. Hellofreshgo faced difficulties during the pandemic as few employees were present in the office to use its vending machines, ultimately leading to its insolvency and sale to Swedish provider Convini. Additionally, Foodji competes with Swiss-based Felfel, which focuses on supplying meals to employees.
Foodji plans to use the new investment to expand its range of dishes, enhance its technology, and fuel further growth. For now, the company will focus its efforts solely on the German market, given the associated costs.
In contrast to many other startups, the young startup has already achieved profitability. The company experienced significant growth in the previous year, with annualized sales quadrupling, according to co-founder Daniel von Canal. Foodji aims to maintain and extend its market leadership moving forward.