Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

As companies get employees back to offices, startups like New York-based food tech company Fraîche want to be the brand feature that welcomes them back.

Founded in 2019, the company today announced $2 million in seed funding from backers including La Boulange’s Pascal Rigo, Petrus Winery’s Jean Moueix, Bakerly’s Bruno and Julien Caron and the Newlab.

Fraîche (pronounced crème frache) aims to bring healthier foods into the workplace. It places a smart fridge with auto-stocking in offices and partners with eateries such as Le Botaniste, Egg Shop, Pressed and La Fermiere to deliver the food. It will also offer its own private label products in the future, Tximista Lizarazu, CEO at Fraîche, told BestFitnessBands.

Companies just need to determine how much they want to subsidize per employee, and Fraîche will stock and refill the refrigerator every day. Employees can also download an app to access the contents of the refrigerator.

One of Fraîche’s early investors, Romain Afflelou, co-founder of Cosmo Connected, said he liked the momentum the company had and how it leveraged companies willing to spend more money on their employees. He typically invests in companies that are connected to the world of tomorrow in terms of how people move, eat and heal.

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Fraîche’s mobile app. Image Credits: Fraîche

“Fraîche provides all food options in the office and employees can get more affordable food that is fresh and cleaner,” he added. “You can eat in the same place Monday through Friday and get different products every day.”

Meanwhile, many office cafeterias have closed during the global pandemic and were unable to deploy staff when they could reopen, Lizarazu said. Even his own company was not immune to the consequences: Fraîche initially lost all locations, but saw the tide turn about four months later.

So you might think that keeping people at home a little longer with the Omicron variant, something like Fraîche wouldn’t work. When asked, however, Lizarazu said the company only needs 30 people in the office to run what they do. And if 15% to 20% of offices never return, he’s still optimistic with 80% of the market left, he added.

“Companies want to make their offices a better place, convince people to come back and have more budget for health and wellness,” says Lizarazu. “Right now the market is shifting and we are starting to sell more and trade faster. We invested in technology and building the product in 2020, and now we are ready to deploy it.”

Although the company has only been in business for a few months, it is already seeing customers using the refrigerators three to four times a day to get meals and snacks. Lizarazu predicted that companies would spend $5,000 a month, but sees double that.

Fraîche’s sales are between $80,000 and $150,000 per machine per year, including refrigerator maintenance and food delivery, which he says is equivalent to what New Yorkers currently pay to order food and have it delivered, but in this case , with less friction.

This latest round gives the company total financing of $3 million. Workplaces such as Tikehau Capital, Silverstein Properties, Newlab, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Ardian and Ogury use Fraîche, and Lizarazu notes that three more will open in January.

He expects to use the funding to increase Fraîche’s presence in New York and expand the team of eight employees, primarily in sales and marketing. He is hiring two salespeople and plans to have a total of 20 employees by the third quarter of 2022. Fraîche has already signed 10 locations since the summer with plans to operate in 30 locations over the next nine months and grow to 100 locations by 2023 by the end.

“It’s a matter of visibility now,” Lizarazu said. “As long as our salespeople are talking to the right customers, we see the market is ready, and offices are very excited about what we’re doing.”

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