Less than three years in, San Francisco-based startup Byte Foods has nearly 600 “smart fridges” deployed to a variety of locations, from corporate headquarters like Tesla and LinkedIn, to hospitals and small nonprofit offices. Earlier this month, Byte Foods began expanding outside of the Bay area and throughout California.
Lee Mokri, who founded the company with CEO Megan Mokri, has ambitions to go national and believes that the model is scalable and that momentum is in his company’s favor.
“Businesses and employers have few choices when it comes to fresh food, but there are pioneers – like Facebook and Google – that are offering fresh food to employees. However, most companies don’t have that budget or it’s just not part of their company culture,” Mokri said. “That is changing because there is a clear ROI and employees are happier and healthier.”
Plenty of studies exist showing that healthier eating has a direct impact on cognitive performance and productivity and, according to a recent survey of tens of thousands of Byte customers, 90% said having a Byte fridge on site allows them to make healthier eating choices while at work.
Byte Foods stocks fresh food from about 100 distributors in the San Francisco Bay area. The company’s technology constantly pulls data to ensure fridges are stocked with high-demand items – salads, sandwiches, wraps, breakfast burritos and more. The technology is also able to dynamically price products; so, if a salad has a three-day shelf life, it is priced higher on day one than on day three.
Byte Foods’ smart fridges are enabled by Radio Frequency Identification technology, similar to the technology that enables checkout-free Amazon Go stores. This means the fridge automatically inventories everything down to the expiration date. Customers can examine a variety of products, but they won’t be charged unless something is actually taken. There is a major differentiator between Byte's technology and Go's technology, however – customers don't have to download an app.