One day it got too much for Emanuel Steiner. The Swiss with American and Persian roots was fed up with constantly having to compromise on food at lunchtime. "Finding healthy, tasty food at a reasonable price was becoming increasingly difficult at my workplace at Limmatquai," says Steiner, who has always had a passion for food. Before founding Felfel - Persian for pepper - he studied at Columbia and Harvard and worked at the Boston Consulting Group.
The start-up's concept, founded in 2014, is easily explained: Felfel supplies offices with at least 50 employees with an "intelligent" fridge and information display, fills it with fresh dishes every few days and reduces food waste with the help of electronic data. "Employees benefit from a weekly changing range of snacks and meals, produced without artificial additives by the best small producers from the region," says Steiner, whose wife Daniela works as a Food Scout at Felfel.
Whether it's minced meat with croissants, a trendy quinoa salad or an oriental curry - each dish is clearly identifiable with a barcode. This makes it easy to track inventory and preferences. And products that are past their best-before date can be blocked from sale. The plastic packaging, by the way, is collected and recycled by Mr. Green, another successful start-up, if the customer wishes; what is left over is given to Caritas.
Today, Felfel fridges can be found in almost 40 companies in Switzerland. Emanuel Steiner and his team have no shortage of plans for the future. "We want to expand storytelling, for example," he says. The plan is to place the display more prominently and show stories about the producers on it. Killing two birds with one stone, Steiner ensures transparency and satisfies the customer's need for food romance.
Article published in NZZ am Sonntag on 05/2016. Translated to EN by FELFEL