Two years ago, Josh Hix and Nick Taranto were working long hours in post-business-school jobs, which forced them to order most of their meals on Seamless. “We felt disgusting about the food in our lives,” Taranto says. “We knew there had to be a better way to get food that we felt good about.” They took inventory of the delivery business, which then included nascent ventures like Birch Box and Warby Parker, and put together plans for Plated, a company that delivers all ingredients for a healthy meal that an orderer, using an enclosed recipe, could cook at home.
Since then, Plated has grown by leaps and bounds and amassed a customer base that extends across the nation. Now the company is unveiling a new way for customers to get their hands on a meal, even if they don’t place an order — Plated just rolled out a food truck.
The truck will dole out the same menu available online, parking in neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn to reach customers who may have forgotten to place an order, or who want to pick up all the supplies for their meal on their way home. And the mobile meal-monger offers another way to solve the problem that motivated the founding of Plated: “Dinner is broken in the U.S.,” says Taranto. “People want to cook more, but it’s time-consuming, expensive, and people hate shopping — you buy all this food to make a meal, and a lot of it goes to waste. We use tech and data to make that better,” supplying patrons with exact amounts of ingredients needed for one recipe.
But Taranto says the food truck serves a few additional purposes: “One, it allows us to play and push forward the vanguard of taking e-commerce offline,” he says. “Two, food trucks are deeply embedded in New York City culture. We’re NYC-based, our headquarters are here, and this is a cool nod.” It also follows the lead of other e-commerce companies, like Amazon, that are establishing an offline presence to connect with customers and boost sales.
But Taranto says that the mobile nature of the truck also allows Plated to test the waters in different NYC neighborhoods to determine whether it might want to set up something permanent somewhere.
Despite the offline presence, Plated is still primarily focused on online growth. “What really excites us and our investors,” says Taranto, “is that when you look at more mature markets, where food e-commerce is farther along, like France or Spain, 10 percent of food is bought online. In the U.S., it’s less than 1 percent. But it’s growing at a crazy-rapid rate. This is a fast-growing space, and it’s super exciting to be part of it; this is a huge pain point for so many millions of people.”
The Plated food truck will donate unused meals to City Harvest. You can find the truck’s location by following it on Twitter.