LeanBox is a US company looking to change the way workers access healthy and nutritious food in the workplace. Unlike ‘healthy’ vending, LeanBox is a ‘fresh food kiosk’ where employees make on-demand purchases from a hi-tech LeanBox refrigerator located right in their office. By using stock tracking software the team at LeanBox are able to deliver a custom selection of fresh meals, snacks and beverages to keep each unit stocked up.
FoodBev Media spoke with Shea Coakley co-founder of LeanBox about the concept and its success so far.
Tell us about LeanBox – what inspired its creation?
It’s amazing how difficult, expensive, and time consuming it can be to get a fresh healthy meal in the office. Employers are really starting to understand the power of having a happy and healthy employee. We created LeanBox to empower companies and become a partner in creating an upgraded in-office food culture.
What challenges did you face when starting up?
We spent a lot of our earliest days creating pieces of the business from scratch – a home grown point of sale system, an inventory management system, a consumer phone application, a fresh food supply chain, you name it. Once all the pieces of the puzzle came together, we had really assembled a rocket ship. We’ve been growing at a crazy pace over the last year and half and there are some excited challenges that come along with that level of growth.
How does the concept differ to conventional ‘healthy’ vending?
We like to think of ourselves as a condensed cafeteria as opposed to an upgraded vending machine. You see a lot of people out there putting a green sticker on the side of a wire frame vending machine. They’ll replace regular soda with diet soda and replace greasy chips with baked chips. LeanBox, on the other hand, concentrates on delivering meals that help fuel your day like fresh salads, organic entree meals, and pressed fruit juices.
How is the inventory managed and how is stock replenished?
At LeanBox, we always know exactly what is in every machine. On a day to day basis, we know what items to to be replenished. What is more important is that we have great analytics on what is working and what isn’t work at each individual location. This ensures that we are giving the particular office what they want to eat, when they want to eat it.
Where is LeanBox currently used & how have users responded?
LeanBox now operates over 200 units all over New England. Our customers span all industries and have anywhere from 25 employees to 2,000 employees. We’ve found that we are a great solution for companies that are trying to find a way to build a more attractive environment to the employee population. Attract and maintaining talent is challenging and food tends to be a big part of that equation.
How can food & drinks brands take advantage of this new concept?
We view the LeanBox as a portal of discovery for our end customers. We have a great deal of responsibility to our customers and our suppliers, and we don’t take that lightly. Our food committee is constantly scouting the most unique, innovative upcoming brands to bring into our product universe. As a food or beverage brand, the LeanBox is a new and unique way to get in front of customers on a daily basis.
You’re planning a big expansion in 2016. What does this involve?
2016 is going to be a whirlwind year for LeanBox. In addition to taking on another round of funding, LeanBox plans to take on at least one, if not two more major markets. We are building something great here and we plan on spreading that across every major market in the US.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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