In today’s ‘Day in the Life’, we chat to Adrian Frenzel, the CEO and founder of corporate catering company, EatFirst.
Adrian talks about his past experiences as Co-CEO of Hello Fresh USA, how EatFirst has navigated the pandemic, and his predictions for the future of the food delivery market.
What was the motivation behind creating EatFirst, and what lessons did you take from your former role at HelloFresh?
During my time at HelloFresh US I really enjoyed combining my passion for food with my professional career, so I began to explore how I could progress in this direction and forge my own path in this industry.
I had witnessed considerable innovation among B2C operators, but found very little in the B2B space by comparison. I was also keen for my next company to have a stronger focus on technology, so saw an opportunity to do just this when I had the idea for EatFirst.
Applying what I’d learnt at HelloFresh, I knew that ultimately our end goal would need to be delivering exceptionally tasty and high quality food to customers, and that we would need to streamline this process to make it as simple as possible. In addition, I observed in the US the doing approach instead of over-engineering, which we especially sometimes like to do in Germany. So, that’s what we also now do: quickly developing new ideas and then involving customers as early as possible.
What does a typical day involve for you?
As I’m currently based in Germany, I start my day with thirty minutes of catching up with updates from our Australian business. Then I’ll kick off with a part of our continental European team (I’m a big believer in daily stand ups and focus tasks).
Up until lunch most of my time is focused on growing and developing our technology. We’re currently launching a completely new way of booking catering online, and the whole team is concentrating on delivering this to the market.
I spend my afternoons speaking with customers and account managers, and will usually finish the day after dinner with general admin. I should also mention that I always make the time to have a proper lunch and dinner – it’s such an important point of the day, the first one I do together with our Berlin team, the latter will be enjoyed alongside my wife and kids.
How did EatFirst navigate the pandemic, particularly managing two markets on opposite sides of the world with vastly different lockdown experiences (in the UK & Australia)?
When the first European lockdowns happened, we decided to focus all our attention onto one company, our Australian market (pre-Covid we had four independent companies), resulting in many late night calls with customers for me!
Our European businesses were either closed or reinvested. We used the lower volume to massively improve our technology – since March 2020 we’ve grown our tech team by 200% – and this allowed us to be ready to go when the UK market reopened. We restarted Europe with our Australian product and approach in Q4, and since then it’s been full steam ahead with the UK as our first port of call.
How do you think the catering and food delivery space will evolve as lockdowns lift?
We already have some form of a precedent available in Australia, where we’ve seen a strong return to pre-pandemic normality and a desire for sharing food as opposed to single serve. 70% of the office catering we’ve supplied in Australia has been buffet style, suggesting a trend towards sociable eating and sharing.
We also expect to see rapid adoption of flexible catering, particularly as companies discontinue mass on-site catering in favour of off-site cooking and delivery which can be tailored as required. With many businesses switching to hybrid working models, it’s even more important to have the flexibility to increase or reduce catering, along with incentivising staff to return with great quality food.
What are the benefits of EatFirst’s business model for suppliers?
For suppliers, we can help them to significantly increase their reach and access to new and larger clients. Our platform is highly scalable, and with our technology we can get a new supplier fully set up on EatFirst and catering to customers within as little as two weeks.
We also help suppliers to reduce their workload, as we digitise most of the processes in sales and accounting which the caterer would otherwise need to input manually.
What are your predictions for the future of EatFirst and the wider food delivery industry?
Across the wider industry, we will see a continued push for quality and sustainability, particularly with regards to reducing food and packaging waste. Companies will need to reassess their supply chains based on environmental impact, and we’ll see an increase in the use of locally sourced and ethical products, largely driven by consumer demand.
Based on the above, I’ve never been more bullish for our future. We are best positioned to help our clients to achieve their goals. The food delivery sector is only set to grow as customers demand flexibility and variety, and we are well positioned to expand and deliver across the UK as required.