Harry and Lewis Slagel, Co-Founders of Plateaway, take us on their exciting new venture and give us the ins and outs of their lockdown baby. The platform allows customers to order kits from separate restaurants in one checkout and provides videos on how to go about getting these delicious meals onto the plate.
It was first conceived during the first lockdown in 2020. We saw a few of our favorite restaurants selling meal kits on Instagram. Harry and I are massive foodies so not being able to eat out at the places we loved, not having access to delivery (at that time), and having to cook meals from scratch was setting the scene for a pretty daunting and depressing era.
It was at this stage that we decided to create a marketplace for restaurant meal kits. Harry has a tech background and threw himself into the building and designing of our website. I was hands-on at getting restaurants onboard, designing our packaging, and making sure we had an ambient courier for the meal kit deliveries.
We started off with six founding partners and we’ve grown to over 75 partners in the space of a year and a half. This is our first experience in the food industry, but we pooled our brotherly genes and different skill sets and created our lockdown baby – Plateaway.
A few things come to mind. There was the initial difficulty of establishing ourselves, making a name for ourselves to then getting some restaurants on board. We got Hard Rock Cafe on board right at the beginning and then this spiraled into getting some of the other big brands to join us.
Organizing our courier account was relatively complex. We’re the holding company for the account and every restaurant under us has its own courier accounts under that. There are different collection points that the courier has to collect from, and managing all of these deliveries and collections is challenging in itself.
The fact that this business is D2C means you’re dealing with social media, reviews, and all sorts of other tricky aspects, and therefore being at the top of your game at all times is a prerequisite.
We do have vegan and plant-based offerings. Veganuary was a big time for this sector and a lot of our restaurant partners were jumping on the bandwagon and creating dishes that corresponded to the January trend.
We’ve only just launched our subscription model. Everything up until now has been ad hoc purchases. Because meal kits are so new, we wanted to establish ourselves before launching the subscription model.
We’ve selected six partners as a test to start with, and only with certain meals. It was all about selecting the right price point for the customer, and then we worked backward from there.
Looking forward, I think our subscription model will take off and provide a great service to our customers.
There’s a massive incentive.
Firstly, it brings another revenue stream to their business. If people don't have access to the restaurant, or the restaurant is full, this gives them the opportunity to maximize their potential revenue.
Secondly, people that don’t have access to the restaurant are simply made aware of the restaurant and its offerings.
In addition, partnering with us rather than distributing the meal kits themselves, gives them access to our huge customer database on our platform. We also manage all the day-to-day grind (customers, couriers, etc…) that the restaurant shouldn't have to deal with. They can get on with what they do best – preparing great food.
The freshness is 100% there. We designed what we call our Plateaway packaging pack which keeps food fresh for up to 48 hrs in transit in an ambient courier. We usually deliver within 24 hrs but we have to have that second window just in case something gets misrouted.
Delivery can always be a little tricky. However, as we fully manage the couriers in-house, we manage any problems that arise, and even before they arise. We deal with the customers and we get the job done. As of August last year, our delivery success rate is 99.9%.
We have a few channels. We work alongside a PR agency. We do paid social (PPC), and we have a whole marketing department that’s dedicated to getting us out there. We’re still building the business and what we’re looking at next is door to door, direct mailing to customers.
We definitely have restaurants that are best sellers, but we also have different complexities when it comes to the meal kits – whether you want to simply throw something in the oven or whether you feel like exerting your culinary skills, even those you never knew you had. We have a wide variety of meal kits, and this is likely to be affected by seasonal changes too.
The future is BRIGHT! We have exciting times ahead. We’ve just raised our funding, and Harry and I are now focusing solely on Series A – keeping the orders consistent, growing the orders, launching the subscription model, and building our advisory board to cement ourselves.
Once we make it into Series A, there’s huge potential for growth and expansion, particularly into Europe. My wish to one day order a fresh Italian pasta meal directly from Italy, and receive it within 24 hrs just may come true!