Wellington company Angel Delivery has struck a US partnership that will see the four-year-old freshly made meal and treat delivery service enter the New York market.
Partnering with US firm The Fresh Diet, a business that delivers healthy food for people on diets, Angel Delivery also has plans to take on Los Angeles, Dallas, Florida and Toronto.
Former nurse and mother of two Becs Cass started the company in 2008 as Baby Angel, a service for new mothers.
“I was working at the hospital in Lower Hutt and I was at the stage where a lot of my friends were having babies,” says Cass. “When you’re in that headspace you become obsessed with babies. There were lots of mums going home from hospital without the support and care we used to have 20 or 30 years ago. I saw a need for a service that would provide that help and care.”
Baby Angel changed its name when customers wanted to use the service to give food to anyone, not just new mums.
“People were asking us to deliver out of Wellington. I thought, ‘how can I scale this and maintain quality control?’ I needed a model to deliver a caring gift of food nationwide.”
Now the company is trekking stateside, thanks to an approach via social media earlier this year from Zalmi Duchman, CEO and co-founder of The Fresh Diet.
“Zalmi sent me a tweet and said he liked what I was doing. He basically said, let’s talk business.”
The pair then met over Skype and Cass flew to the US to meet Duchman. A year later, Angel Delivery is set to begin production in one of The Fresh Diet’s large commercial kitchens, initially in New York.
Duchman says he's always looking for innovative products to keep his kitchens operating at capacity.
"I liked the business model as it was easy to input it into my US operation. We have downtime in each kitchen and a product like Angel Delivery fits in perfectly to help leverage our assets."
Fresh Diet staff have been trained and Angel Delivery has implemented its quality standard programme, which covers everything from food production and packaging to answering the phone and cleaning up, says Cass.
“I thought if I’ve got a business model to license to a commercial facility to produce the food and manage the process of it, why couldn’t I do that in another kitchen? [The Fresh Diet] operate and staff big commercial kitchens where they make and deliver diet food. We don’t compete with what he [Duchman] is doing. He does diet food, ours is comfort food.”
Although she trained as a nurse, Cass had always thought of running her own business and Angel Delivery puts to use her dual loves of cooking and business.
“My earliest memories as a child were standing at the bench at our house in Wellington and my mother would let me go nuts with the flour and the sugar and everything. I’ve also always loved business. I used to buy and sell things when I was a little girl and make extra pocket money. My father had his own businesses and when I was training to be a nurse my father and uncle said to me, ‘what are you doing? You should be in business, you’ve always loved it.’”
Cass started out sharing the cooking with a friend who owned a cafe, doing the packaging deliveries herself.
“I would drop my kids at kindy and I had a vacuum and mop in my car and there’d be a cake or lasagne in a chilly bin. It was very ‘from the kitchen sink’.”
Eventually customer numbers grew into the thousands and between seven and 10 boxes were being delivered each day. Cass outsourced food production and made sure her processes were as efficient as possible.
“It was profitable but I hadn’t gained real control of efficiencies in our model. I was sourcing product from all over the country and freight was costing too much. That’s been sorted out now.”