As the popular saying goes, “The world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content.” Power Supply’s business model draws from this approach.
Available in three metro areas: Bay Area, Southern California, and Washington D.C., the company partners with local chefs to create the menu it offers to its service’s subscribers.
CFO Jeff Kelley told FoodNavigator-USA how the business model benefitted the company from a capital perspective. “Not building our own kitchen, not being locked into long term leases, not buying equipment, not having to initially hire a large staff and manage inventory—that is something that the chefs that we work with have already taken on,” he said.
In fact, Kelley argued that Power Supply should belong in a category on its own, transcending meal kits, subscriptions, and delivery services like GrubHub or Uber Eats. “First and foremost, when you work with local purveryors of food who are talented and have similar values—they want to help people improve their wellness, then you’re going to find the kind of connection you can’t find anywhere else,” Kelley said.
How it works
Customers can either order a one-off meal, or set a subscription for meals to be delivered to a pickup spot (at gyms, health clubs, or to an office via corporate partnerships at no cost to individual customers), or directly to their homes/location of choice (with varying delivery costs).
There are three pre-made menu templates: Paleo, Mixitarian (non paleo), and vegetarian, all gluten and dairy free, but customers are also able to customize their meal selections from their online dashboard. Also customizable is the size of meal, with prices varying by region.
Service in the D.C. area, for example, costs $9.50 a meal for the smallest size with approximately 250 – 450 calories, $12.50 a meal for the standard size with 400 – 650 calories, or $15.50 a meal for the XL size with 550 – 850 calories.
Finally, for those who want to subscribe, a meal can be scheduled in various ways. An early week setting delivers three meals on Mondays, while a late week setting sends two meals a week on Thursdays. Dedicated customers can choose five days of meals to be delivered Monday and Thursday.
But which service and frequency is the most popular, and does Power Supply market itself as an everyday staple or more of a treat or splurge? Kelley didn’t share numbers, but he did say that the company is a “foundational part of most of our customers' lives [and their] food experience."
He added that the flexibility of Power Supply’s schedule system (allowing one-time orders, ability to pause service at any time) allows a big part of its clientele to use the service as a supplement to their normal eating habits, “but by and large the customers that we have use us [as] their foundation.”
How Power Supply keeps its customers interested
The company had many incarnations before, starting from 2011 when founder Patrick Smith was brainstorming new ways to innovate in the prepared meal space. Power Supply in its current form was established in 2013.
As for customer retention, the company believes that convenience alone doesn’t cut it. Diverse chef partnerships have been an important way of retaining customers and attracting new ones, Kelley said. “It’s kind of like a restaurant crawl in your living room when you get a selection of our meals,” he said.
“The biggest enemy of not eating well is boredom. If people get bored, they stop doing stuff that’s great for them,” he added.
Moreover, the company harnesses existing connections with local crossfit gyms, yoga studios, and other fitness centers, recruiting new subscribers from the member base of these partner gyms. Visibility at local sporting events as well as demos at these public places has been a successful part of its expansion.
And the company keeps on growing—it announced a $5 million funding round a couple months back, and its planning to expand to other metro areas in the country, riding on the waves of fitness and foodie trends.
“The competitive landscape is really interesting,” Kelley said. “We are about taste for a fuller life—you have some folks focusing exclusively on convenience, some folks focusing exclusively on taste. We’re in a different category altogether. We primarily create an easy button for people to eat well that accommodates for personal preferences.”