Menulog founders to disrupt $8 billion café sector

26 September, 2017 by
Madeline Woolway

The former founders of Menulog have announced an expansion of their platform, FoodByUs, launching a new B2B marketplace for Australian foodservice venues and local suppliers.

“We launched our B2B platform in response to overwhelming demand — basically we couldn’t ignore the growing number of calls we were receiving from cafés,” says Ben Lipschitz co-founder and managing director of FoodByUs.

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The new marketplace will offer food distribution using market first technology providing a ‘one stop shop’, which combines a dynamic sales force, an online ordering system and logistics in one platform.

“While there are some other businesses that do either distribution or online order management, we believe we’re the only ones who do both of these functions and as part of an open marketplace,” Lipschitz told Hospitality.

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“FoodByUs is very easy to use — venues sign up for free and are immediately able to browse and order from a huge range of local suppliers.”

FoodByUs provides local suppliers with a platform to market and sell their products wholesale, along with an order management system, while cafes can search for high-quality, fresh and local products suited to their needs. The platform, which offers ‘Uber-style’ GPS tracking for deliveries and mobile ordering along with an integrated payment system, is free for venues while fees are taken from suppliers.

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The platform currently has 50 suppliers onboard, mostly focused on freshly baked goods like vegan doughnuts or colourful croissants, which Lipschitz says makes FoodByUs unique.

“Our point of difference is handmade local products that are very high quality,” he says.

“Our unique logistics model means we can offer freshly made items like vegan doughnuts, raw cakes, croissants, sourdough bread, muffins, slices, cakes and more. Cafés can receive daily deliveries of the very freshest items, which meet all their customer’s unique dietary requirements.”

So far 100 venues have signed up, including Sydney venues such as intimate, street-front café Neighbourhood, as well as larger cafés like Depot and Frenchy’s Café.

“The future of food distribution is all about learning to service an increasingly fragmented market of suppliers and buyers,” says Lipschitz.

“Consumers want to stay engaged and also have shifting dietary demands, meaning venues need an easy way to be nimble in the sort of food they offer. Meanwhile, suppliers of all sizes need a way of easily serving these venues.

“Of course it’s not all about technology — that is just an enabler. There’s no substitute for face-to-face visits and we remain a heavily relationship driven business.”

In 2016 former Menulog founder Gary Munitz and lead developer Tim Chandler, alongside Ben Lipschitz, launched FoodByUs as a B2C platform that connects talented home based cooks with hungry locals. With investment from Macquarie Capital, FoodByUs has now launched the second phase of its business concentrating on distributor solutions for B2B, now available in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.