How did you come up with your "farm to fridge" concept?
Our motto has always been “locally sourced, fresh ingredients.” We have not strayed away from that belief. When we started, we were lucky that Chef Jonnatan had a network of local farmers and vendors in California—they became our strength and backbone. Having these deep-rooted farmer relationships has helped us scale rapidly and keep seasonal and fresh.
Jonnatan, you’ve been an innovator on the food scene for nearly a decade now. What’s your favorite part of working with food?
Jonnatan: My passion for working with food is seeing the seasons change and being excited about fresh, gorgeous vegetables ready to be picked at the markets and then cooked with integrity. I love sharing what I cook to make people smile with every bite.
What is one of your earliest food memories?
Jonnatan: Being beachside with my mother and eating 2 dozen oysters when I was 3 years old. The memory of the fresh sea combined with the essence of what I was tasting is still fresh in my memory.
Sid: My earliest food memory is my grandmother's simple rice and lamb biryani. To this date it remains my most favorite meal.
How did you two meet?
We met at our local watering hole and bonded over our love for food and dogs. As we dug deeper, we realized we could combine knowledge from our respective fields—innovative cooking and sales—to create something sustainable and special.
What keeps you motivated?
Jonnatan: My love for setting a beautiful table and having a great conversation over food was special to me ever since I was young. Being a chef gave me the perfect vehicle to take my passion for food and hospitality to a whole new level.
Sid, how did the idea of the smart fridge first come to you? Why did you decide to pursue this distribution model?
With COVID-19 hitting our business hard, we needed an alternative sales channel that was scalable. Smart RFID refrigerators gave us three great things:
Easily deployable refrigerators with a well-curated menu of food
A micro retail environment with partners to sell beverages
The ability to reach customers directly.
Through this experience, we've learned the importance of having a plan B to keep business on track, no matter what external challenges might arise.
How do you handle risk and competition?
We believe in taking a preemptive approach to mitigate all possible situations of risk, and we consider our options with patience and methodical strategic thinking. We pride ourselves in the depth of research and evaluation analysis we maintain in order to ensure that our entire team is kept up to speed with the latest trends in the industry. We always want to stay ahead of the competition.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenge(s) you’ve faced while launching your company?
Luckily, we launched with an encouraging and supportive investor base and a motivated team that was all aligned with our goals and vision. However, as we grew, it became harder to find motivated members to join the team. This has slowed us down just a little, as it's important to us to find people who believe in our motto and who share our passion for the business.
What is your superpower?
Determination and strategic thinking. It helps us assess risk and think big about our future.
What’s your kryptonite?
Non-communication and assumptions. It's super important to communicate when starting and growing a business.
What’s a food dish/item/snack that everyone should try at least once?
Easy — our signature mirin-glazed salmon with broccoli, shaved cabbage, garden lettuces, cilantro and roasted sesame seeds, with a sweet soy-sesame vinaigrette. It’s been our signature must-have since day one.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Jonnatan: Listen to your heart while following your goals.
Sid: Always put one foot in front of the other while having your heart in the right place and your head pointed in the right direction. It does not matter how tough the journey gets, it's always a matter of one foot after the other.
Always put one foot in front of the other while having your heart in the right place and your head pointed in the right direction.