“When I was living on West 14th Street and taking the E train to Goldman Sachs it got so bad that a homeless man handing out papers in the train station would look at me and say, ‘cheer up young man’,” said Nick Taranto, co-CEO of Plated.
Part of that was because he “absolutely hated” his experience at Goldman, and wanted to do something entrepreneurial and creative. The other part, though, was a more common Wall Street problem.
Taranto was feeling depressed about gaining weight and being unhealthy. Like a lot of bankers he was working all the time and eating take-out all the time. Fitting exercise in with the demands of his position in Goldman Sachs’ private wealth business was basically impossible.
It’s hard to imagine Taranto, a tall, smiley Marine, looking or feeling sluggish. But it happens on Wall Street all the time.
So in 2012 he and Josh Hix, a former Bridgewater associate who Taranto met at Harvard Business School, launched Plated. It is a national subscription service that delivers fresh, healthy ingredients for meals you can make in 30 minutes to your door in as quickly as one day.
Here’s how it works:
- Go to Plated.com and put in your zip code and delivery day.
- Choose what meals you want, and for how many people (each meal is $US12).
- Wait for your ingredients to show up.
- Cook them (they come with directions).
If you want, you can fill out a form about your likes, dislikes, dietary restrictions (what have you), and Plated will send you food automatically. The menu changes weekly. Taranto calls this experience “curated discovery.”
What he and his team discovered themselves, is that Plated solves an even bigger problem than just their clients’ health. In the United States 40% of the food consumers buy goes to waste. Plated has its waste down to less than 1%.
Of course, creating the infrastructure for a national delivery service like this wasn’t easy. Taranto and Hix’s first delivery involved hustling down to an Associated grocery store and sending off items themselves. Then there was the time they tried to build their own fridge (which ended with $US20,000 gone and a fridge that would not cool below 65 degrees).
All that was before the $US400,000 investment from Silicon Valley angel investors (which didn’t stop Hurricane Sandy from almost flooding Plated’s Brooklyn warehouse, but it definitely helped in other ways).
Now the company operates out of a sunny shared work space in SoHo where twice a week the open kitchen becomes a testing lab for the new dishes that will appear on Plated’s menu over the next two months. Taranto likes the deconstructed tuna wasabi bowl (pictured below).
Plated has fulfillment centres in New York, San Francisco and Chicago and plans to open three more in Dallas, Miami and Los Angeles. The company employs about 100 people.
At this point, they should probably all know how to cook.