Excerpts from the Innovation Economy blog.
Scott Savitz and Emily Nagle Green are eyeing your child’s lunch money.
Their Charlestown start-up, Smart Lunches, delivers lunches at about $4 or $5 a pop to 11 Boston-area schools and day-care centers, and Green talks about building Smart Lunches into a nationally known brand. “There’s a national market available here, and you can’t think of a brand that has national awareness around providing nutritious food to kids when they’re away from home,’’ she said.
The target market, as she sees it, is about 30 million kids between the ages of 2 and 18 who are not in school lunch programs.
Savitz left Shoebuy.com, the online footwear retailer owned by InterActive Corp., last summer. He was introduced to the founders of Smart Lunches, Cathy Goldman and Susan Frigoletto, as an adviser. Though the pair had only begun delivering lunch to schools in September, Savitz decided to make an offer to acquire the company just before the end of 2011. He knew Green from serving alongside her on the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange board; she had vacated the chief executive’s office at Yankee Group, a Boston tech research firm, at the end of 2010, and was thinking about next steps. She signed on to run the business around the same time that Savitz was wrapping up the acquisition.
“I was really captivated, partly because it’s so different,’’ Green said, “and partly because the mission is so compelling. The company is doing something worthwhile, and there is a huge scale opportunity.’’
Right now, Smart Lunches is focused on students in private and parochial schools that don’t have cafeterias; Green says public charter schools will probably be next.
“We’re competing with packed lunches,’’ she said, offering parents the choice to order a month’s worth of hot or cold lunches online. Lunches are delivered to the school by Smart Lunches contract caterers. A sample lunch: a turkey half sandwich with cheese, baby carrots, and an oatmeal cookie.
Green said schools that help promote Smart Lunches will get a share of the company’s revenue at the end of the year.
Goldman and Frigoletto have retained a minority stake in the company. Savitz has been the sole backer of Smart Lunches, but Green suggests they may seek other investors.
It isn’t often that a seven-person company gets to help with a Super Bowl advertising campaign. But that opportunity presented itself to Boston’s Promoboxx last fall.
Promoboxx founder Ben Carcio told me it was one of those phone calls he wasn’t sure was worth making. “Whenever you talk with mentors and investors, they’re always trying to introduce you to other people in their networks, and you always wonder if the call will be worth the time,’’ Carcio said.
Dave Balter, founder of BzzAgent, suggested that Carcio get in touch with a media analyst and occasional investor in New York named Richard Greenfield, who in turn introduced Carcio to Avi Savar, a founder of the social media agency Big Fuel. The agency was working with Chevrolet on its Super Bowl XLVI campaign, and “they’d always tried to have a program that would better involve Chevrolet’s dealers, but they could never execute it right,’’ Carcio said. During their first meeting, Savar “was finishing my sentences.’’
So Big Fuel signed up Promoboxx to create cobranded pages for 3,000 Chevy dealers, who in turn help share the Super Bowl-related content to their audiences on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. “We also created a dealer scorecard, so each dealership can see how they rank among other dealers’’ in terms of generating Bowl-related buzz for Chevy, Carcio said.
Carcio says the Big Fuel collaboration turned into the start-up’s biggest project thus far; Promoboxx, founded in 2010, and took part in the TechStars Boston program last year and raised $565,000 last month.