The state of healthy food delivery in the region leaves a lot to be desired. Globally, restaurant sales are dominated by the usual suspects like burgers, pizza, chicken, and coffee whereas healthy food options remain a small, but rapidly growing segment of the market. Healthy meal subscriptions have been emerging, but there hasn’t been a major regional standout player that is aiming to connect all the dots of a healthy lifestyle. This is a problem that needed to be solved.
When we first met Calo, what stood out to us immediately was the founders’ focus on the customer. Ahmed and Moayed understood that one could innovate in food production, marketing, content, etc, but if the food doesn’t taste good, then the customer won’t come back. This focus on the fundamentals of the business piqued our interest immediately. I know it sounds simple, but it’s astonishing how often an operational emphasis on the fundamentals of a business goes overlooked. Their initial focus was on creating delicious and healthy food at scale and that was the foundation of their operational execution. They succeeded in this regard quite early and saw exceptional growth since our first investment a year ago now having delivered millions of meals.
Restaurants and food providers focusing on delivery as a major revenue channel have been challenged from a unit economics perspective. Over the course of the last several years, as food delivery has matured, we have seen that a focus on retention is one of the major keys to creating a sustainable business. Some pursue subscription, some focus on good food, some focus on delivering within a time SL, and some focus on price vs quality. Very few are doing all these things, but that is what Calo is endeavoring to do.
Keeping the customer happy is so integral in the ethos of Calo, that retention has evolved into a mindset that has trickled down to the culture of the entire organization. This is usually something that companies begin to contemplate when they are much later stage, but Calo had this focus in their first year. Not only retention of customers, but also, retention of their team members that has been disseminated throughout by the founders. This is rare and valuable for an organization so young and I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. We love this about Ahmed and Moayed.
This is not to say that they are not focused on innovation. What took us from having our interest piqued to wanting to partner with Calo last year, was their vision for the future. A completely vertically integrated model from food production to customer engagement to delivery and post order follow-up, the Calo team has established the cornerstone for full integration into one’s healthy lifestyle.
Now, with this cornerstone, there are a plethora of possibilities to begin to explore. Calo is already capturing the current customer state of health, integrated with 3rd party health apps, and designing plans based on your goals, but where can we go from here? The answer is… lots of places! With this data, and new incremental sources of data, Calo can begin to give recommendations to customers on how to optimize their healthy journey, rather than just being a receiver of inputs. This unlocks the opportunity for bespoke menu engineering on an individual level effectively removing subjectivity from your eating decisions. Within this sphere of recommendations, there is a veritable ocean of opportunities to explore. This is what got us excited about the future.
A solid foundation coupled with a robust roadmap for future developments puts Calo in elite company among regional startups. We couldn’t be happier to deepen our partnership with Ahmed and Moayed and are honored to be a part of the team.