Everyone loves fine dining but not everyone has the time. dcuisine believes in the ability for frozen organically prepared gourmet meals to satisfy peoples need for quality meals. UPS delivered meals straight to your home gives you the freedom to quickly get a meal together in less than twenty minutes without sacrificing nutrition or health. Thomas Metzger takes us through his healthy business to deliver us the goods.
Tell us about the product or service.
dcuisine is an ecommerce business that delivers 100% all natural, Certified Master Chef (CMC) prepared, flash frozen meals directly to consumers via UPS. The Company was founded by my father Sam Metzger, the entrepreneur behind Chipwich, the beloved chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. Mr. Metzger partnered with CMC (one of only 67 in the US) Ken Arnone, and set out to design super premium, great tasting, all natural frozen meals that would be the first of its kind.
How is it different?
We use only the highest quality ingredients, harvested in season, and employ an artisanal manufacturing process to prepare recipes other frozen food manufacturers cannot. Most of the meals are prepared through a modified sous vide slow cooking process, that locks in all of the nutritional value and flavor. They arrive fully cooked, and are heated by removing a custom designed pouch from the freezer and placing it in a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. This elegant method of evenly heating the product results in restaurant quality all natural food with the added element of convenience! Due to the fact that our product is frozen, we can ship anywhere in the country, and currently have customers in 49 states (excluding Alaska).
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our target customers are primarily baby boomers seeking high quality, all natural, artisanal food. We all know this is a fast growing segment. However, approximately 80% of our sales come from outside of Dense Metropolitan Areas where we are not competing with the likes of GrubHub, Munchery, etc. To get an idea of the size of this market, I think it is important to look at the overall US restaurant takeout business. Excluding fast food, the US restaurant business is approximately $500B, of which approximately $70B is home delivery and takeout. Of that market, we are focusing on the % of that which is either rural or suburban, affluent, and does not have many delivery options. In addition, excluding the holiday season, approximately 30% of our revenue has come as gifts year round, which is something we are now beginning to really hone in on.
What is the business model?
Our business model is 100% ecommerce and direct to consumer. A percentage of our company is owned by our manufacturing partner who houses all of our manufacturing and distribution. We therefore have no bricks and mortar, and are scalable up to about $20 million in revenue without the need for significant capital investment. Our average order is approximately $110 at the moment, and approximately 30% of our customers become loyal customers that reorder on average close to 4 times so far. As long as we can keep our customer acquisition cost down, we should have a very high ROI proposition.
What inspired the business?
My father, Sam Metzger, has been in the food business since he was General Counsel for Nelson Peltz at Flagstaff in the 70s. He then started Chipwich in 1980, and also produced a line of refrigerated food licensing the Canyon Ranch Spa name in the 90s. He has always been a visionary. dcuisine capitalizes on the trend in people’s evolving taste for artisanal all natural food, without competing in the saturated urban markets.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Our primary goal at this point is to be operating cash flow breakeven within six months, which is very unusual for an early stage company. Any capital we raise will be used for customer acquisition, not operations.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
In hindsight, we probably should have raised money pre-revenue from an angel with ecommerce experience that could have helped us avoid some of the growing pains we have worked through ourselves.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Danny Meyer is the arbiter of taste in the restaurant business. He has always been ahead of the trend, anticipating what the most fickle of customers in New York will want, and delivering not just the very best food, but also the very best customer experience. He has now become a visionary for the entire food business with Shake Shack, challenging other chains to rethink their ingredients. We believe he could add tremendous value to dcuisine on many levels.
Why did you launch in New York?
My father grew up on Long Island, and I was born and raised in Manhattan, so New York is really our home.
Where is your favorite outdoor bar in the city for a drink when it is actually warm out?
Wherever my friends are. I think we are all a little bit guilty of relying too much on social media and text messaging to stay in touch. I always enjoy catching up with my friends in person, and don’t care about the venue!