30 Great Places to Work 2019


Zume: Prepping the world for a sustainable food system

“Engineer the world’s transition to a sustainable food future.”

It is estimated that by the time we hit mid-century, 9 billion people will inhabit the earth and without proper optimization of the food industry, it is highly likely that a major share of the population will be in hunger.

Zume hopes to tackle this issue by building an end-to-end scalable platform and thus reduce the time and distance between clean food sources and dense population centers by inculcating advanced technologies like automation and smart transportation logistics. The company envisions a future where sustainability becomes an integral part of the food industry.

The Beginning

Zume Inc started its journey as Zume Pizza which was founded in 2015 by Alex Garden and Julia Collins as an automated pizza restaurant that employs robots in the pizza-making process. The company found innovative ways to source, bake and deliver pizza while keeping the sustainability factor intact.

They make use of technologies like data analytics and artificial intelligence to understand the supply-chain and effectively predict the demand in different areas using the order details of the customers. The process thus helps them enhance efficiency, reduce the price and also deliver quality fresh pizza to customers.

Zume Inc is currently designing a technology infrastructure that'll make the food supply chain more connected with the brands and help move the food closer to demand and thus reduce waste. They are helping restaurants and other catering services adapt to automation to improve their efficiency and profitability meanwhile saving the planet.

How it works?

Well, the short answer is data, the on-demand food delivery system generates a lot of real-time food consumption data and with the help of predictive analytics, it is possible for food companies to predict the demand and connect it with production for better resource decisions in the food supply chain.

Zume breaks down its services into three categories to better focus on the solution for each of these verticals individually. Zume Forward is the analytics wing of the company that works on making the food consumption data actionable with mobile kitchens, connected appliances, and predictive analytics which in turn help food brands to enlarge their operations according to customer demand and thus optimize the resources wisely.

Zume Source adds value to the supply chain by inventing sustainable ways to grow, produce and deliver the food. It also has a 100% compostable fiber-molded packaging that it developed in-house and is considered to be affordable than paper or plastic. And finally, the Zume Culinary which now houses the Zume Pizza ensures that the quality is never compromised and the delivery experience is improved with the latest menu design, advanced commissary techniques, and automation.

Shared-Kitchen industry challenges

According to research the shared-kitchen market is valued at $30B and is expected to reach over $40B by the year 2023. The concept of shared-kitchen is relatively simple; it involves uniting small-scale food entrepreneurs like food-truck owners, farmers and food beverages manufacturers under the same roof of a large kitchen so that they can share the space, prepare their products and also keep their costs low by not spending huge capital on infrastructure individually.

But there are a few challenges that go hand-in-hand with the shared-kitchen industry like forecasting demand, planning inventory, and marketing. For instance, the small-scale food entrepreneurs don't have a steady cash flow and it is of paramount importance for them to estimate the actual demand of their products, especially because the raw materials they bring in usually have a low shelf life and hence the need to for an effective supply chain mechanism.

Zume to rescue

Zume helps these small-scale businesses by implementing technologies like automation, data-analytics service, and improved logistics to build sustainable business models. Automation of operations in the kitchen will provide food-entrepreneurs with more time to build their business. Also, automation has a couple more benefits like consistency in taste and adherence to health guidelines without monitoring constantly.

Zume also takes care of demand forecast, inventory planning and assessing customer needs which will help the businesses in targeting the customer effectively. Also, Zume’s delivery truck is an add-on as it comes with a sizable logistics network that the food-entrepreneurs can make use of to plan an efficient delivery system.

Raising the bar

The company works by the principle that automation and robotics can improve the quality of human lives, meaning Zume intends to impart better living standards for its employees. According to the company, the minimum wage for their employees start at $15 an hour, plus they get full medical, dental and vision benefits for them and their families. Also a full-time worker is eligible to become a shareholder in the company once they’ve completed six months in the company. Zume believes that automation will help in bringing more quality jobs and better pay for workers.

Meet the visionary

Alex Garden as an entrepreneur is a jack of all trades and has founded several start-ups in a plethora of industries like Robotics, Medical Imaging, Packaged Goods Video Game and many more. He has also worked as an executive in various senior and C-level positions in the aforementioned industries. Before being the executive chairman of Zume Pizza in 2015, he held several management positions at Microsoft.

"We're on a relentless quest to create a smarter and more sustainable food system."