When it comes to digital marketing and ordering solutions for ghost kitchen and brick and mortar restaurants, businesses are turning to Nabeel Alamgir, Co-founder and CEO of Lunchbox. In 2019, Alamgir launched the collection of enterprise solutions that redefine the digital restaurant experience and created a successful company that promotes a healthy culture, diversity and mentorship.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in Bangladesh, moved to Kuwait 7 years later, and to Queens, NY, seven years after that. As a teenager, I took a position as a busboy at Bareburger, learned English on the job, and worked my way up to CMO of the company before starting Lunchbox. It was at Bareburger that I saw first-hand how predatory third-party delivery apps (like GrubHub) take massive percentages (30% on average, per transaction) from restaurants and I was totally fed up. Fast forward to 2019, my partners and I launched Lunchbox, a food-tech company that planned to solve for all of that by putting the power back into restaurateurs’ hands via sleek, best in class and user-friendly online ordering solutions.
What is Lunchbox’s role in the food service industry? Your clients?
Our role is quite simple: we want to make the lives of restaurateurs easier. We work with our clients — including Bareburger, C3, Umami Burger, Clean Juice, Honeygrow, Bareburger and Tacombi — to create omnichannel (or “first-party) online ordering solutions and bespoke apps, all while sharing guest data to inform marketing campaigns and stellar guest relations.
On the other side of that same coin, one of our major goals is to eradicate the need for third-party. We feel, plain and simple, that platforms like Grubhub, are extremely predatory to the hundreds of thousands of restaurants it services through its core model and infrastructure. Where they take large percentages while adding literal and figurative bulk to the situation, we provide clean, user-friendly and low-cost services and the independent and enterprise levels.
Tell us about the company culture, diversity and mentorship.
At Lunchbox, we take a restaurant-first approach with our client and a people-first approach when it comes to our team. We are firm believers in empowering our staff to grow and be their best, but at the same time, I keep the door very open for feedback on ways that I can improve as a CEO. We definitely have an “open door” policy in that way.
Culture is key for us. Amid the pandemic, our remote team has maintained a connected and engaged company culture. With clubs spanning a myriad of topics/subjects — from LGBTQ to Cooking — meeting virtually, the team has dedicated time to nurture interests and passions while at work. Similarly, diversity is a major focus for our company and teams. I’m a first generation American and feel passionate about supporting other people of color. I’m proud to say that 42% of staff identify as POC and 50% of our leadership team is female.
As mentioned, supporting team growth is important to us, so we offer a generous education stipend — covering nearly any opportunity brought to the table in the name of growing professionally. To that avail, mentorship is huge within the company, with each department hosting quarterly one-on-ones with each staff member — in addition to monthly company-wide meetings — to discuss successes, challenges and usually a bit of pop culture.
What’s the secret to your hiring boom?
We are well aware that hiring has been a major struggle amid the pandemic — with implications crossing industry lines. All I can say is that we’ve been through those struggles, too, as a fledgling start-up with not a lot of success or funds under our belt back in 2019. That said, we’ve been fortunate enough to make a number of hires — including 12 or so leadership positions — in the last two months alone. Our HR and leadership teams have found our cultural practices and diversity metrics resonate with candidates who share similar DEI values.
Further, many of our new hires cross state lines and borders beyond the general pool of talent for NYC-based companies. Arizona, Miami, California and even Toronto are now represented on the team, and I think our expanded hiring boundaries have played a major role in our ability to secure top-tier talent. You could say this is one positive of the pandemic – remote working is now the norm, and we feel confident that the right employees can work seamlessly 2 to 2,000 miles away from their manager.
I also think that people resonate with the disruptive nature of our company. Like I said, we’re here to eradicate the need for the third-party, and that mission allows us to be a little rowdy for corporate standards.
Your revenue has grown over 740% in the last two years, how can other companies learn from your success?
Since our launch in 2019, we’ve been growing at a really fast rate. The biggest thing I can chock this up to is staying true to our restaurant-first approach and always bringing best in class digital solutions. Of course, a whole lot of hustle comes along with that — our development teams are constantly working to ensure we are ahead of industry standards when it comes to technology for our clients. That’s just one example — this growth wouldn’t be possible without every department within Lunchbox, from accounting to marketing.
What’s next for you and Lunchbox?
So far, this year has really been about positioning ourselves as the premier ghost kitchen partner — with collaborations with C3, Otter, Deliverect and Brink POS. Looking ahead to the latter half of this year, as well as early 2022, we’re working toward becoming a global company offering our online ordering solutions to restaurateurs and enterprise-level chains looking to become independent of the third-party.