Foodoro v. Foodzie: Online Marketplaces for Foodies

| March 16, 2009 | 6 Comments
  • 6 Comments

Foodoro and Foodzie

Over the past three months, two companies have emerged on the foodie/techie scene, making it possible for consumers to access artisanal and gourmet goods at the click of a button.

Foodzie, a TechStars startup with a seed round of $1 million raised from noted investor Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC, First Round Capital, Tim Ferriss, and a number of angel investors, launched in December 2008. Foodoro, a Y Combinator startup, just launched last week. Both companies are based in San Francisco, and both sites offer a variety of specialty food items from producers across the country.

Some best-sellers from Foodzie include:

BonBonBarBonBonBar, Single Malt Scotch Bar (Los Angeles, CA) – Bold enough for Scotch lovers and smooth enough for all chocolate lovers, the combination of single malt scotch and dark chocolate is grown up decadence at its finest.

Boulder PopcornBoulder Popcorn, Cambria’s Cream Heirloom Popcorn (Louisville, CO) – Boulder Popcorn is reminding people how sweet and buttery natural corn tastes (before microwaves entered the picture). It is a hulless corn, so no flossing necessary post munchies.

Some best-sellers from Foodoro include:

dees doughnutsDee’s Mini Organic Doughnuts, Crazy Eight Sampler (Kentfield, CA) – Free of chemical preservatives, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, colorings and artificial flavors, these hand-dipped doughnuts come in delicious flavors like Dagoba Chocolate Orange, Meyer Lemon, and to Chai For.

ricks picklesRick’s Picks, Pregnancy Pack (New York, NY) – From meager beginnings in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, to award-winning distinction at the International Pickle Festival, Rick Fields has taken the art of pickling to a whole new level. The Prego Pack is the perfect gift for a mommy-to-be. For more adventurous pickle lovers, check out the Phat Beets and the Smokra (pickled okra with smoked paprika).

Is the rise of companies like Foodoro and Foodzie a sign of how the food marketplace is changing? While there is nothing like the experience of going to a real life farmer’s market, smelling the fresh produce, tasting samples, and interacting with producers themselves, not everyone can afford the time, leisure, or access to do so.

Emily Olson, co-founder and CMO of Foodzie, explained, “The concept behind Foodzie came to be because I wanted to create a better place where consumers could both discover unique products and get to meet the people behind their food.” Prior to founding Foodzie, Emily worked for a specialty food retailer and had the opportunity to work closely with the buyers. She said, “I saw all these samples that were sent into our office everyday that never made it onto the shelves of our stores. There were just too many barriers, even for food producers with fantastic products.”

Jay Moon, co-founder of Foodoro, echoed this sentiment. He noted, “Many independent foodmakers don’t have the resources to do much in the way of marketing. We want to make it really easy for producers to market and sell directly to customers, and part of that is building their e-commerce reach.” Foodoro provides a customizable e-commerce widget that vendors can embed on their own sites to allow customers to easily buy their products.

Foodoro has also reached out to the food blogging community, allowing bloggers to use this widget as part of an affiliate program where they can earn a percentage on purchases made through referrals.

While the overall reaction from the food community towards these sites have been generally positive, a few critics have raised the issue that online market places like Foodoro and Foodzie go against the principles of eating locally.

Jay responded, “Actually, shipping a package produces less carbon emissions than driving even a short distance. Studies have shown that, by far, the largest environmental cost of traditional shopping is when a consumer drives a car to a store.”

“For many people eating everything locally is almost impossible,” Emily added. “Often there are products that just aren’t available locally and we want to enable people to support small producers in the US rather than turn to their supermarket where they will all too often be buying imported goods.”

Both Foodoro and Foodzie encourage people to support local producers, and get out to their local farmer’s market. Foodoro has a store and farmer’s market locator for many of their foodmakers, and Foodzie allows people to view their producers by location, enabling consumers to make their own choices about buying locally.

Despite the occasional neigh-sayer, I for one am grateful for this apparent rise of the foodie online market. It supports the underdog and I like that. Small bootstrap businesses devoted to specialized goods, family-run operations, artisan producers with a passion for quality and time-honored traditions, rock on.

Sites like Foodoro and Foodzie just may save the underdog of the food world in a time when they are in danger of extinction at the hands of efficiency and modernization.

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Category: online marketplaces and food sites

About the Author ()

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and there is no room in life for non-fat cheese and crappy chocolate. Also, a barrel of cheese balls never ends well. Stephanie has been known to choose her company based on how much they can pack it down. Ability to endure cramped quarters, sketchy back alleys, and uncharted paths to seek out that special dish is also a plus in her book. If you fit the criteria, drop a note. You’ll probably get along just fine. Stephanie's writing and photography have been featured in Fodor's Travel, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Serious Eats, and Sundance Channel. Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.
  • http://www.RegionalBest.com Caragh Whalen

    In addition to these and other West Coast companies, we’re an East coast-based online food marketplace. We launched RegionalBest.com (http://www.regionalbest.com ) in July, 2008 and offer regional and local foods produced by artisans, farmers, ranchers, cheesemakers and other small family owned businesses. In addition, we support sustainable and eco-friendly production practices and many of our products are all natural and/or organic.

  • http://lickmyspoon.com Stephanie

    Caragh: Thanks for letting us know about RegionalBest! Looks like you have a great range of products available.

  • http://boozelys.com Lyndsey

    It is really frustrating to see you push local sustainability , then recommend pickles from ny. What about local picklers? What about buying local, it is ridiculous

  • http://lickmyspoon.com Stephanie

    Lyndsey: While I do support local producers (and try not to push anything on my readers), I agree with Emily’s sentiment that for many people buying all local all the time is just not realistic or possible. I recommended Rick’s Picks from NY b/c they’re innovative, fun, and delicious. That is not to say they are the only picklers out there doing innovative, fun, and delicious things. Explore what’s out there. Explore what’s good and share the love. We’re all in it for the same joys, no?

  • http://www.localharvest.org Guillermo Payet

    This piece should have mentioned LocalHarvest.org, which does the same as Foodzie and Foodoro, but focused on products from family farms, and allowing buyers to search for local items. LocalHarvest now has more than 600 vendors and gets more than 10 time the website traffic than foodzie or foodoro. LH’s directory or family farms and farmers’ markets has more than 19,500 listings. The 600 mentioned above are the subset that choose to use our ecommerce services.

  • http://lickmyspoon.com Stephanie Im

    thanks for sharing the info, guillermo.