Q&A with Ali Sabeti, CEO and Cofounder of ZeroCater

by Y Combinator10/17/2018

We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Ali Sabeti founder of ZeroCater, one of the companies featured on the list.

What does ZeroCater make/do?

ZeroCater offers technology-enabled food solutions for companies including office catering, snacks, and micro kitchens.

How many employees does ZeroCater have?


How many founders?

1 (Arram Sabeti)

What is your most impressive recent product milestone?

ZeroCater Snacks & Kitchens

What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?

We are building better workplaces through food. Our products offer employers a way to provide a better working environment for their teams. Corporate food programs allow for team building, improved communication, enhanced collaboration, and overall boost office morale and productivity.

What’s an interesting element of ZeroCater’s company culture?

Our culture is incredibly collaborative, we celebrate wins as a team while being sure to take time to recognize individual members and their contributions. During each monthly “All-hands”, we begin with our Team Value Award because recognizing our team’s contributions is one of our core values. Our employees all have an innate passion for food and desire to build community. We all believe in ZeroCater’s mission to build better workplaces through food.

Looking back, what motivated you to start ZeroCater?

There was a growing desire for companies to offer food as a benefit, especially here in the Bay Area, but having a variety of meals delivered consistently quickly became a huge pain point for most companies. Our founder Arram experienced this first hand, and knew there was a need for a solution that made it easy for companies to feed their people.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?

The foundation is there, we are still riding the wave of food especially as culture continues to be more and more vital to a company’s success. We’ve built technology to power our business and understand the preferences of our customers. We’ve also continued to expand our offerings beyond meals, into new areas like snacks and kitchens. Our goal is to be the #1 food company serving the workforce.

Were there moments where you thought the company might die? Describe one of those and anything you learned from it.

We’ve seen our share of ups and downs, but through grit and determination, we’ve scaled and kept growing for almost a decade.

What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?

The first-hand knowledge from our founder on the complexity of feeding a company was invaluable. He not only understood the value food provided to a company, but knew the technology and process that was needed to exceed anything competitors could offer.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?

There will always be challenges, what determines your success is your ability to overcome those challenges. Founders must have grit and the ability to push forward when others can’t.


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