Saskatchewan startup plots growth in mission to ‘rethink’ the workplace fridge

A local technology startup company in Saskatchewan that installs smart fridges that stock themselves is looking to expand its reach through Saskatoon and outward.

Focused on fueling the workforce of the future, Cubbi is working to create an easier grocery shopping experience for people and businesses.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan entrepreneur launches first made for workplace fridge' Saskatchewan entrepreneur launches first made for workplace fridge

Saskatchewan entrepreneur launches first made for workplace fridge – Jan 17, 2021

Cubbi’s internet-connected fridges for offices, called Hubs, contain 12 individual “cubbies” that customers can permanently rent to store their food, or that may be used for one-time food deliveries across multiple users. Each Cubbi is linked to an individual, and can only be accessed using the Cubbi mobile app.

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Having raised $1.35 million in startup funding, Cubbi’s CEO and founder Dawson Norrish says the company is ready to reach more customers.

The startup is also looking to expand staff to 14 from 11.

“The funding was raised to really rethink how people are fed in the workplace setting. The idea that people go to the grocery store, then pack a lunch and take it to work — I think is dated,” Norrish said.

Read more: Winnipeg’s food services sector struggles as job vacancies remain high

One of the bigger investors in the firm, Conexus Venture Capital, says the company was something it wanted to get behind.

“Dawson (Norrish) is a phenomenal founder who understands the true value Cubbi brings to all stakeholders — from customers to restaurants to couriers,” said Kyle Scott, managing director of Conexus Venture Capital and Emmertech.

“We’re excited to work closely with Dawson and the whole Cubbi team to change how people view food storage and delivery in the workplace and beyond.”

A customer can use the Cubbi app to choose the groceries they want. They are then delivered through a network of food distributors in the city and a single delivery driver to each customer’s fridge unit.

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It’s an idea that could catch on across Canada and even beyond.

“It’s also something that can innovate on sites for workers in the office (and) enhance the environmental social governance by reducing food wastage,” said Mark Hinz, chief executive of MMKL Group Inc.

Hinz added it could also create jobs for people making food deliveries.

The technology can also help people save time and maybe some travel expenses since they won’t have to drive to the grocery store, Norrish said.

“The items we sell on our platform are the same costs as at the grocery store, but what we do save is time,” Norrish said. “The time to get in your car and drive to the grocery store, saving on costs of gas — we save all of that.”

Norrish said that the concept is very similar to a community mailbox, and that a pod system set up can act as a virtual kitchen essentially for a business or a condo building.

Read more: New study estimates Canadians wasted $500M in food due to ‘shelflation’

Alex Hanson of Colliers, managing director of Saskatchewan Real Estate Management Services, sees potential in the idea — “especially in some core areas of the city where there is a bridge or a link where people don’t have access to food or grocery stores as easily.” Hanson said.

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