“People Who Eat Together Grow Together”
Ripe, a Brooklyn-based company is passionate about corporate wellness. Founded in 2013 by Ben Huffman, CJ Richards, Anmari Botha and Maria Bradley, this team of former models understands what it means to be bogged down by a busy schedule. They also understand the power of nutrient-rich food and its benefits to fuel both mind and body. The company motto, “People Who Eat Together Grow Together” is the idea behind the brand that’s making its mark in the food delivery service industry.
“It’s about growth and community,” explains CEO Ben Huffman. “When eating as a group, especially over the same delicious meal, acquaintances can quickly become a team. Our goal at Ripe is to strengthen that company culture by building a community around our food. Our best ideas here at Ripe often happen during team meetings over healthy and delicious food.”
Ben and CJ, both also former personal trainers saw a need for a service that would allow their clients to easily access healthy food as a supplement to the physical gains achieved by workouts. Ben and CJ wanted to make a more impactful change on people’s lives beyond the gym. “So many of us spend time at work either stressed or eating unhealthy to get through the day. With the rise of startups and big companies providing catered meals, it was a perfect opportunity to reach a high number of people at no cost to the individual who wants to get healthier,” says Ben. Ripe was intended to be an app that would deliver healthy food options to individuals, “but it grew to a more viable business model that now delivers curated meals to corporate offices,” explains Ripe PR and Communications Manager, Lauren Tureaud.
The name “Ripe” in this case refers to the most nutrient dense and flavorful food available. “Through our name, we want our clients to grasp the idea that good food fuels long term happiness among employees,” shares VP Maria Bradley referring to the upward trend of corporate wellness with companies providing meals as a perk.
Ripe runs a “Lunch & Learn” session upon delivery of the first meal. These sessions explain to employees what they’re eating and the benefits the food can have on their productivity at work and their overall health. “For our frequent clients (those who order more than one meal a week), we offer complimentary health coaching,” says Lauren. “Order frequency paired with health coaching ensures people are staying on track towards the goal of better quality health.”
There are benefits for both the employers and employees who participate in the Ripe lunch program. “Clients enjoy an easy, hands-off delivery and set up process while our knowledgeable brand ambassadors (often trained in fitness and nutrition) handle everything,” explains Lauren. “We want employees to be genuinely excited when lunchtime comes around,” says Ben. “Happy employees that are able to take a break in the day to connect and celebrate something good (our food) that will also improve their productivity for the rest of the day,” is what Ripe believes makes for a strong sense of corporate community and productivity all around. Ben adds, “Seeing the positive effect our food has on clients makes living a wellness lifestyle that much more central in our own daily routines.”
Jacqueline Sneyers at Kickstarter, an American public-benefit corporation based in Brooklyn and Ripe client says, “I have never gotten so much positive feedback after a lunch. Everyone loves the options and the fact that it’s healthy and tastes amazing. The Ripe team is friendly, fun, and personable.” Analisa Svehaug of Betaworks, an American startup studio and seed stage venture capital company based in New York City shares her experience. “We had high expectations for Ripe and they delivered.” This type of feedback “is positive reinforcement that we are on the right path to making people happy and healthy through the power of nutritious food. We want delicious, healthy food to be the catalyst of change for employees who take pride in their work and their wellbeing,” explains Lauren.
Ripe provides lunches almost daily for the majority of their clients. “That means that 1/3 of our clients daily food intake comes from local, nutrient-dense sustainable sources. We here at Ripe not only play a part in the short-term happiness and wellbeing of the employee, but are also fueling the long-term success of the company itself by helping people experience the benefits of eating well,” explains Ripe VP Maria Bradley. “Knowing that we’re impacting people in this positive way is what motivates us as a team to push our company to make greater impacts.”
In addition to weekday delivered meals there are “Ripe Life” workout sessions being offered on Saturdays at local parks. The workouts are intended to serve as a fun, judgment-free zone where anyone who wants to join can come and break a sweat. It’s currently donation based. “The park is free, we have onsored juice and water products, the trainers are volunteers, and the cost of providing towels, t-shirts, etc. is worth the healthy smiles we get to see every week,” says Lauren.
There’s a genuine passion at Ripe to build a company that works on all levels to produce a quality product, a satisfied customer, and a reduced carbon footprint. “We love people, food, and the environment and we’re always excited to come up with ways to ensure a harmony between the three,” explains Ben. All Ripe ingredients are local, organic, and sustainably produced served in recyclable, compostable packages.
“Ripe has grown more than we could have ever imagined,” shares Ben. “It’s a humbling and rewarding feeling to look around and see something that you’ve built from your passion. We’ve had hard times just as any other company, but we prefer to call them growing pains rather than setbacks.” The biggest challenges to date have been, owning their own kitchen and figuring out a delivery system so that every order is delivered by
the designated time. With their kitchen currently in Little Italy and offices in Brooklyn, Ripe is looking to move to a new space with a bigger kitchen in Manhattan, offices above and a place to keep the delivery trucks. Something that has come about seamlessly is gaining new clients. “It has been surprising to see the number of companies that genuinely want to eat and be healthier,” says Ben.
Ripe is looking to expand to more companies in NYC as well as to smaller cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Austin. “In 5 years we want to be a must-have service for startups and big companies looking to have healthier employees and culture,” says Lauren.
“It is truly special to see companies eating, laughing and bonding over the type of healthy, farm to table meals that brought us (the founders) together,” says CJ, Ripe’s COO. “Health and wellness is something I have been passionate about for over a decade. Working at Ripe is very fulfilling and every day we get to walk the talk. Wellness is not something we do for only 8 hours a day. We live it 24/7.”
*The photo of the 4 co-founders in the Ripe T-shirts are (from left to right):
Ben Huffman, CEO
Anmari Botha, Creative Director
Maria Bradley, Vice President
CJ Richards, COO