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Christoph Fahle
January 12, 2012

Startup Of The Week #23: Carolinas Food Services Gmbh

Pete Clifford is the International Business Development Director and Managing Director of Carolinas Food Services GmbH, a local subsidiary of Swedish firm Carolinas Matkasse AB, which operates the grocery-delivery service Linas Matkasse. Grocery bags, containing fresh ingredients as well as recipes and meal plans, are prepared weekly and delivered to homes across Sweden. In Germany, the company operates under the brand name Schlemmertüte.

Pete Clifford is the International Business Development Director and Managing Director of Carolinas Food Services GmbH, a local subsidiary of Swedish firm Carolinas Matkasse AB, which operates the grocery-delivery service Linas Matkasse. Grocery bags, containing fresh ingredients as well as recipes and meal plans, are prepared weekly and delivered to homes across Sweden. In Germany, the company operates under the brand name Schlemmertüte.

The name ‘Linas Matkasse’ translates to ‘Lina’s Grocery Bag’. Who is Lina, and why should we trust her to fill our grocery bags each week?

Lina Aronsson is one of the founders of Linas Matkasse, along with her brother, Niklas, who came up with the idea following a discussion with his wife. Following many discussions about what to make for dinner every night, they decided that it would be a great idea if somebody were to hand them a bag with the meal they wanted to have that evening every day on their way home from work. Based on this idea, Niklas founded this business, and asked his sister, Lina, who is a certified nutritionist, to help him create various recipes and meal-plans every week. That is how Linas Matkasse works within Sweden. However, for our German brand, Schlemmertüte, we have hired a local chef who prepares different recipes.

You deliver grocery bags filled with healthy ingredients, meal plans and recipes to customers in many locations across Sweden. What kind of people benefit the most from this service?

Most of our customers come from two different groups. The first one consists of families with two working parents and school aged children. The reason they find our service helpful is because they usually have no time to go grocery shopping or to cook. Having not only food, but also recipes, brought to them every Monday is a great service for them, as it also helps to bring a bit of variety into their lives. The other group we cater to is young couples who may not have children yet, but who work long hours, and often need help deciding what to prepare for dinner.

Carolinas Food Services GmbH is the first branch of Carolinas Matkasse AB to open outside of Sweden. Do you intend to eventually expand through the rest of Europe?

At the moment, we are not ruling out any countries. Of course, we are focusing mostly on Europe for now, since we are already here. I think that, in the coming years, we will definitely launch in a few other countries as well. Each company will, of course, operate autonomously, with their own chefs planning meals, as we are operating here. This is quite a different approach from that taken by our main competitor, KommtEssen, who use the same recipes in every country in which they operate.

In addition to providing groceries and meal plans to customers in Sweden, you also operate Linas Kenyakasse, a charity project that provides food to poor urban populations in Kenya. Could you tell us a little more about that?

Linas Kenyakasse currently only operates out of Sweden. What we do there is set up a charity fund, the ‘Kenyakasse’, to which customers can donate at will. The money then goes to the Swedish aid organisation International Aid Services, who then uses it to provide food for poor urban populations in Kenya. We are planning to set up a similar project here in Germany, and work with a locally-based charity organisation.

Finally, what made you decide to work from betahaus? How do you find the working environment here so far?

I have been working at betahaus for 4 months, and the rest of my team has been working here since last month. At first, I was the only one operating Carolinas Food Services. I didn’t want to be fixed to an office at that point because I didn't know how much we would grow as a company, or what our future needs would be. It therefore made sense to be based somewhere that gave me the flexibility to start off with my own desk, and move to a bigger space if necessary. I also think it’s great that, as startups, we have all the facilities we need right here – somewhere to eat, somewhere to print, or somewhere to meet other people who can help me out whenever I need it – I’ve even been to Open Design City a few times whenever I needed help fixing something. It's definitely great to be able to meet other people and share all kinds of knowledge and skills in this space.

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