Not so many years ago, Arram Sabeti was a working student attending community college classes in Orange County. He was quickly getting bored, however, and wanted to work in startups like those backed by Paul Graham’s Y Combinator seed accelerator. Thus, Sabeti, who was “willing to do anything to get my foot in the door,” dropped out and moved to the East Bay. He landed a job at Justin.tv, where he was responsible for office management, QA, and placing lunch orders.
During that time, Sabeti’s “biggest pain” in life, as he described it, was making sure that the lunches showed up, that the employees liked their food, and that their dietary restrictions were met. He eventually began offering his services to friends’ companies, and after receiving positive feedback, he started his own business in 2009.
ZeroCater, which makes it simple for organizations to feed their workers, now serves over two hundred companies in the Bay Area, including Sony, eBay, Hipmunk, Rackspace Hosting, and yes, Sabeti’s former employer, Justin.tv. Office managers let ZeroCater know how many people need to be fed, when they need to be fed, and if anyone has any dietary restrictions or food allergies. ZeroCater will then order the meals from a rotation of more than 130 local restaurants, private chefs, and caterers. The startup uses customer feedback to determine what kind of food to send and not send, as well as take care of the billing and scheduling.
At first, Sabeti handled ZeroCater’s accounts manually, spending several hours each week just filing invoices. That process, among others, has since been automated after CTO Bill Moorier joined the company. ZeroCater took part in Y Combinator’s most recent spring class and has raised over $1.5 million from investors such as Paul Buchheit, Stewart Alsop, Keith Rabois, SV Angel, and Starling Ventures.