5 Questions With….Crafty Co-CEO & Co-Founder Ishan Daya
A Q&A with the logistic expert that helped Crafty grow from a pioneer in beer on-demand to a business at the forefront of the workplace revolution.
In our new series, we’re asking industry leaders five hard-hitting questions about the topics that are at the top of everyones’ minds. In this installment, we catch up with Crafty’s Co-CEO and Co-Founder. Read on for his thoughts on building a F&B program that engages employees and keeps your pockets full.
Crafty's founder and CEO, Ishan Daya, has been making waves in the workplace food and beverage industry for years, thanks to his keen understanding of economics and budgeting. His innovative approach to providing top-notch pantry and food solutions to companies around the globe has made Crafty a household name in 32 cities.
As Daya gears up to share his insights in the upcoming webinar Beyond Coffee and Snacks: How to Craft a Winning Office F&B Budget for 2024, we had a chance to talk with him and hear about some of the most important business lessons he’s learned over the years.
One of the key takeaways from Daya's experience is the importance of finding the right balance between providing great employee experiences and keeping costs in check. By leveraging his expertise in budgeting and economics, Daya has been able to help businesses of all sizes craft office kitchen and pantry budgets that work for them, allowing them to provide top-quality office snacks, drinks, and meals without breaking the bank.
How has budgeting for F&B changed over the past five years?
About 10 years ago, we were in a market where employers were attempting to differentiate themselves by offering different perks to their team members to show that they invested in the employee experience. It was a race where the most ‘innovative’ companies were offering the most expansive perks to bring in the best talent. Free office snacks and beverages were core to that offering – it was a method to break hierarchical barriers of the office environment, have team members connect personally, and also fuel them throughout the day. In its infancy, budgets weren’t as large a part of the discussion, as people were trying to understand what this type of experience would cost, and were operating to ‘keep up’ with the demand.
Over the last 3-5 years, we’ve seen what was once a ‘perk’ from early adopters, shift to being a ‘necessity’ for any company that wants to have an in-office experience. Come into the office without free coffee or snacks? No thanks! I’d rather stay home where I have the comfort of my pour-over and my goldfish. We’ve seen more and more companies come out of the woodwork across industries and levels of ‘innovation’, as they attempt to bring team members into their office spaces. To talk about how corporate f&b spending has changed means talking about how the office experience has changed. We know that offices that treat the in-office experience as transactional have the most difficulty engaging team members long-term and have a greater challenge with retention. Offices that properly invest in the in-office experience as just that – an experience, are able to help foster greater levels of cultural capital, team engagement, and ultimately, higher retention.
Why did Crafty invest in its budgeting tool more than others?
As food & beverage shifted from being a perk to being a necessity, we’ve seen a greater need for companies to better project and manage spend around it for two reasons:
- Because this is no longer a ‘new’ perk, we have the data to be able to understand the type of experience a company wants to have, and the approximate spend that they should plan for.
- As the market becomes more cost-conscious, we need to be building tools to help companies optimize their spend. Each cent matters that much more, and building tools to help folks understand where their spend is going with recommendations on how to adapt that spend to generate the most value is paramount in today’s market.
How is Crafty’s approach to budgeting different from the competition’s?
Our industry – workplace food & beverage – has been incredibly slow to adapt to the technology needs of its users. This was one of the reasons that we built Crafty – to merge the technology and service needs of those managing the workplace food experience. Because our competitors like Aramark, Sodexo, and Canteen / Compass have grown primarily through acquisition, they have a fundamental challenge in building technology that crosses their different operating systems. They have struggled to build technology that gives their clients real-time data across geographies – whether that’s spend and budget data, on-site operating data, or product information.
We are the only platform in the pantry space that gives our clients the ability to adapt their budget based on: the type of experience they’re looking for, the product offerings they want to have, the number of days their team is in-office, the number of team members in-office, dynamic to the day-to-day headcount fluctuations that may occur.
Crafty’s technology has been built with an explicit focus on how we can not only build technology to adapt to the needs of the market, but actually build tools that help guide our clients in their decisions by using the power of our client network to understand how other organizations of similar sizes/stages, geographies, industries are tackling these same questions.
Where are people usually overspending on F&B?
There are two primary areas where we see folks overspending on their day-to-day F&B programming:
- Waste – Oftentimes as we transition in as the primary provider for workplaces, we’re walking into rooms full of expired inventory, or too much inventory. That’s generally due to a challenge around inventory management – keeping the right levels of product for the right number of people at the right time. Using pen and paper or a Google sheet can work, but is inherently more at risk of human error – compared to using an inventory management platform that allows you to set levels, operate off of those levels, and dynamically edit them based on changes in projected headcount and consumption patterns
- Leaky Spend – What’s leaky spend? When you have off-cycle, off-budget, or unplanned spending happening on corporate cards in different departments or as supplements to the core program. This spend is usually unknown to the finance department, and holds a higher per-unit cost, because it’s being purchased through one-off providers. These types of spend often go unnoticed, are unplanned, and exceed the financial controls of the program!
Do you have any funny stories about budgeting in your personal or professional life?
There is one thing that I always make sure to have an open budget for: frozen treats. If that means not purchasing some other necessities in lieu of frozen treats…so be it. There will always be room in my stomach and my wallet for ice cream, popsicles, or whatever the frozen treats aisle of Trader Joe's creates next.
One snack you can’t live without?
To hear more of Ishan's insights on F&B budgeting tune into Beyond Coffee and Snacks: How to Craft a Winning Office F&B Budget for 2024 on September 21, 2023. The first-of-its-kind webinar is a can’t miss for leaders interested in breaking the employee experience mold, without breaking the bank.