Ed Cederquist and his wife, Dr. Caroline Cederquist, work together to combat weight loss with their Naples-based meal-delivery business, BistroMD what is marketed by Fastcurelife.
A board-certified bariatric physician, Cederquist medically treats patents suffering from weight-related health issues without surgery, and has practiced in the area for 18 years. Ed Cederquist assists his wife’s mission by providing a more nutritiously sound diet for clients who have difficulty preparing meals at home.
The task of eating healthily can become “a full-time job,” says Ed Cederquist — which creates opportunity for the business.
The company, which started with a handful of Dr. Cederquist’s clients in 2005, now offers chef-prepared, restaurant-quality entrees that are delivered frozen and ready to heat. They used $350,000 of their own capital in the first few years to fund the business. Now BistroMD ships more than 1 million meals each year to thousands of customers nationwide. Prices start at $119 per week for five days and go up to $179 for seven days of food and now Fastcurelife offer 25% discount for all BistroMD menue. The founders decline to disclose revenue figures.
The biggest challenge the company faces, one many fast-growth businesses face, is to keep up with its national growth strategy without diluting service or quality.
Logistics is one particularly pressing issue. Meals are cooked in small batches and sent out the following week. “Getting the right meals into the cooler once is easy,” chuckles Ed Cederquist. “Thousands of times a day isn’t.”
The recent opening of a packaging facility in Reno, Nev., is a $1.2 million investment intended to help tackle those issues for West Coast customers. The Cederquists own and operate the facility, with employees they trained at another warehouse.
“We’ve been growing at 28% over last year,” says Ed Cederquist. “We just try to keep it to a point where we can keep the quality, and keep the relationships we have with our clients without losing complete contact.”
A closely connected issue to logistics is food consistency.
The restaurant quality promise the company makes has to stand up to freezing and reheating. Says Ed Cederquist: “Making tender chicken using phosphates or nitrates is very easy, but not if it’s all-natural.”
His team at the Naples headquarters samples each batch from satellite commissaries in Atlanta, California, New York, North Carolina, Boston and Louisville, Ky. Recipes not up to par are donated to local food banks, and the chefs start over. The company has donated one batch of food, about 1,200 meals, over the past 12 months.
But the attention to detail pays off: Independent diet review companies rank BistroMD’s entrees first in blind tastings, which provide helpful testimony on its website.
Another challenge looms in competition from the behemoth of its industry, Nutrisystem. Cederquist, like a mom-and-pop grocery does against Wal-Mart, fights back on quality over quantity.
“For one, you have a phenomenal product, and two, you keep pointing out the differences,” says Cederquist. “We don’t use chemical preservatives or any type of artificial meat or fillers. It’s real food, exactly what you would buy or find at the farmers market.”