Food. Glorious food.
We all need food to fuel our bodies, but what we choose to eat and how we get our food can differ wildly from person to person. Many of us try to find the perfect balance between eating healthy and eating conveniently.
Charlotte-based Mamu Market launched in 2018 as a digital platform to connect consumers with food vendors. But here’s where they’re different: Mamu Market only offers fully prepared meals. There is no prep work involved, only heating.
Better still, all meals are healthy and labeled according to dietary needs (Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, Vegan, etc.).
A deep analysis of the evolution of online food sales from 2015 to mid-2016 led Mamu Market founders Zack Zitsos, Matthew Zitsos and John Washington to the fully prepared meal space, which was strong at local and regional levels but was somewhat lost behind big budget players in other online food segments.
“Our position is that fully prepared meals are the more sustainable, convenient, and the healthiest online food solution in the long run,” Zack said, stressing the ‘long run.’ “Fully prepared meals are rarely someone’s first online food purchase, but it’s often the online food solution that people stay with for the longest, as it’s the best combination of price, convenience, and a healthy diet.”
Most meals on Mamu Market cost $10-15.
Healthy from the Start
The Zitsos brothers grew up in the food industry. Their father, Konstantine Zitsos, was CEO for Charlotte-based Showmars Hospitality Group for nearly 10 years before becoming the company’s Chief Strategy Officer earlier this year.
“At our core, Matthew and I are just guys that are trying to sell food,” Zack said.
However, the food they are selling through Mamu Market had to be healthy. Zach was a collegiate athlete, wrestling for the University of North Carolina.
“Going back to college wrestling time, you learn the healthy way to lose weight and maybe the not-so-healthy way,” Zack said. “You’re going to feel better doing it the right way. Most people think exercise is the end all, be all. But without diet, you’re not going to get there.”
So how does Mamu Market find its vendors? It’s pretty easy in Charlotte.
“Charlotte has more [fully prepared meal] vendors per capita than comparable cities,” Zack said. “We’re selling the product and we need it to be good. Thankfully, Charlotte has a level of competition that’s high enough.”
Mamu Market has basic criteria for vendors. All prepared meals need to be healthy, delivered, or moving toward delivery—some vendors offer a pick-up option—and of course, fully prepared, but not hot.
“We want to own that niche,” Zack said. “We’re owning the prepared food marketplace concept.”
Mamu Market’s website is available now in the Charlotte market with multiple vendors. Consumers can visit and purchase prepared meals today.
But Zitsos is already thinking about Mamu’s next steps: corporate wellness and geographic expansion. For one thing, Zitsos is currently trying out a new concept called Mamu Break Room.
“We’re currently testing a corporate wellness, employee meal program with a few select partners,” Zack said.
“So many companies offer food for employees these days,” he explained, “and very rarely is that food healthy or even edible for someone on a diet. With Mamu Break Room, partner companies will always have healthy options available for employees, whether they want to work through lunch, stay late at the office, or simply don’t want to or can’t eat the pepperoni pizza their boss ordered for the team lunch meeting.”
They expect Mamu Break Room will be a way to introduce Mamu Market to potential new customers.
Additionally, Zitsos plans to expand Mamu Market into other cities beginning with Atlanta and then working up the East Coast.
“Charlotte is a great market, and has provided us with a great proof of concept,” Zack said. “But it’s pretty representative of the rest of the United States as far as online food sales are concerned.”
Check out Mamu Market on Facebook.
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