Detroit’s Savorfull Applies Birchbox Model to “Free-From” Food

7/26/12Follow @XconomyDET

Who doesn’t love getting a box of surprises shipped to them? Birchbox, the subscription service that sends members a box of beauty samples each month based on their preferences, pioneered the model. Now, Detroit-based startup Savorfull is taking that model and applying it to “free-from food” (as in dairy-free, gluten-free, etc.) as a way to get the latest products from a booming market into subscribers’ homes and pantries.

“It’s no different than technology—nutritional products are constantly changing and there’s always an influx of new stuff,” says Savorfull’s co-founder, Stacy Goldberg. “I love the idea of sending samples, because that way you’re not committed to buying the $10 bag of granola. Since we’ve identified people who want and need free-from foods, we also are a marketing and distribution channel for food companies.”

For $15 per month (or less, if members commit to six-month or one-year subscriptions), Savorfull members receive a box containing deluxe- and full-size food samples. Goldberg says she personally vets each sample and works to source local and organic products, though the only requirement for samples is that they are allergy-free and contain no artificial ingredients.

Members can also log on to the Savorfull website for recipes, advice about food pairings, coupons, nutritional information, and food allergy tips and tricks. Goldberg, who also blogs on the website, says she wants to build a community at Savorfull where people are offering one another advice and support on how to deal with food allergies, as well as talking to their social networks about the products they love. “Our motto is discover; taste; share,” she says. “I want it to be more than a user platform.”

Goldberg and her mother, Phyllis Canvasser, started Savorfull after looking for ways to scale a previous business called What’s In Your Cart, a nutritional consulting company. (Both Savorfull and What’s In Your Cart are now part of the Bizdom/Quicken Loans family of companies.)

Goldberg has a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Michigan and says she has always had an interest in eating fresh, natural foods, but she honed in on the free-from foods market while running What’s In Your Cart grocery store tours at Plum Market. “I became totally obsessed with all the new allergy-free product lines,” she admits. “I knew people with different dietary restrictions needed help and the process of food discovery could be a big niche.”

Goldberg, who says that free-from foods represent a $26 billion market, is always scouting for new products to offer her members, whether she’s at Eastern Market or a high-end grocery store in New York City. She loves the idea of connecting a Savorfull member in Wyoming with a local, Michigan-made product like Mrs. Glee’s Navy Bean Flour—something that wouldn’t happen if the customer had never stumbled upon it in their monthly box.

If Savorfull members like something they receive as a sample, they can also order if from the Savorfull website. So far, Goldberg says, she has hundreds of members across the nation and is exploring the option of expanding shipping to Europe and Canada after receiving numerous customer requests.

Goldberg says she became an entrepreneur because she wasn’t interested in spending her days behind a desk as a nutritional consultant—she wanted to make the experience of eating better more appealing to her clients. That same desire to make things fresh and fun carries over into Savorfull. “People are overwhelmed by their options in a grocery store,” she adds. “I’m here to make this easy for a newly diagnosed food allergy patient.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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