37 : UTC Startups - Series I

All vertical market segments are affected by digital innovations and by trends seen at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), undoubtedly the greatest hi-tech event in the world, which 3 UTC start-ups chose to attend.

37 : UTC Startups - Series I

The “Boîte à Encas” (the Snack Box)


Our lunch-break time is a necessary moment to relax and enjoy exchanging with our colleagues. However, it may prove difficult for those who do not bring in a meal with them or if the company canteen is not up to expectations. And this is where the Boîte à Encas – a start-up created by a UTC graduate - comes in.  

It did seem an obvious idea to Michael Ormancey, a UTC graduate in the major Process Engineering (2012), during his engineering placements. “My placements were organized in industrial zones and I realized there were very few restaurant solutions in units without a canteen or a self-service. And that was where the idea arose to create a cafeteria system, adapted to each company’s needs”.   

Michael’s idea was simple: to deliver a turn-key cafeteria with its own refrigerators, plates, cutlery, a microwave heater and a pay-box. But the Boîte à Encas is different from other systems in the way it is operated and the way food is supplied and distributed. “What we do is to provide the personnel with a magnetic card that can be recharged or even using restaurant vouchers. The pay-box is a tactile pad-device where the personnel badge in their ID to pay for the meals. The pad is connected to our data server and that lets us know, in real-time, who is eating, how often he/she eats there and in what company. We can thereafter improve and narrow down the dish supply side, optimizing our delivery rounds with the stocks at the company premises”.

The second originality of the system is to have a distribution system that varies according to the size of the client company. “When the personnel is between 30 and 100, the products on sale are offered in “self-service” mode”, explains Michael. “If there are more than 100 persons to cater for, the self-service approach is no longer viable. In this case, the customer will badge to open the fridge door and select among the dishes offered. Once the fridge closes again, the fridge will automatically deduct the price-to-be-paid from the magnetic card”.    

So, tell me, what is there in the fridges? “Our aim is to propose high quality dishes with respect to what you can find in major shopping centres”, says Michael. “We are working with three catering companies for the cooked dishes and with small foodstuff producers for the soups the desserts, etc. The diversity we have in our partner suppliers allows us to have an attractively varied menu which we change evert week, including provisions for non-gluten, sugar-free … diets. Moreover, we prefer “in season” products and, indeed, all the dishes we prepare are made from fresh ingredients without any preserves added”.  

A menu costs between 7 and 10 euros. “The aim here is to be on a par with the value of the corporate lunch voucher, adds Michael. But the clients can also purchase a snack or a breakfast with the same system!”

After a launch phase concentrating on companies with between 30 and 100 staff members, the Boîte à Encas is now preparing to move into the 100-300 bracket. “We hopefully will become a reference in the 100-300 range. “We want to become a reference in the Paris Île de France Region, announces Michael, knowing full well that this particular, capital, Region has the densest restaurant and food outlet offer in France We have already equipped over 30 companies in the Paris area but the market potential is simply enormous!”

The as yet small company has big horizons and would like soon to cross the English Channel. As Michael sees it: “London’s food habits are very close to what we offer at the Boîte à Encas. We are planning to set up shop over there in the coming 2 to 3 years. But before that we shall extend our network and services throughout France”.