Image credit: ClusterTruck

 ClusterTruck offers a visionary approach to food delivery, despite its somewhat misleading name. Located at the intersection of virtual restaurants, just-in-time ordering, home delivery and fleet management, the Indianapolis-based company recently has added Kansas City to its growing roster of markets served.

With ClusterTruck, it’s all about synchronization. Food, from an extensive menu, is prepared in a commissary-like kitchen in each of its now six locations. Orders, via a dedicated app or via the company website, are only offered within zones in each city where meals can be delivered to a customer’s curb within a reasonable time frame to ensure freshness. The twist, compared to other food delivery options, is that an individual order is not started until a driver can be located. For those who live outside a designated zone, a customer can place their food request and meet a driver within the delivery area.

“Having come from a deep technology background, we approached the growing problem of unsatisfied food delivery customers from a software perspective,” ClusterTruck Inc. CEO Chris Baggott, who co-founded digital marketing software company ExactTarget, said in a release. “We believe hungry people should never have to choose between the convenience of fast delivery, the food quality they’d get at a sit-down restaurant and the personality of street food, so we created a service that offers all of the above.”

Essential to ClusterTruck’s success is the specially designed kitchens where the food is prepared. Large digital displays cue chefs when to begin meal preparation, based on not only finding a driver but calculating the time it will take the vehicle to reach the meal prep location. According to company information, Baggott hand-coded the software to ensure accuracy for this crucial step.

Baggott also has his hands in the process far beyond prep and delivery. The ClusterTruck CEO owns a farm where animals used for much of the company’s menu are sourced, in a pasture-raised and antibiotic-free environment. With increasing demand, Baggott is contracting with other farms who are willing to raise their cows and pigs to ClusterTruck’s specifications.

ClusterTruck’s delivery fleet is made up of drivers who also may work for other services such as Uber, Lyft or Postmates. One of the company’s big selling points to recruit new drivers is that ClusterTruck provides only curbside delivery, all of which eliminates the hassle of parking, apartment building codes or elevators. Also, the company says it pays its drivers daily, rather than weekly or monthly, as is common with other food delivery services.

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Allen Weiner is an Austin-based freelance writer focusing on applications of new technology in the areas of food, media and education. In his 17-year career as a vice president and analyst with Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest IT research and advisory firm, Allen was a frequent speaker at company and industry events as well as one of the most-quoted analysts in the area of new media. With an extensive background in publishing and publishing technology, Allen is noted as the founder of The Gate (sfgate.com), the nation’s first daily newspaper on the web. Born in Philadelphia, Allen is a graduate of Muhlenberg College and Temple University.

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