Competition to Reinvent Fast Food Enters Final Round on

On Tuesday, December 14, at a minute before midnight, voting closes on the final round of the competition to Reinvent Fast Food on I first posted as Round 2 voting was underway and shared that I was supporting the Beet Squad and their Foodsurge concept, which is depicted beautifully in an infographic on the team’s blog. Foodsurge is essentially a mechanism for aggregating consumer demand for restaurant meals using local and organic ingredients, thereby guaranteeing restaurants a minimum number of buyers for a given meal. I think this concept is a win-win-win for local producers, area restaurants and consumers looking for healthier fast food choices.

I caught up with Gary Wohlfeill, Sam Christian and Allison Capaldai of the Beet Squad last week to get a sense of how the final 30-second video they were creating with the help of the interactive agency Poke was going. On top of their day jobs in retail marketing at Moosejaw, the three had flown to NY to meet with Poke to brainstorm for four hours and had spent time that morning on a video shoot. Gary Wohlfeill said there was “a lot of collaborative energy in the meeting” and they “left with a solid approach to the video” that was not only about the consumer, but rather “a partnership between producers, proprietors and eaters.”

Allison Capaldai shared that they “love eating real food but it’s hard to find good options. We want to bring it to other people.” But they’re not out to convert the unconverted. According to Gary “one of the biggest problems with this movement is people are angry and tell people how to eat. We want to represent the community of people who want to eat this way.”

If they were to win the Yoxi Challenge to Reinvent Fast food, Gary indicated they would “use a business model that takes a share of the meal price in return for guaranteeing a certain number of purchases.”  He stressed that “the model can be worked out so restaurants can still make a profit and use better ingredients”, through group purchasing of ingredients for example. “Restaurants will want to be in that community because we’re creating an empowerment, not deals that are hurting their brand.”

The Beet Squad feels they have a pretty good chance of winning, but they need your vote. Please become a registered user and join the voting after watching the final teams’ 30-second promotional videos and reading the comments of celebrity judges Michel Nischan, Marion Nestle and Christina Minardi. I was disappointed that the Foodsurge infographic didn’t make it into the video because it is so compelling and two of the judges dinged them for lack of detail and clarity. The Udon Project is their Round 3 competitor and their final video expands on their initial concept that simply promoted Pad Thai as a staple of healthy fast food. I think their time spent with OgilvyEarth was a sound investment.

The winning team will receive up to $40,000 in micro financing plus other continued support from Yoxi and industry experts as they work to implement their winning solution to the Challenge of Reinventing Fast Food. Yoxi is a project of TTSL, a private grant making organization committed to social entrepreneurship. After this competition ends, there is a long list of potential topics be addressed in future challenges, like Gap to the Future, which already has me intrigued. It’s fun to play and checking in daily is a nice distraction, and ultimately a productive one.

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