In October, ShiftPixy relocated its corporate headquarters to Miami. The company, cofounded by Scott Absher and Steve Holmes, aims to revolutionize the way restaurateurs and their shift-based employees do business.
As part of that goal, ShiftPixy has decided to make Miami home to its first ghost-kitchen incubator, ShiftPixy Labs.
"The goal of the ShiftPixy platform is to make the part-time labor market operate more efficiently," ShiftPixy chief executive officer Absher explains. "Workers are able to receive valuable benefits such as health insurance and workers' compensation, while operators are given access to the tools needed to remain compliant with labor laws or to streamline time-consuming administrative tasks."
The three-year-old company was created to service the growing segment of US workers expected to join the gig economy as freelance workers — a number projected to reach about 50 percent of the U.S. population by 2027. It does so by helping workers translate multiple part-time jobs into a full-time income stream, while simultaneously connecting them with companies and business owners to fill open roles quickly.
By expanding its footprint into the East Coast, Absher tells New Times, he hopes both to grow the business' U.S. footprint and to expand into emerging markets in the Caribbean, South America, and Europe.
"Miami has long been on our roadmap because of inquiries we have from operators in Europe and Latin America, and the city is ideal as our base not only for U.S. expansion, but also for growing new markets," he says.
ShiftPixy Labs, meanwhile foresees recruiting entrepreneurs and, producing a competition-based show — think Shark Tank meets Iron Chef — to be streamed on YouTube.
Absher says the project will be used as a model for the company to open similar facilities nationwide. Unlike other large-scale or community-based ghost kitchens — commissary kitchens that allow restaurateurs to provide delivery-only menus to third-party platforms like Uber Eats and GrubHub — ShiftPixy Labs will do more than provide digital services for restaurants. It will also be used as an incubator for entrepreneurs who wish to grow their concepts without the overhead associated with opening a brick-and-mortar site.
The incubator will also allow access to ShiftPixy’s suite of marketing and support-based technology services free of charge, allowing restaurants to avoid the commission fees associated with third-party delivery services. Instead, restaurant owners will be able to retain customer data as orders fill through their own digital properties.
"ShiftPixy Labs will help us to bring new culinary ideas to life that are best suited to adapt to the digital marketplace," Absher says. "Our goal is to fill the lab with unique concepts and accelerate them into big digital brands. We envision working with clients who are ready to rethink how they execute their concepts and reimagine or test new ways of becoming better and more agile digital marketers. Through it all, restaurants can leverage our technology to get insights and advice on what exactly they need to operate an off-premises business."
Since the pandemic, ghost kitchens are emerging as a growing segment of the digital-based restaurant industry, one that Euromonitor reports is scheduled to become a $1 trillion global business by 2030. To date, large-scale ghost kitchens — including NYC’s Zuul Kitchens, Pasadena-based KitchenUnited, and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's startup, CloudKitchens — have raised more than $500 million in capital and are estimated to replace up to half of all dine-in volume as early as 2022.
In response to this monumental shift within the industry, ShiftPixy's founders believe their technology platform — combined with the market research initiatives via the ShiftPixy Labs incubator — will provide a blueprint for how to build and operate a successful ghost kitchen. As part of the project, a studio facility will be used to create streamable content that will be used to educate restaurateurs on how to create, design, launch, and market a digital brand.
"Essentially, our goal is to show others how to build a digital concept from scratch," Absher says. "We're trying to show them this process isn't as scary as they think, and we can help. It's going to be a lot of fun."