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Boxie wins 2022 Miami Herald startup pitch contest on FIU track

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Lemay Sanchez, CEO of Boxie, a company producing smart lockers for sorting and managing delivery orders, is pictured standing next to a smart locker at Boxie’s Miami Lakes showroom inside General Hotel and Restaurant Supply at 13900 NW 82nd Ave., April 28, 2022.

Special for the Miami Herald

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Miami Herald Startup Pitch Contest

Don’t miss the product and service innovation mini-profiles of six South Florida start-ups that won top honors in this year’s Miami Herald Startup Pitch competition.

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If you’ve ordered at the counter in a restaurant or arrived there for pickup recently, you’ve probably noticed the chaos going on just beyond that: half-assembled orders strewn everywhere and seemingly no preparation process for the delivery.

These days, restaurants from the neighborhood sandwich shop to your favorite destination for a special occasion deliver. Indeed, about 50 million Americans order meals for delivery, and online orders for restaurants nationwide were up 20% year-over-year even before the pandemic. The proliferation of services like UberEats and DoorDash has made it easier for the consumer, but for the restaurant it’s a growing challenge.

Box, founded by Lemay Sanchez and winner of the Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition 2022 Florida International University, helps restaurants manage online orders. Boxie’s smart lockers fit seamlessly into existing restaurant workflows to maximize efficiency for restaurants, customers and delivery services, said Sanchez, CEO and co-founder. “It’s a huge pain point for the industry to sort through all these orders coming in.”

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Born in Cuba, Sanchez has lived in the Miami area since he was 13 years old. He started and ran two other successful businesses, one in marketing and branding, and the other providing a CRM automation product. But he said Boxie gave him the first opportunity to build a business that could have a big impact on a global scale in an industry that affects everyone.

With Boxie (goboxie.com), Sanchez has two co-founders, both accomplished engineers. He has known Daniel Galano, his embedded systems manager, since he was 8 years old. Its fellow co-founder, Arian Acosta, leads the startup’s cloud architecture and came up with the initial idea for Boxie.

Prior to launch, the team conducted 105 interviews with restaurateurs and industry players, including major catering groups, and more than 50 delivery drivers.

“The worst problem we’ve identified is that it takes so many staff to counter the surge in orders and with rising staffing costs, that’s something restaurants need to address,” Sanchez said.

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Left to right: Boxie CEO Lemay Sanchez, Mechanical Engineering Manager Pedro Machin, Embedded Systems Manager Daniel Galano and Cloud Engineering Manager Arian Acosta are pictured in front of a smart locker in their hall Hialeah exhibit inside General Hotel and Restaurant Supply at 13900 NW 82nd Ave. on Thursday, April 28, 2022. Boxie produces smart lockers to sort and manage restaurant delivery orders. SAM NAVARRE Special for the Miami Herald

While Boxie has competitors, its modular smart lockers are easy to install right out of the box. Restaurants can buy more as they grow. The average need is about six units, Sanchez said. Smart lockers, connected to Wi-Fi, share information with each other and with the kitchen, such as when a particular food item has been sitting too long, while providing business metrics.

About half a dozen locations now use the lockers, and in about two months Boxie will fill about 260 pre-orders and then open sales more widely. Boxie is also in advanced talks with two well-known restaurant brands, Sanchez said.

The startup makes money from product sales and monthly subscriptions. The smart lockers cost $595 each, and a monthly fee of $12 per unit guarantees integration with any third-party point-of-sale software and delivery service.

Boxie is launching with a bang this month at the National Restaurant Association’s giant convention in Chicago as part of the show’s Startup Alley. To date, the startup has been self-funded, but Sanchez plans to open a seed round in August.

Boxie’s South Florida showroom is located at the General Hotel & Restaurant Supply, 13900 NW 82nd Ave. in Hialeah.