Justin Massa is co-founder of Food Genius, which provides big data to the food industry. Rosemont-based distributor US Foods announced in April 2016 that it would acquire the startup.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“What was really striking about US Foods … is that they take a very analytics-driven approach to their business,” Massa said. “They bought the technology knowing it’s going to be able to do great stuff.”
Massa said the relationship with US Foods started in late 2014 and, within six months, it had become Food Genius’ biggest customer.
Even quick-serve restaurants “can and should be thinking about surge pricing, albeit packaged in a completely different way,” from upscale restaurants that can charge different prices based on unique tasting menus or highly coveted weekend-night tables, Massa told the Tribune after founding the company. “There are an array of possibilities — for example, slowly increase the cost of core items and then offer discounts during off-peak hours.”
In May 2015, Massa left day-to-day operations at Food Genius to make way for a new CEO, Jason Felger, who could take the company to its next phase.
“My own skills and passion very much lie in bringing something from zero to one,” Massa said. “After getting to work with Jason for three or four months, it became very clear to me that his skill is bringing something from one to 10.”
Massa joined design consultancy IDEO as director of business strategy in Sept. 2015.
Prior to Food Genius, Massa served as director of project and grant development at the Metro Chicago Information Center. He also co-founded MoveSmart.org and served as program and technical coordinator at NetSquared.
Massa also has experience working in fair housing for the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was a Chicago Public School teacher for two years and a research analyst for the Center for New Community.
Massa received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Loyola University. He holds a master’s in teaching from National Louis University. He lives in the South Loop with his wife, Abbie, and their daughter, Marlowe.