Operation coordinator Isaac Salay unloads produce from the old FoodMaven warehouse Thursday, April 5, 2018, at the new one on Stone Avenue. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Patrick Bultema, co-founder of Colorado Springs-based FoodMaven, a groundbreaking marketplace for surplus food, is stepping away from the CEO job to become chairman of the company’s board.

Ben Deda

Ben Deda

Ben Deda, who has spent the past year as FoodMaven’s chief operating officer, will replace Bultema and be based in Denver, though the company’s headquarters will remain in Colorado Springs.

On his first day, Deda started making changes, restructuring FoodMaven by eliminating about 10 of more than 70 jobs in Colorado Springs and Denver and consolidating office space in Denver. He said Friday in an email statement that the company is “reinvesting in its operations and centralizing its facilities. To achieve the company’s goals some functions and roles were eliminated while offices were moved closer to operations.”

Company spokeswoman Megan Cornish said further changes could happen in coming weeks.

The move comes on the heels of FoodMaven’s purchase of a Denver meat processor this year. The company expanded to Denver in 2017 and plans to expand to Dallas and other markets “in the near future,” with eventual plans to have operations in 100 cities within five years, a news release said.

“The board is excited for FoodMaven to take on the challenges of the next state of growth under Ben’s leadership,” said Nancy Phillips, a FoodMaven board member. “Patrick created a compelling vision and is an incredible evangelist for FoodMaven. He’ll continue to do so in his new role. This is a great company with a powerful mission and we look forward to FoodMaven making an even bigger impact in the future.”

The release said that the move was made because Deda has “demonstrated the leadership and execution that made it logical for Patrick to pass the CEO baton to Ben. His experience in scaling startups is a great fit for the next stage that FoodMaven is entering to transform the food system.”

Deda has worked as a marketing executive and Marine recruiter in Denver since 2004. He was vice president of marketing for 1½ years for Denver insurance claims processing software provider Vertafore. He also was chief operating officer of Denver startup campus Galvanize, vice president of sales and business development for Denver contact management provider Full Contact and vice president of commercial sales for Denver-based TruStile Doors.

Deda spent six years in the Marines after receiving a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He also has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Denver.

“I joined this company because of Patrick’s vision and the important problem we are trying to solve, how dedicated the team is to the mission, and the great talent of the team,” Deda said in the release.

FoodMaven grew out of a nonprofit started by Daniel Lewis while he was a Colorado College student. Colorado Springs Food Rescue came up with a smartphone application to provide charities that serve homeless and low-income people with perishable food that otherwise would be thrown away, and it won $5,000 in the school’s Big Idea business plan competition. Bultema, who ran the competition, joined Lewis as co-founder.

Bultema said he wanted FoodMaven to “do to the food industry what Uber did to the taxi industry” and started an online marketplace for surplus food in Colorado Springs three years ago. Bultema has worked from the company’s headquarters, which moved in April to downtown Colorado Springs from the company’s warehouse off North Nevada Avenue.

The company has landed about $20 million in venture capital investments, including a $10 million round early this year, to expand.

“Ben has been one of the best hires of my career. Over the last year, he has demonstrated masterful leadership. I’m excited to have him take on the next leg of the race as CEO,” Bultema said in the release. “FoodMaven is the passion of my career, and I’m excited for the future of the company and the transformation of the food system.”

Bultema was not available for futher comment.

Contact Wayne Heilman 636-0234

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