Sun Basket: From Farm To Table
For those familiar with Sapphire Ventures, “consumer” probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. More likely, you think “enterprise software,” since it’s the space in which we’ve invested most aggressively over the years.
But truth be told, we’ve backed a host of B2B2C and B2C businesses too, many of which exhibit the massive disruption and explosive growth we look for in all industries. We are ultimately looking for the best technology entrepreneurs. And you can be sure that our pace of consumer bets will pick up as we push forward.
Disrupting the $600 billion grocery industry
Case in point, today we’re excited to announce our investment in Sun Basket, a meal kit delivery company that’s hitting the core of a generational shift toward health, ease and sustainability. The company is transforming consumer behavior just as Uber and Airbnb have while riding a similar wave from offline to online that Netflix did with video and Amazon with e-commerce.
On a more macro-level, think of how you order and attain consumer products today. Fewer and fewer people are visiting brick and mortar department stores as they opt for more efficient, easy, single-click online alternatives where products are delivered anywhere, anytime. Sun Basket is doing the same by allowing customers to select meal kits online and delivering them directly to their door. This eats into supermarkets, restaurants and delivery solutions by changing the way individuals and families prepare and consume meals — something we all do three times a day every day of our lives.
Unlike many of its competitors, the company offers organic, non-GMO and sustainably-sourced ingredients, all packaged in fully-recyclable materials — finally a solution that doesn’t leave my trash can full and my conscience guilty of my impact on the environment. Meal options are customizable and need-based, such as gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian, and expertly engineered by Chef Justine Kelly of The Slanted Door and Iron Chef fame.
Sun Basket ingredients make it from farm to table in a fraction of the time and travel a fraction of the distance as a traditional grocery store, resulting in more nutrient-rich and fresher ingredients. Its meals are typically ready in 30 minutes and result in reduced food spoilage (up to 50 percent of food in a grocery store goes bad).
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it
And it’s fun! I know because I use the service. If you ask my family and friends, they will tell you that I’m a big Costco fan. I buy in bulk and make goulash-like meals with a few basic ingredients that aren’t that tasty. I do this because I’m busy, culinarily uneducated and looking for a healthy meal rather than takeout every night. I’m reluctant to buy fresh produce because I know it will typically spoil before I use it all, and getting saffron is very expensive for the one time a year I need it.
Sun Basket addresses all of these problems and has opened my eyes to the world of cooking. Never before would I have thought to combine orecchiette with brussel sprouts or make a cauliflower rice, and I certainly didn’t know what I could do with coriander. Sun Basket does it all for me and pushes me to be more creative with food. And I’m also finding that my Sapphire colleagues now have new inspiration and motivation to cook, many of them dusting off their cookware for the first time in years — something their families love.
Bringing big data to meals
We believe the even more exciting aspect of the business is Sun Basket CEO Adam Zbar’s scrupulous focus on taking a deeply data-centric approach to creating the greatest customer experience possible. The former McKinsey consultant is stopping at nothing to go above and beyond an easy, fresh and delicious meal. He is amassing an enormous data repository of likes/dislikes, seasonal supply and demand, logistical efficiencies and endless cohort analyses to improve the customer experience.
Adam is using this data library to build a hyper-personalized and customizable product with deep analytics to refine and improve the blocking and tackling behind managing numerous supplier and distribution relationships to deliver hundreds of thousands of fresh meals a week to households across the nation.
He’s good people
In addition to the executional prowess and decades of combined experience in the organic food and culinary industries, Adam and his team are the type of people who just do right by others, something that we at Sapphire insist on in all entrepreneurs we choose to back. It’s refreshing to take someone at their word, knowing that there’s trust in a handshake or a conversation. And it is spectacular to see a team dedicated to the long-term satisfaction of customers and employees above all else.
Sun Basket represents one of those few opportunities to partner with a driven, intelligent and forward-looking team that is laser focused on disrupting a huge market. We couldn’t be happier to join Adam and his team on this journey and look forward to helping make this grand vision a reality.
The information set forth herein is not intended to constitute investment advice and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures. Sapphire Ventures does not solicit or make its services available to the public and none of the funds are currently open to new investors. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.
Any portfolio companies referred to above do not necessarily represent all of the investments made or recommended by Sapphire Ventures, and were not selected based on the return on Sapphire Ventures’ investment in them. It should not be assumed that any specific investments identified and discussed herein were or will be profitable. Not all investments made by Sapphire Ventures will be profitable or will equal the performance of any of the companies identified above.