When Christina Bognet created PlateJoy, her overarching goal was to eliminate the obstacles to healthy eating.
To that end, PlateJoy has been offering customized recipes and grocery lists so people know what to buy and what to make. But there has been one particularly persistent obstacle: making time to shop for food.
On Tuesday, Bognet announced a new partnership that will remove that obstacle from the equation — at least for 22 metro areas around the country: PlateJoy has joined forces with Instacart, the online grocery delivery service, to cut out the weekly shopping trip.
“This is super awesome because it provides the convenience of on-demand, local food delivery with the customization of a nutritionist,” said Bognet, who co-founded the San Francisco-based startup with Daniel Nelson. “I think it will feel a little like Christmas for [our customers].”
To date, PlateJoy has raised more than $2 million to compete in a national diet market worth an estimated $60 billion. Its investors include Gotham Gal Joanne Wilsonand Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto. And it has differentiated itself in a few ways: For one, Bognet has a personal passion for the business, after losing 50 pounds and keeping it off by sticking to her guns and eating healthy, no matter what.
She’s also put the focus on personalization, which she says is key to success in achieving health goals.
“Food cannot be one size fits all. We cannot all eat the same things and expect to have the same results. But that’s kind of antithetical to the way a lot of food companies work because they are focused on achieving economies of scale,” she said.
So PlateJoy offers customized recipes and shopping lists. It even has a waste-reduction algorithm to ensure you only buy what you need, and use up everything you buy.
But the missing piece has always been the delivery option.
In the early days, Bognet said she and her team offered delivery regardless of ZIP code in a bid to attract more customers. And some of those customers lived in really rural parts of the country.
“If I could tell you all the stories, you would laugh forever,” she said. “We basically did whatever it took to find a delivery person, some type of courier in that city. In some cases, it would be through literal courier services. Sometimes it would be through websites that allow you to hire help, and they would always be confused.”
First they had to shop for someone else’s groceries. Then they had to drop them off, saying they were from PlateJoy? Weird.
“It was very #startup,” Bognet recalled. “We’d remind ourselves every day: We’re doing something that doesn’t scale.”
The beauty of the Instacart partnership is, the scale is built in. Instacart is expanding on its own, and PlateJoy can come along for the ride.
“Our customers get the added value of convenient delivery, and Instacart in return gets customers through PlateJoy. So it’s a win-win for both companies,” Bognet said.
Instacart did not respond to a request for comment from Bizwomen.
The arrangement isn’t entirely untested. After the debacle of its early attempts at grocery delivery, PlateJoy scaled way back and began manually sending orders to Instacart in a few select cities. Instacart noticed the large volume of orders, Bognet said, and it made sense to have a broader conversation about what would happen if the two startups worked together.
“Grocers have 20 to 40,000 SKUs available at their grocery store, which is an incredible number. So we can actually work with that large number in conjunction with our large database of recipes and nutritional information to figure out exactly what we need to get you,” Bognet said.
Bognet’s timing is spot on, too. While 77 percent of Americans are actively trying to eat healthier, just 19 percent are on a diet, according to Fortune. That doesn’t mean the obesity epidemic has waned.
“People are starting to focus on health rather than dieting,” Bognet said. “We’re so pumped to help them get there.”
Source: San Francisco Business Times