As consumers become more discerning about the food they are eating, a wave of startups has emerged that are catering to that demand with convenient alternatives to the more ubiquitous options that are available today. One of these, GrubMarket — which sources organic and healthy food directly from producers and then delivers it to other businesses (Whole Foods is a customer) as well as consumers at a discount of 20-60 percent over other channels — is today announcing a $32 million round to grow its already profitable business, including making acquisitions and expanding on its own steam as it eyes a public listing. “We are looking to buy companies to make more revenues ahead of an upcoming IPO,” said Mike Xu, the founder and CEO. He said GrubMarket is “in proactive steps” to expand from its home base in California to the East Coast, starting in New York and New Jersey, by October this year. The plan, he said, will be to file with the SEC sometime between the end of this year and early 2019, with the IPO taking place in the second half of 2019. E-commerce, and in particular food-related businesses with perishable items and associated waste, can be tricky when it comes to margins, and indeed, there have been many casualties in the world of food startups. Xu said in an interview that GrubMarket is already profitable and working at a $100 million run rate. One of the reasons it’s profitable may also be the same reason you may have never heard of GrubMarket. Currently, between 60 and 70 percent of its business is in the B2B space. Xu says that customers number in the thousands and include offices, grocery stores and restaurants across the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. And so, if you don’t know GrubMarket, you might know some of its customers, which include all WeWorks between San Diego and San Francisco, Whole Foods, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Chipotle. GrubMarket has also cornered some very specific niches: It has become the biggest mushroom supplier in all of Northern California, and it’s the biggest supplier of Hawaiian farm produce in the Bay Area. Another point in the company’s favor is the technology it uses. Working directly with farmers and other producers, GrubMarket has built apps that allow it and its partners to manage the logistics of the business in an efficient way. The idea will be to bring more AI to the platform over time: for example, to be able to run better modelling to figure out how much fruit and veg might sell during a given season, and how to price items
Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa . More posts by this contributor Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients African experiments with drone technologies could leapfrog decades of infrastructure neglect Polestar debuted its first production EV and previewed its electric car line in New York with the CEO squarely taking aim at Tesla. The Volvo subsidiary pulled the cover off its Polestar 1, which it positioned less as a hybrid and more as a fully electric (gas optional) car to attract fence sitters to EVs. The $155,000 auto—that will hit streets in 2019—has 3 electrical motors powered by twin 34kWh battery packs and a turbo and supercharged gas V4 up front (more details here ). All electric range is up to 100 miles—which the company claims gives the Polestar 1 the longest all electric range of any production hybrid. Polestar drivetrain The Polestar 1 brings 600 horsepower and 738 ft-lbs of torque. It is the first in a series, with an all electric Polestar 2 to debut in 2019 and a Polestar 3 SUV after that. “Polestar 2 will be a direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3…” CEO Thomas Ingenlath said on the launch stage. He told TechCrunch the company will focus more on creating converts to EVs than pulling away Tesla’s existing market share. Thomas Ingenlath, chief executive officer, Polestar One advantage Ingenlath described was using Polestar 1 as a gateway car for getting laggards to go all electric. “There are many people out there who still think a car has to have a combustion engine,” he said. “Polestar 1 is an extremely good vehicle to get people across that line and once they drive it…understand what an amazing experience an electric car is.” Polestar converts shouldn’t get too attached to that gasoline/voltage combo, however. Polestar 1 will be the company’s first and last electric and gas vehicle, according to Ingenlath.