11 Year Online Grocery Hero’s Journey

September 23, 2022

Online grocery market with instant delivery services and technological advancements grew dramatically during the pandemic. And this article is about the company of great standards, a pioneering online grocery and meal kit delivery company - Good Eggs.

Photo: 615 Productions

Intro. Good Eggs was founded in July 2011 by two software developers Rob Spiro and Alon Salant in San Francisco, CA. The idea was to build an efficient system to connect small farmers and producers with customers who needed fresh and different ingerdients but did not have time to visit farmers markets or grocery stores every week. Those were the days when vendors could make good sales only at local farmers markets still using cash-only methods and storing bills in metal boxes. It was really hard to imagine an online food platform to easily sell and quickly receive local food. Good Eggs was one of the first high-tech companies to launch such e-commerce platforms to buy food directly from local farmers.

Before Good Eggs. Previous achievements of the founders of Good Eggs are all just as interesting as the history of the formation of the company.

Rob Spiro studied at Yale University. After graduation Rob spent one year on a family friend’s farm in the lower Hudson Valley, New York where he helped to harvest heirloom tomatoes and eggs from pastured chickens. In 2007 Rob founded the social search engine Aardvark (vark.com), which was acquired by Google for $50 mln in 2010. At Google he worked as a Product Manager and led the teams that launched Hangouts and Google+.

Alom Salant graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Mathematics and worked as a Director of Engineering in Red Eye Digital Media and Idea Integration. In 2001 he founded software development firm Carbon Five that helps to build, launch and scale digital products and grow teams through agile collaboration.

Good Eggs Rising. The company started in the Bay Area with limited resources and in July 2012 held a party at  Mission Community Market of San-Francisco to celebrate the launch of the Good Eggs new website. It expanded to a full service company with three additional hubs just in one year and then expanded to Los Angeles and New Orleans in June and New York in November 2013 offering free or low-cost 48 hours delivery services. Good Eggs started to grow extremely fast and became one of the power players in food delivery service with $52.5 million in funding from big-name investors Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures. First two years Good Eggs was growing at an unprecedented speed and scale.

Unexpected challenges. At new locations Good Eggs began to face unexpected challenges such as heavy traffic in Los Angeles, extreme temperature and new food regulations in New Orlean and abundance of grocery stores in people's neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The company did its best trying to establish a local supply chain, implement hybrid inventory  models, change all of the software tools and while standing out against competition from Instacart, Doordash, and Amazon growing aggressively in the market. In February Good Eggs had been certified as a benefit corporation for high societal and environmental performance, legal commitment, transparency and treating workers well. In November 2014, Good Eggs raised $21 million in a Series C funding round. But despite this, a set of complexities in accessing new markets slowed down the company's progress and led to the announcement that Good Eggs will be closing its hubs in Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans. As a result the company laid off 140 employees and returned to San-Francisco business. Rob Spiro drew the following conclusion from the situation: "The single biggest mistake we made was growing too quickly, to multiple cities, before fully figuring out the challenges of building an entirely new food supply chain. We were motivated by enthusiasm for our mission and eagerness to bring Good Eggs to more people. But the best of intentions were not enough to overcome the complexity. Today we realize that in order to continue innovating in San Francisco, our original market, in order to continue figuring out all the complexity that is required to achieve our mission, we cannot productively maintain operations in other cities".

Next chapter. In 2015 Rob Spiro stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Bentley Hall, with more than 10 years experience in healthy food companies such as Plum Organics and Clif Bar joined the company to scale the business. "Scale matters, because without scale, it’s difficult to really change the food system,” said Hall. While working in Plum Organics, Hall moved to the UK to manage a turnaround acquisition and expand the california-based brand to Europe. Under Hall's leadership Good Eggs range of delivery items has expanded including alcohol, flowers, and specialities from local favorites like challah from Wise Sons Deli and homemade organic ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.

Growth. In 2016 Good Eggs could boast of its new achievements such as next-day delivery implementation, recipe content on website, increase in daily sales to $100,000 and launch of new iOS app. The company was awarded Best Grocery Delivery by San Francisco Magazine in 2017 and 2019. In 2020 Good Eggs moved its headquarters to Oakland fulfillment center with 60,000 sq ft space, grew revenue to 9 figures, hired more than 400 employees and doubled the number of loyal and engaged customers. In March 2021 one of the world's 50 most influential CMOs, Vineet Mehra, joined the Good Eggs team as Chief Growth, Product and CX Officer. He came from the world's largest and first pharmacy-led health retail company Walgreens Boots Alliance to expand Good Eggs Brand beyond the Bay Area.

Food revolution. In 2021 Good Eggs received $100 million in funding from Glade Brook Capital Partners with additional investments from Tao Invest, Rich's, GV and Finistere Ventures to expand in Southern California. In February 2022 people already enjoyed the peak-quality and high-integrity food from Good Eggs in Los Angeles. The company plans to expand to San Diego and then conquer the West.