20. June 2014–
HelloFresh delivers a food box that lets subscribers make high-quality self-cooked meals at home. Customers can pick between different recipes and receive the exact number and portion of the ingredients needed. That way they get the right ingredients and are not stuck with leftovers. HelloFresh claims to deliver well over one million meals per month.
“We take all the not so enjoyable parts out of the experience and make cooking an appreciated part of your weekly routine,” Dominik S. Richter, Founder & Global CEO of HelloFresh states.
The number of competitors shows there is a market for this type of product. In the United States, the two biggest players are Plated and Blue Apron, with $5 million and $50 million investment respectively. Worldwide, there are several more. However, in Germany, KommtEssen, Unsere Schlemmertüte and Kochzauber have a very difficult time gaining traction in the market, an insider told VentureVillage.
In his interview with VentureVillage, Richter spoke about the $50 million funding the company just raised mainly from New York-based Insight Venture Partners. He also shared with us the changes that occurred through company growth and how he feels about Berlin as a startup city.
VentureVillage: HelloFresh just raised a Series D. What will the company spend $50 Million on?
Dominik S. Richter: HelloFresh has been growing incredibly since the early days, however, we are still only at the beginning of a long journey. Our vision is to establish a whole new category on the wider grocery market and build a truly global consumer food brand.
VentureVillage: What are HelloFresh's future plans and are there other fields HelloFresh could expand to?
Dominik S. Richter: Both geographic expansion to new and within existing countries is on the roadmap. With regard to product expansion, we work on improving service and product levels all the time. This obviously includes new product lines as well.
VentureVillage: How big is HelloFresh now?
Dominik S. Richter: We are currently present in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, UK, USA and Australia. Our offices are in Berlin, London, Amsterdam, New York, and Sydney, and we now count 120 employees.
VentureVillage: With 120 employees, how hard is it to keep the startup spirit?
Dominik S. Richter: We don't struggle with that. Part of the reason might be that although we have been growing rapidly, we have kept rather small teams in all our countries. We hire very slowly and greatly believe in small and empowered teams. Many of our employees have actually been with us for a long time and remember the day when we were packing our product in someone's living room.
VentureVillage: Why is Berlin the right city for your startup? What is still missing?
Dominik S. Richter: Berlin is an amazing city for a startup. There is a lot of talent, a great network and affordable infrastructure. What's missing is the risk-reward profile that is common in Silicon Valley. Here, high performing employees often do not appreciate and value stock and stock options correctly, thus making it hard for early stage startups to win over great talent from more established industries or players who can pay better salaries. I think this due to the fact that not a lot of wealth has been created through stock in Berlin so far, i.e. lack of role models, but I hope this will change if we have a couple of good exits in Berlin.
VentureVillage: If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
Dominik S. Richter: With hindsight, I would have done 100 small things differently but then I also know that "with hindsight" is a heavily biased view. It is easy to come up with a narrative but much harder to make decisions in real-time with limited information. As an entrepreneur, it is better to focus on the future and that's what I try to do rather than think about what we could have done differently in the past.
Thank you for your time and insights.