Blue Apron: A Meal-Kit Industry Pioneer
If you have a cooking idea and all the necessary ingredients - your dinner is half-ready.
Businesspeople, single parents, and diet-restricted individuals don’t always have the time to decide what to cook every day and shop for the right products. Most of the ingredients leftovers necessary for the planned meal end up unused and forgotten in the back of the fridge, only to end up in the garbage.
To motivate people to stop throwing away food and cook with pleasure, Matt Salzberg, Matt Wadiak, and Ilia Papas founded Blue Apron. Launched in 2012 and headquartered in New York, Blue Apron is a revolutionary ingredient-and-recipe meal kit company that offers its services in the United States.
The company provides weekly boxes that contain ingredients together with suggested recipes, which the customers can cook by hand, boosting their chef skills.
If you want to learn more about the Blue Apron meal kit delivery service, you are at the right destination!
The Humble Beginnings
Raised in Edison, New Jersey, Matt was an excellent student whose goal was to get the best education and enrich his knowledge. He joined J. P. Stevens High School, and he graduated as nothing less but valedictorian.
Matt felt even more motivated, and in 2005, he entered Harvard University and received an AB in Economics, graduating summa cum Laude. Later, Matt received an MBA from Harvard Business School and started working for Bessemer Venture Partners as a Senior Associate.
Things changed in 2012 when Matt developed an idea for an e-commerce business that focused on recipe and ingredient delivery for home cooking purposes. He got in touch with Matthew and Ilia and founded Blue Apron.
Matthew holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He had always dreamt of building a modern food system, reimagining the concept of industrial agriculture, and offering consumers quality and delicious food choices. When Matt showed him his idea for Blue Apron, Matthew felt like his dream was coming true.
Ilia always had a flair for learning new things and the ability to finish each task on time. In 2000, he joined Tufts University, and in 2004 received his BA in Computer Science.
Ilia soon became a superstar in this domain, working with the latest IT systems and tools to meet clients’ needs. The moment Matt hired Ilia as a co-founder of Blue Apron, Ilia was ready to shine brighter than ever before.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Matt, Matthew, and Ilia initially delivered Blue Apron customers’ boxes containing selected ingredients to cook delicious recipes. They packed and shipped the first 30 orders all by themselves from a rented kitchen located in Long Island City.
Although things weren’t easy and the market was tough, the trio stuck together through it all. Soon enough, things took a turn for the better.
2014 was a productive year, and the company announced they were ready to launch a fulfillment center in California and New Jersey. The same year, Matt, Matthew, and Ilia launched a store featuring refined cookware and spices called Blue Apron Market.
The company was growing faster and faster, and in 2015, Matt and his team opened the third fulfillment center - this time located in Texas.
The company began shipping its new Family Plan program, which included recipes carefully crafted to satisfy a four-member family meal plan. Matt wanted to attract more customers, so he also had an option for families to get between two and four recipes weekly.
That was possible thanks to Matt's idea to recruit farmers who would agree to source all the necessary ingredients for Blue Apron recipes. The company works with local farms that limit chemical inputs and take good care of soil health by implementing practices such as crop rotation.
Matt and Matthew supported the organization by ensuring that crops were ready on time. Moreover, Blue Apron started planning its menus according to the food and herbs the farmers wished to grow.
2015 was highly productive, and Matt, Matthew, and Ilia launched Blue Apron Wine, a wine delivery service. This became a colossal hit, as the wines specially made for Blue Apron come from vineyards and go directly to customers.
Making Necessary Changes
Blue Apron decided to promote seafood consumption, so in July 2016, Matt partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. The company began to offer only sustainably-sourced seafood, rated “Good Alternative” and "Best Choice" by satisfied customers.
A year later, Blue Apron became one of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions members. The goal was to reduce food waste and distribute it to the hungry.
As Blue Apron's founder, Matt remained a CEO for a decade. However, he stepped down in November 2017 and denoted Brad Dickerson as his replacement. Blue Apron offered their meal kits via 17 Costco locations the following year.
The calculations didn’t go in the planned direction, and in 2018, the number of customers was lower than the previous year by 24%. The number of orders also dropped by 23%, indicating it was time for a change.
In 2019, Linda Findley Kozlowski became the new CEO of Blue Apron and brought hope to everybody. Things took off from there, and the company has remained stable since.
Through Trials and Tribulations to Success
Blue Apron faced many issues on its way to success and went head-to-head with powerful competitors trying to copy them. However, the company has always stood firm, and even competitors like HelloFresh, Planted, and Home Chef couldn’t steal its crown.
Today, Blue Apron Inc. is a reputable grocery delivery service that offers fresh, healthy, and chef-designed meal recipes. Customers can choose among multiple serving plans, including the Family Plan, to enjoy the original Blue Apron recipes in all their glory.
With over 1,900 employees, Blue Apron entertains its customers with digital or printed content offering how-to-cook instructions and fascinating stories about suppliers and ingredients.
Blue Apron IPO
Each year featured a specific milestone for Blue Apron. While 2016 will be remembered for hitting eight million shipped meal servings, 2017 is known as the year the company went public.
Namely, the company went public in June 2017 with an initial public offering of 30M shares priced at $10 per share.
Blue Apron became the first meal-kit company in the US that went public. Unfortunately, when the company went public, the giant Wall Street decided to cut Blue Apron’s stock price by 50%.
Nonetheless, it seems like nothing can stop Blue Apron's mission from succeeding, as the company has raised a whopping $352.5M from ten rounds. The last one was in 2022 and raised $40M.
Still, the most profitable round was the one in 2015, when the company raised $135M. They’ve had 21 investors until today. The most recent are Linda Findley and RJB Partners.
But what can we expect From Blue Apron in the future?
Blue Apron Future Plans
Offering a home-chef experience to its customers by delivering the best ingredients necessary for preparing one recipe at a time, Blue Apron has a bright future.
The organization will continue adding new features to its program to offer more benefits for its new and existing customers. The company’s website is easy to navigate and super-functional, but Matt plans to improve its subscription service and design.
Blue Apron will keep growing with many fresh ingredients and ideas, increasing the number of employees, subscribers, and products. And we’re so excited to see what else is in store!