Feeling lazy and strapped for time, but still want a home cooked meal? There’s a number of startups to help you make dinner, but only one is now worth $US2 billion.
Blue Apron, a company that makes cooking easy by sending you perfect portions of ingredients in a box with a recipe, announced Tuesday that it has raised a $US135 million Series D round. The funding values the company at a whopping $US2 billion, a company spokesperson said.
The new funding was led by Fidelity Management and Research Company with participation from existing investors.
This makes Blue Apron the latest member of a growing number of companies called “unicorns” — privately held companies with valuations of $US1 billion or more. They’re called unicorns because they used to be rare, but today there’s more than 100 of them.
With Blue Apron, you can elect to receive 3 meals a week, in portions designed to serve 2, 4, or 6 people. Once a week, you receive your big box of premeasured ingredients, along with a recipe card that tells you how to make each meal.
Blue Apron charges about $US10 a meal, and CEO Matt Salzberg tells Business Insider that Blue Apron is selling more than 3 million meals every month. In the past six months, Blue Apron says, it’s tripled in size. Salzberg says Blue Apron has over 1800 employees and “hundreds of thousands” of customers.
Since its 2012 founding, Blue Apron has raised nearly $US200 million from investors including BoxGroup, Bessemer Venture Partners, Stripes Group, and First Round. The new funding, Salzberg tells us, will be used for investing in Blue Apron’s supply chain and farming and fulfillment relationships.
Blue Apron took on the new investment money “to continue to scale what we do and help people get farm-fresh produce at better prices than is available anywhere else,” he says. “We’re still a young company but we’ve seen extremely strong demand for what we do.”
Blue Apron works directly and exclusively with farmers. These farmers plant items in the ground just for Blue Apron, which “allows us to get access to specialty ingredients that aren’t otherwise commercially available, and it allows us to work with farmers in a way that’s really appealing to them because we’re reliable demand,” Salzberg says. “Right now we have literally over a million pounds of produce that’s been planted in the ground for us by farmers all over the country, that we’ll be harvesting over the course of the summer.”
Blue Apron is a subscription service, so the company knows exactly how much food it needs to order every week. This lets the company minimise waste and keep costs down. Salzberg says Blue Apron is different from other services because its supply chain is the most efficient. “We’re the only company in the US doing what we do at scale,” he says. “We have a real focus on supply chain and on working deeply with our suppliers.”