A company tapping into consumers’ growing desire for healthier food and organic products, Thrive Market is today bringing its online grocery store to Android users with the launch of a dedicated mobile application. The new app will allow users to shop for natural and organic products right from their phone, including its more recently launched private label items.
Described as a cross between Whole Foods and Costco, Thrive Market’s business has been booming this year. To give you an idea of its traction, the company now claims to have more than 200,000 paying members. It also hit a $100 million run-rate in early February, after just 14 months into its business, and it reached nearly $10 million in sales last month. (The startup is not yet profitable, however.)
The business has grown from 14 employees in November 2014 to nearly 400 today. And it has two fulfillment centers — one in Commerce, California and another in Batesville, Indiana. This allows it to guarantee two-day shipping to more than 85 percent of the U.S., the company claims.
Unlike a traditional e-commerce store, Thrive Market’s business model is more like that of Costco’s — that is, members pay a fee of $60 per year to shop on the site. Also like Costco or other clubs, Thrive Market promises wholesale prices on the items it sells. That means customers can buy its organic and speciality merchandise online, ship it to their home as quickly as if they were using Amazon Prime and pay less than if they shopped at Whole Foods.
(Shipping is not free as with Prime, we should note — only orders over $49 are free.)
In addition to its membership fees, Thrive Market is also generating revenue on its private label products, which include things like organic coconut oil and tomato sauce, for example.
Notably, the startup caters to consumers who care about how a business contributes to society as a whole. Through its “Thrive Gives” program, the company donates one free membership to a low-income family for every paid membership it sells. This “social mission” is designed to provide those without access to quality food at lower prices a way to better feed their families.
As the company explains its website, 49 million Americans experience food insecurity, more than 23 million live in “food deserts” (neighborhoods where healthy food is not available) and 80 percent of low-income families buy food they know isn’t healthy just to make ends meet.
With a free membership to the site, these low-income shoppers can instead choose to buy natural and organic products at 25-50 percent off retail.
The Android app’s launch in particular is important because the majority of the “Thrive Gives” families are Android users (51 percent are).
However, mobile access to Thrive Market was previously available on iOS, where the app has already seen more than 50,000 installs in its first month, and has a 5-star rating on iTunes after 200+ reviews.
The Android app is available as a free download here.
I’ve personally used Thrive Market, and found the site to be easy to browse, thanks to its extensive breakdown of category listings. (It even separates “cooking and meal ingredients” from “baking,” for instance). Plus, it offers a simple way for users to shop by their “values,” meaning vegan, gluten-free, paleo, raw, etc. And you can filter items by environmental and social concerns, too, like “locally sourced,” “fair trade” and more.
That being said, the site today works better for those who already know how to eat well or who adhere to a particular diet. It would be nice to see an expanded set of educational materials and recipes (like this), which could help teach people how to make healthier dishes. Right now, recipes are randomly posted to the company blog alongside other articles, which makes finding those that match your interests and tastes more difficult.
L.A.-based Thrive Market has raised $58 million to date, including a still-open convertible note of $20 million.
Investors include John Legend, Zoe Saldana, Sofia Vergara, Dr. Mark Hyman, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Mark Sisson, Jillian Michaels, Brian Lee (of Honest.com), Blake Mycoskie (of TOMS Shoes), Gary Hirshberg (of Stonyfield Farm), Mark Rampolla (of Zico Coconut Water) and David Barber (of Blue Hill Farm).