In its 3,000-square-foot warehouse in San Francisco’s Mission District, Farmstead founders Pradeep Elankumaran and Kevin Li, a pair of former Yahoo product managers, plot the future of grocery shopping.
“Think of us as if Whole Foods was rebuilt from scratch by tech founders,” Elankumaran, Farmstead’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch. “Of course we do delivery because it’s 2018 and no one wants to go to the store anymore.”
Elankumaran launched San Francisco-based Farmstead in 2016 after Amazon and Instacart’s food delivery services repeatedly disappointed him. The startup leverages artificial intelligence-powered predictive analytics and machine learning to accurately predict supply and demand of its inventory, a move Elankumaran says has helped the company significantly reduce waste, as well as complete deliveries to Bay Area residents in less than an hour.
“I had a lot of trouble getting food delivered consistently,” he said. “My daughter had just turned two and she started drinking a lot of milk and I found myself going to the grocery store three to four times a week to buy the same things.”
“So I posted on Nextdoor asking if anyone was interested in a milk, eggs and bread delivery service and in two days, 200 people said yes.”
Two-plus years later, the company is today announcing an additional seed round of $2.2 million, bringing its total raised to date to $7.5 million. ARTIS Labs, Resolute Ventures and Red Dog Capital participated in the round, along with Y Combinator. Farmstead completed the Silicon Valley accelerator program in 2016 shortly before its initial launch, similar to Instacart, which graduated from Y Combinator in 2012. Elankumaran said the company plans to use the capital to hire aggressively and expand beyond the Bay Area in 2019.
Farmstead’s business may sound a lot like Instacart, a very well-funded grocery delivery service worth an astounding $7.6 billion, but the startup says the differences are notable. Instacart is a tech layer on top of a supermarket that provides delivery, whereas Farmstead is the supermarket and the delivery service. Elankumaran says this — storing groceries in large, centralized warehouses and making the deliveries — is a highly scalable model destined to defeat Instacart.
Resolute Ventures general partner Mike Hirshland said in a statement that Farmstead could “become a monster company.”
“To replace a trip to the grocery store, so many things have to go right, from ordering the right inventory to last-mile delivery. Farmstead has cracked the code on making grocery delivery profitable and rapidly scalable,” he said.
The company has also recently partnered with Udelv, an autonomous vehicle startup, to make deliveries via the company’s modified GEM eL XD electric trucks.