Gobble, the Palo Alto–based meal kit startup service whose recipes can be prepared in 15 minutes with just a frying pan, a spatula and some olive oil, is shoring up its leadership team before expanding nationwide.
The meal kit startup, an alternative to visits to grocery stores, has hired Steve Robinson, former head of global logistics and supply chain at Starbucks, and Brian McEvoy, former assistant general manager at meal kit competitor Blue Apron, to lead its scalability efforts.
“Steve’s experience with world-class demand and inventory management at companies, including Starbucks and Walmart, make him one of the foremost experts in integrated supply chain planning and execution,” said Gobble founder Ooshma Garg.
“Having recruited and managed thousands of people for Blue Apron, Brian is the perfect candidate to scale Gobble to the top in both a long-term and fiscally intelligent manner,” Garg said. “Both Steve and Brian are instrumental to our national expansion efforts, ensuring Gobble’s cost leadership and operational efficiency are best in class.”
Gobble currently serves seven western states: California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho and Utah. As the meal kit startup pushes beyond those borders, Robinson is taking charge of supply chain planning and execution, and McEvoy is responsible for warehouse scalability operations, including recruiting, food safety, inventory, shipping and receiving, and order fulfillment operations.
“I’m excited to be working with an inventive company that’s at the forefront of this new industry,” said Robinson, whose 30 years of experience includes a stint as Walmart VP of supply chain management and VP of global logistics in addition to his time at Starbucks.
Robinson cited eCommerce firm Gobble’s focus on saving customers time and money — plus its grasp of how to use data science to translate customer preferences — as prime reasons for joining the company.
“Gobble is a leader in supply chain operations, and by developing scalable processes and utilizing real-time customer feedback, the company functions with some of the most efficient operations in the industry,” McEvoy said. “I wanted to get in early and play a part in their national expansion to scale and grow the company.”
Gobble’s main mission is to give back the time that busy working couples and families would have spent in the kitchen so they can reinvest that time in the things they really want to be doing, like playing with the kids, catching up with their other half or relaxing after work with a glass of wine.
But the eCommerce company recognizes that convenience isn’t everything. Its customers don’t just want “easy”; they want something healthy that tastes good, something they can feel good about feeding to their family.
That’s why Gobble puts days or even weeks into cooking sauces and marinating meats ahead of time to provide tender, tasty portions. And that’s why it tracks customers’ taste preferences and diet goals — think Pandora for food — so that each week’s offerings can satisfy their wants and needs.
Gobble goes beyond niche catering with a true understanding of customers’ tastes, whether that’s meat and potatoes, ahi tuna salads, or spicy ethnic fare. It’s gotten so good at this that more than half of its customers use it on “auto-pilot,” said Garg, a point of pride for her and the company.
“This trust means Gobble completely understands their tastes and is delivering meals that are new and diverse but always fit within the family’s taste profile,” she said.
Gobble’s use of data science enables precision, not just in customer satisfaction, but in forecasting, ordering and stocking food, which lends to the company’s efficiency and success.
“In my opinion,” said Garg, “a core competency in data science and personalization is the only long-term winner-take-most strategy. It accommodates a bigger market, is fine-tuned and better for each individual family and, lastly, is most predictable, thus creating the most cost advantages and affordable service at scale.”
According to the numbers, the strategy works. Gobble has a higher retention rate than other meal kit startup services, with twice the lifetime value per member of competitor Blue Apron.
Gobble’s data show that, for many members, the meal kit delivery service has almost completely replaced grocery shopping. According to Garg, that’s because Gobble is easier, cheaper and more personalized than shopping at grocery stores.
“Grocery is already being disrupted, and [eCommerce, direct-to-consumer] grocery and meal delivery are fast replacing brick-and-mortar,” she said.
Garg also sees potential for disruption to quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, though she predicts that fine dining will stick around, as it is more experiential and attracts the rising population of millennials.
The trend she’s observed is that members eat Gobble’s dinner kits about three times per week, prepare their own simple family meals twice, order out once per week and go out to eat once.