At Shasta Ventures, we love backing mission-driven companies. From Nextdoor, whose mission is to enable neighbors to work together to build stronger, safer, and happier communities, to ClassDojo, whose mission is to improve education for all kids, to Dollar Shave Club, whose mission began simply to sell and deliver great razors at an affordable price, we have been privileged to invest in many founders who do well by doing good.
But perhaps no company in our portfolio better exemplifies our focus on mission-driven businesses than Imperfect. I first met Imperfect’s founders, Ben Simon and Ben Chesler, in 2016, when they had already been on a mission to fight food waste for quite some time. Ben Simon co-founded the Food Recovery Network back in 2011 at the University of Maryland, and Ben Chesler launched its second chapter in 2012 at Brown University. Today the network has 230 chapters, and it has to-date recovered 3.4 million pounds of food from college dining halls to donate to local non-profits.
The Bens then got together to launch Imperfect Produce in 2015. The idea behind Imperfect is to buy produce that is cosmetically challenged (such as the carrot above) from farmers, and sell it to consumers on a recurring basis. This is a win-win; farmers earn income on produce that would otherwise be donated or thrown away (1 in 5 fruits and vegetables is not perfect for the grocery store shelf!), and consumers get to buy great tasting produce at a discount to prices in the grocery store or farmer’s market. And it’s also a win for our planet, because less food goes to waste.
We at Shasta have been privileged to invest in every financing round of Imperfect since the Seed. Today, the company is announcing a $47M round from Norwest, Maveron, and Shasta, along with some very exciting milestones. Imperfect now serves over 200,000 customers across 22 markets, has saved over 40 million pounds of food, has donated 2.2 million pounds of produce to 91 nonprofit partners and food banks, and employs over 1,000 people, who earn living wages every day at the company.
Even within Shasta’s portfolio of consumer product subscription services, which includes Blume, Dollar Shave Club, Pill Club, and The Farmer’s Dog, Imperfect stands out for its growth in customers, subscriber retention, capital efficiency, and potential ahead. It’s been a privilege to work with this team and I’m so excited for the future, as we expand beyond produce to become a national online grocery company, with value and values.
A little more on values.
One of the things that’s impressed me most while working with Imperfect for the past couple of years is how the company lives its mission every day. The company’s five core values — grow the movement, be imperfect, bring an appetite, lead with heart, and use the whole carrot — are extremely authentic, and known by every employee. You can see this DNA manifest itself across every aspect of what Imperfect does, from our customer service team’s responses, to the details on our box packaging, all of which have helped Imperfect become a category-defining brand.
So come join us on the Imperfect journey. We’re hiring in many functional areas across the country. And become a customer (use my referral link here!) to enjoy fresh produce and many grocery products every week while helping our food system be less wasteful.