Behind the Scenes at Instacart’s New Office
As documenters of startup culture, we spend a lot of time looking at the spaces these companies inhabit. While our goal is to highlight the people, the way they work together, and the problems they’re solving, as photographers, it’s impossible not to also notice the lighting, the colors, and the touches of personality that make an office unique. So we were excited when Instacart commissioned us to document their move to, and first day in, their new offices (designed by Blitz) on Beale Street near Mission.
“We got this space about four months ago, totally empty, with no walls or anything. It’s come together insanely fast.” –Shevelle
“All the executive assistants cancelled their holiday plans and were here to help me with the move. It kinda warms my heart.” –Shevelle
Shevelle: It’s pretty fun to see the reactions of people who have been here the longest. Those are the people I’m most excited about, because last October they were in an apartment. Just a year ago they were in a house in South Park, with people working in closets and sitting in doorways.
“A year ago they were in a house in South Park, with people working in closets and sitting in doorways.” –Shevelle
Shevelle: At Bryant, we only had five meeting rooms — here we have fifty. Giving tours to the team today, people are so excited just about that. And the fact that we have more than three bathrooms now! It’s like, everything else is just icing on the cake to them.
“An office should remind a team why it’s here. For us, that’s to improve the lives of our customers.” –Apoorva Mehta, Founder/CEO
Apoorva: This is the first office space we’ve designed ourselves. I don’t believe having a nice office space is any measure of success, but I do love that it allows us to highlight our culture. An office should remind a team why it’s here. For us, that’s to improve the lives of our customers, so we had customer and shopper stories built into the landscape here. As more people join the company, that will help them remember what is valuable.
Zain: I helped with a lot of graphics stuff, like the tweets in the lobby and the design in the yoga room — that’s actually my tattoo. We’re working on our brand right now, so we couldn’t dive in and do everything in the office full on. The idea was to add subtle details and then eventually build on it. There’s a foundation now, like the colors and wallpapers are on-brand; there’s a lot of empty space we can still play with.
“The idea was to add subtle details and then build on it.” –Zain
Apoorva: Many of you may not know this, but Instacart started just two blocks from here in my apartment at Beale and Folsom. And every single office space we’ve had since then has defined a different stage of our company. In the apartment, we were building the foundation, our first iPhone app, and we raised our first round of funding.
Then we moved to South Park and Instacart became not just an iPhone app, but a website, and you could order from not just one store, but many. And we raised another round of funding.
“At our previous space, we became a household name.”
–Apoorva Metha, Founder/CEO
Next we moved to another office in South Park — which had a hot tub. We signed Whole Foods as a partner and became a product you could use in fifteen markets in the United States. And we raised more funding.
At our previous space, we became a household name and signed over eighty different retail partnerships with many of the biggest retailers in the world. And we raised another round of funding.
Now we’re here. I’m not sure what the future looks like exactly, but I’m extremely excited about the team we’ve built. And I’m excited to see the milestones we achieve in this office.
Max: I know we’re all very excited to be here, myself included. Believe me, you don’t want to spend too much time working in Apoorva’s apartment, or his apartment’s “business center,” or the smallest conference rooms in your friends’ offices, eating their leftover Zesty.
“It’s important for us to be humble.” –Max Mullen, Cofounder
But even though everything looks new and shiny here, we didn’t spend a tremendous amount of money. We want to keep our resourcefulness with us. And we also want to remember that, while two-thirds of the company is here, there are fifteen other offices full of extremely passionate, hardworking people who didn’t get a brand-new office, so it’s important for us to be humble.