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Unbundling the supermarket for the time-and-quality conscious consumer: why we invested in Crisp

By Bao-Y Van Cong and Dominic Aits

Over the last decade, our relationship with food has moved from a necessity to a lifestyle

As consumers are adapting to a different and new reality with much more time spent living, working and eating at home, cooking at home has become one of the major trends in the post Covid-19 world. Over 40% of consumers say they are preparing home-cooked meals more often and with that comes an increased focus on what we actually eat and the ingredients we cook with.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to try really fresh food directly from a farm or from your own garden, you will notice that it tastes (and often looks!) fundamentally different to what is offered in supermarkets. But if we can get really tasty and fresh food from mother nature, then why are we offered a less fresh, less tasty, version of it in a supermarket? That is because the traditional supermarket infrastructure was built in the 1950s, based on mass producing food for a growing population at the expense of freshness.

Crisp is looking to challenge this status quo and believes that all consumers should have access to fresh and the highest quality food every day, delivered to their home. And for that Tom, Michiel and Eric have started Crisp, to unbundle the full food supply chain

Started less than 3 years ago, Crisp is a mobile-first online fresh grocery store, today serving the Dutch market. Unlike many online grocery players, Crisp delivers fresh food directly to consumers from >600 selected local small and mid-size suppliers with the highest quality.

Crisp does not keep inventory in its warehouse, instead it has created a new physical infrastructure whereby groceries are aggregated directly from suppliers and delivered to the customer within 24 hours of an order.

The consumer always receives the freshest food in a very short amount of time, directly to the home with the lowest possible carbon footprint (i.e. Crisp delivers a large share of its deliveries with its own electric vehicles, the groceries arrive in eco-friendly packaging that is easily foldable & recyclable). Crisp is not just another online grocery player, Crisp is fundamentally unbundling the supermarket: sourcing fresh, not storing food and delivering directly to the home, all at affordable supermarket prices.

The Crisp mobile app

All of this would not be possible without a highly efficient and technologically enabled new supply chain, and meticulously run operations and logistics. The local suppliers deliver to Crisp on a daily basis and upon receipt and quality control, the team at Crisp picks and packs all of the orders, all meticulously separated by temperature zone and delivers it to the customer in less than 24 hours.

The warehouse and operations are run with military-like discipline from inbound logistics, pick & pack to delivery. Customers can choose a one hour time slot for their delivery, they are able to communicate with the driver directly and they are notified along the way.

Customer service is not run by bots but by humans.

Crisp designed every part of their customer journey with the customer in mind; Crisp did not set out to be a subscription service because that is not how most customers like to shop for their food. And Crisp’s customer centricity has been rewarded with great financial success: over the last year, the company grew its revenues 7x year over year with 85% of revenues from repeat customers.

Why now? The new consumer is demanding more transparency, is more health-conscious and cares about sustainability. Unlike existing grocery delivery models, Crisp is addressing all of these concerns.

This also comes with additional benefits:

  • Crisp creates close-to-zero food waste: in the EU alone, 88 million tonnes of food waste is created annually, an equivalent of 173kg per person per year (of which 8kg of that is attributable to retail & supermarkets). The Netherlands leads this unfortunate statistic with over 541kg per person per year in food waste
  • Crisp’s minimal ecological footprint and socially responsible practices: their delivery paper boxes are easily foldable and recyclable. For many of Crisp’s customers, groceries are delivered by Crisp’s own fleet of 100% electric-powered vans. These are managed by Crisp’s own fully-employed drivers who are paid fairly and above minimum wage
The Crisp 100% electric fleet

Whilst traditional online grocery delivery players offer the convenience of home delivery, they fail to address the demand for fresher food and more transparency in our supply chain. We believe that Crisp has truly listened to consumers’ needs and has built a new way for us to eat.

We believe that all of this would not have been able without the high-quality vision, precision and hard work of the Crisp founders and team. Within less than three years, Tom, Michiel and Eric started Crisp and have built it into a 500-members strong team. We’ve been highly impressed with their ability to recruit a high-quality team, their meticulous attention to detail in their execution, and their genuine passion for their customers which can be observed in every aspect of their customer journey. They have built a product that they and their families love themselves.

Tom, Michiel and Eric with their families

Our belief is that the reason online grocery has taken so long to emerge is precisely because the customer journey & experience was so broken, and this is why Crisp for us is the stand-out company in this space.

In this regard, we are extremely excited to announce that we are leading a €30 million fund raise in Crisp, with participation from our friends at Keen Venture Partners and some of the most successful tech founders and operators in the Dutch ecosystem such as the co-founders of Takeaway.com, Adyen and Thomas Plantenga, CEO of Vinted.

Our investment in Crisp marks our first investment in the Benelux region, a highly strategic region which we have been exploring over the last 18 months. As the second largest food exporter in the world, the Netherlands specifically is primed to be home to new companies that are disrupting the food ecosystem. We also believe that the entrepreneurial spirit, the direct and open culture, and the maturity of the tech ecosystem will drive many more successful companies out of the region.

We are hopeful that our investment in Crisp will mark only the first of many investments in the region and we are looking forward to backing more entrepreneurs of the same quality of Tom, Michiel & Eric!

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Target Global

Target Global

International #venturecapital firm with €3b+ AuM. Focusing on fast-growing #tech companies across their lifecycles. #targetteam https://www.targetglobal.vc/