We just landed $16 Million in funding to help change the food system in America.
A message from our CEO, Sam Polk, on how we got here and what’s next.
Today I’m proud to announce that Everytable closed a $16M Series B funding round from new investors Creadev and Kaiser Permanente Ventures and existing investors Desert Bloom, the Libra Foundation (working with Candide Group), Inherent Group, Kimbal Musk, and others. I’d like to take this opportunity to update our community and supporters on how we got here, and also what’s next.
As always, I’d like to start with our mission — to transform the food system to make fresh, nutritious food accessible to everyone, everywhere. Our mission — which is all about pushing against structural inequality to create a more just and equitable world — is what guides our decisions, day in and day out.
Before the pandemic began, we were growing increasingly excited about our progress. After four years of hard work, we had finally cracked the code on our goal — how to profitably sell fresh, nutritious food in underserved communities at less than the price of fast food. Our stores in lower-income communities were generating double-digit profit margins, and some stores were up 30–45% year over year. Moreover, we’d launched two new businesses over the past year — our SmartFridge business and our subscription delivery business — and both were growing rapidly.
And then coronavirus hit. All of our stores were shut down. Our SmartFridge business fell off a cliff. Our subscription delivery business accelerated, but not nearly enough to offset the revenue losses.
We were, of course, worried about our business. But more than that, we were concerned about the people and communities we served. Many of our customers, for example, were low-income seniors who came into our stores every week. Many of them used our Pay It Forward program, where guests and supporters can purchase meals for those in need. How were those customers supposed to eat when they weren’t supposed to leave their homes?
The morning after Governor Newsom mandated that seniors remain in their homes, our team launched the Everytable Helpline to be a resource for people facing food insecurity during the pandemic. Hundreds of calls started pouring in every day. Seniors in need of food. Social services agencies whose cafeterias were now closed. Soon we were in the middle of a city-wide conversation on how to ensure people didn’t go hungry during the pandemic.
The big problem was that most of the food relief infrastructure in the city — food banks, soup kitchens — were structured around getting people to come to the food. But now you had low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and others vulnerable to coronavirus who couldn’t safely leave their houses; we needed to figure out how to get food to those people.
We partnered with City Council offices to deliver meals to low-income seniors in their districts. Before we knew it, we were delivering meals to 14,000 low-income seniors every week through a partnership with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and we were the primary provider of food to Project Roomkey, the statewide initiative to lease entire hotels to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness.
Suddenly our problem was capacity. Before the pandemic, we were cooking 30k meals per week. Less than a month into the pandemic, we were producing 180k per week. To complicate matters, we were in the process of moving kitchens, from a 4,500 square foot kitchen to a 34,000 SF kitchen. It was absolute chaos. In the course of a month, we hired 150 team members, brought in 30 new refrigerated trucks, and spent a million dollars on kitchen equipment.
I honestly don’t know how we made it through those days. Actually, I do. Nacho Varela. Christine Hasircoglu. Mark Seferian. Clare Fox. Mark Jaffe. Mo Ghabriel. Annette Bryant. Chad Massura. Vanessa Bishop. Myra Revelo. Kevin Heathcoat. Adriana Romero. Chef Sergio. Javier Garcia. Gabby Moeller. Jorge Garcia. I’ll never forget seeing Christine & Vanessa walking into the kitchen after a full day of work, to then work an all-night fulfillment shift. I’ll never forget the dedication of our drivers and kitchen staff and store staff (who took on completely new jobs).
I am very proud of what our team accomplished during this time. At Everytable, the number one thing we recruit for is a dedication to the mission. We seek people who believe in what we are doing and want to be part of it. The reason for this is simple — what we are doing is hard, and requires tenacity, persistence, and the ability to grind. And our belief is that that willpower comes from people who are committed to something bigger than their own advancement.
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, that recruiting strategy paid off. We all linked arms, with a sense of duty and privilege, to be a part of the great citywide initiative to help make sure no one in Los Angeles went hungry.
That pivot allowed us to be of service to our city, and it also allowed us to thrive at a time when many other food businesses were struggling to survive. In three months we built a level of operational and logistical capacity that would have taken us three years to achieve. And we demonstrated the adaptability and power of our vertically-integrated, multichannel fresh-prepared food model, which drew a ton of investor interest.
In the end, we chose Creadev to lead the round. Creadev is an evergreen investment company backed by the Mulliez family in France, a family of entrepreneurs who had always been focused on providing value to all customers, as opposed to focusing on luxury items for the affluent. They share our vision of democratizing access to nutritious food and were prepared to support our growth into a major food company, a competitor to the likes of Kraft/Heinz and McDonald’s.
We’re also thrilled to partner with Kaiser Permanente Ventures, making its first investment in a fresh-prepared food company to support community health. There is a growing movement in the healthcare world to address the social determinants of health through preventative medicine, and treating “food as medicine,” and so the backing of KP Ventures is a huge sign of confidence in this direction.
And now, to what we are going to do with this new capital. We’re going to invest in our technology, build out a direct-to-farm regenerative ag supply chain, and invest in our food (like launching new product lines, cold-pressed juices and smoothies.) And we are going to invest a ton in growth. We’ll build 20+ stores in LA next year, and grow our meal delivery business in a major way. We’re also building out an institutional foodservice business, servicing the needs of major organizations like Amazon, Tishman Speyer, USC, and, yes, Kaiser Permanente.
And we’re going to massively grow our Social Equity Franchise program, where we recruit talented entrepreneurs from marginalized backgrounds, provide training through Everytable University, and when they are ready to own their own store, we’ll provide them a loan using capital that we’ve raised from philanthropic partners like the WK Kellogg Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, and Dignity Health Foundation. To learn more or to invest or donate to this program, visit everytable.com/SEF.
Here’s how we view what we’re building. America is at the end of a failed 50-year experiment with our food system. We took what was once a regional food system based on fresh ingredients and scratch cooking and transformed it into a national system of processed and fast food that was optimized not for health and vitality, but for efficiency and corporate profit. The largest food companies in the world grew out of this experiment — consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies like Pepsi-Frito Lay and Kraft Heinz, who sell shelf-stable, processed junk food, and fast food giants like McDonald’s and Yum Brands.
Everytable is the antidote to this system. We are building the food system of the future, where chefs turn fresh, direct-from-farm ingredients into delicious, nutritious meals, that are affordable and accessible wherever you are, whether at home, in the office, or out and about in the world. And we will not be satisfied until there is an Everytable in every community in the country so that every person has access to nutritious, affordable food. And in the process, we’re going to empower thousands of entrepreneurs of color from marginalized backgrounds to launch and own their own businesses.
Thank you to all of our team members, our Board, our advisors, our investors, and most of all our customers, who trust us to provide the freshest, most delicious food at a price they can afford. It is a privilege to serve you, and we thank you for your support in building a food system that works for everyone.
Sam Polk, CEO