Unlike many players in this space, for example, customer acquisition is not something One Potato is struggling with; as a cookbook author, TV personality and co-founder of the popular Weelicious recipe blog, co-founder Catherine McCord already has an army of fans, and hundreds of tried and tested recipes under her belt, and moving into the meal-kit delivery market was really a logical next step, she told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We’ve got more than 5,000 people on our waiting list and we’ve just moved from a 1,200sq ft facility into a 12,000 sq ft facility in order to meet demand. The challenge right now is keeping up. When we started people were posting about us on social media and we couldn’t make enough boxes to meet demand. You get people that are posting [on Instagram] every single meal.
“We have customer acquisition costs in the sense that we offer 50% off the first box, but we haven’t done any marketing. It’s all word of mouth, just the way that Weelicious has grown.”
Child-friendly meals, portions and prices
Aside from its organic and foodie credentials, however, One Potato is the only meal kit company that offers child-sized portions and pricing; child portions ($4.50) are half the size and less than half the price of adult portions ($11.99), and the meals really do take fewer than 30 minutes to prepare, she claimed.
Each box, which comes with free cookie dough, is also designed to appeal to children, with child-friendly instructions and prices. “We tried a lot of the meal kits on the market and they always take longer to prepare than they say, and it gets expensive if you’ve got children," added McCord. "Our meals are semi-prepared, so there aren’t 50 ingredients, and they all take 15-30 minutes to prepare.
“We’re all parents [the co-founders]; we have seven kids between us, so we know how hard it is.”
One Potato by numbers:
Meals per week: 3
Meal Options: Omnivore and vegetarian meal options
Price per Adult Meal: $11.99
Price per Child Meal: $4.50 (child size portions are approximately half the size of an adult portion)
Recycling: All packaging (bag, box, bottles, liner & ice packs) is recyclable or made of biodegradable materials
Delivery Regions: Currently available in California and select markets in Nevada, Utah and Arizona, but will be expanding into more markets shortly.
Commitment: There is no membership fee and no minimum commitment. Users can skip any week’s delivery in advance or cancel at any time.
They are generally not skipping weeks because they are relying on us
But what about customer retention? Is One Potato keeping its users engaged, and how confident is it that they will stick with the service, month in, month out?
“What’s amazing is how many of the families that were with us from the start are still with us now, and they really are using it week in week out unless they are on vacation," said McCord. "They are generally not skipping weeks because they are relying on us. When you have children you find something and you love it and you want to keep serving it again and again.
“It’s not meant to be a fun thing just for affluent people, these are families that really need something like this, it’s just simple, nutritious organic food. You don’t need to eat a five star meal every night.”
Meal kit users don’t want as much variety as you think
Meanwhile, although variety is important, one consistent piece of feedback One Potato has had is that once people find a meal they really like, they want it to stay on the menu, she said, just as they do at a favorite restaurant, so the pressure to constantly change things up, menu-wise, is not actually as strong as you might think, which obviously helps from a supply chain/forecasting perspective.
“At the start we thought we needed to change all the recipes every week and families were saying No No No. We want to keep this, bring that back. Don’t keep changing it.”
We got offers from all the VCs we spoke to
Investors, meanwhile, were more concerned about how One Potato was going to source a consistent supply of organic ingredients than whether the meal kit category was over-hyped, she said.
“We got offers from all the VCs we spoke to and in the end a private investor came in and did the entire round. They asked lots of touch questions about organic produce and that’s where we are spending a lot of our time now. They were also interested in our particular audience, the community we are trying to reach.”
Are meal kits a good investment? Head to Food Vision USA 2016 in Chicago on November 9-11, to hear from experts at Sonoma Brands, CircleUp, Rabobank, General Mills 301 INC, and Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman.