How did you identify the opportunity for a smoothie subscription service?
Daily Harvest was born from personal need, as are many start-ups. I always felt my aspirations and timing for eating were in conflict. I began gathering ingredients on Sunday nights and packing them into bags for instant smoothies throughout the week. Getting out of the door in the morning became so easy and I felt more energized throughout the day. It became such a game changer day-to-day that I knew others would appreciate the ease of a 30-second smoothie. I had to share my idea.
What was the biggest lesson learned in your first year?
If there’s a will, there’s a way! You can be “scrappy” without having the result be “crappy.” We have to be very resourceful at times and do a 180 from convention, but with passion and perseverance, we’ve achieved a lot.
Prior to developing your products, how did you make connections with experts in the food and nutrition space?
Connecting with the right people is 100 percent about putting yourself out there. You have to talk to anyone and everyone willing to listen to your crazy idea. When you release it to the universe that way, people respond. I talked everyone’s ear off that I knew, which prompted the intros to start flowing in. I was then able to build the initial core team which included product development and nutrition.
Describe the process of creating Daily Harvest’s brand messaging.
It was, and is to this day, really important to me that our brand and messaging didn’t impose our worldview on our customers. We have so many different people turning to us for so many reasons – whether they’re training for a marathon, trying to lose weight, going through cancer treatment, etc. – we wanted our brand to be fun, inclusive and never “judgy.” Yes, we want you to know about the amazing superfoods and high density of nutrients contained in every cup, but I’ve seen how being too overt about those technical aspects of food can alienate large segments of the market.
Daily Harvest has grown tremendously since launching in 2015. What were the key things you did early on that contributed to your success?
Having passion and perseverance are the most crucial determinants of success for any start-up. It can be easy to look at companies that have seen some level of success and think, that looks easy. But, I will tell you, it’s been quite a journey getting to this point. You will run into every possible obstacle. People will tell you your idea won’t work and that you should quit. The only thing that will keep you going at 3 a.m., when you can’t keep your eyes open, is pure conviction in what you’re building. Since the beginning, I’ve focused on building a lean team of stellar talent to build the infrastructure for a true customer-centric business.
What are your top 3 tips for creating engaging social content?
- Know your audience. This applies to every aspect of business, not just social. We spend a lot of time digging into insights to understand what our customers want. Social media has created an unprecedented channel for direct communication between brands and consumers.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks. We have an in-house content creation team who dream up fun, irreverent ideas and I always tell them to run with it. Some of our best content started as a weird idea that I couldn’t articulate well but came out amazing upon execution.
- Have an overarching strategy and figure out how each social channel can be used to ladder up to your bigger goals. Every social channel has a different set of expectations from your audience and you should serve up content that meets those expectations.
What strategies have been most effective for reaching new customers?
Word of mouth has been a huge growth channel for us and I’m so glad that it is. It means people truly love our products, enough so that they want to promote it to their friends and family. It’s also crucial from a business perspective not to rely too heavily on advertising to acquire new customers. Those channels will eventually dry out and, in the end, you will live and die by your product and a loyal customer base.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams recently invested in Daily Harvest (Congratulations!). What is your best advice for developing relationships with investors?
When I started the business, I didn’t know if I wanted to raise money at all. I was nervous about investors understanding my overall vision for Daily Harvest, who might ask us to compromise on our quality and promise for lower costs or higher-margins. If someone joined the investment team who didn’t understand the importance and appeal of organic, whole, unrefined foods – that would be a huge challenge. So, the most important part of fundraising for me was finding investors who understood our vision completely and would be supportive of sometimes higher-cost decisions that are pivotal to maintaining the best possible product that our customers have come to expect.
The most exciting part about operating in the food tech space is…
The huge opportunity. We are one of the first companies in years pushing for a major perception shift around frozen food. For decades, the space has been dominated by unhealthy or pseudo-healthy products that are hyper-refined and preserved. We are working hard to tell a new story about the potential in freezing unadulterated produce to solve real life challenges. Sharing that story with Americans is really exciting for us.
What have been the standout moments of growth for your company?
Selling one million smoothies was a huge milestone. When I started Daily Harvest, it was a one-woman show and I was literally making deliveries out of my car while eight months pregnant. It’s been such an amazing journey seeing how far we’ve come since then.
What does #EmbraceAmbition mean to you?
#EmbraceAmbition means pursuing your passions and taking a leap of faith in your own instincts. It’s easy to think of 1,000 reasons not to do something, but if you embrace the reasons to “go for it” you might just build your dream.