Foodie startup Blue Apron understands that cooking is an art — one that so few of us have mastered. To solve that problem, the company delivers original recipes and carefully chosen ingredients, at $9.99 a meal, to customers across the country waiting to make Instagrammable dinners. That takes a lot of work, and, as Blue Apron expands, they needed the right tools to keep their operation going without any major bumps in the road. That’s why join.me, one of the premier online meeting and collaboration tools out there, is turning out to be such a good fit.
CEO and cofounder Matt Salzberg confirmed as much. He and fellow founders Ilia Papas and Matthew Wadiak oversee an operation based in East Williamsburg, NY that, if not for the company’s relatively small footprint, you’d think would take up a New York City block.
“We design all of our recipes in house,” he explained. “We have a test kitchen team designing six original recipes every single week that we roll out to our customers. We then have food sourcing experts that go out and navigate the markets on behalf of our customers, and negotiate to get better prices than they could get on their own, and buy everything — fresher than you can get in a supermarket — in bulk. We then have a food processing operation in house where we package and portion everything into exactly the right amounts, assemble them into kits, and ship them in insulated, biodegradable boxes that are refrigerated, to customers around the country.”
Salzberg reports that the company, nearly a 24/7 operation, delivers 170,000 meals to between 80 and 85 percent of the country. Despite the pace, the office atmosphere is otherwise laid-back. Papas attributes this to a company culture that doesn’t require overlapping skills. In this context, everyone’s job works smoothly with everyone else’s. Cooking like clockwork.
“One of the nice things about our business,” he said, ‘is that it requires such a diverse set of skills. We have people in marketing, in operations, customer service, and engineering, so it’s different from a lot of startups where there’s a ton of overlapping skills, and people are jockeying for recognition. Everybody’s working on something that’s really important, and...people can really own initiatives and run with them. Everybody takes a lot of pride in what they work on, and...everyone trusts each other to manage their own domain.”
Of course, communication is key in an organization bent on expansion. Recently, Blue Apron opened a warehouse out in Richmond, CA, putting them in a better position to serve the West Coast. Troubleshooting growing pains like equipment or production problems over the phone or in-person can be difficult (and flights can be expensive). That’s why LogMeIn gave them the chance to use join.me for two weeks — to see if the software, which offers functionality for text and audio meetings, screen sharing, and mouse sharing, might help with their continued growth. It did.
“We’ve been using join.me a lot if someone runs into a problem,” said Papas. “Instead of trying to walk someone through a phone call and saying, “Okay, what do you see on the screen?” I can fire up a screen sharing session with them, and in two minutes we can solve a problem that would have taken fifteen minutes over the phone. It’s been amazing. It’s saved me flights, hotels, time, everything because I can just get on the phone with them, get a join.me session going, and take care of the problem.”
This kind of functionality will come in handy when the company builds yet another warehouse in Texas in three months.
“Our biggest constraint to scaling as fast as possible,” said Salzberg, “is our internal management bandwidth. As a tool, this allows Ilia and our operations team to really leverage their time way more effectively as we unload more.”
Most of all, join.me lets them focus more on helping their customers make good food, regardless of where they are. It’s an ethos that goes right back to why they started the company in the first place, and why they continue to grow. They see cooking as something that connects people, and join.me is helping strengthen the connection.
According to Matt, “We have people who bond with their kids over cooking experiences, talking about how its bringing them closer together. It’s really cool because food is such a personal thing for people, and they’re bringing us into their homes.”
Thanks to join.me, Blue Apron is better able to find its way into your kitchen. Click here to find out more about what join.me can do for you.