Creating the ‘food as medicine’ category with Ashley Tyrner from FarmboxRX

One of the best ways people with certain Chronic diseases can manage their care Is through their diet but what about the People who don't have access or the Money for the healthy produce they need Today's guest is creating a system where Produce is prescribed and health plans Are footing the Bill you're listening to found techres Podcast that brings you the stories Behind the startups today we're talking To Ashley triner the founder and CEO of Farmbox RX which started as a dtoc Grocery service but has since started Working with over 90 Health Plans across The country to bring food as medicine to The people who need it and here with me To talk about how food can be medicine Is my lovely co-host Dominic madori Davis and of course before we get into The conversation with Ashley we have our Two troops in a lie and at the end we'll Tell you which one of these statements Is not true so listen carefully is the Lie that farmbox just raised their Series C that Ashley sold beanie babies As her first job or that online Grocers Couldn't accept Snap and EBT payments Until Co made it a necessity o you will Have to listen to find out but before we Dive into the episode we just want to Have a quick reminder that if you Wouldn't mind raing and reviewing the Show wherever you are currently

Listening to this episode already we Would greatly appreciate it and it helps Us out a lot but without further Ado Here's our conversation with Ashley hey Ashley how's it going it's Going great how are you I am hanging in There we we are recording this on a Monday so always a little bit tougher to Get into things but I think we'll have No problem today because we are talking To you about a very you're very Interesting company why don't you start By just telling us a little bit about Farmbox RX yeah no I'm excited to be Here on a Monday I mean Mondays are Always great it's when everything's Piled up from the end of the week that You don't want to face at the end of the Week you get to face it on Monday so I'm Glad to take an hour out for this Conversation so farmbox RX is a patient Engagement company where we use food as Medicine for food as engagement within Healthcare we actually created the Category within Healthcare of food is Medicine but to date there really isn't Uh budget through Healthcare dollars to Use food as medicine for those who have Chronic disease so the way we entered The market was to use the food as a tool To engage members and incentivize Members of health plans to go get things Like their diabetic eye exam their Mamogram their colonoscopy which are

Other preventative things that they need To take part in their overall health to Be the best you know healthy wise that They can be what exactly does this look Like for your users to sort of be able To engage with the company yeah so most Of our members have some type of chronic Condition right things like type two Diabetes cardiovascular disease Hypertension and most of our members are Actually lowincome right so they're Maybe on Medicaid there may be also Elderly so they could be on Medicare and Medicaid you know these members are you Know typically food insecure and if You're food insecure you're maybe also Transportation insecure maybe you're Also Pharmacy and doctor and hospital Insecure and so members receive Different boxes of food around different Chronic conditions that they have and That food can be very different you know Personto person it can also be Culturally different right like you know If we're engaging in Asian population Their produce boxes look very different Than if we're engaging a Hispanic Population because you want to inspire Those that you're sending food to with Food that they're going to cook in their Culture's cooking are in their cultures Dietary needs and you know there's also Health literacy that goes out in every Single box so there's education that's

Going out to all of the members that we Are serving and that education is really Driving the member to go do a certain Task like going to get their mamogram or Their diabetic eye exam and it's really Explaining to members why this is so Important but it's also explaining to Members how they can access that care And then we will connect them to other Care out there maybe it's a care manager At a Health Plan maybe it's a Transportation company that they need to Utilize to get rides to the doctor or to The pharmacy it's such an interesting Approach especially because I know Things like food deserts or people who Are food insecure who do have these Other things going on that that would Make getting healthy foods getting Specific Foods is such a big issue how Did you guys come up with this specific Approach and was this your first idea When you first started thinking about This yeah so I founded the company Actually it's a direct to Consumer Entity about 10 years ago but we've Always work to eradicate the food desert Problem that America faces and I like to Bring a human approach back to that word Which is these are just hungry people Right people live in a food desert they Are lacking nutrition security as well And they are hungry individuals and when You bring that human approach back kind

Of takes the stigma off you know and the Way we entered this Market actually in Healthcare was in 2020 when finally Policy had caught up to you know needs That our Health Care system has when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Actually allowed individuals on Health Plans it allowed health plans to Actually offer food and produce to Members that face certain chronic Condition and so policy number one had To come forward forward enough for us to Be able to do this in healthcare but Then we were really entering the market Around food insecurity and those that Live in food deserts and unfortunately The way that our Health Care system is Today there are no dollars for health Plans to send food to individuals that Are food insecure even though every Health Plan would love to do so and so We had to come up with a strategy around How can we use food as a tool for Engagement for the health plan health Plans all they really care about is Getting their populations of their Members engaged in their overall care And they use a number of different ways To get them engaged but it's called Manage care for a reason right they need To manage the care of the members that They have and they need them to go do Certain tasks again like diabetic eye Exams colonoscopies mammograms because

They need to get ahead of individuals Who maybe have breast cancer so that They don't find out when they're stage Three and they're much more expensive And costly to treat and so really I Surrounded myself with Healthcare Executives when I entered this Market That knew our health care System very Intricately it's a very difficult system To navigate and I like to say that There's a very common misconception that Just because somebody is lowincome they Don't want to be healthy they do want to Be healthy they want to eat healthy they Just can't afford it they don't have Accessibility and they don't know what To do with it and they don't know how to Access care when you solve all of those Things for a Health Plan member they'll Go take that self-efficacy Journey in Their health and there's definitely a Lot of questions I have to follow up on That but before diving in there I'm Curious what are you interested in the Space to begin with yeah that's a great Question so 14 years ago I was pregnant With my now 13-year-old daughter I was On Medicaid I was on food stamps and I Lived in a real food desert and so I Have walked a mile in the member shoes That I have the privilege of serving Here at farmbox RX I know what change Systematically has to happen within our Healthc care system within you know even

The US SDA within snap in order to make Real lasting change for those who face Different social economic issues and so That's really where the birth of the Company was really founded at that time You know this is 14 years ago you Couldn't use your snap cart online for Food you had to actually go into a store If you don't have accessibility to go Into a store how do you get food and I Always love asking companies like this Kind of about the early days of Logistics and what was it like sourcing Food and sending it out navigating the Logistics of of having a food company Like this that has to go out to people It was terrible early the early days I Like to say that I think looking back no One in their right mind would have ever Started this company and I think every Founder probably feels that way about Their startup that like looking back They probably wouldn't have done it when We started out it was really the early Days of the meal kit phenomenon right Where there were different companies Sending out meal kits and you know how Do you ship food and how does it get There fresh and we were part of that you Know we really pioneered shipping Produce to your door via a FedEx or a UPS it's not an easy thing to do it Actually took us about three years to Figure out how to do it in all seasons

You know a box going to Miami in July is Very different than a box going to Maine In you know December right we had to Figure out what can ship and what can't Ship so that we send a quality box of Fresh food to individuals you don't want To send somebody spoiled food it's not a Good experience oh wait that's actually So interesting so what do you mean like There's certain foods you can't send to Certain regions During certain Seasons Yeah some things don't get along with Each other in the box so it's kind of The concept of if you put your your Bananas by your oranges they will ripen Faster right and that's because of Ethylene gas and so we had to really Learn how to mitigate ethylene and all Of the boxes that we ship and so there's Just certain things that we just can not Ship there's certain things that can't Ship certain times of the year that can Ship other times of the year so there's A tremendous amount of intellectual Property actually that goes into how we Pack out our produce boxes to get them Fresh different times of the year that You know we have finally we have Actually put what is in mine in my chief Operating officer's head onto paper in a Book so that you know if I get hit by a Taxi there's somebody else that knows What can and can't go in that box that Is so interesting I'm with dom on this

That I think the logistics of a lot of These kind of things are so fascinating Listeners are very bored probably of Hearing me talk about how I've actually Been always been really interested in Grocery Logistics but I was very curious With the fact that where the company is Focused now working with people who can Use food stamps to buy the box or sort Of fall under some of those other Government programs and the fact that People could not use those types of Resources to buy something like farmbox When you guys got started what was the Company Evolution like how were you Trying to Market yourself when you guys First got started and sort of how did That evolve into how you guys are Operating now when we first started out Again we've always worked to eradicate The food desert problem that America Faces right we went out to raise money Nobody wanted to give us money but they Were throwing money at other ideas they Really wanted us to more every VC we Talked to any of them that were actually Even remotely nice to us at the time Wanted us to become a meal kit and That's not what our Focus was we did not Want to jump on the meal kit bandwagon Now looking back I'm really glad that I Never raised any capital and still Haven't raised any Capital to date Because most of the meal kits are you

Know they've slowly died but you know During those early days we stayed very Very true to what we were out to do Which was to eradicate food deserts and To get produce healthy food to Individuals that desperately need it Right and we actually have a paper that We put up my coo and I Megan put up in My office and when I say my office I Meant like my one-bedroom apartment at The time in New York City on the wall That said you know produce prescriptions Like that was our ultimate goal one day And going back to you know policy really Had to catch up to allow health plans to Send this box out to their members and When you know policy had actually caught Up that they could send this box out to Members it was that we wanted to make Sure that the member didn't have to use Their snap dollars or any of their own Dollars to pay for this box we wanted The health plan to pay for this box so Today health plans are solely how we Generate great Revenue we don't get paid From members at all they have this cost At zero co-pa to them oh wow that's Really interesting how do you go about Working with health plans like do you Initiate initiate reach out or is that Something like how does that go and then What is the behind the scenes of I'm Sure there's like negotiations or Something every time I think of

Healthcare I don't think of it being Easy to work with so what has that been Like it has been um a very very Difficult industry to crack into so you Know these are all health plans that are Managed also at a government level right These are government contracts if They're working with Medicare or Medicaid and those are the two markets That we serve and so there's a Tremendous amount of compliance you know We have a full-time compliance officer At farmbox RX and even getting a plan Originally to work with us was very very Difficult when I found out in 2019 that During the 2020 year plans could offer Food and produce as a benefit benit to Their membership I went out to find a Plan to work with us and no plan wanted To work with us but I did find one in Pennsylvania and I owe the head of Product there you know a lot of my Career she took a chance on us and then We just morphed into other plans like Right now we've got about 90 health Plans that we actually work with you Know the big top five we work with now And it's not easy it's still not easy to Crack into them I'm on the road a Tremendous amount meeting face to face With plans but now we have a lot of case Studies under our belt of how we've been Able to move the needle for the plan and Drive people into those preventative

Screenings using food as a tool for Engagement there's a tremendous amount Of behavior science and how we actually Get the health plan members to go do Different tasks when we ask them to go Do the task how are we asking them is it Our call center that's asking them in Conjunction with health literacy in the Box and so now it's gotten easier for us To break into plans but originally you Know it's probably one of the most Difficult things I've ever had to do Frankly in my life what are some of the Hesitations that the health plans had Well we're we are having Phi access to Their members data right so you've got To be high trust your Tech stack in Order to process any Phi data number one Number two if we were to ship a box of Bad food to a member the member isn't Going to be mad at us they're going to Be mad at that health plan right and so They take very serious that this Health Plan member is their member and how are You going to be as a vendor to these Members that you have the privilege of Serving and I repeat that daily here at Our company it is a privilege that we Have to serve these members with food Which is something that's so personal to Individuals and so plans are very very Picky over who they will work with on a Vendor level and what was that Transition like for you guys in the

Company I know you guys used to offer D Toc as well and have sort of moved away From that approach as you've gone full Force into this area what was it like Shifting gears and moving stuff over and Essentially changing your Revenue model It was it was hard and we did it during Covid as well right so you know we had a Big influx on our dtoc business during Covid which actually drove Revenue to Help us where we didn't have to go out And raise capital and we still haven't Raised Capital to dat for our farmbox RX Business we essentially had to start a Whole new company we were very lucky That we had our learnings and our Teachings from direct to consumer of how To ship the Box how to get a quality Product there we created a brand right We were a brand that consumers recognize Because we were a dtoc brand before and So we took a lot of that knowledge and Brought it over into Healthcare so now You know Health Plan members they're Part of the farmbox RX program right They're saying to their health plans Like I want my Farm box I don't want Some other box I want my farm box we've Still remained very true to that Consumer Centric model where we have to Give a really great product and a brand Product you know it's kind of like the Kleenex if you will you don't say you Need a facial tissue you say I need a

Kleenex we are the kleenex of food if You will we've been very very strong on That point because of our dtoc business But we essentially had to hire a whole New team right we no longer prod do Social media marketing we no longer pour Money into SEO advertising it's all B2B Marketing now so we had to bring in new Team members and I think there's a piece Of me that had to learn to be a CEO of a Plan that or of a a company that deals With government contracts and the Compliance are regulations that go along With that and I did want to go back to One point that you brought up a few Times about not raising any capital from Investors that is so interesting Especially because you clearly want to Raise in the beginning and didn't what Has the journey been like financially I Guess for the company in terms of Funding everything did you go to other Avenues of funding did you bootstrap and How has that been no no we bootstrapped We've bootstrapped this company I joke That I probably wouldn't do it that way Again I probably would have tried harder Maybe to raise money but I did go out Originally and I tried to raise capital And it was a terrible experience again Going back to they really wanted us to Work to become a meal kit cuz we were Out trying to raise Capital during that Whole meal kit craze like in you know

What like 2012 time something like that 2013 2014 nobody wanted to give us money When we went out I would see lots of Other ideas getting funded typically With male Le companies but no one wanted To give us money now you know VC's cold Reach out because they've seen what We've done Revenue wise I mean we made Inc magazines 5,000 startups we were Number 100 last year so we've we've Completely boot dropped this company From day one in 202 yeah 22 we did uh $36 million in Revenue they don't allow me my board now To announce what we're we've done this Year but I can say we're a rule of 60 so You can probably back into how much Money we did this last year and now We're profitable right so looking back I'm glad that I didn't raise the capital Because I probably wouldn't be Profitable I'd probably burn cash it's Very difficult for companies to raise Cash right now and probably be in a very Different position and it did allow me To shape my vision of the brand right so It is my vision that still goes forward With the brand and I don't have Investors telling me what that Vision Should be and I think that that's a Really important it's an important piece For Founders to know is that if you have An idea and especially if you're going To go out and create a category which is

What we did we created a category within Healthcare you have to be able to have Complete Direction over that category And I think if we would have raised the Capital i think that you know profits Would have come over what was right for The member early on in farmbox RX no That's so interesting and especially Like you mentioned when there aren't all Of these case studies these VCS can Quote unquote like value add oh my Company did this 10 years ago and it's Going to help you here it is sort of Like drowning out that noise when you Choose not to raise from people who are Going to try to have that influence who Don't come from that experience yeah no I mean look at the end of the day we Came very close to taking money about Actually about a year year year and a Half ago and was great investors all Healthcare based but I really I started To feel a little of like we should Really do it this way I think that you Know because I founded this company and I know this patient engagement space Better you could really create this Product and so our core has been we want To get healthy food to individuals who Need it most and we are we are doing That within Healthcare by making an Roi To the health plan that the health plan Can digest and understand which is Engaging them in their quality outcomes

Which are things like their mamogram Their diabetic eye exam these things That they have to manage the care of These members on so for me you know now We actually are out in a process and we Are out raising now we're in a much Better place because we have just so Much under our belt and we've grown so Rapidly that we've created a new Category we've created a space in Healthcare that you know we have other People that are you know trying to enter The food as medicine Market as well that I'm sure I've been able to raise capital On what we've already done so we've now In a really good position to be able to Have the right investors come into the Company that can really help us at our Next level of growth you know we're a Growth stage company now we're no longer A startup even on the health care side And I think one other logistic question I wanted to ask before we maybe move on To more of the company side of things But we talked earlier about how Obviously getting these boxes to people Is tough because certain things in the Boxes are ripe at different times and They affect each other of course when They're together how do you source for The boxes with kind of a similar Question because of course things grow At different times different places of The year and things like that like how

Do you source for these boxes feels like Another fun logistical web yeah no it is It is but we actually have partnered With one of the largest produce Distributors in the country they Actually handle all of our oper ation so They help us Source all of the produce They pack the box you know FedEx then Picks up the box and takes the box to a FedEx artery where it then goes out for Delivery we tapped into just the natural Food Logistics of produce in this Country and that's how we Source we of Course try to get as close to the member As possible at any given time we can Have eight different DCS operating in Different parts of the country and you Know I mean it it makes it easy that FedEx is doing all of our deliveries Right so the Box gets packed at a Facility goes in a refrigerated truck to A FedEx and then is out of the cold Chain a day day and a half Max to the Member's door more from this Conversation right after a quick Break in Switching gears a little bit we Ask people on the show often about did They ever think they were going to be an Entrepreneur what was it like actually Taking that leap but I definitely want To ask you that question because while We've had a variety of different people On the show show you definitely have a Different background especially building

This type of a company with your Background as being a single mother on Food stamps like having sort of this Very unique perspective to the problem You are working on fixing today what was It like making that jump were you Worried about things not working out or How did you kind of decide this was what Was right for you so I didn't have a Choice but to make this work right I had A daughter that I didn't want to fail For that I was a sole you know income to That child and I also didn't want her to See me fail right you know I have a Daughter I want her to grow up knowing Like whatever you put your mind to you Can do I don't think when I started the Company I had any idea what turn into What it's turned into today but I mean I Look back like when I was young like I Was like 15 the way I bought my first Car was I sold Beanie Babies on eBay Right like during the Beanie Baby craze So I've always been like an entrepreneur Right so I think that you're just kind Of either born with that or you're not a Natural entrepreneur Gene I never went To college so I don't you know you would Think I have an MBA cuz I can hold my Own with my you know Bankers that I have To sit in a room with that have mbas but I never went to college I've had really Great mentors in my life you know my my Husband I'm actually very lucky my

Husband's a tech CEO so he can't escape Me and so I had him as a mentor you know As well to help me guide me through Things but I've always been one that has Just always figured it out I would sell Like even early days of farm box when I Wasn't able to take a salary I would Sell like the hot to find Christmas toys On eBay I'd go buy them at like you know Walmart and Target and then I would sell Them and so I think that that has taught Me in my life grit and I've always just Figured it out and that's what we do Here right like I don't believe in the Word no I believe you're talking to the Wrong person so if you get told no so I Think if you just hustle something out And if you believe in something enough You can really make it happen and Thinking about sort of growing the Company because you guys are are you Guys based in Boston technically yeah We're based in Bost perfect and I know You talked about the beginning of this Journey was New York and I'm always Curious why people end up setting their Companies up where they do and sort of Building things out what sparked the Move or once you formally got stuff Going was it always in Boston I had Taken a job after I had my daughter I Had my daughter in New York or I'm sorry In Arizona and then I moved when she was Just a few months old to New York and I

Took a job in fashion and I worked there For almost 3 years before I stepped down To start my company so I was already in New York but it know New York was like The capital of delivery of everything Before it was like Amazon was around of Delivering everything right so you could Get you know the Boda would deliver to My door a can of soda if I wanted it at 2 am right so I think New York was a Great place to start the business Because that idea of delivery was Already embedded in New Yorkers and then Time has evolved to where you know E-commerce is what it is now today oh Wow the fashion industry how was your Time in fashion I mean like I always Hear that fashion I was going to say Always hear awful I was going to try to Put a positive Spin and say was there Anything that you got from Fashion that You took to being a Founder like was There anything that you that I never yes I there is that I never wanted to go Back and work for anyone else again in My life other than Myself um I think what it teaches you Though which I already had like I Already had a really great work ethic Right like my dad was a farmer and so Like I would have to like work around The farm and things growing up when I Was young so I've definitely grown up With a work ethic but you know you would

Work like 16 hour days was normal Working in the fashion industry that was Completely normal if not a 20-hour day Wow oh my goodness and how big is your Team now at Farm buuck I think we just Are at like 52 employees today and how Would you describe yourself as a leader That's funny it's a funny question a lot Of people come up here I'm sure and say Like I'm a servant leader and all of These things I probably would be Described as I'm fair but I'm probably Not the easiest person to work for and The fact that I'm demanding right like This is a really really important Market That we are a part of and this is a Really important movement that we've Created and so I really expect Excellence around me I'm very Compassionate I would say as a leader That like I don't look if somebody has An MBA that they're going to Automatically be on my team like I don't Really care where you went to school Because I didn't go to school but I Don't think that when you're running a Company I don't think that you should be Looked at as being just like really easy To work for and just really easygoing You have a lot of decisions that you Have to make and I have 52 people that Rely on me for their paycheck to support Their families and that's number one I Take very very important I also take

Very important this movement that we've Created within Healthcare and that it's Something that is desperately needed in This company and if we were to fail Millions of people would be affected Because a Health Plan would never send Food if we messed up and sent you know Hundreds of thousands of bad boxes of Food to members health plans are not Going to send food to members anymore Because of the Grievances that would Come in so I think I'm a Fair leader I Think I'm a leader that would definitely Be one that I grow individuals in their Careers and hopefully they stay with us But if somebody needs to go on to Another opportunity I want them to be The best of themselves that they can be For the next opportunity and growing Within themselves but I'm definitely I'm I'm a demanding leader no I wanted I was Going to something I wanted to also ask Is that we we've spoken to a few food Companies like this that send stuff out To people and I'm always interested to Hear about how they view the pandemic as Changing their industry because it seems Like before the pandemic kind of even Grocery shopping online was like is it Wasn't like a thing that people just Thought of always doing and now it's Like I don't even go I live by two Grocery stores and I do not go into any Of them unless like dire circumstances

And so I wanted to talk to you about how Do you view the pandemic as changing Your industry and even the way healthc Care providers look at companies like Yours yeah I mean the pandemic Definitely sent people online shopping That like would never have went online Shopping like my grandparents right like They thought it was crazy that like I Had a company that would ship food They're like you mean to the mailbox Right so it has changed where people who Maybe never before would have went Online shopping now have gone online Shopping I think there's always going to Be especially on grocery there's always Going to be those individuals that want To go pick out their Tomatoes right like It's just me it's just a piece of them Right and there's people that like Actually enjoy that one of my favorite Things to do myself is to go to a Farmers's market I readily enjoy that But I think what it's done is it's also It's given another Avenue for the those Who lack accessibility and so that's why Having snap and EBT able to be used Online as a form of payment is so vital Right and before the pandemic there were Only a couple States this was allowed in And that was in 2020 so it really crazy To think like you could not use your Snap and EBT card online to go grocery Shopping but then all a sudden the

Pandemic happened and they just opened The floodgates because they had to Because people were hungry and needed Accessibility right and they didn't have Transportation to get out so I think There's always going to be that Shopper That wants to go pick out their tomatoes And then there's the Shopper that having Online shopping has changed their life Cuz maybe they're Homebound and they Can't leave the house and they need food So they can go online and purchase it And have it delivered but then you get Into another issue of you know teid Right does somebody have access to Purchase things online like through Their phone you know through internet do They have access to Internet and so That's also a challenge to some of the Populations that we're serving and sort Of thinking about where you guys are now You've reached the scale that you have And I know you mentioned potentially Going out and fundraising and you're Sort of in this more of a growth stage Out of the early startup stage of course What do you think about scale and kind Of like what's next cuz I know Delivering healthy food and produce of Course is a category of its own but There's so many other things that touch That like do you expand that way are you Still trying to expand new health plans New areas what does scale and growth

Look like for you guys from here you Know for us scale is just within other Health plans you know the big National Plans cover a massive percent of our Country and we've only hit the tip of The iceberg we like to say where we're At now as to what we can be doing we're Really again a patient or member Engagement company and so while I don't See there being other food products that Come in when you say product here at Farmbox RX it's engagement products like What else can we be doing the health Risk appraisal out into boxes for the Members that we serve which is you know Something that's very important to the Health Plan having a health risk Appraisal on the member different Engagement services that go inside of That box to engage the member with their Health plan and their Care Management Things like mail order pharmacy getting Members signed up in mail order pharmacy So we are definitely our product line is Expanding and our growth path is Expanding in being a member and patient Engagement company and I think that's Probably a good place to wrap because we Are just about at time so thank you so Much for coming on the show this has Been super interesting yeah thanks so Much for having me And that was our conversation with Ashley Dom what was the LIE the LIE of

Course was that farmbox just raised Their serious C the company actually Bootstrapped no I thought that one of The most interesting parts of this Conversation was Ashley talking about Her fundraising Journey especially going Out to raise the first time and going Out to raise during the whole meal kit Revolution that has since come and very Harshly gone since then and I think it Was so you just so rarely I mean like in Startup land you hear like pivot pivot Pivot pivot our investors said this we Pivoted we couldn't get traction here For five minutes we pivoted and it's Like it was really refreshing to hear Her be like no like to take on money They wanted us to Pivot in a way we Didn't want to do and so we just stuck With our conviction and I mean like none Of the me kit companies are doing well Now so that clearly was very smart that Is so funny I almost forgot about the Whole mil kit thing and then when she Mentioned I was like I really haven't Seen an ad in a while I like I guess That didn't work out and that's good for Her because I mean she's stuck to it and Was like I'm not going to be a meal kit I mean and look at them now and look at The meal kits now no offense to meal Kits no but I guess I can understand why Investors didn't or weren't like crazy Enthusiastic about the company I guess

But then also it seems like obviously a Missed opportunity Yeah and it is sort of like a Frustrating anecdotal data point of how Like VCS always say oh we don't invest On trends like we invest in like what we Think are outlier companies and then It's like they got this outlier company That's now I think she said profitable Yeah they're profitable they're like Scaling and they were like o this is too Unfamiliar we can't do it and on the Flip side her being like well what's the Point of working with investors who have No experience in the space I'm trying to Build in any way which I think is very Refreshing to hear I know investors are always like we Don't invest in Trends and then they're Like oh here's this outlier company can You please be on Trend it doesn't make Sense guys doesn't make sense but you Know what I mean we've spoken to a few Health companies similar to this and so I mean I always love hearing about or I Don't know if I love hearing but it's Just really interesting to see how the Pandemic has really shifted the way People get groceries and how that has Really opened up a lot of doors for People in food deserts to get the Produce that they need it's really Really interesting to hear about how This company mixes in or like works with

Health providers to Target people that Live in these food deserts and how you Know accepting snap and EBT it's like This whole thing that I never I don't Know if we hear much about it or maybe The government's just I don't know every Time I see government news it's always Crazy stuff but this is stuff to like Most certainly talk more about I feel no And I totally agree with you before We've had the sort of handful of Companies we've had on recently who Talked about how without the changing Regulations in Co they wouldn't really Be able to be as successful I had no Idea like you couldn't use snap and EBT Online prior and like I get why in the Sense of like it'd be really hard to Verify if it was like real for like the Vendor side of it but that's just like I Mean Co was crazy like you said was Crazy the amount of stuff they couldn't Got they could have got so much stuff by Me I would have never noticed um but Like it is interesting to think of like All these companies especially because None of them started like during Co I Know we had midi Health on recently and She was like once they changed the Teleah health rules during Co she Launched the company she'd had the idea Of for a few years that just wouldn't Have worked otherwise but in this case It's like this company had existed for a

Couple years it was growing like it was Doing well and then it was like Co just Allowed it to do this like whole Different business model essentially I Know and because you mentioned that Regulation was always slow to catch up Cuz now I'm thinking I'm like regardless Of the pandemic I would have hoped that Regulation would have allowed companies To do this now I guess maybe this is Just looking back in hindsight it makes So much sense that we should be able to You know Use SNAP for online groceries Like why weren't we able to do that Before I mean like obviously I guess Like you said with the vendors but it's So interesting to see how much has Changed in these past four years and I Guess for the better with a lot of these Companies and it all it all involves Increased access to essentially Marginalized communities yeah exactly And I thought the other interesting Piece about this that all kind of ties Back into that was the whole Behavioral Science side of it where it's like okay These health care plans are like being More proactive and like working with These communities to make sure they're Getting these things that they maybe Can't afford to get otherwise or maybe Can't access otherwise but then like They're slipping in little extra Messaging in there to be like hey like

You haven't gotten your colonoscopy or Hey you haven't done this and kind of Like nudging people to just make more Good choices well already sort of like Providing them with a better option to Eat to begin with and it just seems like A nice model I mean I trust the science That this kind of stuff works I don't Know if someone sending me something in The mail would get me to do something Maybe it would but I guess I'm glad that It works for the people who need it this Is exactly how I would want my patient Data used by the way like in case any Any Healthcare Providers are listen I Want it to be sent in a food box just Like this with like a a nice little Nudge cuz usually I don't know when do I Go to the doctor when I'm like Gravely On like the cusp I'm like oh my gosh I Think I'm going to die time to go like Even scheduling stuff I'm like it feels Like 6 months I think time to go to the Dentist but this is a really creative Way to kind of get people thinking more About their health and I I think it Works because it what it puts it in the Back of your mind like oh you know That's a good point maybe I should go Book something soon it's hard to see the Downsides yeah it's hard to see the Downsides no I agree I'm definitely just Interested to see where they go from Here knowing that they are now looking

To take on funding and they're now a Growth stage company and they're looking To scale and like take it to the next Level I think it'll be really Interesting to watch where they go from Here yeah and you know there is a part Or I guess I was just really intrigued To learn more about how there's Different foods that you can't ship at Different times of the year which is Kind of stuff that you just don't think About I mean I don't ship food but if I Had to ship food I thought I could ship Food at any time of the year like I Didn't know there was like like she was Talking about what is it carbon and Stuff coming out of bananas like oh yeah The gases yeah I like I didn't even know That some foods just like biologically Don't get along oh my God so that I'm Going I'm going to make you read that Grocery Logistics book whole chapter on This kind of stuff really oh yeah this Oh you got to send this book to me Because I'm like what is this known Information oh yes we will discuss much To Discuss found is hosted by myself TechCrunch senior reporter Becca scac Alongside senior reporter Dominic madori Davis found is produced by Maggie stamus With editing by Kell our illustrator is Bryce Durban founds audience development In social media is managed by Morgan

Little Alyssa Stringer and Natalie chman Tech crunch's audio products are managed By Henry pikovit thanks for listening And we'll be back next week


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