It speaks to the leadership Dominik and Thomas have
In , New York City-based Insight Venture Partners led a $34 million round, according to company filings, that valued HelloFresh at $178 million, several times its previous valuation. The firm was wowed by HelloFresh’s customer growth, its data-obsessed, workaholic founders, and the company’s global footprint, says Jeffrey Lieberman, the general partner at Insight who shepherded the deal and is now HelloFresh’s chairman. “It’s really hard to scale a business like this,” Lieberman says. “And to scale across six to seven countries? “
(Samwer , less than a year after the Insight Venture investment, Rocket led a $124 million round, valuing HelloFresh at over $700 million. After he’d let Rocket’s holdings dwindle, Samwer once again owned more than 50 percent of HelloFresh.
But Blue Apron still dominated the U. In wer sent Rocket’s new COO, a former McKinsey consultant named Adrian Frenzel, along with Griesel, with plans to fix HelloFresh.
With the new valuation, Rocket’s Samwer suddenly had renewed interest in HelloFresh
“Keep the panko breadcrumbs moving in the pan as you toast them in Step 3 and lower the heat if you see or smell any burning–they can start to singe if left alone.”–From “Spinach Artichoke Pasta Bake With Toasted Panko and Parmesan,” HelloFresh recipe WK 15 NJ-9
Flush with venture capital, HelloFresh’s U.S. ops team hustled to go national. By early 2015, they had leased fulfillment centers in Texas and California, enabling the company to ship meals anywhere in the lower 48 states within two days. They had also leased a 35,500-square-foot raw warehouse in Linden, New Jersey. It was their first time setting up and operating a warehouse all on their own.
For the team of operations managers, this was an exciting step. The managers were running a tight-knit group: Many were in their 20s, had graduated from elite colleges like Princeton and Northwestern, and were working their first jobs building a business from scratch. “It was ungodly amounts of work, but we were motivated by a vision that we were going to write the playbook for how you ship these crazy meal kits,” says one of the managers.
After they signed the Linden lease, the team set up the new operation over the 2014 Christmas holiday. The next two months were grueling–installing equipment and assembly lines, and hiring a new staff, all while shipping thousands of meal kits every week.
In March, Griesel and Frenzel arrived from Berlin to tour the warehouse and assess the team’s progress. “We were happy, thinking they’re going to be excited–because we’ve done it all so fast,” says another manager.
But that wasn’t how the Germans responded. Instead, Frenzel launched into all the things wrong about the facility, down to the unswept dust in a corner of the warehouse floor. (Frenzel was nonplussed. “Any person could walk in here and find 50 things wrong,” says the second manager. “There’s a new staff. We’re growing like crazy.”
Frenzel made it clear he intended to perform a full audit of their operations. Then he’d make recommendations on how they could match the efficiency of the warehouses in Germany. “It was a takeover in a sense,” says the first manager. “All of a sudden, it felt like we had a new rule book, and that was the driving force.”
S. with about 70 percent of the market, and HelloFresh was fighting over distant second place with Plated
Along with their demanding new types of reports, Frenzel and Griesel’s blunt style rankled the workers. “Let’s say somebody unloads a container by hand,” says the second manager. “That’s a lot of work. And you’d have the Germans standing there, literally with their arms folded, watching. Then, when anyone finished, they’d say”–the manager affects a German accent–” ‘Do another one.’ They treated them like animals.”