NYC Startup Raises New Round From Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow



While we’d all like to start the day with a healthy breakfast, in our busy lives we just don’t have the time to blend a fresh and hearty smoothie first thing in the morning. Luckily, now you don’t have to spend the time. With Daily Harvest, fresh smoothie ingredients are delivered to your door so that you can spend 30 seconds blending their pre-prepared ingredients while you check Instagram. Fresh and organically sourced, Daily Harvest provides the nutritional pick me up you need to start your day right.

AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and founder Rachel Drori about the fast growing startup and discussed their newest round of funding.

rachel drori daily harvest photo

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

We just closed our Series A, with notable investors like Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams. Paltrow and Williams join other investors like Collaborative Fund, WME Ventures, 14W, and Rubicon Venture Capital, as well as angel investors Nick Brown, Natalie Massenet, and Carter Reum, among others.

Tell us about your product or service.

Daily Harvest delivers convenient, whole, superfoods nationwide. We currently offer 23 flavor combinations of smoothies, soups, chia parfaits and overnight oats – and we always have new flavors and products in development. Each cup is co-created by a team of chefs and nutritionists to ensure the highest quality of organic fruits, vegetables and no refined sugars or preservatives. All the consumer has to do is add the liquid of their choice and blend, heat or soak and their wholesome meal is ready.

What inspired you to start the company?

Daily Harvest, as is the case for many startups, was born from personal need. I always felt that the way I aspired to eat and the way I had time to eat were in conflict. I began gathering ingredients on Sunday nights and packing them into bags for instant smoothies during the week. It made getting out the door in the morning so easy, and kept me energized throughout the day. It became such a game-changer for me day-to-day that I knew others would appreciate the easiness of a 30-second smoothie, and had to share my idea.

How is it different?

At Daily Harvest, we are creating modern food for the realities of the modern world (who has the time to always eat well?!). Our products are full of whole, unrefined fruits, vegetables and superfoods that can be prepared in just minutes. We are also one of the first brands in decades that’s working to rebrand the freezer aisle. The farm-freezing technique we use on our products is actually similar to a process our ancestors – who knew that freezing produce locked in nutrients and made it usable long-term, used. This was before the days of dinosaur chicken nuggets and TV dinners. Typically, fresh produce is picked before it’s nutritional peak, while it’s still green, and then degrades in nutritional content while in transit and on the shelf. Our produce is picked at peak ripeness and frozen within hours, maintaining its optimal nutrition.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

Our brand speaks to anyone who’s looking for “convenience without compromise.” Our customer is someone who lives a busy lifestyle but aspires to eat better – it’s a challenge most people can relate to, so we get a lot of customer feedback thanking us for filling a need in the health food space that they didn’t feel was being met.

What’s your business model?

We’re a subscription, direct-to-consumer business.

How have things changed with the business and focus since we last spoke around this time last year?

The main change, which is more of a realization, is how passionate our customers are about our products and living a healthy lifestyle. This makes us excited to continue to surprise and delight them by constantly innovating with new flavors and new products.

What was the funding process like?

The fundraising process is always so invigorating, and you learn so much about yourself and your business every time you go through it. There’s nothing better then meeting with potential investors and watching your vision click with them. We’ve partnered with value-aligned investors who are just as excited about our vision as we are.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

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 / higher-margins. If someone joined the investment team who didn’t understand the importance and appeal of organic, whole, unrefined foods, which would be a huge challenge. But I also knew I would be unable to realize my full vision without raising capital. I feel blessed to have found investors who are 100% aligned with what we we’re building and will also add significant value as veterans in the space.

rachel drori daily harvest.001

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

I think it was that they truly believed in what Daily Harvest stands for. They believe that natural, unprocessed, nutritious foods should be accessible, and they understand the gap in the market that we are filling.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

A major goal we are working towards is changing the perception 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 to solve real life challenges

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

The best advice I can give is to remember that “if there’s a will there’s a way! “You can be “scrappy” without having the result be “crappy”. We’ve had to be really resourceful at times – go 180 against convention – but with passion and perseverance we’ve been able to achieve a lot.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

Hiring a killer team. Recruiting and retaining top talent will be a crucial determinant of our success, and I have always made it a priority to surround myself with the best team possible. As we build this foundation, we would love to continue to reimage the freezer aisle one category at a time.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

Right now my favorite restaurant is Loring Place!

About the author: AlleyWatch

AlleyWatch is the destination for startup news; opinions and reviews; investment and product information; events reported, experienced, seen, heard and overheard here in New York. But it’s who we are that makes us different: we’re the writers and the entrepreneurs; the investors and the mentors; the lawyers and the marketers; the realtors and the recruiters – the people who work in the industry.

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