Meet Freš, the on-demand supermarket that delivers groceries to you in 20 minutes
Today it is our pleasure to unveil the 5th startup (out of 11 selected so far) from the StartupYard Remote Lab program. Freš delivers over 4,000 products in under 20 minutes with no minimum order value and free delivery at supermarket prices. You order via their mobile app and pay with Apple / Google Pay. We sat down with Andrey Subbotin, co-founder of Freš to talk more about what they do and their plans for the future.
Hi Andrey, tell us a bit about your personal journey towards founding Freš. How did you get here?
Last 15 years i’ve spent in the consumer goods industry. After building a successful startup (ritchy.com) i have decided to join the tech sector. Electronic cigarettes is a great business but over years it has become more and more regulated. You just see how the world changes around you yet you can’t play much with digital in your domain. So I decided to leave the e-cig industry and started looking around for opportunities to “digitise”. That’s when we met with Elisey (Freš CEO). He has a great background in food-tech (co-founded Nutrition Pro). We thought, “what if we replace cooking for busy people and deliver fresh ready to eat food for people like us?”
That’s how we started the UnCook concept in the beginning of 2021. With Anton (our CTO) we have quickly built a backend and web app where people could choose their favorite dishes and plan their weekly menu. In a couple of months we already fed over 100 people daily. And as we kept talking to our customers we realised that if you really want to replace daily routine you need to deliver on-demand. That’s when we decided to pivot to the Freš concept.
What prompted you to start developing Freš? What did you see as fundamentally wrong with the way food delivery works right now?
First we started to calculate how we could deliver daily dishes in 15-20 minutes to our customers – but numbers didn’t match. We’ve seen that ready to eat delivery alone won’t bring us to a profitable business model. So we looked around in order to improve it. Being well informed about Russia where Food tech is very advanced, we have seen how COVID has changed people’s habits and how the market followed with fast groceries delivery. The more we researched, the more we liked it. Groceries is a very attractive sector: it is very very Big, it is still very much offline, and the best you can get in Czech yet is delivery in 3 hours/next day. So in May 2021 we have set our sails towards 15 minutes grocery delivery.
Who is Freš for and what problem are you solving?
Fres is an on-demand supermarket. It is the only of its kind in Czech and CEE. Yes, you can get groceries from DJ or Wolt in 40-50 min but not in 15-20 minutes. We save people time and energy from planning and waiting for their daily/weekly grocery shopping. My wife and I are very busy, we used to order online but it is always a 30 minutes exercise with next day delivery and we end up ordering either too much or too less of certain items. With Freš it’s different, we don’t stress anymore. Going forward we plan to save as well on cooking time with ready to eat and meal kits. We see how it is working nicely in advanced grocery markets.
You are not the first startup to try solving this problem and there are already available proven solutions. Why should a company look at Freš?
We are the 1st mover in Czech with this model and the opportunity for us is vast. We talk about 30bln EURO market to disrupt. We are super focused at the national level 1st but when we look outside of CR we have a unique strategy of “On-demand supermarket”. While the majority of our competition is handling 1,500 products range, we are taking a challenge to deliver you 4,000 products in under 20 minutes. It is not easy but that is where the real opportunity lies in this sector. We want to become a real destination for customer’s daily shopping with a good average bill, not just an emergency tool once you run out of milk. Higher average bill leads to healthy fundamentals for growth.
How big is the team and why are they a good match for this project?
We are 3 founders in the team + 3 employees (w/o couriers). Elisey (our CEO) has a great operational experience in stock management and delivery, he is the driving force in our team. I really admire his ambitious vision for our startup. I am a seasoned founder, scaled international business before from 0 to 17mln EUR in annual turnover. Currently I am super focused on the product side of the business with Anton (our CTO). He has over 15 years full stack engineering experience and led tech development in a number of startups before. We are a perfect match for the job.
What are you trying to accomplish with Freš that you think no other platform has been able or willing to do?
We believe that we are doing Groceries 3.0 (first it’s been Offline then Online – now On-demand). We really want to replace customers’ weekly shopping habits with an on demand approach. So you plan your fridge only when you want to: 1-2 days ahead or just for an evening dinner. But for that we need to handle 3-4k SKU range. That’s what other players are not willing to do so far.
Can you tell us a bit more about how your technology really works? How unique is your solution?
Our magic is our CTO – Anton. He is doing 10X compared to an average programmer. We’ve launched our MVP in just under 1,5 months with a Mobile app for Android and iOS, backend to manage our dark store and delivery e t c. Normally it takes 3-6 months and a number of engineering hands.
Once the customer places the order we immediately start packing it in the store, we use algorithms to predict demand and provide best time estimation to our customers. We plan our storage facility in a way so packing process takes place in 1 run without tossing and turning around. Couriers use a separate app to track and report on the delivery while they are driving our Electro bikes.
The key in this business is Forecasting and that’s where we plan to introduce AI modules for auto ordering, category and shift management, plus micro batching (when you deliver several orders at once). We need to accumulate more data to really benefit from these tech but that’s where the profitability lies.
What have been your team’s biggest personal or professional challenges in making this project a reality?
It is a complex business model. Just to start you need to connect many dot’s at the same time: procurement, stocking, delivery, apps, IT backend e t c. It’s operationally and cash demanding. So it’s been a challenge to prove the concept just with our limited personal cash and resources. Yet we are very happy we did it. Now it’s all about scaling.
Is Freš available now? What do people need to get started with your service?
Sure, just go to fres.delivery , download our app and order. Unfortunately we cover only 25% of Prague yet but if you are close to the center you can enjoy our service. Welcome aboard!