With the recent rise of meal delivery services, it has never been easier to enjoy delicious and nutritious meals at home. Over the past few years, meal delivery services have become increasingly popular, providing busy individuals and families with a simple mealtime solution.

Brands like Freshly have taken the hassle out of meal prep, making it possible to enjoy homestyle cooking without lifting a finger. From humble beginnings in the back of a Phoenix restaurant, Freshly has grown into a national brand delivering over 1 million meals each and every week. But exactly how did they get to where they are today? Let’s take a look at their road to success.

A Quick Look at What Freshly is Today

To put it simply, Freshly delivers healthy gluten-free, chef-cooked meals right to your door. Subscribers can choose from over 30 dishes each and every week to create a custom meal plan that they can pause, skip, or cancel at any time. Freshly then cooks the meals and delivers them fresh to your door for you to reheat and eat in just 3 minutes or less.

Every Freshly meal is portioned for one person to enjoy in a single sitting. Choose from a wide variety of classic dishes and ethnic cuisine including options like Chicken ‘n Dumplings, White Bean Turkey Chili, and Steak Peppercorn (my personal favorite).

The History of Freshly

The story of Freshly dates back to 2012 when founder Michael Wystrach set out on a personal mission to improve his eating habits. He began by preparing healthy meals in his family’s Arizona restaurant but before long had started taking orders from friends. As word spread, demand for Wystrach’s meals grew quickly and he eventually moved to production facility where he could start scaling the company and bringing it online.

As of 2015, Freshly was headquartered in New York and has grown dramatically to delivery over 1 million meals per week. In 2020 alone, Freshly shipped over 50 million meals to more than 20,000 zip codes throughout the United States. Today, they have over 2,000 employees across their corporate office, customer experience, production and manufacturing facilities.

Meal delivery services are nothing new, but Freshly offers a unique experience. Wystrach comments on the difficulty of balancing healthy and nutrition with convenience, claiming that Freshly meals offer the best of both worlds. With chef-inspired recipes made from natural ingredients, Freshly tries to balance convenience and affordability to make it easier to eat well for the busiest people.

Expansion of the Freshly Brand

Though Freshly began as a personal endeavor, it eventually grew into a national brand. Today, Freshly appeals to customers across a wide array of demographics but all customers have one thing in common: they want a convenient way to eat better.

What makes Freshly’s story unique is the fact that the company grew to nationwide success without any initial venture capital funding. Though it made for a challenging few years, Freshly was established in the back of a restaurant Wystrach co-owned with his parents and grew with an investment from family and friends of just $400,000 over two years.

Wystrach and his team stretched every dollar as far as it would go, forgoing payment themselves and living on just a few dollars a day while constructing their first kitchen in Phoenix. They worked 16 hours a day, six days a week until Highland Capital Partners led their Series A financing in 2015. Within the next year, Freshly had relocated to New York City and obtained Series B funding from Insight Venture Partners. While waiting for their third round of funding, the team at Freshly finally wrote their Core Values Manifesto, the key line of which reads:

“Being transformative and disrupting industry takes heart, tenacity, and a touch of insanity.”

In October of 2020, Nestle, the largest food and beverage company in the U.S, announced its acquisition of the Freshly brand. After just 5 years in business, Freshly was valued at $950 million USD with potential earnouts up to $550 million USD contingent on successful growth of the business. Laurent Freixe, Nestle CEO Zone Americas comments on the acquisition, naming Freshly a powerful tool in expanding the company’s ability to “deliver a wide variety of delicious food to our consumers when and where they want.”

Freshly aims to provide everyday people with a simple mealtime solution. Not only does Freshly deliver healthy and wholesome meals for less, but the company gives back to the community as well. Excess ingredients are donated to local food banks as part of a partnership with Feeding America and the company donated $500,000 in prepared foods for Meals on Wheels during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What’s Next?

The story of Freshly is a tale of hard work and dedication. Founder Michael Wystrach recalls the difficult early days of getting his business off the ground but is incredibly proud of the company Freshly has evolved into. Not only is he proud of the investors they’ve brought on board but of their rapidly growing team who embodies Freshly’s core values with heart, tenacity, and a lot of hard work.

What’s next for Freshly is still up in the air. With the growth of the premade meal delivery industry still picking up, their competitors are anxious to catch up. Recently, one of Freshly’s biggest competitors, Factor Meals, was acquired by HelloFresh. With consumers everywhere looking to make mealtime easier, we’re likely just starting to see the meal delivery race heat up.