Today, I’m joined by Nick Green, co-founder and CEO of Thrive Market.
Thrive Market is a membership-based ecommerce platform offering natural and organic food products, plus supplements, home, beauty, and baby products.
In this episode, we discuss the company’s mission to make healthy living more accessible and the shift toward holistic well-being across everything from mental wellness to sustainability. We also talk about emerging trends, including health, data, personalization, and more.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Thrive identifies upcoming trends to stay ahead of its competition
- Why Thrive’s business model is more profitable than typical grocery businesses
- Thrive’s plans to integrate data and technology to personalize and automate its customers’ shopping experience
- Nick’s thoughts on the future of subsidies for natural food products
Links & Resources
- Subscribe to the Fitt Insider newsletter
- Visit the Fitt Insider jobs board
- View current Fitt Insider investment and get in touch
- Thrive Market’s website
- Follow Thrive Market on Twitter
- Thrive Market is on Instagram
- Connect with Thrive Market on Facebook
- Check out Thrive Market on YouTube
- Fitt Insider podcast #55: Nick Green, CEO of Thrive Market
This is a machine-generated transcript. Please excuse any errors.
I don’t think people saw healthy living and sustainable living as two sides of the same coin. I don’t think they saw physical health and mental health as related as they are.
When I say conscious living movement, people typically know what I’m talking about and they understand that food grown that’s healthier for the planet also tends to be healthier for humans. Eight years ago it just wasn’t accessible, and I’m really proud to have played a role in what now is definitively a movement.
Welcome back to the Fitt Insider podcast. I’m your host, Joe Vennare.
Today I’m joined by Nick Green, Co-Founder and CEO of Thrive Market. In this episode we discuss the company’s mission to make healthy living more accessible, and the shift toward holistic wellbeing from mental wellness to sustainability. We also talk about emerging trends, including health, data, personalization, and more.
Let’s get into it.
Hi, Nick. Welcome to Fitt Insider. I should say, welcome back to Fitt Insider. Thanks for joining us again.
Glad to be here again.
We were just chatting about this a little bit; I looked back to see what we talked about last year, and that was actually two years ago almost in November, fall of 2020. So there’s a lot to catch up on, and if folks want to check out that initial episode we’ll link it for them in the show notes.
To start us off, for folks who aren’t familiar, introduce yourself and maybe give us an update on Thrive Market.
Yeah, I’m Nick green, Co-Founder & CEO of Thrive Market. Thrive is a membership platform to make healthy and sustainable living easy, affordable, and accessible to anybody. The way we’ve been described in the past is, Whole Foods meets Costco, sort of meets Trader Joe’s online.
Members pay the equivalent of about $5 a month to be members. They get access to this whole catalog of best-in-class healthy, natural, organic products that you find at a place like Whole Foods or another health food retailer. Ultra curated, highest quality standards sourced from all over the world, super innovative brands, but instead of paying retail prices you pay a member-only price.
Our members make back their membership fee typically within about two purchases, in savings. Then the whole platform beyond the savings is designed to make the process as easy as possible to find the products for your diet, discover new diets that you might be interested in exploring, and discover new brands that align with your values.
We literally tag every product across to about 140 different metadata categories. So the entire platform is just purpose built to make healthy, living easy. we’re super passionate about. we’re a very mission driven business. I mean, it all starts and ends with that mission. And, you know, we’ve kind of built a very interesting, amalgamation really of like retailer CPG brand.
Cause we now have our own brand that’s, you know, well over 500 products, content platform with a lot of educational and inspiring content, you know, all kind of tied together by this mission to make healthy, living easy. you know, the last three years, I’d say basically since the start of the pandemic have been a wild time.
You know, when we talked last time, we were in the throes of just that early phase, you know, with the, the kind of iterating lockdowns. and you know, to be honest, just operationally, super heads down, trying to, scale up, from the fulfillment standpoint, you know, manage all sorts of supply chain disruptions.
I remember I was looking back at the, at the podcast episode and, you know, we were already talking about like normalization and what’s the new normal gonna be. Like, it’s kinda hard to believe that we’re here two years later. And I think still kind of wondering what that new normal’s gonna be like. so, you know, to give you the update, like, you know, last two years have been really wild, you know, on the one hand, things have normalized in terms of kind of we’re past that, that lockdown era.
On the other hand, I think so many of the changes in the pandemic, are, you know, we’re seeing are, are gonna be very persistent. the, the two major secular bets that we’ve made are on, you know, people want to get healthier and live a more sustainable lifestyle on the one hand. We call kind of the conscious living revolution or conscious living movement.
And then people want to buy more of their products shop for more things like groceries online on the other hand. And we talked about this in the last episode, but both of those, you know, mega trends were just massively accelerated during the pandemic. And, and you know, I think that’s, that’s just continued, you know, while there’s been some degree of normalization, particularly on the eCommerce side, you know, because conscious living is still so Such a powerful shift that so many people are making in their lives. you know, we’ve seen that really continue to just be a massive tailwind for our business. So, you know, we are, we’re, we’re bigger and better and more operationally stable than we were two years ago. but also always looking ahead at, you know, this longer vision.
Another thing we talked about last time is just, you know, building this business from the beginning, with the long term in mind. And so you. It’s 20, 22. Now I’m I’m thinking about where do we want to be in and, and beyond. And you that last episode saying we’re just getting started. I still feel the same way access to households in the us.
And really even in terms of category, you know, coverage, there’s still a lot that we can do outside of food and beyond, beyond just dry food. And so we’re really excited to just keep the platform and robust one stop shop for our members.
Yeah. And to that point, like thinking about 20, 25, when did you start? When was the company started?
Yeah. So that’ll, we’ll celebrate our ten year anniversary at the end of 2024. we launched in November of 2014.
Yeah. I want to get the, the timing right there. Just for the point that like, I think initially it was like, And you can speak to this, but Hey, this is happening. A lot of people want it. Do they want it? How many people want it? How do we increase access to it? And now this, whether it’s conscious living or healthy lifestyle, or, you know, a lot of people it’s getting talked about now is like holistic wellness, right?
So mental, emotional, physical, all these things coming into one, being the hub for that. But also, you know, 10 years in the making to this point, and being able to capitalize on that with those trends, continuing to accelerate. Do you feel like there’s more of a, a, pool almost like going forward that momentum, that opportunity seeing that path versus at the onset.
Trying to have to convince people of it and find the channels where you’re gonna be able to grow and how you scale up influencers and scale up affiliates and all those things.
Can you just talk about maybe how that shift has happened, even accelerated with COVID now, but that feeling of like, yeah. Seeing where this can go and how big it can be.
Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s so much there. I can talk, talk to You look in the rear view mirror and, you know, hindsight is 2020 things always seem obvious in retrospect, but to your point, when we started this thing in 2014, you know, the conscious living movement was, you know, sort of a fringe like niche, kind of out there thing.
And it was beginning to go mainstream, but far from getting there. and, you know, a lot of that had to do with barriers to getting healthy, that we really wanted to change, you know, the first and foremost being just cost, right? Like, you know, the top retailer forever in the natural organic space have been Whole Foods commonly known at the time as Whole Paycheck.
And you know, also by the way, not within driving distance of about half of American families. So, you know, whether it was geography or it was price, or even just intimidation factor. I think so many people at that time, And frankly, outside of thrive still, I think have these challenges. But at that time, especially, it was very, very acute.
And as a result, I think a lot of people didn’t realize how much latent interest there was in, you know, in people starting to vote with their dollars and support more sustainable companies and align their purchases with their values and, you know, feed healthier food to their families. And, And I think to also to your point, like, people didn’t really understand at the time how intertwined all those things were, which I think is one of the big shifts since then. Like, I don’t think people saw healthy living and sustainable living as two sides of the same coin. I don’t think they saw physical health and mental health as to as related as they as they’re.
So, you know, going from 2014 when like, you know, we pitched. Call it a hundred VCs and got rejected by every single one of them, cuz they just didn’t think that, you know, middle class, middle American people wanted to get healthy to 2022. When, you know, when I say conscious living movement, people typically know what I’m talking about and they understand that, you know, food grown that’s healthier for the planet also tends to be healthier for humans.
People understand that mental health and physical health go hand in hand and you know, Eight years ago when a lot of that was sort of, you know, niche or fringe or BI coastal, or just people that were really educated or just people that had the, the household income to support it. Like today, a lot of this stuff is an aspiration for everyone, and I think it was back then too.
It just wasn’t accessible and thanks to, you know, platforms like ours, but also. Amazing, brands and amazing, content creators and incredible influencers. I mean, I can’t say by any means that Thrive Market has been, is, is the only part of it. But, but I think we’ve been a big part of it, and I’m really proud to have played a role in what now is definitively a movement, which now is holistic to your point, and beyond just like a narrow definition of, of health.
And what’s now becoming a lot more inclusive. No matter where you live, no matter what budget you’re on, no matter where you come from, you know, this lifestyle is becoming more accessible. So I think that we are still in the, you know, maybe not the first out of the first inning, but still the first inning. Truly, you know, if you rewind the clock a hundred years ago, literally every food item that people consumed by definition was organic right before the green revolution, before pesticides, before all of this, these changes as we industrialized our food system, you know, we literally, were in a hundred percent organic world, today, even after this, like movement has gotten going, we’re still less than 5%.
Right. And we are learning how key. You know, not even just organic practices, but even going a step beyond at this point now to regenerative practices are going to,
I think that’s gonna continue to crescendo. I think as more and more people become. Not just aware of the kind of facts around climate change, for example, but also the like experience, the reality of it. You know, if you’re in California today, when you see the forest fires and like, see the, the black clouds of smoke coming down on a seasonal basis, like, you know that this is happen.
And all those things, I think, I guess in that case kind of unfortunately, are gonna make people more and more attuned to the importance of this stuff. And so I’m, I’m really on the one hand, I think there’s more urgency than ever, you know, there’s more urgency on the sustainability side. There’s more urgency on the health side.
You know, we had an all company summit, this past week, got everyone from Thrive Market here, you know, in LA. For two days. And we were just looking together at the statistics around obesity and hypertension and type two diabetes just in the time since Thrive Market has launched. And, you know, well, we have well over a million numbers today who are eating healthy and doing some of this stuff.
You know, you look at the trend curves and like they haven’t come down. So I think the urgency is higher than ever, but yet I’m also more optimistic than I’ve ever been that, you know, people are really shifting and. You look at governments are starting to react to, but I don’t think governments are gonna act fast enough.
And so this is really gonna be a movement that I think can be led by business and by brands. most of all by consumers.
Yeah, you see all those things. And at one point or another, basically every conversation I’m having with founders and a lot of investors. Now and just people in the industry, it’s like, how do we meaningfully impact all these trends that we’re seeing? Because there people are becoming more aware of, you know, chronic disease and the importance of nutrition and physical activity.
And there’s obviously never been more access to all these things and technologies and solutions and wearables and, you know, platforms like yourself. And then we’re still. Kind of going backwards in terms of the, all the, the numbers, the statistics, the, numerous, crises that we’re we’re facing right now.
And it’s like continuing to face that and think about how thrive scales up. Coming from this summit. Is, are you walking away from that with like, you know, we have a sense of solutions. We have a, a roadmap for this or is it, is it more so just the fact that like, we feel like if we can continue to increase access and, and meet this demand and even untapped demand at this point, like we can shift things in a meaningful way.
Yeah. I mean, you, you hit on a bunch of stuff there, whether it’s like wearables, whether it’s the information or knowledge, just the awareness side. the way I think about it is the tools are all there. Right? And there’s so many more tools today than there were eight years ago, or even, You know, three or four years ago like that is and that’s, and there’s gonna be so many more in five years than there are today. but it’s about access. Right. It’s about how do we get more people that can, are aware that these tools are there, right. how do we get more people that can afford them? And then how do we, you know, create the, attitudinal shift where people start, you know, people are we’re Meetic we copy each other, you know, how do we get it to be more normalized?
We’re like, You know, the influencers we used to be talking about fashion and design are talking as much about healthy living and you’re already seeing that start to happen. Right. And, I remember back when we started, like, you know, the size of the the email list or the, you know, Instagram, following for a typical influencer.
Was an order or two orders of magnitude smaller than what we see today with some of our mega influencers And even the, you know, even the, channels, right. And the, the speed that an influencer can emerge on a channel like TikTok have, have totally transformed things. So, you know, I tend to think it’s about awareness and it’s about accessibility. you know, if we can play our part on that, by breaking down those barriers, making it easier, making it simpler, And be a, you know, really be like a, a, a portal, but maybe that’s not the right word, but like a facilitator right. To, to people’s healthy and sustainable lifestyles, you know, that’s where we want to be. And I think the good news as you mentioned is the attitudes are really shifting, like the conversations, all like it’s in the conversation everywhere and people are thinking about it. So I think, you know, where in 2014 it was kind of latent. Like now it’s there and we just gotta empower people to access all these tools.
And that’s a super exciting place to be, you know, like regenerative ag, for example, wasn’t even in the, you know, it was like an academic term right at that, at that, at that time, it wasn’t in the lexicon. I remember we, you know, we’re we do carbon neutral shipping, so we buy carbon offset to neutral, to fully neutralize our carbon footprint.
We also minimize that footprint by not shipping air ever. But that, that was stuff that we’ve done since 2014 and like our members for the most part, weren’t even aware of it. They didn’t, it’s not that they didn’t care. They just didn’t know what that even meant. And now, you know, they do. And like that’s as important to our members as free shipping is.
And, you know, we were like, we were having to explain what organic meant in, in two 14. Now our members are asking us what our, our regenerative options are. So that’s an exciting, exciting shift to be happen.
Yeah, it’s very cool to be in that position where you can help. You know, I think at one point is like, introducing organic and tapping these influencers and continuing that conversation, bringing products onto the platform and really just. Doing the hard work of curation for people. So it’s like, once you get there, you don’t have to think about it.
Like you can search for the things that, whether it’s diet or restrictions or all those things that you’re looking for. And you just have them introduce to you versus, you know, doing that on. Amazon or somewhere else where it’s like, or walking down the aisle at the grocery store where it’s just like endless and how do you not just pick the thing that you’ve eaten since you were a kid or, or, or, you know, whatever, or make that decision.
And now getting to the place where it’s like, introducing these things is one thing. But now being able to be ahead of those curves to say like you were mentioning, even in terms of how you tag things like. Even more ways to, to think about it even more, kind of categories to curate things into getting a ahead of that.
Do you get a sense from what people are searching or what they are obviously buying or looking for? Like, Hey, this is the next biggest trend. You talk about regenerative agriculture. You talk about whole 30 keto. Some of these things that have now moved into the mainstream. From the outside, looking in, you see a lot of stuff like low glycemic and blood sugar and all those sorts of things.
Are there, are there things that have started to bubble up now that you would kind of put in that category of having to re-explain what organic is? Like, what is that next term or kind of category that’s that’s emerging.
Yeah. So I want to answer that question, but first you’re hitting on something that’s really interesting. And it, on the face of it, it almost like contradicts what I was saying before. and it’s like a crazy change that’s shift happened over the last seven or eight years. And that’s, you know, we’ve actually gone from, I think a, a dearth of information and a dearth and like a lack of products to now, in some cases, the problem is actually having too much.
And like contradictory information and every product is making a health claim and every business and brand claims to be sustainable. And there’s this like rampant greenwashing, and, you know, for lack of a better word health washing that everyone is doing, and frankly can be really overwhelming. You know, I like one of the big motivators for me in starting Thrive Market.
The big motivator was my own childhood, you know, growing up in, in Minnesota. When the mom who was trying to get healthy at a time when, like there wasn’t, you know, the internet didn’t exist basically. And there wasn’t a lot of information out there. And like her biggest challenge was like, figuring out like what healthy meant and like doing her own research.
Now the biggest challenge actually is filtering through filtering through the noise and knowing like, what is actually healthy, what is actually sustainable. What’s real versus what’s just optics and. That’s where I think actually our role has become, like you said, it’s that curator. and, and that we’ve done since the beginning in terms of like the, you know, we have 5,000 products on site.
If you go into a typical grocery store on the categories that we carry, you’re gonna have 40,000 or 50,000 products. So, you know, we don’t wanna show people 30 almond butters. We wanna show them the five or seven that are gonna be the ones that are really high quality. The way we think about it is like, we’ll do the work for you so that you can outsource your trust to us.
And, and that actually is a way that we make it easier for our members while also aligning to our, to our values even more. I think the interesting opportunity we have in the future, and you kind of gotta got at this as well, like with all the data that we have and the fact that we’re online, we can one, not just curate to like the present demand, but see where that demand’s going over time.
So that we are curating out ahead of it and actually helping to push people in the direction of say regenerative, where like we can accelerate the movement to regenerative. If we’re tagging products that are regenerative organic, if we’re actually moving our own supply chains there. and then, you know, facilitating through technology, you know, when you go into a grocery store, if you wanna shop for regenerative items, like literally you’re gonna have to go and look at.
Look at the packaging for every single item that you’re, that you look at, at Thrive Market, you click a filter and it just filters right down for you. So it’s pretty cool to be able to not just enable people to do something, but actually accelerate the rate at which they do it. and, and accelerate the shift to these trends.
The other thing that’s really interesting, and. To answer your question. Yes. We can see these trends moving before they really start to crescendo. And we saw that with key. We saw that with whole 30 and we will always, once we we’ve seen the shape of that curve, we, you know, kinda watch the movie a few different times.
Now we can go proactively. And like when we see that happening, we’re out there talking to the newest, most innovative brands in each of those new dietary trends or each of those new sustainability trends. So, whether it’s like the shift towards plant based, recently, a huge focus on low sugar, no sugar, low glycemic, moving beyond sugar.
Alcohol is as the solution for that. I mean, there’s just so much cool stuff happening. And, you know, we try to be months, if not, you know, a year or more ahead of when you know, you’re gonna see any of this stuff in a typical grocery store. the other side of it, though, that’s super interesting is that I think more and, more people are realizing that, health. is personalized. and that what is healthy for one person, you know, like as people wear, for example, a continuous glucose monitor, you know, grapes can do something very different to one person’s blood sugar than to someone else’s. and is the case for many different types of food. so as people are more empowered with understandings of their, own health, their own biology, you know, their, even their own like genome and, and epigenome like that is going to also lead to, more kind of divergence in what demand different people are gonna have.
At the same time over kind of on the health of the planet, kind of health of our communities and world side. I think so many people also are really developing their own ideas around. Environmental sustainability or around social justice or different causes that they might care about. And that’s much, much more important, more central for a lot of people than it was, you know, seven or eight years ago.
And so it’s very interesting to think about personalization on that vector as well. So a huge opportunity that we see as to leverage this. Absolute like data trove that we have on every session that every member has ever done, to, you know, really create hyper personalized experiences. And that, that started back, you know, four or five years ago when we launched our onboarding quiz.
Just a few simple questions that allow us to tailor that aisle to each member. And it’s very powerful. Now though we can watch, you know, literally thousands of data points that are coming in terms of what content people engage with, what items they browse, what items they buy, what items they search for.
And all of that creates this like personalized aisle experience. and it’s, and it’s true for both their health goals, but then also for their values. So, you know, we have people that. Yeah, they want to get healthy, but what they really want to do also is support, female entrepreneurs or support, you know, bipo entrepreneurs, or, get items that have been sourced with, with direct trade models where it’s gone beyond just fair trade and really empowering, you know, farming and, and, agricultural communities, worldwide.
So that’s been pretty awesome to see. And I think as we look to the future, like that personalization. and customized dynamic to health and wellness and social values is gonna be a massive, massive trend. That’s just getting started.
Yeah, it’s huge. And it’s it’s you actually beat me to it on the personalization front, because in addition to this shift in holistic health and wellness and just prioritizing it, now, it being top of mind for so many people. The convenience factor, which I think you’re obviously hitting on that as well.
And then this, this personalization angle, you have to appeal to this consumer where they are, how they want these things, the, the different dietary restrictions or modifications that they’re making. And then this personalization, when it comes down to, you know, even beyond these categories, as you talked about it as well, like. Wearables or continuous tracking or integrating with their, health and fitness routine. Do you foresee a world in which you’re like, you’re actually integrating these things into the platform so that, based on my wearable data, based on my glucose monitor, there’s like a shopping list from Thrive Market that I’m just like click.
Yeah. These things are, are good to go and I can just place that order.
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I, I already kind of mentioned this before, but as a mission driven business, like the theme that ties everything together is we wanna make healthy and sustainable living easy and that, you know, that mission. It’s kind of ironic, but like, because our mission is so focused, it’s made our business model very flexible where like, if we need to build a retail platform, that’s what we started with.
We build retail platform. If we need to build a CPG brand, right. We’re now, you know, more than a hundred million brand in our own right annually, just on the Thrive Market brand. Like we build that. If we need to build a technology and a data platform to drive the personalization, like we become a tech and a data company.
If we need to build a media platform to help with education and storytelling and supply chain transparency, we build that. And so, you know, I see interfacing with the connected fitness, world and, bolting into the other tools that people are using to get healthy as just one more way that the business model will iterate and will become a different type of business because, you know, you don’t typically think of a retailer or a CPG brand or a mini company, or anyone doing that kind of tie.
But we absolutely will. And you know, we’ve already got some experience with, you know, not with integrating necessarily with a wearable, but like for example, with our influencers, we now allow them to create shopping lists, which they can share on the, on the site. And so we’ve got like, you know, Dr.
Mark Hymans, like specific shopping list for the PE diet. We’ve got a whole 30 shopping list that is curated by Melissa urban, the founder of whole 30. You know, we’ve got something focused on keto, that’s from mark. And so, you know, you can imagine, people creating shopping lists that are customized to them, which they can do today, but, you know, actually drawing directly off of their data, to automatically generate those shopping lists and be, you know, fully personalized.
So there’s, there’s a ton of really interesting directions that that can go. Which can, you know, integrate with like specific recipes that can cross categories. and they kind of, you know, eventually like drive data back also to their, to their wearables, to, interact in both directions.
So it’s, yeah, definitely a brave new world, still a way. Like, I think that that integration specifically is still weighs off, but absolutely one where if you check back in a few years, it’s gonna.
Yeah, but the point that, pursuing that path, there will be things that are earlier and there will be like that full blown integration later. But the idea behind the, the personalization tapping that the data that’s being created, seeing, and being, being able to, to guide people along that journey, I think is the main punchline there.
A couple other things I wanted to get your thoughts on as we, we get towards the end of the conversation, you know, it’s like the kind of enterprise channel has been huge for a lot of companies now, like getting into whether it’s corporate wellness or getting companies to play pay for this employer benefit.
And I should probably know, but you can kind of speak to if you guys are doing that or have plans to do that, but the, the step be beyond that is. How do we, you mentioned this earlier, like, Hey, it’s probably government is not going to solve this, but in any type of interfacing with healthcare, this, this idea of food is medicine.
Now starting to get a little bit more, play in terms of, can we subsidize this? Can, how do we increase that access beyond, you know, the consumers who are willing to buy it and find it and convert and become members? But just like from a food desert perspective, from a nutritional, dietary needs perspective, from a nourishment perspective, do you foresee being able to scale that in terms of subsidies, government, healthcare, employer, increasing access, and, and maybe just kind of reimagining this direct to consumer and expanding that, that definition of, of who’s paying for it and.
Yeah. mean super, super good questions. I think. We’re really fortunate that we’re still in the early innings of, you know, access in the, just the consumer market. you know, there’s more than a hundred million households out there, so we’re less than 1% penetrated call it on the American, you know, just like household population, just tons of upside there.
And, and I think that’s where we’re gonna stay laser focused because ultimately that’s who we serve. Right. It’s like we wanna get why not go directly to. People consumers like get that feedback loop where they’re giving us data that we can make use to make the experience better. They’re giving us, qualitative feedback that we can use to serve them better.
And they’re becoming real members of a community that, you know, is there for good. One of the really cool things today is we, we allow our members to donate a checkout. To subsidize the shopping budgets of our gives members. So we give free memberships to low income families, to teachers, to students, to first responders, to military veterans, and like that community where people are not only doing good for themselves and doing good for the planet, but also, you know, feel like they’re part of a movement and part of a group of people that, you know, they donated a rate that’s about five times typical donated checkout rates.
Like that’s super powerful. And I think that happens through building a consumer platform, a consumer. And we’re very early, still in that. So that’s where we focus that said, we know that a number of businesses actually used Thrive Market for snacks. we’ve had, and especially during the pandemic, as, as employers started kind of broaden their perspectives about what a benefit could be.
And as more, you know, more people, more employees were demanding or asking for, benefits that were related to health and wellness. We definitely had a lot of proactive reach outs. So, you know, opportunistically, we actually have done, deals with, partners, on the enterprise side. it’s not a, place that we’ve leaned in but I look at Costco and.like a huge portion of their business at this point is B2B.
So, you know, will we do it again? Absolutely. how do we sequence that and how do we prioritize it? I think we’ll, you know, we’ll see, but, but definitely see an opportunity there. I think on the like healthcare integration, you know, this is like a, as you sure know, it’s, it’s just like remarkably complex and convoluted and in some ways, very dysfunctional, world in terms of working with insurance providers and.
You know, employer funded healthcare and like all of the kinda, I think tangled web that is in that world. It’s not an area that we have expertise. what I do know, and what I followed is there are other businesses out there now. I started to do pretty interesting things to like, take that food as medicine model and, you know, work to get, insurance, health, health insurance providers to, to actually, cover food in the, same way that they would, look at prescriptions for, for a drug.
So I think that’s going to, that is gonna happen in some form over time. And I think right now there’s like pretty specific cases where. the effects of food or the effects of not eating certain foods are so acute for someone’s condition where they actually can, I think, make the dollars pen out, so to speak. but I, I think over time, like there’s gonna be more data and like the use cases will expand. I would love to be able to do that kinda integration. Cause it’s something we, you know, we truly believe is real. Like food is medicine and, we have a like among other things that are dysfunctional about our healthcare system it’s that it really is a sick care system.
Right. It’s responding after people have already really become really unhealthy. so what can we do? That’s preventative. On the government side. I think there is a huge opportunity now that didn’t exist a few years ago and that is to integrate with BT. So, you know, until very, very recently the S D a did not enable integrations for online use of food stamps. and so people that know, E B T. Snap is the, is the food stamps program. There are tens of millions of Americans, American families that are on food stamps. Something like 25% of us kids in the us are in households that use food stamps. So it is a huge program. It’s a lot of dollars. It’s a lot of people and it’s our most like vulnerable, people who in many cases are those that are dealing with a lot of these, these lifestyle diseases.
Most acutely. So, you know, from a mission standpoint, we think that is a massive opportunity. And, you know, without making any announcements here, I’ll say it’s very, very, and putting resources, the spear.
Yeah, it’s super smart and exciting to hear that. Even looking into that and, you know, worth mentioning down that path, the, the EBT snap dollars. The vast majority of that is being spent on highly processed, like not super nutritious foods, that there’s really not a whole lot of access, right. That, or, or education around, introducing more holistic or healthy options there.
So it’s a massive opportunity, as you said,
It’s totally crazy that until recently you could go to like the convenience store. right. And buy orange soda, you know, on your, with your food stamps, but you can’t get healthy food online and that is gonna change or it’s changing. You can now technically use food stamps online. It’s still a huge process to get licensed, to do it. but it’s gonna be well worth it. and I hope that that’s a shift that can, that can dramatically alter the food desert L.
Yeah. we’ll definitely, we’ll be following along as, make some headway down that path. And just in general, I think there’s some interesting things happening there. yeah. And wrapping up, I feel like we could continue to, to run through some of the trends and opportunities, for quite a while, but just kinda being mindful of the time.
Like, you know, you talked about, I. Maybe it was in the last episode, or maybe I read this somewhere that it was, you know, you wanting to be in it for the long term, building a multi kind of generational brand, certainly being mission driven. There was talk at, at one point, maybe looking at going public, obviously now, like super uncertain economic environment, but just in general, in terms of Growth and financing and looking at all the opportunities that are in front of you and looking at the economic environment, what does that growth roadmap look like? And, you know, without just totally speculating into the future, what does that look like? Maybe even in the, the near term, over the next year or so to continue to make that progress on this path, as you talk to it, like.1% penetration rate all the opportunities down, all these different channels and, and wanting to make this impact, for what you’re able or comfortable to share, maybe. What does that look like?
Yeah. I mean, without getting into too many specifics, what I can say is we, you know, we’re still so, so early. and we have oriented ourselves long term since the very beginning of the business. and part of building a business for the long term Is building a business that can sustain all different market conditions, right?
And if you’re a company that needs to raise money every 12 months in order to maintain operations, you don’t have a path to getting profitable or you don’t have a, the levers to move yourself to self-sufficiency quickly. you can run into trouble. And I think we’ve seen that in the last, nine months or so. the public markets obviously, tightened up, I P O market is pretty much closed. You’ve got the private markets now. I think, you know, huge sort of bid ask spread. That’s preventing a lot of deals from happening. I think, you know, there’s a lot of companies now that are gonna have to go to the fundraising trough, even though they’re gonna have to take big discounts to do it.
And you’re seeing. You know, all over the, in the tech industry, but you know, also with, with like food, food delivery, specifically, a lot of these companies that are having to do major rifts and like really change their cost structure. Cause they’re not set up to survive without continual cash infusions.
So we are really fortunate to build our business in a different way. And it starts with the membership model, which gives us a much stronger profitability profile than a typical grocery business. it also gives us more predictability. we have best in class renewal rates that like.
Compound And get, get higher every year. and we’ve also been very frugal just in the way that we’ve built the business. So, you know, we’re fortunate to be in a position now where we don’t have to raise outside funds. Our balance sheet is very strong. We can be opportunistic when the time is right, whatever that, you know, whatever that looks like.
But for right now, we can be very heads down. and in many ways, be the beneficiary of one, all the venture dollars that, that other companies have poured into trying to figure out, different categories or faster delivery models or whatever. Like, you know, we were a lot more frugal, but now we can hire away people that are leaving some of those places.
And you know, we’ve we’ve basically used this time to, to go more heads down in the business and look, look at our business with with a real, you know, additional scrutiny. but unlike a lot of other companies, we’re not having to take those drastic actions because we’ve sort of been doing the tough work to build the sustainable business, you know, not just environmentally sustainable, but actually financially sustainable business from day one.
So, I don’t wanna say we don’t think about the markets or we don’t think about how tough the environment is out there. We definitely do. And I think if a recession comes, it’s gonna be tough on consumers, but you know, we’ve always known our business model. Like with the savings we provide to our members, you know, even in an inflationary environment, in a. recessionary environment, like it actually, the value we deliver to our members becomes better.
And because we built the business model so we can stay their own two feet, it gives us a lot of freedom. Just go heads down and keep doing our thing. When a lot of companies are having to having to flounder a bit.
Yeah, I appreciate the insight there. A very thoughtful, level-headed, and pragmatic approach to not only where things are, but how you continue to, as you put it, get through the later innings of where this journey goes, and how you continue to help people adhere to that mission.
I appreciate that insight and making time today to chat with us.
For folks who aren’t members or haven’t checked it out, is ThriveMarket.com where you’d point them and the best place to get started?
Yeah, go to ThriveMarket.com. When you sign up for a new membership you get $60 of free groceries in a huge first order gift. It’s definitely a nice little carrot to dangle if you’re deciding whether you want to get over the hump. We would love to have more people in the community, so listeners, come on board.
Awesome. I hope everybody does check it out.
Nick, thanks again for joining us today.
Cool. Thanks, Joe.