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Meal delivery start-up Blue Apron files to go public, revenue grew 10x between 2014 and 2016

  • The company lists public health crises and federal food production regulation among its risk factors.
  • Blue Apron operates three leased fulfillment centers and is building out more of them.
  • Supermarkets are cited in discussion of the competition.

Blue Apron, a company that delivers ingredients for meals people can cook at home, on Thursday submitted a filing kicking off the process to go public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), under the symbol APRN. The company aims to raise $100 million although it could raise more in the deal.

Typical of venture-backed start-ups filing to go public, Blue Apron is seeing rapidly expanding revenues: net revenue grew more than 10 times between 2014 ($77 million) and 2016 ($795 million). But its losses are also growing rapidly: It lost nearly as much money in the first quarter of 2017 ($52 million, on quarterly revenue of $244 million) as it did in all of 2016 (when it lost $55 million on $795 million in revenue).

Based in New York, Blue Apron had more than 5,200 employees at the end of March, according to the filing. The company also claims more than 1.03 million customers at the end of March, up from 879,000 at the end of last year.

Emily Griffin reads a recipe for a Blue Apron meal while unpacking her box at her Lisbon Falls home on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
Derek Davis | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images
Emily Griffin reads a recipe for a Blue Apron meal while unpacking her box at her Lisbon Falls home on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.

The company faced competition from other food delivery companies. But one of those companies, Sprig, shut down earlier this week. Spoonrocket shut down last year. Other competitors include Hello Fresh and Plated.

Blue Apron's app for iOS and the web lets end users customize the meals that are boxed up and delivered to them each week. But other than that, much of the company's activity lies in food and logistics. Blue Apron has developed its own fulfillment center infrastructure, for instance.

The company cited FDA regulation, ingredient sourcing, perishable food storage, changes in food costs, public health issues and the potential for consumer tastes among its risk factors. Supermarkets themselves present competition to Blue Apron as well.

Blue Apron's venture investors include First Round Capital, SG Growth Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. Lead underwriters for the filing include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Barclays.