50. Instacart

Groceries on demand

Founders: Apoorva Mehta, Brandon Leonardo, Max Mullen
Launched: 2012
Funding: $275 million
Valuation: $2 billion
Disrupting: Supermarkets, grocery stores
Rival: Amazon Fresh

Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart
Source: Instacart
Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart

Instacart, the internet-based grocery delivery service, is changing the way folks shop for food. The company was started in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, a former engineer at Amazon. Consumers can scroll the aisles of a store in their neighborhood, add fresh produce and other items and get their orders delivered in an hour or less. It makes money from delivery fees — they average around $5.99 an order but can vary depending on the size of the order and time of day — as well as charging customers slightly more than retail prices at some of the stores it partners with.


Instacart isn't the first online grocery delivery service — Webvan Group was in this space and ran through nearly $800 million in cash before it ceased operating in 2001 — but Instacart company claims its strategy is more sustainable. That's because Instacart doesn't own inventory or warehouses. Rather, it partners with retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, Costco, and Zabar's and uses couriers to shop for and deliver the grocery orders that customers place via their computer or mobile phone.

"[Instacart] was a product that I desperately needed myself. I really don’t like going to the grocery store and also never had time to stop." -Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO

The company operates in 22 markets across the country and believes there's still plenty of room for growth in the $1 trillion grocery market. Venture capital investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Khosla Ventures, have invested more than $140 million in the company so far, giving it a nearly $2 billion valuation.

Disclosure: Comcast Ventures, the investment arm of Comcast, CNBC's parent company, is an investor in Instacart.

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