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42. Blue Apron

What's for dinner

Founders: Matt Salzberg (CEO), Ilia Papas, Matthew Wadiak
Launched: 2012
Funding: $193 million
Valuation: $2 billion (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Food and beverage, e-commerce, delivery
Rival: HelloFresh, Plated

George Kavallines

Here's a fact to chew on: The U.S. meal-kit delivery service is projected to be a multibillion-dollar market over the next three years, up from $1.5 billion in 2016, according to research firm Packaged Facts. Among the top three companies in this space is Blue Apron, a New York City-based firm started in 2012. Ranging in price from $59.94 (three recipes per week serving two people) to bigger family plans, starting at $69.92 (two recipes per week serving four people), the company is now valued at roughly $2 billion and sells 8 million meal kits (ingredients and recipes) per month.

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Co-founder Matthew Wadiak is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who grew up watching cooking shows. Salzberg was a venture capitalist with a Harvard MBA, and Papas, an engineer by training, had worked as a consultant to Wal-mart. They came together with the idea of starting a food-delivery service that used farm-fresh ingredients so that home cooks could make easy, healthy meals. The company also sells wines that pair with the meals featured each week. A monthly delivery of six bottles (three reds, three whites) is $65.99 per month or customers can order one for $10 a bottle.

Though the meal-kit delivery space is crowded — Plated and HelloFresh are two of the other big players — investors like the niche Blue Apron has carved out for itself.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that the company had hired investment bankers at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup to lead its IPO slated for this fall. The company won't confirm the report, but given that Fidelity and Bessemer Venture Partners, among others, have invested nearly $200 million in the company so far, the idea isn't that far-fetched.

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