The online bulk delivery start-up Boxed is attracting lots of attention from big retail.
As one of Boxed's earliest investors, the founder of venture capital firm Greycroft told CNBC he's not surprised by the heightened interest in the privately held company. In just three years Boxed went from $40,000 in sales to more than $100 million annually. Based on its latest funding round, Boxed is valued at around $470 million.
"Everyone in retail is talking to everybody else, because today's biggest business story is who wins in this massive retail transition online," Greycroft founder Alan Patricof told CNBC.
Case in point, grocery giant Kroger recently made an offer to buy Boxed, but no deal was reached, a source close to the situation told CNBC. The source, who would not reveal Kroger's bid price, also said the two companies are no longer talking. Earlier this month, there were reports that Kroger had submitted a bid for Boxed for as much as $500 million.
Entrepreneur Chieh Huang, the 36-year-old Taiwanese-American who co-founded Boxed in 2013, refused to comment directly on Kroger, but he did tell CNBC he's keeping his options open.
"Without naming actual names, we have had conversations with just about every retailer under the sun," Huang said. "International and domestic: some more serious than others."
Boxed, often dubbed the "Costco for millennials," sells and delivers a range of goods including sparkling water, chips, cookies and toilet paper in bulk — without the membership fee required to shop at other warehouse retailers.
Along with the big products, Boxed also offers big savings. It sells a 28-ounce bottle of Sriracha hot sauce for $2.99, half what shoppers might pay at a traditional retailer. The spicy condiment is one of more than 1,000 products available for sale on the Boxed platform.