Delivering Success with Apoorva Mehta of Instacart at Disrupt SF | Summary and Q&A

September 14, 2016
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Delivering Success with Apoorva Mehta of Instacart at Disrupt SF

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In this video, the founder of Instacart, Apoorva Mehta, is interviewed about the success and challenges of the online grocery delivery company. He discusses the growth of Instacart, with 26 markets in the US and 500% revenue growth in the past year. Mehta emphasizes the high level of customer engagement and the importance of repeat customers, particularly those who subscribe to the Instacart Express program. He also addresses the challenges faced by on-demand economy companies, the unique revenue sources for Instacart, and the company's goal of becoming profitable in the next 12 months. Mehta tackles questions about wage cuts for shoppers, layoffs, partnerships with retailers like Whole Foods, and competition in the industry. He highlights the deep focus on groceries as a key differentiator for Instacart and emphasizes that the company is committed to being an independent entity.

Questions & Answers

Q: Was Instacart a backup plan after the founder's failed startups?

Instacart was never intended to be a backup plan, but rather the main product that the founder, Apoorva Mehta, had in mind all along. He had started several unsuccessful companies before Instacart, but none of them had the same traction or customer engagement as Instacart. Mehta started Instacart with the belief that it would work, and the results today prove that he was right.

Q: How much revenue comes from repeat customers?

Approximately 90% of Instacart's customers are repeat customers. Instacart Express customers, in particular, spend an average of $500 per month on Instacart, as they rely on the service for all their grocery shopping needs. This loyalty and repeat business demonstrate the strong customer engagement that Instacart has achieved.

Q: What sets Instacart apart from other on-demand economy companies?

Instacart has multiple sources of revenue, unlike many other on-demand economy companies. While most companies rely solely on customer payments or merchant fees, Instacart has partnerships with hundreds of retailers in the US and collaborates with various consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies for product promotion. This multi-dimensional revenue model, combined with strong unit economics, makes Instacart stand out in the on-demand economy.

Q: Can Instacart survive without the Whole Foods partnership?

Instacart works with over a hundred grocery retailers, and while the partnership with Whole Foods is significant, it is not the sole driver of Instacart's revenue. The biggest source of volume varies by market, and overall, the selection available on Instacart is not limited to a single retailer. Instacart's goal is to offer customers the grocery selection they want, regardless of the specific partnerships in place.

Q: How does Instacart address the divide between corporate employees and on-ground workers?

Instacart ensures that shoppers, who are on-ground workers, are compensated fairly for their work. Efforts are made to improve the efficiency of picking and delivering groceries, allowing shoppers to complete more orders and increase their earnings. Instacart also focuses on diversity and has implemented unconscious bias training. They continuously evaluate their hiring processes to ensure fairness, and initiatives like employee resource groups and mentorship programs are in place to make Instacart a great place to work for all employees.

Q: Is Instacart going to sell to Whole Foods?

Instacart is committed to being an independent company and working with multiple grocery retailers. Selling to a grocery store, even one as prominent as Whole Foods, does not align with Instacart's goals and vision. Their focus is on becoming the category leader in online grocery delivery and continuing to provide excellent service to their customers.


Instacart has experienced significant growth and success in the online grocery delivery market. Their strong customer engagement, multi-dimensional revenue model, focus on groceries, and commitment to being an independent company set them apart from competitors. With efforts to support and compensate workers fairly, as well as initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, Instacart is striving to be a leading example for startups in Silicon Valley.

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