Watch out, Amazon Fresh: a new competitor is heading into town.
Instacart, the grocery delivery service that leverages the ‘sharing economy,’ is looking to expand to Seattle, according to a new posting on GeekWork, GeekWire’s job site.
It’s a big step for Instacart, which has seen explosive growth since the company launched in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is looking to hire a pair of City Managers to handle operations and growth for the company’s service in the Emerald City.
The company was founded by Apoorva Mehta, a former software design engineer from Amazon’s Fulfillment Optimization division. But it doesn’t use big trucks and massive warehouses to deliver groceries to their customers. Instacart relies on “personal shoppers” – contractors armed with special training and a smartphone app – to pick up deliveries from local grocery stores like Safeway, Costco and Whole Foods and deliver them to a user’s door.
Mehta says that gives Instacart a serious advantage over services like Amazon Fresh: users can order their favorite foods from the store they prefer, rather than having to rely on a single warehouse to have what they want. It’s also a boon for Instacart, which can rapidly launch new cities with minimal set-up, since the company doesn’t need a large warehouse and delivery trucks.
“When you think about the old conventional model, which are like the Amazon Freshes of the world, they require infrastructure,” Mehta told GeekWire in an interview last year. “They require the fact that you have to have a warehouse and a fleet of trucks in all the zones that they go to. For us, it literally doesn’t require any infrastructure. We can launch new cities within days.”
Last year, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta told GeekWire that he planned to expand the company to 10 new cities outside the Bay Area by the end of 2014. Last month, the company started operating in New York City, and users can also get Instacart deliveries in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Washington DC. Instacart has similar City Manager jobs open for an Austin expansion as well.
Amazon Fresh started in Seattle and has since expanded to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
TechCrunch reports that the company is looking to raise another round of investment that could value the company at $400 million to fuel further expansion. Last year, the company raised an $8.5 million round led by Sequoia Capital, which put Michael Moritz on Instacart’s board.
Instacart is nothing if not audacious. Mehta landed a coveted spot in Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator startup incubator after missing the application deadline by sending Garry Tan, one of the partners at the incubator, a six-pack of beer using Instacart.
Instacart representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.