Q&A with Mike Xu, Cofounder of Grubmarket

by Y Combinator10/17/2018

We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Mike Xu, Cofounder of Grubmarket, one of the companies featured on the list.

What does GrubMarket make/do?

GrubMarket is America’s fastest-growing online farmers’ market to offer fresh wholesome food directly sourced from farmers and other food producers, to tens of thousands of business customers and individual consumers across California and the West Coast, with affordable prices, high quality and convenient deliveries.

How many employees does GrubMarket have?

152 employees

How many founders?


What is your most impressive recent product milestone?

While our headquarters is in San Francisco, our monthly revenues in Los Angeles recently surpassed the monthly revenues of the entire company in 2016, and our Los Angeles business remained profitable as well as other operating regions of the company.

What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?

A fundamental disruption to a slow-evolving farm-to-table space in the size of over 9 trillion dollars. For hundreds of years (if not thousands of years), farm produce in U.S. and world wide have to be always sold indirectly from farmers to end customers (business and individual) via many layers of middle-man. By cutting the middle man and shortening the food distribution channel with power of eCommerce platform and software technologies, end B2B and B2C customers can get fresher quality of produce with much more affordable prices, and farmers can potentially earn more money.

What’s an interesting element of GrubMarket’s company culture?

Flat structure, everyone rolls up sleeves to do it. Hard-working but rewarding, result-oriented, and financial discipline for profitability.

Looking back, what motivated you to start GrubMarket?

Addressing a great market space of a trillion dollars with under 1% serviced by eCommerce, brings great potential of building a great eCommerce company that can make over $100 billion annual sales, and disrupting one of the greatest but slowest-evolving market/industry spaces (farm-to-table), and benefiting millions of farmers nationwide and worldwide.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?

We stick to the original idea that both direct-to-consumer and direct-to-business are two indispensable means of selling and distributing farm produce.

Were there moments where you thought the company might die? Describe one of those and anything you learned from it.

In 2016 we spent a sizable amount of money in acquisition, and the company was not profitable at that time. So before we closed Series B, we barely have enough money in the bank. But we closed Series B in time. And from then on, we learned to make the company profitable and we became very conservative in maintaining cash flow, avoiding over-aggressive spending in acquisitions.

What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?

Ability of making profitability determines how great the companies in this market can be at the end. Valuations by VCs for the time being do not matter as long as founders don’t want to sell the companies in the middle of journey.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?

Go all in your companies with whatever you have, learn fast, and keep the faith of building a great company that no one can believe now.


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