- Shotput, an Oakland, California-based grocery startup, hopes to leverage supply chain technology to bring healthy food to people who need it throughout the city, according to a company release and an email statement from CEO Praful Mathur.
- Mathur, who ran a logistics and supply chain company, has formed partnerships with meal delivery platforms including UberEATS, Postmares and Caviar to deliver convenient-store type perishable groceries to people. According to the release, the service has grown 30% week-over-week.
- Starting next month, Shotput plans to set up pick-up points at convenient locations, such as train stations or parting lots, for customers to get their groceries during their commutes. The final step in the plan is to set up automated grocery stores in areas like office parks and parking lots, making groceries more convenient. According to the statement, Shotput is hoping these prices will be 30% lower than conventional groceries. It is targeting the stores' open date for the end of this year.
Many startups began with plans to reduce food deserts and revolutionize grocery delivery. Food deserts are defined as places where people do not have easy access to a supermarket or large grocery store. Different retailers and groups have tried novel solutions to solve the problem, from mobile groceries in trucks to ridesharing services to go to supermarkets and aid programs helping to launch new stores.
Shotput represents a new kind of initiative. The startup has funding from Y Combinator and is working on developing a lean, robotic supply chain. According to the press release, the company is working on traceable and programmable robotic shipping containers. Mathur, who once worked with beverage companies like Red Bull, said he is focusing his company on that space because large manufacturers generally only deliver to retailers. Shotput has a robust distribution framework, which Mathur said can be scaled nationwide.
But the big question: Will it work? While automating customizable orders and distribution of food to convenient locations can help, perishables have a short window for the delivery to take place. If a customer is held up at work or in traffic, would Shotput have a way to keep groceries at a pickup location like a parking lot cold and unspoiled? The current lineup of products also focuses on trendy, better-for-you options. While these products are healthy, it's unclear if someone who lives in an area without access to a grocery store would use a service to order a product like kombucha, even if it is convenient and relatively inexpensive.