By adaptive - October 12th, 2015

Sprig promises to deliver delicious meals and an experience that not only creates repeat customers, but also generates new ones through word of mouth.

Open Mobile’s Robert Gray talked with Angela Wise, head of product at Sprig, discussing the science of preparing and getting organic meals to customers in San Francisco and now Chicago in just 15 minutes with three touches of a smartphone.

OMM: You joined Sprig from Uber. How are you applying your skills from ride sharing to food preparation and delivery?
I came in to drive up operational efficiency.
I joined Sprig to set up an operational model for scale. Doing that requires a good amount of tech owearn the back end and data science; I did that at Uber as well.
Sprig is a very different challenge from Uber because there’s a basket of goods. We have drivers on the road, but the stakes are higher because there’s food. At Uber, the opportunity cost of sending a driver out is just the driver’s time. Uber has offloaded the risk to the drivers themselves. For us, we make food, if it doesn’t get sold there’s waste and that’s cost. A lot of what we do is quite different from Uber.
If you order a car, you don’t care if one Prius is delivered versus another one. Food is not a commodity, at least not the food we deliver. The operational and logistical challenges are quite different and more nuanced and the risks are higher because there’s real cost if you don’t do it right.
Hot food is even more of a challenge, that’s how we’re different from our competitors. For customers, convenience is a huge part of the value proposition but certainly the quality of food--and hot food--is an operational challenge.

OMM: Aside from making sure the food arrives on time and doesn’t perish in traffic, what else do you do as head of product?
A little like with Uber, what you see in the app is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to it; creating food well at scale is a big challenge. We’ve been starting to get into the kitchen with technology and figuring out how to make the kitchen more efficient. One thing we do is have a daily rotating menu.
Our menus are quite curated, changing those day-to-day is important to customers. Doing that without losing money is quite difficult.
A restaurant can perfect the process with making that dish over time. Creating technology that lets our kitchen change up what we make without waste or inefficiency has become a focus for the team. The other thing we’re working on is communicating the story of our food in the app. In the re-release you can see where all the ingredients in our food is sourced. We have incredible transparency into what goes into our food.
The info you see in the app is pulled from the kitchen. The customer is really seeing real-time data, what’s going into the food, where it’s coming from, the macro nutritional values. The ingredient and sourcing story is unique and a huge focus of the customer side.
It’s so unique and something we are passionate about. We want to make the food industry better.
The kitchen technology side is new to me but there’s a lot of value we can add from the operational side. Exposing the magic of what happens in the kitchen to customers is important.

OMM: With the app market more crowded than ever, how has Sprig broken through?

Wise: Our growth has been entirely organic and driven by word of mouth. Food is really social and the reason we’ve changed the way our app looks is so customers can help us tell our story better than we do, to make it clear why this experience is differentiated. I think the right way for us to grow is to have a service that people know and love. That’s what we’re trying to do. What we find, our customers value the health and convenience aspect. There aren’t really other services that fill those needs simultaneously.

OMM: Equally, how do you feel your mobile product has aided your growth?
I think operationally we’re constrained in how many meals we can deliver. We can’t have a huge assortment and deliver at the speed we do. The simple design is aided by mobile. Because I have a device in hand, personalized to me, and I have a super simple menu, four to five items, I can order Sprig over the course of 20 seconds with three taps. That wouldn’t have been possible on desktop. The friction between ‘I’m hungry’ and having Sprig on the way is so low because we’re mobile first. That’s why we’re always going to invest in mobile first. It’s the most frictionless way of connecting the customer with what they want with minimal effort.
Our experience is optimized for mobile, it feels like something that should be done on mobile. It will always be a mobile-first experience.

For all the latest mobile trends, check out The Open Mobile Summit 2015 on November, 9-10, San Francisco.

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