We all care a lot more about supply chains these days. Whether it’s for strawberries from Mexico or milk from the Midwest, we now realize that if the process for sourcing, packaging and transporting those products is broken, they won’t make it into our supermarkets.
Putting coronavirus aside for a moment — tough ask, I know — one of the most essential items humans have always needed ready access to is fresh food. And someone who has spent much of her career mastering and innovating on the food supply chain is entrepreneur Na’ama Moran.
Her dedication stems from her years growing up with a family of farmers and small-business owners in Israel. Those are the roots from which her company Cheetah came to fruition. Since 2015, Cheetah has kept local restaurants, cafes, bars and other small foodservice operations stocked up through a digital platform that offers fast, reliable deliveries and transparent pricing.
Of course, that part of Cheetah’s business has been dramatically impacted by the lockdown here in the San Francisco Bay Area. But what hasn’t changed is that people still need fresh food, drinks and other essential supplies like cleaning products. So the team at Cheetah found a way to give consumers access to its inventory of these very items, which it had built up for local eateries.
You know what else Cheetah already had in hand? An easy-to-use app for browsing its full inventory, placing an order and scheduling next-day delivery. The app — which has improved the lives of restaurant staff who used to order supplies by phone and fax — worked just as well for everyday shoppers who either couldn’t find the items they needed or feared entering a crowded supermarket during a pandemic.
Then, there’s Cheetah’s fleet of refrigerated trucks branded bright orange, built to deliver perishables in bulk throughout the region. Now, those trucks are stationed in designated spots around the Bay Area, where people who ordered through the app can drive up, pop their trunk and have their items loaded in one safe and touch-free swoop.
The technology, the transport and the product inventory — Cheetah’s vertical integration of every step in the food supply chain is what gives them the control and agility to expand the seamless experience they created for restaurants to consumers like you and me. Although Amazon encompasses all of ecommerce, this San Francisco-based company is fundamentally structured the same way.
Whether in the context of B2B or B2C, it’s hard to beat a bold full-stack approach.
And Cheetah doesn’t just check all the boxes when it comes to being “full stack.” In each of those areas, the company has improved on the status quo with true innovations:
- Its technology enables everything from inventory optimization and demand planning to determining last-mile deliveries. Cheetah has essentially built a mobile logistics platform that allows anyone to walk into a virtual warehouse with their fingertips and have their orders brought to their neighborhood.
- In terms of transport innovation, the proprietary temperature-controlled containers Cheetah has developed promise to be a supply-chain breakthrough. And as Na’ama described it recently on television, her company basically invented a new concept: “the first contactless, drive-through pick up.”
- As for product, Cheetah sets itself apart in the grocery-buying market in two ways: by offering value prices at wholesale levels, while still being able to deliver specialty products — leveraging the network of vendors and growers it formed to serve its primary customers in the foodservice industry.
Ultimately, though, without talented and passionate individuals to lead and execute, you have nothing. Fortunately, Cheetah has all the right people in place: From the customer-service agents wearing face masks and verifying orders at pick-up locations, to the CEO herself loading boxes alongside them, this team is meeting the immensity of this moment with equal measures of grit and agility.
That’s why we continue to believe in Na’ama and Cheetah. As she stated recently in the company’s announcement of the $36 million Series B round that we led, the funding will allow them to build on their strong foundation and expand essential services directly to the consumer.
“Now, we can provide even more people with the food and supplies they need in a safe and cost-effective way, throughout this crisis and beyond,” she says. “Our purpose has always been to help independent restaurants thrive. Now we are helping communities thrive.”
Forgive the mixed-animal metaphor, but that perseverance is why we’re so bullish on Cheetah.