Featured: Co-Founders of Movebutter. Left: Chai Mishra, CEO; Right: Sebastien Werz, CPO
Former Haas Berkeley students Chai Mishra and Sebastian Werz are determined to transform the way San Franciscans buy groceries. Proud, self-proclaimed “milkmen of the future”, rather than run-of-the-‘bay’ tech moguls, Mishra, CEO and Werz, CPO, are co-founders of Movebutter (2015), a service that provides fresh, customized, high quality and personalized groceries direct from farmers and producers to their members-only food club. With maximum efficiency, zero-waste, and a commitment to giving back to the community, Mishra and Werz are working to change the culture of food marketing. I spoke with Werz about the unique Movebutter brand, his time at Cal, and the contents of his fridge.
“Getting food should be as exciting as consuming it.” Now that’s a philosophy we can all get behind. Werz enthusiastically described Movebutter’s positioning as the first “direct to consumer food brand,” which gives each customer an entirely personalized experience that even includes their names on packing labels. Mishra worked with a farm-to-table coffee company in Germany and his experience inspired him to reach out to Werz to start Movebutter, initially delivering groceries to students in Berkeley which developed into its current closed-membership stage of high quality, customized farm-to-table products to foodies in San Francisco. Movebutter has been funded by some of the greatest investors in Silicon Valley, including Y Combinator, Kima Ventures, and The House Found, to take on the multi-trillion dollar US food market. Customers have also been enthusiastic about the service, using Movebutter for their entire shopping lists. 100% of its users, mostly young professionals, have placed multiple orders through the service. Their special requests are displayed as recommendations on the merchandise homepage which also features such esoteric options as duck eggs and cold cured salmon.
Werz, proud of the Movebutter’s recent move into its new San Francisco office, is optimistic about their growing operations and ability to keep up with demand. With increasing daily orders, Movebutter is satisfying a hole left by our “broken” food systems. “Supermarkets are in the business of blurring the story behind our food” and are extremely wasteful with regard to quantity, cost, and resources, Werz explained. He and Mishra want to cut out the supermarket middleman that increases costs for the consumer and undercuts the farmers and suppliers just to maximize profits. Movebutter prioritizes conscious coordination, purchase, and consumption of food – no waste, ever.
Maximum utility with zero-waste is taken very seriously at Movebutter. When he can get his hands on a jar, Werz savors their creamy, crunchy peanut butter, but most days he’s too busy managing product goals, designing the next improvement, and working with customer feedback. Ironically sipping Soylent instead of tall, cool glasses of almond milk from Modesto, CA, Werz and Mishra work tirelessly until the “product is at least 20% better than it was the day before.” Quick success and plans to expand to all of San Francisco within the next year mean no distractions, just hard work, motivated by a sincere passion to change the way we interact with our food.
In Movebutter’s first year, Werz had to balance the rigors of Haas studies with the excitement and challenges of launching a new business. The company wound up taking 70% of his time. He knew “people relied on [them] for groceries” and was committed to providing the best experience possible for the customer. Learning about the experiences of his Haas classmates helped him “get better at putting [himself] in someone else’s shoes, which translated to a better understanding of the way [his] customers feel and think.” He is fully dedicated to improvement and innovation.
Werz agreed he was positively influenced by his time at Haas. He characterized his defining principle as “question the status quo,” evident by his “strong interest in taking something completely traditional, tearing it apart into a million pieces, and putting it back together as something completely new and better.” As an enthusiastic entrepreneur, inspired by the idea that “no one can stop you,” because you’re “only limited by [your own] drive and imagination,” he encourages aspiring businesspeople to prioritize a strong co-founding team. The key, he says, is finding people who share the same dedication and determination. He insists that with a solid foundation “it won’t matter how many times the idea changes or how many times you fail if you have a team that keeps moving.”
As a co-founder, CPO, and Haas graduate, Werz is looking forward to an exciting future with Movebutter. There is pride in every label, every photograph, and every delivery (each of which is personally delivered by either Werz or Mishra). They are dedicated to giving their customers the ultimate, customized, freshest marketing experience, even if that involves transporting a live octopus (their most unusual delivery to date).
You can drool over the delicious featured food selections here: movebutter.com. If you’re lucky enough to live in San Francisco, their full-time launch is coming soon!
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