- Back at the Berlin café, as Richter and I finish our salads, I ask him how the company plans to become profitable by the end of the year--he's promised as much to the public markets.
He locks eyes with me and gets an edge in his voice. "We have a lot of experience with starting markets and then basically driving them to profitability over time," he says. The company has never publicly detailed any profitable operation, either globally or in individual markets.
"We're in over 10 markets right now, and a bunch of markets are already profitable," he says, but won't specify which ones. "Basically, over the course of the year, almost all of the markets will have turned profitable. Hence, we will also be profitable." As he talks, he keeps holding my eyes until I blink and look away. But he doesn't elaborate further.
Richter has the tunnel vision of an athlete, who--like his original benefactor--is willing to accept only one outcome: winning. His early investors doubted HelloFresh had a future, so Richter found new ones--and then got the original to invest millions of dollars more. Now, Richter, sitting with a reporter at lunch, is setting down the truth of his company the way he sees it, regardless of how the crude math works. During his time as an entrepreneur, the world has submitted to his will, and he will do everything in his power to ensure it continues to do so.
At 2 o'clock sharp, he excuses himself. "I actually have another appointment," he says. A few minutes later, back at the office, I walk by and notice he's upstairs, sitting alone in his glass box, typing intently on his laptop.
Worthy of note: Blue Apron has raised $199m, went public June 2017 and proceeded to make its meal kits scant and miserly in an attempt to hit profitability. That's when we bailed after more than two years, having seen entire side courses disappear from old menu items. Hello Fresh, for its part, has $364m in funding and went public in November 2017.
And I'll bet you haven't seen one of their boxes in a while, either.