Afresh Technologies: Building Blue Ocean Opportunity in the Fresh Food Supply Chain

By George Foster, Sheila Melvin
2022 | Case No. E772 | Length 28 pgs.

When Afresh CEO and cofounder Matt Schwartz enrolled at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business (GSB) in 2015, he had a singular obsession—healthy food, to benefit both individuals and the planet—and an ironclad determination: to found a business by the time he graduated. His classmate and cofounder, Afresh President Nathan Fenner, had a credo—work with really cool technology, preferably in underleveraged areas—and an orientation: choose work that had positive social impact beyond creating value in the market.

Together, they honed in on a thesis: that the fresh food market was wildly under penetrated by technology. This led them, through trial and error, to found Afresh, a “for-profit social impact company” focused on fresh foods in the supply chain inventory management and software business. This case explains how Schwartz and Fenner took their idea from the business school classroom to the market and built a company that, as of early 2022, was valued at $121 million and had signed deals with grocery chains with a total of 3,100 stores—and expected to be live in 4,000 to 5,000 stores by late 2022.

Learning Objective

This case is designed to help students understand how an entrepreneur develops a thesis and takes it from the classroom to the market, in this instance, with no significant pivot from the original concept.
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