Startup Spotlight #162: Picomart
Picomart is a VC-backed, early-stage startup deploying smart fridge point-of-sale systems that supply fresh local groceries to apartments across the city.
Lindblom began his career as a Forward Observer in the US Army. After serving four years, he honorably separated and attended community college in Worcester, MA. During this time, he pursued his lifelong passion for food working as a line cook in a gastropub. After two years in community college, Lindblom was able to successfully transfer to Stanford University where he completed his bachelor’s degree.
Leveraging his eclectic background, he set out to start his own company. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lindblom began with a lemonade-esque stand of sorts offering locally sourced produce. Finding immediate success, he began building a kiosk that operated like a miniature farmers’ market. Neighbors, and residents living blocks away, continued their support of the new venture. They were elated about the proximity, the local produce, and more importantly, they did not need to travel all the way to the store.
Now a year later, Picomart’s kiosk is fully autonomous and can offer over 15 unique items within a single unit. They’re located in Boston, MA, and are expanding into apartments across the city.
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Startup Spotlight: Picomart
Problem: Tenants want an immediate way to access quality groceries and are dissatisfied by the supermarket experience. Online ordering lacks quick gratification and fails to provide the consumer a visual/physical way to inspect products before purchasing.
Market: The US grocery market is valued at $1.04 trillion with online grocery sales currently make up roughly 10% or $106 billion and expected to grow to $250 billion by 2025. As a subsection within the online grocery sales market, we calculate that our TAM is roughly $18B.
Solution: Picomart is a grocery store 10 feet from your door. Located in apartment lobbies, each Picomart kiosk presents fresh, locally sourced produce, pantry items, and drinks 24/7 for tenants to purchase.
Team: Holden Lindblom (CEO & Founder) began Picomart through his passion for food and his entrepreneurial spirit. Jon Pollak (VP of Supply Chain) brings new concepts and technologies to life for better natural resource management and food procurement optimization.
Lindblom: Iterating, iterating, and more iterating. At the early stage of a startup, it’s so important to fall in love with the problem, not the solution. Picomart began as CookEZ (a meal planning to reduce food waste) we realized quickly we weren’t getting the traction we wanted and pivoted. Picomart started with the bold decision to start from scratch.
From there, Picomart began as a table, then a kiosk made of wood, then a small beverage fridge, and now finally a full-size autonomous kiosk. Even between those changes, there were lots of discussions and tests for other possibilities. The key is to test fast, fail, then move forward. A lot of our success has come from that mindset and being willing and able to make changes when needed.
Lindblom: We’ve recently made big strides, but originally our sales cycle for getting into apartments was… not ideal. Our fundamental issue was an assumption on who the decision-makers were and reaching out to those wrong individuals. Apartments are complex, often with multiple decision-makers/companies involved. Trying to decipher that previously unknown world to us took some time.
Compounding everything was Covid-19 slowing everything down and making in-person interactions near impossible. Thankfully, through some adjustments and heavy networking, we began making strong leads causing a snowball effect that has shortened our sales cycle significantly.
Lindblom: Patience is often the hardest thing to have while working on a startup, but it’s often the most important. More so these days with Covid-19 making everything run slower. It can be infuriating—we had to wait a full month for our payment processor to get our account activated because they were backlogged—but there are times where your hands are tied, and you must make the best of things.
I worked in an accelerator a few years back and that “go go go” attitude is great and definitely needed for startups. However, when things happen that slow you down that are outside your control, it’s so important to take a deep breath and think “Okay, how do I make the best of this situation and what can I do right now to mitigate the effects.”
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