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Stitch Fix’s former data chief wants to personalize your food at Daily Harvest

One of the earliest members of Stitch Fix’s 145 person data team will now head up the food startup’s efforts to make tailor-made meals.

Stitch Fix’s former data chief wants to personalize your food at Daily Harvest
[Photo: courtesy of Daily Harvest]

Brad Klingenberg, who oversaw Stitch Fix’s formidable personalization and curation efforts as the company’s Chief Algorithms Officer, is taking on a new challenge: tailoring salads, flatbreads, smoothies, and desserts exactly to your taste at Daily Harvest.

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The six-year-old company makes easy-to-blend smoothies, veggie-filled harvest bowls, soups, lattes, oat bowls, and healthy desserts that can be made by simply warming them up or popping them in a blender. Customers order Daily Harvest’s offerings by signing up for a weekly or monthly plan and receiving deliveries already portioned and ready to eat. As the company’s first Chief Data Officer, Klingenberg hopes to use the data collected by the company to make its meals even more delicious.

At San-Francisco-based Stitch Fix, which Klingenberg joined more than seven years ago as the third person on the now 145-strong data team, algorithms learn people’s preferences over time by getting feedback on the clothes customers receive and purchase and through data on the website. Eventually, the algorithms learn to generate tailored recommendations and even advise vendors on possible clothing alterations. If many customers think a sweater is too short, for example, they might relay that information back to the manufacturer to change the design.

“There’s almost no corner of the business that’s not touched by data science in some way,” Klingenberg says. That includes recommending clothes for users’ curated clothing boxes, as well as optimizing buying and inventory, and even developing new clothes.

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Now, he hopes to bring some of his methods to help create, distribute, and personalize food at Daily Harvest. The subscription service works similarly to Stitch Fix: The company gathers data on customer preferences, looking at what they order and surveying them to see if their plant-based recipes need altering—like an ingredient change, or different ingredient proportions.

“Daily Harvest is a brand and platform that allows better nutrition, which in our definition is having people eat more fruits and vegetables, because those are objectively good for us,” says CEO Rachel Drori.

Unlike at Stitch Fix, which doesn’t make all the clothes it sells, Daily Harvest oversees its entire supply chain. “Because we have that direct connection, because we have all the data associated with that, what we’re able to do is we’re able to basically figure out preferences,” Klingenberg says.

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Because of Daily Harvest’s agile supply chain—and the fact that it is easier to change a recipe than a sweater—new products or recipes can hit the market within eight weeks with prices starting at $5.99 per item.

Klingenberg, who says he never saw himself working in fashion, also worked on the recommendations algorithm at Netflix.

But there’s one key difference between creating recommendation algorithms for TV and creating them for food. “My husband and I live in the same house, swipe the same credit card, we have the same level of education,” points out Drori. “But all of the data that might be involved in traditional product development goes completely out the door when it comes to dinner time. I want to eat a salad and my husband wants to eat meat and potatoes.”

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While most food companies are forced to rely on demographic data to figure out what customers might like, Daily Harvest can use data gathered from its surveys, questionnaires, and past orders to whip up food tailor-made to your taste buds.

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