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Gig Economy Now Making Workers Organize Groceries in Rich People's Fridges

Jupiter is the latest Service as a Service platform from Silicon Valley

by Ashwin Rodrigues
Jan 9 2020, 3:56pm

Image: Getty Images

A subset of Silicon Valley startups exist to serve people who strive to create their own Silicon Valley startups. This customer base is too busy rising and grinding for pedestrian endeavors like raising their hand for a taxi, handing cash to a cleaning person, and now, thanks to Jupiter, they can add “putting away their groceries” to their list of automated tasks.

Jupiter is a grocery delivery service hatched from the Y Combinator startup incubator, which promises customers it will not only buy their groceries, but place them in their fridge and pantry. If you’ve ever entered a grocery store and realized how many shoppers are gig workers buying groceries for services like Instacart, Jupiter is the next logical step in streamlining consumption for the privileged, at least until predigested gourmet meal pellets make their debut. In an email to Motherboard, the cofounder and CEO of Jupiter, Chad Monroe, said the company is still trying to understand its target customer, and that is has been “building for new mothers and parents who are trying to manage new parenthood and their careers.”

In August 2019, the company launched as Talar, charging its customers a $10 delivery fee and a 10 percent markup on each product, as TechCrunch reported. The company raised $150,000 from Y Combinator according to Pitchbook, and an additional pre-seed round from NFX and Switch Ventures, according to Crunchbase. The model (and name) has been tweaked since then, as Jupiter’s website offers two memberships: a Basic plan that includes 2 visits a month for $25, and a Pro plan of 4 visits a month for $45. That’s $12.50 a visit for Basic, and $11.25 a visit for Pros. It’s unclear if the 10 percent markup is still part of the plan. Both plans promise that customers don’t have to tip the gig workers who buy and organize their groceries.

The company claims to be “building the first logistics network committed to waste reduction” by transporting the groceries in reusable crates and coolers, and by donating excess food when customers’ plans change. The company does not mention how or where it donates the excess food, but this is a charitable concept if it can be executed. Monroe explained that when Jupiter is in the customer’s home, it captures inventory data “to determine what that family needs the following week. Over time, we understand which product they like and which ones are likely to spoil/be wasted (We often see when products spoil). So simply, we reduce food waste by predicting consumption accurately and predicting which products are likely to spoil.”

To use Jupiter, you must first complete a 30-minute in-person onboarding meeting at your home. During this time, Jupiter will assess your storage situation, determine your grocery preferences, and everyone else will silently judge how a grown adult is asking another adult to go buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch and put it in their cupboard. If customers choose to forgo the onboarding, they can instead film a walkthrough of kitchen and storage areas, and Jupiter will share introduction videos of the staff that will be inside the customer’s home.

The company aims to mitigate the creepiness of strangers inside the house by assigning each customer a dedicated “care team” made up of 2-3 carefully vetted and background checked “home inventory managers.” As time goes on, Jupier says, “you’ll develop a close relationship, similar to the one you may have today with your cleaner, dog-walker, or nanny.”

But with increased closeness to your home inventory one might expect more compensation, so do not worry: there are no “hidden tips,” according to the Jupiter website. Jupiter did not respond to a question if care team workers were classified as contractors or employees, nor if they are paid per trip or an hourly rate.

Former Uber growth hacker and current Andreesen Horowitz investor Andrew Chen has been enjoying Jupiter, which he noted on Twitter.

Jupiter plans to formally launch in April, and is currently accepting customers on an invite-only basis, and is limited to San Francisco, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Oakland, with no announced plans to expand to other cities.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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