Joe Fedele Biography and FreshDirect.

Joe Fedele Biography

Joe Fedele, sometimes known as Joseph Fedele, is an American entrepreneur. He attended Hofstra University, acquiring a BBA in Accounting, Finance, Economics and Mathematics in 1975. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Joe co-founded New York-based online specialty grocery FreshDirect in 1998 along with investment banker Jason Ackerman. From 1998-2004, he served as CEO and Co-Chairman. Joe and Ackerman won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2003 for the Metropolitan New York Area.

Joe Fedele CEO Freshdirect

 

He was nominated for the national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2003, eventually won by John Mackey. He founded PFI, one of the largest protein and perishable trading companies in the US in 1982. In 1991, he founded the “Business Process” that converted Fairway from its small format original single store on 74th and Broadway to the new Fairway.

Joe Fedele Freshdirect

Joe Fedele co-founded FreshDirect in 1999 and three years later its orange and green refrigerated trucks hit the Manhattan streets. According to reports, 15% of 1.6 million Manhattanites have used FreshDirect.

The company delivers to more than 250,000 customers in New Jersey and New York. As reported by Forbes, FreshDirect had earned $250 million in revenue in 2009 and grew its customer base by 20-25%, in 2010. Now FreshDirect is expanding outside New York City. It’s offering services in parts of New Jersey, in New York’s Westchester County, in the Hamptons, and Connecticut.

It actually sees greater fortunes waiting in the suburbs and beyond, where residents are becoming too busy to shop at chains owned by Kroger, Safeway, and SuperValu. Rick Braddock, FreshDirect’s CEO, estimates that the nationwide online grocery market is about $20 billion.

Besides, FreshDirect redoubled its efforts on the local front. It offered goods from 30 farms found within 300 miles of New York City, many of which went from the garden to table in less than 48 hours. Freshdirect added new ideas like ordering via a FreshDirect app from iPhone, AAPL. The app highlights previous purchases, special deals, and a list of favorites.

These developments speak to the rapid growth of a young and no doubt pioneering company. In the wake of others’ failed attempts at an online grocer, Jason Ackerman and Joe Fedele managed to found Freshdirect in 1999.

Unlike Webvan, founded by Louis Borders of book-store fame, FreshDirect offers two-hour windows. Webvan offered delivery service in 10 major city markets but foundered quickly with its rapid growth unsupported by shaky infrastructure and untenable guarantees, like a 30-minute delivery window.

Jason sought out Joe, who worked at Fairway grocery. Their initial idea was to open up fresh, good retail stores in New York. But they then turned to the Internet.

Joe Fedele’s FreshDirect

Jason said that they really founded on two guiding principles. First was to rethink how they get a product from the farm to a customer’s table in a much more efficient way which lends itself to deliver better quality products at better prices. And second, because they know so much about their customers, is to use that information to deliver a much more personalized, better experience. This was according to a Bloomberg TV interview in 2009.

The idea was to eliminate the middleman. FreshDirect devised a made-to-order model, by taking orders in advance. It prepares the foods, and as a result, according to Jason, this is a more cost-effective and less wasteful process than the regular grocery-store model.

Jason and Joe split up the responsibilities based on their expertise. In that Bloomberg interview, Jason said that Fairway was responsible for bringing in all of the supply since Joe worked at and built Fairway. He continued to add that he focused on how to actually take all the supply and get it within the warehouse and actually get it to the customer.

They located a warehouse directly across the river from Manhattan in Long Island City. Their space grew and they still fill all their orders from that location. It took several years to get the software right, which was designed with SAP AG. Jason said that they’re still tweaking it a decade later. FreshDirect spent over $75 million just to sell its first customer before those trucks ever hit the streets.

Today, FreshDirect has a hold on its customers once they sign up. When you visit the site, FreshDirect spits back your past orders and favorite items. Then it does things like suggest bottles of wine and sauce to go along with your order of a specific cut of steak. Big Brother has entered the grocery aisle. Grocery shopping is now one more idea that technology has turned from fanciful to ordinary.

 

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