Mayur Gupta
Chief Marketing Officer Freshly logo

Engineer Turned CMO Explains How Freshly Stands Out In a Crowded Meal Delivery Space

From his early days writing code to building marketing technologies, Mayur Gupta credits his past experience at brands like Kimberly Clark and Spotify for making him the marketer he is today. Now, as the CMO of DTC meal delivery company Freshly, Mayur is applying the brand's core strengths of culture, data and speed to stay ahead of industry disruption. Read on to see why Mayur decided to take on this role and how marketing is shifting from outputs to outcomes.

You went from engineer to marketer. Why the shift?

I started my career as an engineer in SapientNitro after completing my Masters in Computer Science. A few years later, I led product development for an Ad-Tech platform the company had acquired. It evolved me from being a pure technologist to building products for marketing and advertising. Wikipedia became my go-to spot to learn “Marketing for Dummies.” Since then, marketing has been gradually evolving into a growth engine. Which meant an engineer could actually have a role in marketing.

That’s when I joined Kimberly Clark as the first Chief Marketing Technologist. I built digital and eCommerce capabilities for some of its global iconic brands and understood the purpose of technology in service of the business and customer experience. For the first time I had a perspective; my own point of view on marketing.

My experience at Spotify, after that, not only helped me connect data and technology with tremendous business growth but even more importantly exposed me to the other side of marketing – the irrational and serendipitous side which should never be lost.

Why did you choose to join Freshly?

"A fearless culture that provides the freedom to fail."

I was inspired by Freshly’s authentic purpose rooted in nutrition and wellness, a mission and belief to impact and simplify people’s lives in a complex world. A fearless culture that provides the freedom to fail. And a vertically integrated platform that has the potential to become an iconic household brand.

What differentiates Freshly from competitors in the DTC meal delivery category?

If food is healthy and tasty, it’s not affordable. If it’s healthy and affordable, it’s not tasty. And if it’s all of that, it’s not convenient at all. We have solved that fundamental gap in the first four years of our existence which is evident from the exponential growth we are seeing in our business. Earlier this year we launched Snacks on our platform and have a strong pipeline of new products.

What’s currently happening in marketing that most excites you and why? 

"Success of marketing is no longer limited to the launch of a campaign..."

The transformation of marketing from an “output” function to an “outcome and impact” function. Put simply, an evolution from a campaign engine into a growth engine… Success of marketing is no longer limited to the launch of a campaign but the constant measurement, analysis and optimization of its impact to the business. It is not just the collection of data and insight but the application of that insight to move the needle by “x” percentage points, every single day, week over week, month over month.

What are the biggest changes in the meal prep/delivery industry and how are you staying ahead of them? 

Out of the approx. 850B U.S. grocery market, only 5% is attributed to fully-prepared, ready to eat meals. And 95% of that market is still offline, either as frozen or pre-prepared packaged meals. The lack of options here lead customers to QSRs (fast-food), restaurant take-out or home delivery. And this where the opportunity lies for Freshly. We have to apply our core strengths – Culture, Data and Speed to stay ahead of this disruption:

  • Our People and Culture – Great organizations value their people inside the org (employees) as much if not more than people outside the org (customers).
  • Data as our Core DNA – This has allowed us to not only understand WHAT our customers are doing but more importantly WHY they are doing that and applying that insight to every subsequent interaction.
  • Speed and Agility – When you have the freedom to fail, you build the ability to move at 100 mph even when you can only see 10 meters ahead. This “healthy chaos” leads to rapid innovation.

Anything exciting in the works?

We are currently going through a brand re-think phase with our brand agency Wolff Olins. We call it a re-think and not a re-design because it’s not just an evolution of our aesthetics, our surface but even our substance. We've also brought on some incredible leaders in the last six months across Brand, Content, Creative, PR, Growth from disruptors like Uber, Grey, Thinx, Buzzfeed, Ollie and more.

We have also launched our own internal content studio that is producing content on a daily/weekly basis. We're also providing a platform for our customers to share their own stories, as well as taking our customers behind the scenes to meet Freshly chefs, our processes and manufacturing.

How does marketing as a function play a leadership role at Freshly?

One of the most exciting and innovative aspects at Freshly is our cross-functional operating model that has led to outcome and objective-driven Pods. Our Growth Pods are driven by marketing leads but have members from product, engineering and data. Our Feature Pods are led by our product team but have content, brand, engineering, and data leads in them. We now have a cross-functional rhythm where the pods meet every quarter to plan for the subsequent quarter, align on the OKRs (Objective and Key Results).

Tell us about the big learning moments you’ve had along your career path? 

I will share the top three that I feel have shaped my thinking as a professional but even more as a human. The first is having a point of view and a belief system. The second is leadership. This has been an evolution from wanting to run faster than anyone else, to removing barriers for everyone else to run as fast as they can. The third is connecting the dots. As an engineer, I realized that the most difficult problems were just a function of disconnected dots, either people not talking or isolated operating models or broken pipes. You need the ability to take a top-down and bottom-up approach and apply systems thinking.

What advice would you give to other marketing pioneers? 

"Focus on outcome and accountability."

Focus on outcome and accountability. Marketing for a long time has been an unmeasurable cost center, it is time to make it an impact function and a profit center. The only way we all can do it is by becoming multi-faceted marketers who not only understand brand, creative and storytelling but also data, technology, finance and growth.