In an episode published on July 27, 2021, Foxtrot co-founder and CEO Mike LaVitola joined us for an expansive interview that delved into the origins of the fast-growing chain of hybrid upscale corner stores and cafés, how it cultivates an intimate understanding of its consumers and why he believes Foxtrot’s online and retail customers are the same people. He also discussed what Foxtrot looks for when adding new brands to its shelves, the evolution of its private label business and why the company is simultaneously going head-to-head with the likes of Starbucks, 7-Eleven and DoorDash.
Hey folks, it’s Ray with Taste Radio. Right now. I am honored to be sitting down with Mike LaVitola , the co-founder and CEO of Foxtrot Market. Mike, how are you?
I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate you know, when I started reading about Foxtrot and reading about you.I had this crazy flashback to a number of years ago because I worked for very briefly. Actually I worked for an upstart online convenience store called Kozmo.com. Did you remember Kozmo or did you read about it or did you have any experience with it?
I didn’t know about it firsthand, but as soon as we started kicking this idea around and, you know, talking to people who we thought might know something, inevitably Kozmo came up and there was on the one hand, a lot of fun, personal memories. And on the other hand, sort of the, what actually happened to the business. So yeah.
Yeah, they were notorious for raising, I think it was over $300 million. In fact, I think they picked up $90 million from amazon.com who just wanted to know, I guess, how the business worked and whether there was a future in online a one hour online delivery, one hour delivery.
You know, we took a couple of things away from sort of studying Kozmo, but a big one is, you know, for all the kind of business model challenges, consumer demand was not one of them. Right. I mean, if they had any problems, is that they had too much consumer demand and actually fill all that with challenging, um, unit economics was, was tricky, but fundamentally it’s a consumer need. That’s been there.
Let’s just talk about the foundation and you know, how you kind of came to launch this business. I mean, what really inspired you to think of reinventing the convenience store?
A lot of it had to do is we started, uh, in launched Foxtrot about seven years ago. You know, I’m from Chicago, lived in Austin, Texas for a little bit and moved back up here for business school and, you know, had the good fortune of sort of living all around town.