- Vitaly Alexandrov is the founder of Food Rocket, a food-tech grocery delivery company.
- After launching in San Francisco, Alexandrov decided to move Food Rocket’s HQ to Chicago in 2022.
- He says the move will cut down on operating costs while also expanding to a new market.
My company initially started as a tech startup called Foody that helped simplify how restaurants order their inventory. Once the pandemic hit, I felt it was time to pivot, and we decided to release as Food Rocket, a 15-minute grocery delivery service.
Since then, we’ve been holding our own in San Francisco against competitors like DoorDash and GoPuff. Despite our growth in Silicon Valley, in December I decided we would relocate HQ to Chicago in 2022.
California put us on the map, but Chicago will keep us there
California is an amazing state. The weather is gorgeous, the people are lovely, and everyone is keen to try the next tech trend, which makes it an ideal place for a startup like ours.
We couldn’t have asked for a better place to get our start than San Francisco, because the city and its people have taught us so much. But as our team of more than 70 continues to grow, we’re ready to expand into new markets.
While San Francisco is still the king of startups, many investors and companies are migrating to other emerging markets like Austin, Tampa, and Raleigh, and I think it’s important to make our move sooner rather than later.
After a lot of research, I decided to move Food Rocket HQ to Chicago
We did extensive market research before settling on Chicago. As one of the largest cities in the US, Chicago is a great place for any emerging business. For Food Rocket specifically as a grocery delivery company, the city’s population density can help us understand how consumers buy groceries and how we can offer delivery services based on their preferences.
Chicagoans have different wants and needs than San Franciscans, which means that we’ll also have an opportunity to learn the demands of a new local market. We want to change the way America grocery shops, so I think it’s essential for our team to experience different areas of the country to learn how to cater to and succeed in various regions.
Real estate is also cheaper in Chicago, which will allow us to open more dark stores for our delivery operations and expand farther than we could have in San Francisco. Our overall operating costs will be lower, so we’ll also be able to offer a more competitive pricing for Chicago customers.
There’s no requirement for employee relocation with our mandatory HQ move, as many of our employees already currently work remotely, but some employees have said they do plan to move with us. Remote employees directly involved in operations understand that I expect them to visit Chicago periodically to become familiar with the people and market, so it will also be a convenient central location.
Overall, Chicago is an important part of our long-term business strategy
Because the city is so different from San Francisco, it’s almost like an entirely new business model, which is exciting for us. Since we’re no longer a startup, we also wanted to explore a non-startup city environment.
For other entrepreneurs considering an HQ move, focus on finding a location that has the most benefits for your business. Choosing someplace trendy might sound fun, but in the end if you’re making a big move, make sure it’s to a place where your business will thrive.
Vitaly Alexandrov is the founder and CEO of Food Rocket, a food-tech startup that offers 15-minute grocery delivery.