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Irina Krechmer has been the CTO of Blue Apron for a little more than a year. When she was hired, her objective was to help guide the company through the process of upgrading its technology stack. While that remains one of her primary responsibilities to date, but certain world events have shifted priorities in ways neither she nor anyone else could have expected. So what happens when your company goes from an important business to an essential one? And how do you properly pivot to make sure your technology stack is scalable when called upon? Irina joined IT Visionaries to discuss how Blue Apron made those changes and she explains the role food delivery services will play moving forward.

Main Takeaways

  • Scale, Scale, Scale: Having scalable technology is more important than ever. When Blue Apron was hit with an influx of orders overnight, its main priority was to make sure its technology stack could handle those orders without delay. Design your stack with the mindset that it might need to change overnight and design it with the idea that you will need  to make changes at a moments.
  • Don’t Stop Innovating: Never be satisfied with the status quo. Just because Blue Apron suddenly had an influx of new customers didn’t mean the company could sit back on its laurels. It needed to continue to satisfy customer needs in new and different ways. This meant continuing to come up with new ideas —, like implementing the ability to order multiple boxes a week — to figure out how to meet customers’ needs
  • The Beauty of Collaboration: Listen to your teammates and trust in their abilities. Never before has collaboration across teams been as important as it is in today’s work environment.

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For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Irina Krechmer has been the CTO of Blue Apron for a little more than a year. When she was hired, her objective was to help guide the company through the process of upgrading its technology stack. While that remains one of her primary responsibilities to date, but certain world events have shifted priorities in ways neither she nor anyone else could have expected. So what happens when your company goes from an important business to an essential one? And how do you properly pivot to make sure your technology stack is scalable when called upon? Irina joined IT Visionaries to discuss how Blue Apron made those changes and she explains the role food delivery services will play moving forward.

Since 2012, Blue Apron has served as one of the leading meal delivery services, bringing consumers properly portioned, well-packed meats and fresh ingredients right to their doorsteps. In 2020, with grocery store shelves barren, supply chains across the world disrupted, and social distance measures instituted, services like Blue Apron have never been more important.

“What literally changed overnight is that we went from being a very important business to an essential business,” Krechmer said. “Especially at the height of the pandemic, when a lot of areas were on lockdown, Blue Apron was literally the best way, or sometimes the only way, for people to get fresh food in the door.”

With a background steeped in product development, Blue Apron was Krechmer’s first foray into the physical product space. And within her first year with the company, she learned a very valuable lesson — scaling operational capacity overnight is much more complex than scaling technology.

“We ended up having to make some really fast and sometimes difficult decisions on a spot,” she said.

What this means is Blue Apron was forced to adapt its practices overnight. Instead of offering a wide variety of food options,  menus needed to be streamlined, delivery windows had to be reduced in order to serve the influx of customers, and all while, Krechmer and her team dealt with the intricacies of managing a large eCommerce platform behind the scenes.

“What surfaced on a technical side was some edge cases that we didn’t even know we had to address, popped up,” she said. “So the team had to work essentially overnight to get a lot of those cases buttoned up to make sure that we could actually support all the incoming cases. And then at the same time, we still knew that our overall strategy of variety was still the right strategy… So we wanted to  wrap up all the fires as soon as possible and continue working on our strategic initiatives.”

One of the tricky aspects of the pandemic is the stress that has been put on supply chains. While consumers struggled to get basic necessities from their local grocers, Blue Apron was lucky enough that its business model was not overly-disrupted. Because Blue Apron works with small suppliers, it has good control over the products it is supplying to its customers, meaning that when shortages are expected, Blue Apron is able to pivot quickly.

While the operational challenges that Krechmer dealt with were new to her, she mentioned that one thing the was really magnified over the last few months — and while this is something she has known her entire career —  is as a leader, your success is very much dependent on the people you surround yourself with and your ability to listen to and implement ideas from your peers. 

“What the last few months taught me is the importance of collaboration,” Krechmer said.

One of the insights Krechmer’s team was able to gain through this process is that just because your team is operating within unforeseen constraints, those limitations don’t have to stop your creative process. So Krechmer and her unit a Blue Apron went to work devising plans that fit their new customers. While Blue Apron has always operated under the model that customers could place an order for one box a week, that might not meet the needs of the many new customers in the funnel.? How could they address those needs?

“One of our engineers overnight built a prototype that basically allowed customers to order additional boxes per week,” she said. “Previously, we didn’t really have that capability. We just didn’t have enough demand for it. And so this idea of letting customers order multiple boxes per week was just something that one of our engineers came up with overnight…  and we just released that feature to our customers.” 

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

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