Fridge No More was coming to an end.
Near midnight on a cold late winter night in Brooklyn, there was little movement inside the once-bustling grocery delivery hub of the failed startup. I couldn’t resist the urge to clean up.
It may have been the muscle memory he developed after working 16 hour days, 7 days a week for the past two years. Or it was the faint hope that a buyer would swoop in at the last minute and save the 15-minute delivery company that he and his fellow Russian co-founder Anton Gladkovorodov thought would be their ticket to success in the United States. It may be
For the next hour, Danilov ignored the fact that all the bananas, bread, and bags of potato chips around him didn’t make it to the customer’s door. His 450 delivery men had already finished their last turnout, but he continued to move groceries to the correct shelves and made sure refrigerators were properly closed. “It just didn’t make sense,” Danilov said of last March’s rock-bottom moment. “I didn’t want to see my store look like garbage.”
As the tech industry recession worsens, the number of startup founders who flourished during the 2020-2022 boom continues to grow, and they face renewed panic and anxiety. “In the next 20 months, his 50% to 60% of all early-stage companies will go bankrupt,” General Catalyst managing director Niko Bonatsos recently told her Kate Clark of The Information. . “It’s going to be very dire.”
You may quickly find that many of these company founders are navigating aspects of entrepreneurship that get less attention than winning success stories and explosive scandals. A wave of anxiety and disappointment that hits as the tiniest hope of survival fades. And perhaps the awkwardness of settling into a new job where they’re no longer their boss.
The story of Fridge No More’s final days, told here for the first time, offers a glimpse into this unfortunate reality for a founder who believed he had stumbled upon the next big thing. idea. Danilov and Gladkoborodov have developed a product that their customers love and have seen their revenue skyrocket over the months.
But as investors cut back on fundraising and the days of easy money were set back, they weren’t prepared for what was to come. It’s a story that’s been told over and over again in technology boom-bust cycles. It’s the story of a founder who arrives late to a party.