Entrepreneur Of The Year US National Award winner
Abhi Ramesh | Misfits Market
For Abhi Ramesh, value is found in what others have cast aside as waste, and sustainability is profitable rather than merely admirable. One day, at an orchard, he noticed that some misshapen apples were set aside to be discarded rather than sold as they did not meet grocery store standards — a prominent reason why about one-third of the produce grown in the US is thrown away. These mostly organic “misfit” fruits and vegetables are now sold directly from farmers to consumers at lower prices through Misfits Market, an online venture.
In just six months, the company had 10,000 customers, a level of growth that was further supercharged amid the online-shopping boom driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now Misfits Market is five times bigger than it was a year ago, working with 250 suppliers and employing 1,200 people. Delivering on its core pillars — affordability, accessibility and sustainability — while meeting the expectations of a rapidly expanding customer base has required innovative methods of sourcing, procuring, warehousing and delivering product, implemented with Ramesh’s leadership.
Ramesh has placed particular importance on talent retention: the senior leaders of Misfits Market were all recruited from lower ranks, with no turnover at the highest level since the company was founded. During the pandemic, raises and bonuses were offered to frontline employees, and as the business took off, Ramesh doubled down on his strategy of hiring overlooked segments of the population, especially those who had been incarcerated.