Two weeks ago we had the pleasure to talk with the founders of Crisp and Ekomenu in our webinar The Art of Scaling: Real Conversations. Today we bring you the highlights of that conversation. But first, meet the speakers:

Jack Stroeken is the founder of Ekomenu. After working in the food industry for a while, he realized that the impact on health and sustainability in the food industry was limited. That’s why he decided to found Ekomenu, a healthy meal box subscription that gets people on the right track with their diet.

michiel roodenburg

Michiel Roodenburg is one of the 3 founders of Crisp, an online supermarket that delivers fresh products in the Netherlands. In the past he worked as a finance director for Albert Heijn. He had the desire to offer a way to eat healthy, easily and genuinely. At Crisp his main focus is on strategy, culture and finance.

So, how do Crisp and Ekomenu differ in the major decisions during their scaling journey?


Crisp’s mission is to make better quality food available to a wide audience. The focus is on seasonal ingredients and on shortening the supply chain.

Ekomenu is a food for health company. They believe every person deserves a healthy lifestyle, and they want to solve the problem consumers have in finding it.

Business model

An online supermarket that delivers food at home. Crisp offers a careful selection of products online, saving time and increasing convenience for customers.

A meal box subscription revenue model. Ekomenu manages costs such as investment in marketing in an efficient way at the early stages, while earnings become visible in the months/years after.

Target market

Their focus is on The Netherlands, but have ambitions to grow geographically. The food market is huge, and they want to capture a fair share of the Dutch online food market. Crisp is building “a digital highway” to replicate in other markets on a later stage.

Ekomenu did an “excellent session with ScaleUpNation on scaling internationally”. One key learning was to first capture the local market. Ekomenu needs to expand to other markets to scale, and it will focus on Belgium first.

Competitive differentiation

Compared to established players, Crisp can quickly adjust its offering to customer needs. For instance, they can make seasonal products available on demand.

Ekomenu might compete with other meal boxes (like HelloFresh), but the big difference is that they provide a healthy lifestyle through their meals, dietary expertise and recipe database.

COVID challenges

First, the pandemic impacted the way the team works from different places, so Crisp gets them together in fun ways. Also, the pandemic changed how people consume food (e.g. more local consumption).

The pandemic didn’t have an impact on their processes, in fact Ekomenu’s growth was strong. The food market discovered the full potential of healthy food. So they chose a brand proposition on “food for health”.

Financing strategy

“Figure out where you want to go, have a good plan and a good team that will help you to realize your goals.” Crisp has recently closed a €30 million in Series B. You don’t see it very often in Europe, so Michiel Roodenburg suggests “not limiting yourself based on what you see in your surroundings”.

Ekomenu took a different route, by raising money among the founders, then seed capital, and had a crowdfunding round. They started to sell in the first 6 weeks, and built products and services along the sales journey. Now, they have a final concept and are ready to expand (with funding if needed).

Do you want to get a clear view on how to scale your business, as Ekomenu and Crisp are doing?

On June 22nd we’re holding The Art of Scaling Masterclass: a half-day, hands-on session for start- and scale-up management teams, where you will build the toolbox you need to start scaling.

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