We were built on the back of Facebook advertising for sure,” reports Josh Hix, co-founder of direct brand Plated, the meal-in-a-box service that began life as an online service seven years ago … and was purchased by a major grocery-store chain for $300 million just a half-decade later.

“We [put] all the gas we could into that channel because it was working,” Hix told some 1,400 delegates at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting (ALM). “It was efficient.” And even though he allows that “it’s now not as efficient as it used to be, and we’re weaning off our reliance on it, we still are spending 50% of our dollars there.” The business proposition of Plated stemmed from the kind of conversations that students have on university campuses every day. “My co-founder and I had been friends for a long time,” Hix recalled, “and we had the shared experience of trying to cook for people and not being very good at it.” In addition to meals of questionable merit, “We also were having a lot of food waste.”