Fireside Chat with Vori's Head of Ops Maika Koehl
Vori is building the operating system for grocery. A key part of our society yet extraordinarily underserved when it comes to technology, grocery stores have been making do with a patchwork of systems and band-aid solutions. The vision behind Vori is to be the trusted data layer within the global food supply chain. By streamilining orders and communication with vendors, Vori aims to democratize access to food supply and grocery data.
What are you responsible for at Vori?
I’m the Head of Operations, which means I’m responsible for a wide range of functions that allow Vori to run and scale. That includes onboarding and launching new stores and vendors, managing customer success, and ensuring data integrity across all partners.
We are continuously iterating on making our processes more efficient and maintaining data integrity. Data integrity is what powers our platform.
What was your background before Vori?
I owe my operations acumen and skillset to Uber. My four years on the Freight team required me to be SQL proficient, highly analytical, and able to make my way around big, hacky spreadsheets.
What are your biggest goals and operational challenges today?
My biggest goal — and my biggest challenge — is maintaining a high bar for reliability and service as we scale. People depend on us to get food to their communities, so failure is not an option. It is also not acceptable to have anything less than the best customer experience.
I’m excited for a delightful customer experience to go from surprising to table stakes.
What is the primary focus of the broader company?
Democratizing access to the local, national, and global food supply. That means being able to give retailers all the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves. That comes with a lot of responsibility.
Our technology is uniting the full life cycle of ordering inventory. We’re knitting together each of the various steps so that retailers, and suppliers, can better manage inventory and understand their stores. The primary focus of Vori is to create an inventory management system that is deserving of the amazing customers that we serve.
Why did you want to lead Ops at Vori?
There’s something deeply emotional about the grocery store experience. A lot of people have fond memories of wandering down aisles with their parents or guardians. These retailers are often cornerstones of their communities, yet they sometimes lack even basic data and tooling.
A lot of times what people love about their grocery store are the items you can’t get anywhere else – the interesting SKUs. We’ve focused a lot on that, as the amount of overhead that it takes to support a range of suppliers is very challenging. Every one of them face regular pricing and catalogue updates. When it comes to replenishing shelves - and we have seen firsthand during COVID what happens when that doesn’t go right - our retailers don’t have all the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves.
What are you most excited for?
I look forward to reinventing the experience of working at and owning a grocery store.
The bar is so low for customer experience when it comes to the grocery industry (and supply chain as a whole). Given that this space is so underserved, people often scoff at customer support functions because they wonder, “Are you really going to be there when we need you?”
I say, yes.
Do you have advice for other Ops teams?
Don’t be afraid to do non-scalable things that delight your customers, especially early on. To a certain extent, you can’t scale this, but when you can, you should.
The secret to Vori’s success has been hiring genuinely curious and radically diverse people. It’s incredible what you’re able to get done when you have the right group doing it.
To read more about how Maika implemented Avenue to superpower Vori's operations teams, click here.