Forage, which helps grocers and other merchants accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments online, has hired Ofek Lavian as COO.
Using his deep payment expertise, Lavian will be responsible for overseeing Forage’s day-to-day operations, leading and scaling teams in such areas as product, operations and partnerships. Lavian’s experience building out teams and products from inception to scale will be key to Forage’s mission of democratizing access to government benefits.
Lavian previously led the payments and commerce product teams at San Francisco-based Instacart, where he built the company’s core payments infrastructure and launched multiple products that drove billions in incremental impact during the company’s peak growth years. These include launching new payment methods such as Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) SNAP and PayPal, Instacart gift cards, prepaid cards, stored value, and a co-branded credit card with Chase.
Before Instacart, Lavian was also a product manager for payments at San Francisco-based Uber, where he powered the global payments platform, responsible for processing tens of billions of dollars in payments volume in more than 60 countries. While there, he led the launches of key payments products, including tipping, which contributed to billions in additional earnings paid out to drivers globally; The Uber Visa Credit Card; Uber gift cards; and pay with Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay and other alternative payment methods.
“Ofek is one of the most knowledgeable payments experts in Silicon Valley – what he accomplished in two years at Instacart transformed the entire payments side of their business,” said Justin Intal, CEO and co-founder of Forage. “We are beyond excited for him to join our executive team and accelerate our timeline to help grocers and merchants of all sizes accept EBT payments online. Ofek is joining us at a very critical period in Forage’s growth, and his expertise in the payments space from working at tech leaders like Instacart and Uber will help fast-track our product development and partnership plans.”
“Forage is laying the foundation to solve a critical gap for the millions of Americans that rely on SNAP benefits to be able to buy groceries online,” said Lavian. “The opportunity here is enormous. Over the past two years at Instacart, I’ve witnessed firsthand the essential need for online grocery during the pandemic, especially for this underserved population that has struggled with food insecurity. Forage’s payments technology has the power to democratize access for basic needs such as groceries, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work at a company that will bring that change to life.”
Los Angeles-based Forage helps grocers navigate the complex process of gaining USDA permission to accept EBT SNAP payments online. While it could previously take 12-18 months, Forage claims that it can help grocers start processing EBT payments in a third of that time. Forage has an in-house team of payments and EBT experts and a software platform, plus existing relationships with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Flashfood, to accelerate the process.