BLOCK71 Singapore Entrepreneur Feature — Good for Food
In this week’s Entrepreneur Feature, we speak to Rayner, the co-founder and CEO of Good for Food, a startup passionate about tackling food waste in hotels and restaurants.
- What is Good for Food and how did the idea come about?
At Good for Food we are passionate about tackling food waste. For those unfamiliar with the food waste situation here in Singapore, just one hotel here is throwing up to 900 tonnes of food every month. On a conservative estimate that is about a million Singapore dollars, and by far the largest contribution to this figure is from their buffet restaurants. I’m sure many of us have gone to buffets before and there’s always a lot of leftovers at the end of the buffet service. The reason why that is so is that the kitchen finds it hard to accurately estimate how much they should be producing for their buffet services and therefore there’s often a lot of overproduction. That’s where we come in with our solution. We want to help them better match their supply, which is what they are producing, to the demand.
To do so, we feel that by providing with granular data on what is leftover from the buffet line, collect data over a period of time, that can provide them with actionable insights on how to reduce it. Let me give you a concrete example. If we can tell the kitchens that over the last 30 days, their top wasted item is curry chicken, and they’ve been throwing away an average of 50kg everyday, that’s what we call actionable insights because they can take that data and know how much they can adjust for future services. So how we go about collecting data in the first place is through a hardware product. We call it a smart food waste tracker where essentially anytime anything is thrown into it, it can automatically capture its weight and using our inhouse image recognition technology, we are able to identify it. We can identify something as simple as a slice of apple, all the way to something as complicated as a dish like curry chicken. So we collect all of the data and visualise the data in the form of nice graphs and charts with our partners and to better understand how they can tackle food waste in the kitchen.
2. What is Good for Food’s vision?
At Good for Food, we are passionate about tackling food waste not just at the restaurant and kitchen level, but our hope is that we can create new products in the future to tackle food waste down the supply chain because we recognise that so much food waste occurs right at the farm level.
3. What is Good for Food’s secret sauce?
Good for Food’s secret sauce is really in our team. I’m grateful and blessed to have such a strong team behind the company. My co-founder and CTO Keshav has great experience working with hardware, electronics and the mechanical aspect of it, and also software, all the way from server, image recognition and data visualisation. I think not many people like the intersection between hardware and software and he’s doing a great job. We’re also supported by a pool of other engineers who support us in various aspects and I think our team is a big part how we have got to where we are today.
4. What differentiates Good for Food from other food waste solutions?
There are many different solutions tackling food waste, I would categorise them into three broad categories. Recycling, where the food … companies taking food waste and convert that into fertiliser or energy. We have redistribution, charities who try and redirect surplus food that is perfectly fine for consumption to those who need it. Last category which I feel we’re in, which is prevention. Personally, I feel prevention is far more important than recycling or redistributing because we’re tackling the root problem. I think that’s always more meaningful that we address the root problem instead of doing damage control by recycling or redistributing.
5. What’s next for Good for Food?
Good for Food is hoping to scale in Singapore, we’re hoping to establish ourselves as a Singapore brand, really engaging the large hotel chains here in Singapore. Our hope is that in the second half of 2019 we can begin looking at the regional markets around Singapore.
6. What is your greatest challenge and how have you overcome them?
When we first started about a year and a half ago, our greatest challenge was engaging businesses about the topic of food waste. Back then, the conversation about sustainability and food waste hasn’t gained that much traction yet. I think for a lot of them, what’s on their priority is the top line revenue. They don’t spend much thought about how can they improve their bottom line. But I’m really encouraged in the last 6–8 months that the conversation is shifting, the conversation about sustainability, climate action, and the UN sustainable development goals. I think hotellers especially are more aware about the value of being more sustainable.
7. What are some of the better memories at BLOCK71?
By far, my best experience has been interacting with the other founders here. I’ve made really good friends with some of the other startup founders here in BLOCK71 and I think that’s the true value of the ecosystem like that. As entrepreneurs it can be a lonely journey, but sitting in here in this co-working space and knowing there are other co-founders going through similar struggles and how they can emphasise with what I’m going through, more often than not even offer great advice. I think that is one of the biggest value to being a part of an ecosystem such as NUS Enterprise.
I’m always interested in meeting general managers of hotels or F&B directors. One of my greatest passions is engaging them on a topic of sustainability. My hope is that I can help them see that sustainability is more than just CSR but it really makes perfect business sense for their hotel and for their kitchen, because when they tackle their food waste in a meaningful way, they can really see tangible results in the form of cost savings. If you’re interested in finding out more about how we’re helping other hotels and empowering them with data analytics to reduce food waste, cost, and environmental footprint, always happy to chat, or you can check us out at our website at www.goodforfood.sg.
Watch the full video interview with Rayner from Good for Food here:
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