The market that is hungry for new solutions
“Our mission is to help suppliers to reduce food waste”, describes Juhani Järvensivu, CEO of Fiksuruoka.fi, a fast-growing startup that sells surplus groceries through an online store with high discounts. The company has found a market with an urgent need for new solutions.
In Finland, 400 million kilograms of edible food is wasted every year, which means 10-15 % throughout the food chain (Saa Syödä!). Worldwide, the numbers get much higher - 1/3 of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste, estimates The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Food waste is a huge problem where we all have a part to play - one way or the other.
“There is demand to our service and we already collaborate with the major supplier in Finland who need our help”, Järvensivu describes. He explains that food waste is also an expense for many companies in the food industry. There has also been demand for forecast of the supply chain, thus Fiksuruoka.fi has developed accurate supply chain analytics.
Besides solving suppliers' food waste problem, they also offer consumers a way to reduce food waste - and save money on their groceries. "Two big things at the same time", Järvensivu concludes.
More sustainable habits for consuming food is on Fiksuruoka.fi agenda as well. “What people often confuse is the ‘best before date’ and ‘expiry date’. In our Fiksuruoka.fi online store, we only sell ‘best before’ products that you can keep on room temperature and the food is really all right”, he explains. “We are kind of influencers of the food waste topic in Finland. We hope to make changes in consumers’ habits.”
Key success factors for scaling a startup?
He advocates for ownership and transparency: “We have built a culture where decision making is there where the work happens. We push everyone in the team to take ownership.” Another key ingredient in the Fiksuruoka.fi culture is to be data-driven. “We have figured out our most important KPIs that we have to optimize and we have automated those. Everyone in our company has access to all our KPIs so everyone knows how we are doing on these operations.”
For a startup, finding the right focus is vital, he mentions. “We know what we do and what we don’t do. We get new ideas from our advisors and friends all the time but we try to be very strict. We have way more things to do that we are able to do so it’s very important to prioritize. Of course, we also test things all the time. Still, we have a good picture on what we should do in a big picture all the time.”
”I recommend startups to move on and raise funding faster”
For companies that are expanding rapidly, such as Fiksuruoka.fi, it’s useful to consider different funding options to be able to combine enough capital. “New collaboration models and synergies between funding elements are needed to better support startups in their growth goals”, says Vesa Riihimäki, Head of Startup & Growth Finland at Nordea.
This is why Nordea and FiBAN have partnered up and created a service of a ‘pre-approved credit decision’ for startups aiming for rapid growth. The service combines equity from FiBAN investors and debt from Nordea, thus making the funding process easier and enabling startups to complete enough capital. “Smoother way for the funding process serves the whole startup ecosystem”, Riihimäki highlights.
Besides funding, new angels have brought new know-how. “We have five active angels in our board, who help a lot with the big picture, guide us on funding opportunities and share industry experience”, he describes. Fiksuruoka.fi's team has a list of over 30 essential angel contacts who to call when in need. “We have met with multiple angels multiple times and received great sparring on specific topics. For example, one of our investors Ali Omar has helped us on marketing, customer experience and funding”, Järvensivu points out.
Additional funding was needed to finance the stock value on storage. “After the second funding round we decided that we are not willing to finance storage with risk money from investors because it’s not smart. We went through multiple funding possibilities and Nordea’s offer was the best. It’s very easy to work with them and the loan service from Nordea was just what we needed. With the 240 000 € loan from Nordea we have been able to finance our working capital, and we managed to almost triple our sales in 2019 compared to the previous year”, Järvensivu describes.
When looking back to the whole funding process, there is one thing Järvensivu would reconsider. “If I could do this again, I would do it way faster. The mistake that we have done is that we recruited too slowly. I worked myself for too long and I should have recruited the right people earlier. I recommend startups to move on and raise funding faster to be able to recruit the right persons”, he ponders.
“Believe in your decisions so you can move on faster!” Järvensivu encourages other entrepreneurs.
Funding service for startups: Pre-approved credit decision by Nordea and FiBAN
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