OddBox, “London's first wonky veg box subscription service”, recently reached and exceeded its crowdfunding target in record time. The company, a Graduate of the London Founder Institute, initially set out to raise £350,000 with their crowdfunding campaign, but ultimately raised more £520,000. While the company’s service may seem somewhat niche, it’s clear from the response of OddBox’s supporters that there’s a larger demand for flawed produce than one might think.
OddBox, like its namesake implies, provides a unique offering: the company purchases imperfect fruits and vegetables directly from local farms and markets for a fair price, delivers them to customers for 30% cheaper than similar box services, and donates up to 10% of its produce to charities dedicated to fighting food poverty. This purpose-driven company is convenient, generous, and sustainable, as all of the produce it purchases is rescued from farms and would otherwise have been wasted, answering the call for efforts to reduce food waste.
OddBox offers two types of boxes depending on the needs of the customer: the home box and the work box. The home box comes in numerous sizes, ranging in boxes that are perfect for individuals and couples to large families and everything in between, while the work box option is ideal for workplaces with about 10 employees. Each order comes with free shipping, is fully customizable, and can be canceled at any time.
The company is the brainchild of founders Emilie Vanpoperinghe, an expert in finance and operations with over 15 years experience working in both the private and charity sectors in France, India, and the UK, and Deepak Ravindran, an operations and technology consultant with skills in business strategy and operations technology who has worked for several multinational companies. Having a founding team with such impressive and complementary backgrounds means OddBox’s future is in good hands.
Launched in 2016, the story of OddBox has a fascinating origin. When Emilie and Deepak, they discovered the waste in the grocery industry when they were vacationing in Portugal. They were eating delicious tomatoes that were oddly shaped. The two wondered why the tomatoes tasted so much better but looked stranger than their typical produce selection in London. When they returned home the learned a lot more about the loss and waste in the grocery industry. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization around 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted or lost every single year globally. The United Kingdom alone sends 90,000 tons of produce to landfills annually but this food is never recorded as waste since it is rejected before it hits the supermarket shelves.
It was at this time that Emilie and Deepak saw an opportunity in this waste to save more food and to give consumers more of a choice when it comes to the produce that is available to them. According to Deepak,
Supermarkets everywhere said it was a supply and demand equation and they sell what people want to buy. But customers say they don’t have a choice, while growers say they do what supermarkets ask them."
OddBox currently delivers to more than 1,600 homes throughout South London and 85 offices in central London, and also has a waiting list of over 3,000 people eager to subscribe. The company’s recent fundraise will be used to upgrade its tech platform, establish a strong brand, optimise operations, and expand the expertise of its team. Their goal is to broaden the business’s delivery area and acquire 12,500 total customers by next year, and it looks like they’re going to achieve that goal, as they’re already serving 15 new postcodes in West and East London.
With their recent fundraising and rapid expansion, it’s clear that OddBox is on its way to becoming one of the most promising tech companies to emerge from London’s growing startup scene. According to Emilie, they’re aiming high and have intent on slowing down anytime soon:
We believe wholeheartedly in our wonky fruit and veg scheme, and are looking forward to bringing it to more people. We won’t stop there though, as our mission is to fundamentally shift food standards and, eventually, normalise wonky produce, and we need everyone to get involved. Come and join the wonky veg revolution with us!