Charlotte Aschim is the Founder & CEO of TotalCtrl, an Oslo Founder Institute portfolio company leading the development of digital solutions to prevent food waste. Now, TotalCtrl has announced it will receive an investment of 20 million Norwegian Krone following tremendous recent growth throughout the period of economic tumult caused by the onset of COVID-19.
Among TotalCtrl’s product innovations are inventory control systems for restaurants and commercial food retailers, as well as a B2C consumer app that suggests recipes according to what users have in their fridge and when items expire. (Read our 2019 company profile here, and more recent 2020 updates here, here, here, here and here.)
COVID Forces Refocus in Food Waste Space
CEO Aschim and TotalCtrl had been off to a strong start in 2020, with their previous investments in the restaurants and hotels industries beginning to bare fruit and revenues on the rise. Then when the coronavirus struck and Norway shut down in March, the startup took action to pivot quickly toward individual restaurants and hotels and on groups and chains that the company was confident would survive.
TotalCtrl has five different products on the market, built for both consumers and companies at all stages of the food value chain—but the core of TotalCtrl is an API that tracks expiration dates to keep control of inventory, whether in a commercial kitchen or in the refrigerator at home. It was during the pandemic that TotalCtrl partnered with Handleriet to develop its consumer application, which has now become an independent solution allowing users to enter their food items, and receive suggestions for recipes according to what they have and when it expires. Since its launch two months ago, the number of individual users has reached five thousand.
Entering Big Grocery
TotalCtrl is next seeking to enter the grocery space with its API solutions, with a goal of leveraging grocery store data from loyalty programs or apps into functions that will likewise work to help prevent consumer food waste. CEO Aschim notes,
The food industry is very traditional and complex, which opens the doors for innovation but also makes it difficult to extract data, as these are often owned by grocery players, closed to the public, trapped in old or non-existent tech.
But CEO Charlotte Aschim is also bullish on the pandemic forcing the grocery industry to adapt, noting increases in pressure toward greater digitization, efficiencies and sustainability throughout food supply chains. When asked about their approaches in B2B versus B2C markets, CEO Aschim describes TotalCtrl’s product roadmap this way,
We knew from the start that we had ‘product market fit’ in the corporate market, and that is where there is the greatest earning potential initially. In the consumer market, it requires a larger customer base. Our consumer solution clearly has the best effect, both for us and the customer, by being connected to purchasing solutions such as online and traditional groceries.
What's Coming Next
Asked about how TotalCtrl plans to put their new NOK 20 million investment cash to use, CEO Aschim emphasizes the startup’s focus on growth, saying,
It is growth the money will be used for. We have used Norway as a test base and proven good results. Legislation, climate goals, and a focus on sustainability mean that our timing is very good—and we want to ensure that more people save time, money and take part in the fight against food waste - so now it's full speed ahead.
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