With produce coming from all corners of the globe to large grocery chains, many are yearning for a return to knowing who grows their food, what goes into growing it, and wanting to make it a sustainable enterprise.
New Zealand company Ooooby (an acronym for Out Of Our Own Back Yards), prides itself on its mission to not only make local food easy to receive for customers, but to make it affordable as well — all while giving the growers a fair amount of pay. The way Ooooby operates, is that customers will place an order for the produce they want on Ooooby’s website. From there, orders will be processed and boxes will be filled with fresh produce from local growers, and hand-delivered extremely quickly. Local growers can range from someone who has a large backyard full of lemons, to a full-scale farmer with a wide array of produce — all can contribute the Ooooby system and reap the benefits.
Ooooby Started Life as a Network for Growers
Founder Pete Russell started Ooooby as a network for growers. Disillusioned after years in the industrial food business, he decided to take a chance by connecting growers to combine their produce to deliver fresh boxes across New Zealand and Australia.
But it wasn’t just the produce that growers were able to share, they were connected through Ooooby’s social media capabilities to share information in a variety of groups. As they stated:
“The social network currently has 170 groups where people can ask questions, start discussions about anything from how to build a water catchment system, to how to grow any kind of edible plant, companion planting, how to keep bees to barter and trading homegrown/made produce.“
On top of this, Ooooby showcases the growers on their website, so customers can have a direct look at who is growing their food, find out more information, and contact them directly. Because supply can be fulfilled rather quickly, it can be worked out based on customer demand and because the whole operation takes place online, there’s very little that can slow down local food from getting to their tabletops.
Lessons for Others
As Pete Russell describes in his TedTalk, the way that Ooooby is able to maintain low costs while paying out a fair amount to growers, is by cutting down the supply chain. With bigger operations, there are many steps removed from the initial grower, with each step adding costs to the end product. With Ooooby’s model, the customer has access to produce because Ooooby has created a network of growers that are kept in touch and up-date through technology — all while managing to cut out a lot of the middle steps while still getting a top quality product.
Name of Organization Contact: N/a
Authored by: Rick Andrade
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Martin, Christy. (Date Unknown). Leveraging Business for Social Change: Building the Field of Social Business. Retrieved from: https://www.changemakers.com/socialbusiness/entries/ooooby
Beeche, Matt. (2015, October 8). New Zealand startup Ooooby raises 285,000 and becomes the country’s first crowdfunded impact investment. Retrieved from: http://www.startupdaily.net/2015/10/new-zealand-startup-ooooby-raises-nz285000-and-becomes-the-countrys-first-crowdfunded-impact-investment/
Sustainable Business Network Staff (2014, February 10). Grow Ooooby Grow!. Retrieved from: https://sustainable.org.nz/sustainable-business-news/grow-ooooby-grow/.