Asha Tanwar (MBA ’21) shares the story of a Food Waste warrior
Too Good To Go is a start-up fighting food waste by connecting customers looking to buy discounted food to restaurants and grocery stores discarding food. Businesses discarding excess food (usually in a “surprise” bag) provide up to 70% discount on the usual retail price which can be collected by customers in-store at a pre-set time.
The company recently launched in the US and co-founder Jamie Crummie, walked me through his story so far. Having always been mindful about and motivated by social impact causes, Crummie held a string of roles in the food industry from the age of 16, working in a supermarket stacking shelves and then running a food stand during his time in Australia. Crummie recalls the consistent exasperation of seeing good food being thrown away rather than being distributed or recycled.
The UN World Food Program estimates that approximately “$1 trillion of food is lost or wasted every year—accounting for roughly one-third of the world’s food.” According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “reversing this trend would preserve enough food to feed 2 billion people—more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe.” In addition, each year, wasted food emits more than 3.3 billion tons of harmful greenhouse gases, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Roughly “30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted,” and the “restaurant industry is spending $162 billion annually in food waste costs,” according to the USDA.
In Australia, Crummie spent more time diving into the harmful impact of food waste. He noticed that there did not seem to be a sustainable way to dispose of food waste and decided it was a no-brainer cause for him to pursue given his background and interests, and he began his journey as a Waste Warrior. Crummie enlisted his best friend (also his best man and godfather of his son) as a co-founder and they launched their first app in Copenhagen in 2016. The start-up made the app available globally on the Apple app store and soon found that people in neighboring Norway were beginning to download the app. So the team jumped on a plane to onboard restaurants in Norway and expand the marketplace to a new country.
The start-up bootstrapped its way through the first few years, with the nine leads (in each country) using their savings to fund the initial growth until the business started generating enough cash to sustain itself. The company’s focus on creating a social movement around food waste with their brand, Crummie highlights, also brought funds from angel investors who were passionate about the company’s mission and added more fuel to their growth. Despite the external funding, the team remained scrappy and the company outsourced much of its engineering and technology requirements and focused on building up the supply-side to utilize natural network effects to propel organic growth on the demand side.
The company’s business model was designed to add value for everyone, Crummie notes: restaurants, consumers, and the company itself. This mutually beneficial approach has helped the company weather the pandemic better than expected—the start-up still grew +50% in 2020 and Crummie expects this growth to double in 2021 as the high streets recover. Too Good To Go finally raised VC funding in January this year to accelerate its growth plans in North America, but Crummie emphasizes that the business remains focused on having a profitable business model—most of the European markets are already profitable and now supercharging global growth.
For entrepreneurs in the food waste space, and beyond, Crummie says the most important thing remains to just get started: “I was running around like a headless chicken in 2015, doing anything and everything to make this happen. And now look where we are.” It is certainly an inspiring story and I cannot wait to see the new horizons the company pushes towards.
Asha Tanwar (MBA ’21) is a recent graduate and lover of all things that combine food and tech.