Show Notes

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According to Ben Pugh from Farmdrop, the food system is completely broken. Farmdrop have just raised £10M to fix it with their unique combination of mobile technology, marketing personalisation and a focus on quality, ethical and sustainable products.

Tune in to hear how Farmdrop has changed over the years and how they have raised money in all sorts of interesting ways. We’ve also got a classic book as our Resource of the Week which will help you test your ideas and gather valuable feedback from customers.

In this episode you’ll learn

  • The wide ranging issues in the food system
  • How to make your customers the hero of your brand story
  • How Farmdrop has changed and evolved over the years
  • The importance of listening to customers
  • How to make your offer more compelling by making mistakes
  • How to use hyper personalisation to make every customer feel special
  • How to raise funds from a range of different sources including Angels, Crowdfunding and Venture Capital
  • How to stay true to your ethical values as your business grows

Notes and Links

Buy ethical and sustainable food from Farmdrop

If you’d like to try out Farmdrop for yourself, use our unique referral link and you’ll get £30 in credit. You can use this credit to pay for up to 25% of your shop each time – spend £110 and you can use the whole £30 in one go. We’ll also receive £30 in credit. Happy cooking!

Small is Beautiful book by E. F. Schumacher
Crowdcube crowdfunding platform

Resource of the Week

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Episode Transcript

Guy: [00:00:01] The food system is completely broken, and Ben Pugh and the team at Farmdrop have recently raised 10 million pounds to help fix it. Today we’re talking about mobile technology, raising money and personalisation to drive positive change in shopping behaviour. So, stay tuned.

Kylie: [00:00:19] This is the Good Foodies podcast – a weekly show about people, brands, and businesses doing good in the world of food.

Guy: [00:00:28] Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Guy Routledge from Sapling Digital and Eco & Beyond and I’ve got Kylie Ackers in the studio with me again today. Hello Kylie, welcome to the show.

Kylie: [00:00:38] Hi.

Guy: [00:00:39] You look a little bit tired this morning.

Kylie: [00:00:41] It has been a long week.

Guy: [00:00:42] It has been a long week but you were telling me a story before we started recording, and you’re going to have to explain it to everybody because it was something about a laundry basket and a delivery driver, and what’s the deal here?

Kylie: [00:00:54] I would get really really annoyed when you order from all these online supermarkets which we do a lot because that’s the easiest way to get groceries into the house.

Guy: [00:01:02] Because we’re lazy.

Kylie: [00:01:03] Well no, that’s just we’re busy, that’s my excuse. Anyway so, but what I hate is that you you get stuff delivered in zillions of plastic bags. You know there will be one pot of ice cream in a plastic bag and then there’ll be one something else in a plastic bag. Any you’re like, “I can pack my groceries a hell of a lot better than they can”. So when I was looking for a an alternative for that I came across Farmdrop and they have this great thing when you check out that you can opt out of plastic bags. And so I was like, “Hey this is gonna be a little bit weird I’m going to meet some guy at the front door and he’s going to hand me an apple and I have to take it back to the kitchen that’s going to be a pain in the arse. So I thought well,

Guy: [00:01:39] Sounds very inefficient.

Kylie: [00:01:40] Yeah exactly. So I thought I’ll just take my own basket to his basket and just transfer the stuff out of his crate or whatever they call them and put it into my laundry basket. And then I bring my laundry basket full of goodies into the kitchen. So when Farmdrop rocks up at my door I meet that lovely driver with my laundry basket and he fills up with food. It’s nice!

Guy: [00:02:00] But I thought they didn’t even use plastic bags anymore?

Kylie: [00:02:02] So I don’t know if they don’t use them or you can just opt out and I think a lot of people choose to opt out. When I checked out there was an option that said I don’t want any plastic bags but then I subsequently went to use Farmdrop and that option wasn’t there. So I suspect now that they don’t even give the option it’s just like you’re not getting any plastic bags because you know it’s not good for us.

Guy: [00:02:22] They’re doing so many interesting things and plastic-free is one of them. They’re creating this wonderful platform they’re just trying to make it as easy as possible for people to make better food choices which is, you know, exactly the kind of thing that we’re all about.

Kylie: [00:02:33] Yeah. And the easier it is that the more people are going to shop ethically right if it’s, if it’s the choice like I know when I go to get some lunch and I think, “Oh god, everything comes with plastic” and I don’t have the time to run around six different stores but if I know the first one that opens plastic-free options that’s just where I’m going to go. Like they’re going to get all my money because then I don’t have to think.

Guy: [00:02:56] Yeah. And they’re doing some great stuff. They got some really delicious food on there some amazing. Well everything really meat, dairy, fresh produce, packaged goods, gin as well, and but funnily enough when I chatted to Ben the founder and CEO of Farmdrop we didn’t really talk about the food that much. We talked a bit about technology. We talked about raising money and all the fantastic stuff that they’re doing. So let’s jump right into that interview with Ben.

The Interview

Ben: [00:03:24] Farmdrop is an online marketplace connecting sustainable independent producers with households that are local to them. And I started Farmdrop that six years ago because I took the view one that I still hold very closely that the conventional food system is in a pretty bad way. The sustainable producers aren’t getting a high enough retail price, the environment is getting a kicking, and there are a growing number of customers just like me who want to find an easy way of eating well, not paying too much to do that.

Guy: [00:04:00] And it definitely seems like there is a big movement in the in the consumer space of people. People want more from their food. Is that something that you have seen over the last few years in terms of the changing trends in the in the marketplace?

Ben: [00:04:14] Yeah definitely. I think 50 years of mega industrialisation has inadvertently tried to eradicate this idea that the quality of the food that we eat has a major influence on just how we feel every day and night. And I think we now are seeing the beginning of a megatrend back towards that understanding that if you are eating fresh local seasonal food, you’re actually just going to be happier and healthier. It’s something I think we all still have a very primal understanding of, and at Farmdrop we’re just trying to help people get back to that.

Guy: [00:04:53] People will have heard the headlines I’m sure about all the scandals and the issues in kind of big food, and there seems to be a huge loss of trust with the supermarkets in particular or with the food system in general. Would you agree with that?

Ben: [00:05:07] Yeah, definitely. I think about scale a lot, and one of the really influential books for me as a student source was that Small is Beautiful that the Schumacher wrote, and of course had he written that book during the Internet era, everybody would have been much more excited about it because it would’ve been so much more achievable. Now we’ve got mobile Internet. It’s actually really easy for me small households in central London to connect to an amazing local dairy or an amazing local organic grower or fisherman and actually buy almost directly from them. And that’s what I want to do because to your point if I buy from one of these massive supermarkets, I have no transparency, I’m afraid that the news stories generally really are true that there’s a lot of wrongdoing, there’s a lot of mistreatment of animals, there’s a lot of mistreatment of the environment. So the only way that I can protect myself as a consumer is to try and go direct to a producer and actually have a sense of knowing them and have a sense of being able to trust them. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve at Farmdrop.

Guy: [00:06:18] And one of the particularly unique ways that you’re doing it is through a huge amount of mobile technology. And it would be great to hear you talk a little bit about that stuff because as a consumer, and I’m a user of Farmdrop platform and I go there and it looks like any other kind of online store but behind the scenes, there’s some really interesting stuff happening. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Ben: [00:06:38] Yeah, definitely. We have four different mobile apps and to your point, the one that you have seen and interact with is the customer app and that enables you to buy over 2000 different products from over 300 different producers, and we think that’s working really well. We’re pleased with that, but actually, the innovation that we’re most proud of is in the other three apps i.e. the apps that the farmers themselves use so they see real-time order flow every time you order a packet of sausages or a bag of kale, the actual producers responsible for those products will see that order coming through. And then we patch them all together every 24 hours in order for the producers to have really positive commercial experiences every time they deliver to one of our hubs. So that’s really new, the idea that you’re giving the power back to the small producers by actually giving them their own mobile apps and their own identities and telling them, “Look you really are the brand. We want people to know that they’re buying directly from you”, and promotes them. They’re very much the heroes for us. And then the two additional apps that we’ve bought of, one for guys packing all the food and the hubs which ensures that we have really high item accuracy and customers get the foods that they did indeed order. And then also our delivery guys we want to give them all the right information in terms of who they’re delivering to, is it a new customer, and for all of these apps, we’re already really coming at the tracks, so we’re very very excited about where we can take them to enhance the experience for all four of those user groups. There’s lots of exciting stuff still before too.

Guy: [00:08:17] And this is stuff that you’ve been developing since the very beginning or I believe you had a slightly different model when you first started. How have things changed and evolved over the years?

Ben: [00:08:26] Like considerably? In a word? So, I started Farmdrop actually as a click and collect service and so we had two apps, one for a customer, one for a farmer, and we were responsible for really for moving them information and the money, but the physical exchange was directly between farmers that place that pub or charge the things, and it didn’t really work because it just didn’t generate enough convenience for either party. There’s a classic case of, you introduce a product to the market and the market tells you actually this is not compelling, you need to go back and come up with something that is more compelling, and that became the idea of the Farmer’s Market meets supermarket home delivery and if you can put those two things together really really nicely. Then, in fact, you do do you really have a compelling offer and that’s that’s certainly what we feel but we do have now and that’s what’s continuing to drive the business from strength to strength. So yes there was an initial product that didn’t work but I think it’s actually been helpful in terms of forming the DNA of the company and that is that’s the attitude which is you always listen to your customers, at your farmers, or your consumers and you always strive to make your offer more and more compelling all the time. Never, you never sit back and say, “Right, we’re finished”, and we never will. And that’s something that excites me day-in-day-out as I turning up and saying, “Right, how we’re going to make it better for our user groups every day?”

Guy: [00:09:55] And some other aspect to the tech that I believe you guys are experimenting with at the moment is trying to make that connection with the customers more personal and give them exactly what they want. I guess it follows on really nicely from what you were just saying about listening to customers. Can you talk a little bit about some of the some of the marketing insights that you were using and some of the some of the personalisation that you’re trying to put into the experience?

Ben: [00:10:19] Definitely. It’s a great example of something that actually we’re going to be landing quite near term certainly this side of Christmas. If you’re building across four different mobile apps you know that’s a lot to build. So it’s meant that, you know, with a reasonably limited amount of resource, we’ve had to be, you know, quite basic in our initial approach to each of those. The customer app, at the moment, is communicating with customers in slightly a one-size-fits-all way. It’s not personalised enough, it doesn’t assimilate actual customer preferences and previous ordering patterns. And for me as a customer, I want to be shown new products that are selected personally for me I want to feel like me when I come into the Farmdrop app or mobile site or desktop site. And so a lot of what we’re doing now is around the idea of hyper-personalisation and it’s about using technology to make every customer feel really really special.

Guy: [00:11:18] There’s a couple of things to dig into there. I mean, one is from a business perspective, if you can give something, if you can put something that someone wants in front of them and go, “Hey have you seen this?”, then they’re more likely to spend more money. And that sounds like a good thing, right? And then the other side to it is because you guys brand yourself as the ethical grocer, you’re able to kind of tap into those very personal values and experiences that people want from a provider like Farmdrop, and I saw something brilliant recently was in one of the emails that you guys sent out and it was something like, “We’re going to talk about meat in this in this email we’re going to recommend some meat products or something like that but click here to opt out of this kind of thing in future”, and I thought that was a really interesting thing that I’d never seen before. So it sounds like you’re doing some really interesting stuff in this space. Can you talk a little bit more about some of those experiments that you’re doing?

Ben: [00:12:06] So that’s a good example. I mean I would say, that is bare minimum of what we should be trying to do. And if you come back and try the product out in a couple of months from now you’ll see that actually we’re doing a lot more to be able to show for example vegetarian customer only products that we think that they will be interested and clearly meats not one of those. We should really be able to do that without asking the customer to do very much work at all. I think that the ethos behind the specking of the tech road map is really that everybody likes the idea of doing the right thing and shopping and consuming in a way it’s going to be better for the health, better the environment, better for local producers, but unless you make it really easy then actually everyone’s just got a bit too much on their plate. Forgive the pun they’re all a bit too busy and that’s a really good example. We should take all of the trouble onto our own plate. I a vegetarian shouldn’t have to sift through products that are relevant to them. We should be able to evolve our technology platform to do that work for them. They only see the stuff that they want to see and of course it’s great for our unit economics if we’re helping people add more to their basket. And that’s something that’s a very important part of this whole jigsaw puzzle as well because, you know, I very strongly believe that, you know, we’re one of a handful of companies that’s in the middle of this Venn diagram. Companies on one side they’re purely mission-driven, companies on the other side they’re purely financially driven, actually, in Farmdrop we are both and we need to be both if we’re serious about becoming one of the really serious contenders as the next generation food retailer.

Guy: [00:13:50] It sounds brilliant all of this stuff that you’re doing, I love the fact that you’re trying to make it as simple and easy for the consumer as possible because that’s the only time when it’s really going to happen and something else that I believe you’ve done recently is add on a filter for only showing items that are plastic-free, which is, I mean, it’s such a hot topic at the moment. It would be great to hear a little bit more about what that is and how it works.

Ben: [00:14:10] Yeah, it is a hot topic and it’s one that’s very close to my heart. Somebody is always loved to see we believe that we’re the first grocer to do this in the UK and perhaps worldwide to our knowledge. It’s a really simple tool that enables customers to collect plastic-free such that they are only shown veg and fruit and meat products that will arrive without any plastic packaging. And it’s a great example of us trying to make it easy for people to vote with their buying decisions because we believe that that’s solving a problem. I want to be a very low environmental impact consumer but unless somebody makes it really straightforward for me to do that then I will just be lost in the mist of thousands of different decisions and lots of information that I can’t really find the time to go through. So yeah we’re really pleased with the plastic-free filter.

Guy: [00:15:07] And to continue this kind of plastic-free theme, it’s also something that you’re working on in terms of the delivery as well, isn’t it?

Ben: [00:15:14] That’s right, so we’ve got an option which is reduce packaging which you could see at check out, and if select that then actually your delivery will arrive with no plastic carrier bags it will just be in our reusable green crates and it just strays on a hell of a lot of plastic bags which we all know we need to use less of. So it’s a good example of something that we’re really excited about having landed already and were equally excited about improving on that again to make the customer experience even stronger. To cut down on packaging again but yeah reduce packaging option is proving very very popular.

Guy: [00:15:53] I can imagine it is, yeah. And so, you’re fixing the supply chain, you’re empowering the producers with technology, you’re making it as easy as possible for consumers to get exactly what they want, the way that they want it, and in addition to that you’re also helping them cook better as well because we were having a chat before we started the interview and you were saying that there’s been some amazing food cooked-up in your office today and you’re kind of taking that eating round-the-table way of doing things here in the Farmdrop HQ and you’re going to start making some of those recipes available to consumers. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Ben: [00:16:26] Recipes is a great example of how you can make life more interesting and easier for people, and again you see another big upgrade this side of Christmas, at the moment we’re enjoying and as we have been every lunchtime for a long time now, tea meals where we enjoy trial recipes that we’ll put on the site for customers to select and really the ethos behind that is that as a customer I want to be able to eat and seize and I want to be able to support my local fishermen. And if you give me a recipe that’s just going to make it very much easier for me to do that without having to do the hard thinking. It’s probably worth saying that our vision for recipes isn’t the same as the actual recipe box schemes. We don’t want to suddenly fell over delivery crates with sachets of olive oil we think that most of our customers have already got a bit of salt and pepper inaudible and so forth. We just want to provide them with those key core ingredients to make lovely simple meals which don’t take too much time, so yeah, you can look forward to lots more in that area.

Guy: [00:17:35] Brilliant stuff. And all of this that you guys are doing. It’s been going for a while now and as we’ve talked a little bit about how things have changed over the years. One of the big things that I know must have been central to your work over the last few months certainly is raising money. I know that you’ve raised money a few times and I know it’s a subject that gets you a little bit angry but I’m sure our listeners would be really interested to hear a little bit about your experience of doing that both in kind of crowdfunding and also in V.C.. Can you tell us a little bit about some of your experiences of raising money?

Ben: [00:18:06] Yeah, sure. It only frustrates me just from the point of view that it’s incredibly time-consuming and all that time that you could be spending listening to customers working more with your farmers to make the experience better than them. It’s quite frustrating when you’ve got to take that time and put it into going out and raising money. There’s no point in complaining about it because that is the lot of any entrepreneur who wants to go out there and get something kicked off. And in my case I kicked off with my own money and I’ve got a slightly unusual thing whereby a farmer has ever raising money I will always participate in that fundraising on a personal level in any small way that I can possibly afford and I can tell you that I can’t afford a huge amount anymore having been doing this for six years but it’s a principle thing. If I’m asking somebody to invest in my business because I really believe it’s going to continue to thrive and succeed then I think it’s reasonable for an investor to say, “Well why aren’t you putting your own money in then?”, and my answer is, “Well, I am.”

Guy: [00:19:16] And so, you’ve raised money at a number of different stages, can you talk us through what those were? Because I believe you’ve done it in a few different ways as well after putting in money yourself to begin with.

Ben: [00:19:24] Yeah, sure. So, first as I say was was me, and I went into mates, and then we went to the Angel Network and managed to find one or two really sharp tech entrepreneurs who were very helpful in terms of thinking but also in terms of investment, then we did the crowdfunding route which is also really helpful in terms of spreading the word and getting our name out there and getting more supporters and more customers, in fact. And then over the last couple of years we’ve been funding from via venture and I’ve been really fortunate to have on-boarded some really best in class V C’s notably Atomic Co. So I think I’ve probably been round the houses now on that. It is absolutely our vision to be a stand-alone business which is profitable at the right time. I’m actually an ex-accountant of all things so I take those concepts of possibility by seriously, but the reality is that if we’re going to do justice to this concept, if we’re going to take ourselves very seriously in getting out there and providing a genuine alternative, the supermarket, then we can’t move straight towards profitability we need to get some financial help from support from outside to go a bit faster to build all these four apps and make them into a really brilliant offer for all of our customers and farmers.

Guy: [00:20:52] And so the most recent round I think was about 10 million wasn’t it that you raised? And is it a very different type of day-to-day activity going after that kind of money than going after something like a small six-figure sum? And it seems crazy to say the term small when talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds, but how is it different at each stage?

Ben: [00:21:13] What’s it say the due diligence becomes more and more involved. So if it is to your point say 100,000 pounds it’s a hell of a lot of money if it’s a couple of angels that are putting that in who themselves have probably got a lot more money then that’s a case of meeting the team making sure the model looks sensible and their assumptions look sensible, make sure that market opportunity looks big enough but the due diligence itself is really quite short. And then as you go through that stage, you find that the due diligence becomes more involved and takes longer and longer. But the concepts remain the same, the concepts is really about, “Is this a viable idea? Is there product market fit? I, Are people going to want to use this and continue to use it?”, whether you’re doing a family and friends round or a big V.C. round or indeed an IPO. And that’s again part of my or distant background. I think the concepts are the same. Is this a real idea? Are people going to want to engage and engage with it over the long term? And if it is then I think I think you’re gonna be okay.

Guy: [00:22:24] Really interesting, and what is the, is the money earmarked for anything in particular or is it just general scale and growth?

Ben: [00:22:30] So it’s earmarked for making the experience for all of our user groups significantly more compelling. So we talked a bit about, you know, treating each customers with a much higher degree of personalisation. We’ve recently moved our main London operation to end field so there’s some very exciting things for us to do there. It’s not really about spending lots of money on marketing, fun enough. We really believe that, and we can see this in the data. If you’re making your product more and more compelling then it is your customers that should really do most of your marketing for you. And we pore over our data in terms of looking our attribution stacks and wherever customers come from and always pay very close attention to how much is referrals based, how much is organic, because there are signals that we are evolving the product in the right way i.e. we’re making it more compelling, we’re broadening the appeal, so that’s really the crux of it. We don’t have any plans takes money and do anything that we’re not already doing. We just really want to get better.

Guy: [00:23:41] And a big part of the Farmdrop ethos, I guess, is this idea of good food, good honest producers, quality healthy produce, and all of that kind of stuff, you even use the term ethical grocer, and as you grow and you get bigger and kind of become one of the bigger players in the space. I guess there is always that kind of question at the back of the mind which is, you know, “Can we maintain that ethical stance as we as we grow?”, I’m sure it’s something that plays on your mind a lot. Can you talk to us a little bit about some of those challenges that perhaps lie ahead as you grow?

Ben: [00:24:17] Yeah, definitely. That’s a great question, and it’s actually one of the things that hasn’t changed at all since I started Farmdrop six years ago. It all began with there being two apps now therefore but the original two app was a customer at one side, and a producer at the other side. The idea of there being a producer specific app was that we were saying, “Look, let’s make it really easy for smaller scale independent producers to get on-board the platform and sell their food via Farmdrop”. And the reason that we were doing that was because we wanted to have hundreds and then thousands of smaller independent producers. If you look at the history of supermarkets they started with small producers and as they scaled up, the number of producers stayed the same, they were just getting bigger and bigger scale. And we’ve designed Farmdrop to be the opposite of that, as Farmdrop scales, we onboard more and more smaller producers to facilitate that scaling, and by doing that we always protect this very precious DNA which is around this idea that, if I am buying fish from for example a local fisherman using a day boat, using static gill nets which aren’t catching any juvenile fish, is helping look after the ocean, is helping the health of my 4 year old, because the way those fish are caught and looked after by the time that gets me. I’m supporting the environment, I’m supporting the fishermen, and I’m keeping me and my family out of the doctor. And that’s really the thing that we’re going to protect all the way through our Grace phase and our sailing because it’s what I and every body’s come to join us and work at Farmdrop really cares about.

Guy: [00:25:57] And so if there are any small producers listening, which I imagine there are, what would be the steps for them to get on the platform? Is it a very open thing? Or is it very much like you, “by appointment only”?

Ben: [00:26:10] Well, we don’t use “by appointment only” because it doesn’t really ring right with us. But what we do take very seriously is is the due diligence process around each producer. They’re not hobbyist producers, they’re all impassioned independent producers who are already making food for a living and we will audit their certification for example if it’s Soil Association certified. We’ll look at that to make sure that that’s all as it should be. We do a good amount of vetting but we also make it straightforward for the producers themselves. Actually, onboard their product it’s taking things to the next level in terms of producer autonomy. We’ve got lots of exciting stuff still to do on that. Any producers listening, you just go to the website, you’ll see at the bottom of our photo you’ll see there’s an email address specifically for producers who are interested in getting in touch and we’ve got an amazing producer team who are all specialists in their different areas of the food world. And we’re always on the lookout for really amazing independent producers to try and support and distribute on behalf of.

Guy: [00:27:20] And it’s not just food, is it? You’ve branched out from what I think started as purely food but you now do household items, and domestic goods, and stuff like that. Is that correct?

Ben: [00:27:29] It is, yes. And they were really about customer retention and just trying to look at grocery shopping from the point of view of a customer saying well a lot of them, and I’m one of them. If I care about buying bread from a local baker, that’s gonna be super healthy because it’s only got four ingredients as opposed to supermarket breads that’s got more like 20, then it follows that I should also want to buy shower gel which has similar ethical traits and or dishwasher tablets and so we have a very very tight range of non-food. People come to us do their shopping for one reason only and that is for the food. But then what we see is that they end up actually buying some locally made London gin and or some dishwasher tablets because it’s just making life easy for them and that’s something that we take very seriously.

Guy: [00:28:29] Yeah definitely seems to be a running theme throughout this whole conversation is just making it easier for everybody whether that is for the consumer or for the producer which is fantastic and we’re just kind of wrapping up the time we’re just running out of time slightly so I’d like to ask you one final question which we ask everybody who comes on the show which is if you have one nugget of advice for anybody who is just starting out on their food entrepreneurial journey have more the experience that you’ve had over the years, what would that be?

Ben: [00:28:56] One piece would be just to get on and do it and have a crack. Because if you’ve got a great idea then you’ve got to give it a go because the worst thing that’s going to happen is it isn’t going to work. And then the other, the other one, is just to really scrutinise it. I think if you can go and have a chat with your mates or your family and say look I’ve got this idea there’s going to be this kind of customer who’s going to use it for this reason and this kind of supply is going to use it for this reason if it’s that sort of business. If everybody looks back at you with a sort of blank stroke sympathetic face and wishes you well on your suicide mission, then you should just go back and think about it a bit more because the more you do that, the closer you’re going to be with your initial foray I guess.

Guy: [00:29:46] That was Ben Pugh the founder and CEO of Farmdrop and you can find out more about them at Farmdrop.com and if you were a small independent producer just head to their website scroll down to the bottom and you’ll find the contact details there. If you want to sell your produce on farm drop. Still to come today are lessons learned and resource of the week, after this.

Lessons Learned

Kylie: [00:30:13] Ben’s got some really interesting stuff to stay in there. And surprisingly not, not too much said about the food but so much said about a customer you can really tell that he really cares about wanting to fix the broken food system that we kind of have all these mass produce stuff but he really wants to make it so much easier for his customers to be able to shop the way that they want without it being a pain in the arse which sometimes shopping really can be.

Guy: [00:30:41] Yeah, absolutely. And I wonder how much of it is because Ben is very much one of his own customers.

Kylie: [00:30:46] Okay, I mean, he says that himself, right? It’s just like he is his ideal customer. He wants to make better food choices and I think there’s a growing number of people and you know he says there’s a growing number of these ethical consumers out there who want to make better choices. But supermarkets aren’t making it easy for us. And so I think what he’s trying to do is, you know, plug that gap, so make it so easy for people that they don’t have to think and then it’s a clear choice that they will just come and use his platform.

Guy: [00:31:13] Yeah and what’s interesting is even though Ben is very much one of his own customers, you don’t have to be your own customer in order to create something that your customers want and that’s clearly a very strong message that was coming through in the interview, is knowing your customers, so important, isn’t it?

Kylie: [00:31:30] Yeah and I love the fact so that the email that you talked about there is is a clear indicator, you know, if I remember correctly it was about some goat meat that they have and kid meat. So baby goat is a really sustainable source of meat, so from an ethical sustainability perspective, it’s an awesome meat to use.

Guy: [00:31:46] Is it really?

Kylie: [00:31:47] Yeah, it is. It’s much lower impact on the land, and yeah, there’s lots of reasons for it to grow as fast, etc. But yeah, so you know, they’re sitting behind that sustainability I think for people who consume meat but it’s really nice then that you get the news and you can say, “Oh, you know what, I don’t want to hear anymore about this meat stuff”. I don’t know of any other newsletter that I’m on, and I’m on many, that gives you that option of kind of opting out on certain types of content like, “I don’t want to hear about this. I don’t want to hear about that.” There’s ways of opting in, you know, there’s certain news things that you can say, “Oh I want to hear about sports, I want to hear that” but there’s no real way of opting out which I think is really interesting. And again it just goes to that real care for the consumer and understanding that they’ve got different customers who like different kind of things and they should be surfing the thing that’s of most relevance to to all of their customers whatever that relevance happens to be.

Guy: [00:32:44] Mm hmm, yeah. And it’s really interesting that initially for this first test that they’re doing with some of this personalisation stuff is they have to get the consumer to take the action to tick the box, or click the link, or whatever. But because technology is so core to what they do and they’ve got a big tech team, they’re looking at ways to completely automate that whole process so that it is seamless for them as an organisation, but also seamless for the customer. And that’s where it gets really really powerful.

Kylie: [00:33:09] Yeah, I mean then they should definitely be able to learn behaviours about their customers just like Amazon learns what you like to shop or when you like to shop and it knows when to drop emails into your inbox. That’s the power of data and they have a lot of it I’m sure.

Guy: [00:33:23] Yeah. I was at a talk recently and the founder of Spoon Guru was speaking about personalisation and and all these different preferences that people have and they’ve done a big integration with Tesco recently, but it was really interesting to hear how, you know, through the power of data and through all of this machine learning and stuff, they can really start to get a very detailed picture of how things are going. I guess Farmdrop are looking to do very similar kinds of things.

Kylie: [00:33:48] Yeah. And it’s evident too, like Ben spoke there about raising money. And what I found the most interesting about that was, when normally when people are talking about raising money, they’re talking about, “Oh so we’re going to redesign this, we’re going to add these features, we’re going to, you know, add all new shiny bells and whistles”. Whereas Ben kind of implied that well we’re just going to do what we do but do it better.

Guy: [00:34:07] Mm hmm.

Kylie: [00:34:08] Which is really really nice. You know he’s like we’ve got a working thing we just want to make it better for the customers that we already have and again it just goes back to that thing. He says you know the job is never done they want to make it better, easier, more personal, and that’s a really nice message to have very different to the supermarkets again, you know, supermarket is about, “I just want to get more customers through the door”. And Ben’s kind of like well I want to just make it easier for those customers that we already have.

Guy: [00:34:32] Mm hmm. And another point about the customers and where they come from, Ben mentioned right at the end which I thought was really interesting was that idea of not wanting to spend too much on marketing because if you’ve got a really good product and the customers end up doing a lot of the marketing for you, of course it’s all about trying to find the balance. But yeah, I think it always is so much more powerful when you can get your customers to be that united voice that are spreading the word about you.

Kylie: [00:34:57] Yeah and I think Ben’s quite lucky in one regard. He’s got two customer bases. You know he’s got his farmers who are going to be talking to their farmer friend and what I really liked about what he said in the beginning of the, of the interview was that they have multiple apps so they’ve designed apps specifically for each of their customer bases. So you know, one for their farmers, and one for their customer, you know, their consumer customers. And what that says to me is you know they’re not trying to build a one platform that they’re kind of hacking together to meet everyone’s needs. But they’ve gone well. These guys have got really different needs and the things that we need to show them or give them is really different to this other customer base. So we’ll just develop separate apps. And so the cost of that is phenomenal. But I think that the gain that they get from that also, in the end, will be a massive win for them will set them well apart from lots of other providers.

Guy: [00:35:48] Mm hmm. And I think it works well in this case because the consumer who is buying from the platform from the marketplace has nothing to do with all of the information that a producer needs and the kind of experience that they would need to fulfil the orders. So it makes perfect sense to separate it all out in this case because otherwise it would be this cobbled together massive chunky thing whereas they’re able to be I’m assuming a lot more fast and nimble and work on these individual bits and pieces and work on them as is necessary to improve them and to keep things moving all time. So I think that’s pretty much everything that I pulled out of the interview obviously there was a there was a lot more there as well but anything else from you, Kylie?

Kylie: [00:36:29] Oh, just throw in, if you’re looking to give Farmdrop a go, jump on over to Eco & Beyond, we have a discount code there so that you can get some money off a couple of your first orders. I highly recommend them. The food is always great. That comes off the platform and we’re very happy as a farm truck customer.

Guy: [00:36:46] Fantastic, yeah. Good bit of advice, if you want to save some money on some great food, we’ll put a link in the show notes so you can go and get that discount code and yeah show them some love. Right, let’s wrap this up and move on to our resource of the week.

Resource of the Week

Guy: [00:37:02] Okay. We had a very techie interview and so for our resource of the week this week we’ve gone non-techie although sort of techie so we’ve got a book for you. But it’s a book which is very popular in the tech world. It’s called The Lean Startup by Eric Reece. Kylie, you’ve read this book, haven’t you?

Kylie: [00:37:21] I have. I’ve listened to it and I’ve read it. I think we have a paper version somewhere on it old school like that.

Guy: [00:37:25] You are so old school.

Kylie: [00:37:27] But I think well the book is a great resource I think there are something that I’ve worked for many tech companies and the methodology is that the lean startup is based on this idea of you know iterating fast and being agile and that has I think that came around about 10 years ago in the tech world and it is something that if you ever go into any tech company everyone will talk about the agile methodology. And it really is core to how a lot of tech businesses develop out apps and products and stuff.

Guy: [00:37:58] Yeah it seems like there’s a whole load of different methodologies everyone loves a framework and a methodology and a diagram. So yeah there’s there’s agile, there’s scrum, and then there is this kind of lean manufacturing model which I think is was the inspiration for the book. It’s been a while since I actually read it but there was one picture, one model that really sticks in my mind, which is, it’s like a circular diagram. It almost looks like the recycling symbol but like a circular version and it’s got kind of three pieces to it and it’s build, measure, learn, and that is such a simple kind of three-word mantra that you can apply to so many different aspects of your life. But but primarily a business in this case and so it’s to build the smallest possible thing then to put that out into the marketplace to test the hypotheses to validate the idea to get some feedback so that you can then measure something from that test and then you can learn from those from those results and then you can picture it like a cycle so you go through these three steps over and over again iterating on always making improvements to the product.

Kylie: [00:39:03] And the reason we’re talking about this resource is Ben talks about it. Initially, they were this Click and Collect style platform that then they worked out wasn’t really delivering on what they wanted. And so they had done that kind of the first two phases, so they’d build something, they put it out there, they gathered some data and got some feedback and then they learned that actually it wasn’t working and then they had to go back to the drawing board and try again. And so I think that whole process is something that most businesses go through. I mean I know we’ve gone through it a couple of times and you go around that loop.

Guy: [00:39:36] Sorry we’re trying to sound professionally like we know what we’re talking about.

Kylie: [00:39:39] But I think it’s part of any business where you come up with an idea and you think that sounds kind of cool, yeah that that will work people must want that, you put it out there and then it kind of lands flat and you think maybe not. Okay, let’s go again. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s all part of the journey. but you have to go through that journey because if you just do the first two parts, and then don’t do the third part, you just end up wasting so much money and time and get disheartened whereas actually you just got a case that didn’t work, “What do we learn?, and then you move on.

Guy: [00:40:09] Absolutely. And I think a big piece of what connects this resource to what Ben was talking about is that listening to customers because that’s where you can gather measurements but it’s also where you get the biggest learnings from.

Kylie: [00:40:21] Yeah and they’ve got so much data as well so they don’t actually speak to people if they don’t want to though we highly advice that he, you know everyone does but data tells another story altogether. You know it doesn’t lie whereas your friends and family they might lie a little bit to you.

Guy: [00:40:34] And very very true indeed. So it’s a great book. We’ll put a link to to go and get it on Amazon or to learn more about it in our show notes at goodfoodies.co.uk but yeah highly recommended read or listen if you’re like me and don’t like reading then yeah go and grab a copy and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two. So I think that pretty much wraps us up for another episode. Thank you so much for joining us. I hope you got some value out of this and enjoy listening to Ben and all the fantastic stuff the Farmdrop are up to. If you are enjoying the show we’d really appreciate it if you’d spread the word. Let your friends, your family, your colleagues, your network, know about what we’re doing here and more importantly about the work that the likes of Farmdrop are doing and we’d love it if you would help us do that. One of the best ways to do that and to support the show is to leave us a review on Apple podcasts, it used to be called iTunes is now called Apple podcast. And for a handy way to get over there just head to goodfoodies.co.uk/iTunes and just hit stars and leaves a comment. We’d love to hear from you. So that’s all from us for another week. We’ll talk to you next time. Cheers.

Kylie: [00:41:41] Bye for now.