Food Waste Management Firm Goodr Uses Blockchain To Redirect Surplus Edibles

Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
Written by Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
Food waste management
Jasmine Crowe, CEO and founder of Goodr food waste management company. Photo provided by Goodr

 

Goodr, an Atlanta-based food waste management company, is leveraging blockchain technology to redirect surplus food from restaurants, airports and convention centers to people who need it.

Few waste management companies in the U.S. are using blockchain to operate their business, and fewer, if any, are doing it to help end hunger in local communities.

Jasmine Crowe, the CEO and founder of Goodr, is a social entrepreneur with no tech background. Her team of just five people is on track to hit 1 million pounds of food distributed in one year.

Food waste management
Ted Photos – Taken by TedX Atlanta – Lyndsey Whiterspoon.

Goodr’s efforts are getting the type of attention startups dream of. The Atlanta airport is its biggest customer, and Goodr is talking to more Atlanta institutions.

The startup has secured a funding round with details to be announced in the coming weeks, Crowe told Moguldom. And there are plans for expansion into a new market.

https://twitter.com/jasminecrowe/status/1024691397339824129

In February 2018, Goodr was chosen to be one of 10 founding teams in the inaugural virtual accelerator, Techstars Anywhere Class of 2018. Goodr beat out applicants from around the world and made it into the top 1 percent of finalists.

Goodr charges its customers a fee for its service, based on how much the company is recovering and how often Goodr goes out to recover food. Goodr then distributes the food to organizations in the area that help the community and people who are food insecure. It’s a way for companies to support the communities around them, Crowe said.

“We see ourselves as a waste management company,” Crowe said. “When an organization pays us to pick up their surplus, they get a tax benefit from it. So, for every dollar they spend with us, we save them $14.”

Crowe spoke to Moguldom about the competition, trying to raise funds, and how she uses blockchain.

Moguldom: How are you using blockchain in this process?

Jasmine Crowe: We’re using blockchain to pretty much verify the chain of custody. We’re able to show our customers what we receive makes it to the nonprofit. We provide our customers with the ability to have thorough documentation of the items they’re donating for tax deductions. If the IRS ever approaches one of our customers, they have a secure ledger which can account for all their donations.

Moguldom: Who are your customers?

Jasmine Crowe: Our largest customer today is the Atlanta airport. We’re also working with Bike Park City Market, Turner Broadcasting System, the Georgia World Congress Center and are beginning to have conversations with organizations outside of Atlanta. We’re looking at our next market which we’ve already selected. We will be announcing the next market Goodr will be in within the next month or so.

Food waste management
Photos- Taken by Goodr.

Moguldom: You’re about to hit a milestone for your business, correct? How large is your team?

Jasmine Crowe: Yes, by September we will have picked up and distributed 1 million pounds of food to the Atlanta area. We have five people right now, but we just closed a round of funding and the team will probably grow to seven or eight.

Moguldom:  What makes Goodr different from other competitors in your space?

Jasmine Crowe: I have found our competitors offer an Uber-type model where drivers go to restaurants and pick up food for distribution. We’re more of an enterprise model where we’re working with customers like convention centers, colleges, and universities stadiums. Ultimately, we look at our competitors as friends in the fight because we want to end food hunger and food waste. Even with us at full scale operating with a big team, we’re talking 72 billion pounds of food going to waste. We always knew we wouldn’t be the only ones doing this. We are seeing people are coming into the market now kind of on a copycat basis. They notice what we’re doing, but they have not done it yet, nor have the same passion as I did when I first started doing this.

Moguldom: It’s food waste management now, but do you see Goodr working into other spaces later?

Jasmine Crowe: I think we will still focus on food waste, but we will explore the vertical more. Right now, we focus on the edible food surplus, but we will start to focus on all food waste in the future. We will look at turning the food into fuel or biodiesel products instead of it filling landfills. We’ll expand into different areas but with our current customers.

Food waste management
Photos- Taken by Goodr.

Moguldom: Was it difficult getting people to understand the financial impact and benefit of investing in your company? Were there any challenges?

Jasmine Crowe: It was not difficult to get them to understand the financial impact or benefit, but I would say, it was difficult as a Black woman to raise the money. As we know, Black women raise around 0.002 percent of tech venture funding. Our business case for what we’re doing is clear. However, investors would say things like, “We only typically invest in startups that are in California,” or “We don’t invest in food startups.” A lot of excuses given, but it was never that they didn’t understand the business model of what we’re doing. We did have one person say they didn’t think hunger was a big cause. I think that was just an excuse to not invest in us because you can Google it. You can Google ‘food insecure’ or ‘hunger’, and thousands of things will come up. So, hunger is a big cause, no doubt about it.

Moguldom: What would you say to other Black women looking for venture funding?

Jasmine Crowe: I would say to do the work. We had everything lined up. We had our team, we had traction, we had customers, we made it clear we were solving a big problem, and it was still hard. So I would say to anybody that’s going to go after funding to make sure you have all those things right first. Many times you don’t have that network. You don’t have the friend you can call personally. You’re going in blind, and people have to like you as a founder. They have to think, “This is a good team” or “This is something I’m interested in.” Just make sure you have all your I’s dotted, and T’s crossed, and you have proven you have a business model. Ensure they can understand the value proposition of what you’re bringing to your clients.  Also, make sure you know the competitive landscape of who’s doing this and why you’re better than them. Even with everything we had, it was still hard. I couldn’t imagine doing it without having each of these things outlined down to the dollar of our budget.

Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
Image Attribution: Food is served from an outdoor kitchen set-up for those made homeless by the massive fire in Grenfell Tower, in London, Thursday, June 15, 2017. A massive fire raced through the 24-story high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)