Last month, food waste reduction and food insecurity startup Goodr raised an $8 million Series A funding round.
When Jasmine Crowe founded the company, the Atlanta-based startup used technology to help large food service providers reduce food waste. Over the past two years, Goodr has expanded its business to provide expertise to companies looking to provide food to those in food insecure situations.
I wanted to catch up with Crowe to ask her about how the business has evolved, the challenges of raising venture funding as a Black founder, and where she sees the company going in the future.
You can read the full interview transcript below.
Before this most recent round, you’d managed to operate without a lot of outside funding.
We really just bootstrapped. To date have done more revenue than we’ve done in funding, which is something I’m personally proud of.
What was some of the thinking behind deciding to go after new funding?
It was really about scaling up to meet our demand. We had so many big deals that we were bringing in, so many new customers that we were onboarding. Because we have always been really lean and capital efficient, we’ve also had a very small team. So it really got down to ‘hey, we need to, we got to get more people in the door.’ And so that’s kind of really what happened. I was like, ‘I’ve got to raise money because I’ve got to hire more people.’
This round comes at a time where we are seeing a pullback in venture funding. You were right in the midst of that pullback.
We definitely were 100% all involved with that market change and it was scary. It was really scary because we just didn’t know. When I started raising funds in the market in late September, October of last year, and I remember one of my investors was like, ‘oh, Jasmine, your numbers are so great, look what you’ve done.’ At the time, I had only raised like $1.4 million or whatever prior to so we were like ‘you’re going to be able to raise this money so easily, like this is going to be the fastest money you’ve ever raised’. And it definitely wasn’t that. I think we had some struggles with it.
When did you notice the winds of change?
It was March of this year. We had an investor that we were working with, and then they were like, ‘Oh, the market is changing, we’re gonna have to protect our downside’. And they tried to give us these really just terrible terms. There was a lot of that. For me, that was scary because we were at a time when we were trying to grow the company and ultimately, this was happening, and I was very afraid we weren’t going to be able to do it. But we made it through.
When I first talked to you in 2017-18, some of the company’s focus was on food waste reduction using technologies like blockchain. That was part of Goodr’s pitch early on. Through the pandemic, you really moved to help people in a time of food insecurity. So talk about how the business has evolved over the past couple of years.
At the start of the pandemic, we were extremely busy, because so many businesses were closing and we were giving all of their food as you can imagine. So eventually, I thought ‘You know what, you got to go back to what you’re really good at Jasmine and that’s helping people. You got to get back into the groove of like making sure people have access to food.’ And so we spun up the hunger solution side of our business. We made it very clear and very easy to work with us to address food insecurity in a community. So we began working with customers like the NBA, and Accenture, and State Farm, who wanted to do something with a lens of being positive, of being in the community, and giving people that dignity. We’re still helping businesses reduce their food waste, but we’re working on the food insecurity side as well.
Is there still a blockchain-oriented component to your food waste reduction solution?
We do have two use cases. One is a smart contract with our nonprofits, where when they sign for the deliveries, there is a letter of donation letter that goes into our clients’ platform that their signature somewhat creates. And so we have an agreement with them to do that. And then there’s one use case on Ethereum just really showing how the food is moving, who’s getting the food, what time it was received. It’s there, but we pulled back from it because it was becoming super trendy.
How would you describe the food waste reduction platform and the technologies?
The best way to describe it is we inventory everything it is that a business sells. We make it really easy for them to request a pickup. So this is a one stop shop for those clients. They’re clicking on the items that they have, they’re requesting a pickup and we’re leveraging our APIs and our technology to aggregate different drivers for the logistics of getting that food picked up and then delivered directly to those nonprofits.
What it also does is it converts for every single pound of food that we keep out of landfill. It’s converting that to a lot of sustainability metrics that our clients are using, such as how many meals are provided, how many people, who the food is going to, how many pounds of CO2 emissions that they’re helping to prevent. We have a dashboard that also says to them, ‘this is equivalent to this many gallons of water, this many trees kept off the road.’ So it really helps them to tell a story around their sustainability initiatives.
Who is your typical customer?
We have a lot of large corporations. Our big customers like the food service customer. So we have the Sodexos, the Aramarks, the Compasses, those are essentially our customers. And then we work with their locations to roll out the service. We serve companies like Nike, Oracle, LinkedIn and Goldman Sachs, Capital One. They’re our customers, but we’re really getting all the food if that makes sense.
We know that the tech industry has too many white guys. When you went out there to raise funding, as a Black founder, was it more challenging for you? What barriers did you find?
It was definitely hard. An article I saw last week made it clear that the amount of funding that was going to Black founders has gone down. I was really focused on the business in 2020 and 2021, as opposed to I think probably focusing on trying to get the money in. So it’s hard, and it didn’t get easier for us. But what I will say is, I felt like I still went out there and went after it the right way. It wasn’t easy for me, and I probably should have gone out sooner. In hindsight, I think that was the thing that I missed out on. Going out in late 2021 hurt me because it started to slow down a little bit.
Tell me about your current like footprint in terms of cities and reach.
In terms of revenue and customer size, our top five markets are Atlanta, Washington DC, Dallas, Denver. We’re seeing a lot of work like in the tri-state area; we have a lot of customers in New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York area.
We’re really trying to expand what our client base is. We operate in about 26 cities right now, and our goal is to really be everywhere in the United States. We just want to be in as many places as we can. And eventually, probably not with this round of funding, but we’re going to start looking at what it looks like to have some kind of North America expansion, most likely, throughout Canada or Mexico.
I understand the food waste reduction side monetization model. Can you talk about the business model for the food insecurity management side of the business?
It’s such a big span. I think a lot of people, because it’s so charitable, they don’t look at it from a business standpoint. Billions and billions of dollars are spent on an annual basis trying to feed people. Now Goodr is coming in with this as a systematic solution, saying what this many, with this amount of money, this is how many meals we’ll be able to provide this many families.
So it’s a managed service?
It’s a cost-plus model. Our customers will come to us and say ‘we have a budget of $50,000, we’d like to service families that are food insecure.’ We then create a menu, we do the entire activation. So it’s a cost plus. They’re paying an administrative fee plus the fee for all of the food.
What’s the big plan five years from now? What do you want Goodr to grow into?
I think it should be worldwide. Ultimately, within five years, we are tracking ourselves to being a company that’s making $100 million a year. I think we could get there within five years. Our goal for 2024 is to be about $25 million, and so really to see ourselves double year after year after that. Food waste is becoming such a bigger problem, so people are finally paying attention to it. When I was first getting started with this company, ao many people just didn’t believe it was a big issue and they didn’t think it was a big deal. And now, I think people are starting to understand food waste is a problem and what can we do to address it. More and more customers are coming to us, and it’s a blessing.
Thank you for your time.
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