Revista Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Negócios feature Bucky Box – Splashdown in Brazil!

Brazilian Business Magazine features Kiwi Local Food Startup!

We knew something was up when our beta channel started seeing several Brazilian requests for our beta service.  A little investigating today showed us that not only were we featured in ‘Springwise : Online Startup Network‘ this week, but our social enterprise software for local food distribution was also featured in Revista Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Negócios – the go-to Brazilian magazine for small & medium business, entrepreneurship & more!

 

Easy to use software created by the company help automate billing data transport and logistics, addition of production. With this, Bucky Box hopes to boost decentralized food system – small farms organic food in particular. In the company’s website, owners can manage the company, reducing the time spent on administration to a maximum of two hours weekly.

 

So, a big thanks to our new favourite Brazilian magazine – Revista Pequenas Empresas & Grandes Negócios! It’s not every day a Kiwi startup gets featured in a major international publication – but we’re very thankful to have been featured in quite a few at this point.

 

We look forward to working with some Brazilian local food schemes in the future! Roll on the decentralized food system!

Tips for Local Food #3 : Creative Funding – finding new & innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Creative Funding’ – finding new & innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise.

Bucky Box - helping you find new & innovative ways to fund local food enterprise

 

You can also check out ‘#1 : Get Social – a guide to new media for local food‘ & ‘#2 : Call on Existing Resources & Support – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants‘.

 

Finding it hard to find the capital to get your local food enterprise off the ground? Want to scale up your business, but finance is a barrier?

 

Here’s our first guide to creative funding paths for local food enterprises, which we think may help you find a path away from the loan sharks & corporate banks, to an exciting future of local food funding.

 

You may remember we wrote a blog off the back of National Good Food Network’s webinar about funding local food.  This is still a great resource for a variety of creative ways to fund local food enterprise, so we’re re-posting the slideshow below.  However, this blog is the follow up with some fresh new ideas from our research in this space too.

 

Local Food Funding Webinar Round-up

[<a href=”http://storify.com/buckybox/local-food-investment-webinar” target=”_blank”>View the story “Local Food Investment Webinar – National Good Food Network” on Storify</a>]<br /> <h1>Local Food Investment Webinar – National Good Food Network</h1> <h2>A webinar hosted by @ngfn on innovative ways to fund your local food enterprise.More information at the National Good Food Network here: http://bit.ly/y7TKRg</h2> <p>Storified by Bucky Box · Sun, Aug 05 2012 21:27:10</p> <div>Youngfarmers</div> <div>Find out how the USDA supports local and regional food systems. Free webinar TODAY 3:30p ET 12:30p PT http://bit.ly/y3qVhDNatl Good Food Netwk</div> <div>’Cutting Edge Ways to Fund your Food Business’ #NGFNwebinar on now http://bit.ly/w07Ggl – thanks @ngfn!Bucky Box</div> <div><b><i>You can see the FULL webinar video here now too:</i></b></div> <div>Cutting Edge Ways to Fund Your Food Business – an NGFN webinarwallacecenter</div> <div><b>Check out the live-tweeted round-up here too:</b></div> <div>Study & Support of #FoodHubs – resource coming soon from USDA & Wallace Centre http://foodhub.info #NGFNwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>USDA Unveils New Food Hub Resource Guide to Expand Market …Apr 20, 2012 … CHICAGO, April 20, 2012 ? The U. S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the first Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, bol…</div> <div>Food Hub Center — National Good Food NetworkBuilding Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and … Check out the Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, a new …</div> <div>Panelist & speaker Michael Shuman is introduced to the webinar audience of around 80 people from around the country (and world in Bucky Box’s case!)<br></div> <div>Michael Shuman (economist & author) – ‘Local $, Local sense’ : the importance of #investment in #food. Webinars coming up! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Information from NGFN:<br><span style=”font-style: italic;”>Drawing from his new book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street,” Michael Shuman will explain a dozen, low-cost strategies local businesses are using to secure new capital from the general public.  He will talk about specialized bank CD programs, prepurchase deals, new-generation cooperatives, internet sponsorship sites (like Kickstarter), P2P lenders (like Prosper and Kiva), community lending circles, investment clubs, municipal bond schemes, local revolving loan funds, direct public offerings, and local stock exchanges.  He also will report on the latest news of a crowdfunding reform bill – sponsored by Tea-Party Republicans but endorsed by the Obama Administration – that is working its way through Congress and could literally make trillions of dollars of new capital available to local business.</span></div> <div>www.postcarbon.org</div> <div>$103m to relocalise food in Boulder, but #local people can fund this with a fraction of our savings & securities. #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Economic impact of moving 25% of food to #local: 1899 jobs, $81m in wages, $138m local gdp – in Boulder County alone! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>’A tiny fraction of national long term capital is invested in local markets’. Shift $ from Wall St to Local! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>AGREED! Software being one! "Many efficiencies discovered in current food system that are not contrary to Good Food." #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>The Local Food investment tips start rolling in from Michael Shuman….<br></div> <div>Investment in Local Food: 1) Speciality Deposits (CD’s) http://trib.al/43JZ5Y #investment #food #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Specialty Deposits – Deposit Services – Citizens Business BankWith CDARS, you can access FDIC protection on multi-million dollar CD investments through Citizens Business Bank. There are few guarant…</div> <div>1) Speciality Deposits: Alternative Credit Union CENTS http://trib.al/Et7k9d #ngfnwebinar #investmentBucky Box</div> <div>Alternatives.org: Business CENTS – Alternatives Federal Credit UnionWhether you are at the starting stages or have been in business for years, Business CENTS can help. Business CENTS is a comprehensive s…</div> <div>Investment in Local Food: 2) Co-op Investment – lighter & easy to get off the ground #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Cooperatives take up the next 5 minutes or so – seem like quite the possibilities in this space.<br></div> <div>#Co-ops are amazing. It’s official. Food Hub with Co-op backing anyone? #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>International Year of Cooperatives Video Clip 2012uncoopsyear</div> <div>2012 International Year of Co-operatives | Welcome to the official …A key aim of the International Year is to raise public awareness of the co- operative business model. In the media section you can find …</div> <div>Carrying on with the tips…</div> <div>3) LION – local investment opportunity network – Local Food enterprises can apply! #investment #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>The Concept | Lion InvestingWe know it's important to “buy local.” What if we could also invest locally? LION – the Local Investment Opportunities Network – co…</div> <div>Local Food Investment tip #4: Sponsorship – get in on the @kickstarter crowdfunding revolution! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>KickstarterKickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects.</div> <div>Haha, "The electronic Mohammad Yunus" Local Food Investment tip #5: e-Lending – get in on @kiva action! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Kiva – Loans that change livesMake a loan to an entrepreneur across the globe for as little as $25. Kiva is the world's first online lending platform connecting …</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #6 ‘Slow Munis’ – Municipal Bonds http://trib.al/lHzWn8 #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Municipal bond – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaA municipal bond is a bond issued by an American city or other local government , or their agencies. Potential issuers of municipal bond…</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #7 Pre-Sales – Get your money up front to aid growth! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Food $ tip #8 Local Stock: locally raised funds for local projects http://trib.al/wV2kns #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Stock take of new legislation bills related to Crowdfunding – as backed by Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street.<br></div> <div>Pending legislation in US could open up a whole realm of new securities to Local Food if #crowdfunding legislation goes thru! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Food $ tip #8: Local Stock Exchanges – Hawaii might be first off the rank! #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Local Stock Exchanges and National StimulusLocal Stock Exchanges and. National Stimulus. Michael Shuman. Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Since the global financial …</div> <div>Local Food Investment tip #9: Investment Clubs like @SlowMoney & @SlowMoneyNYC #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Slow Money: Investment strategies appropriate to the realities of the …What it means to be an investor in the 21st century, promoting principles of soil fertility, sense of place, and cultural, environmenta…</div> <div>Local Food investment tip #10: Self Directed IRA (there’s even a "For Dummies" book for it!) #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Tax Advantages of Day Trading Through Self-Directed IRAs – For …Much of the tax hassle associated with day trading is eliminated if you trade through a self-directed Individual Retirement Arrangement…</div> <div>So the big question: "When the 1st $1trillion shifts from Wall St, what would you do for local food with a portion of it?" #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Prepare for the next stockmarket crash as everyone shifts their investment into local channels.Sustaination</div> <div>Food Hubs were talked about a fair bit as a shifting trend to open up new markets for CSA’s and local growers.  Check out http://foodhub.info to jump to the Wallace Centre’s resource portal for Food Hub information!<br></div> <div>Csrwire</div> <div>Food Hubs – Viable Regional Distribution Solutions – an NGFN webinarwallacecenter</div> <div>Big excitement about #FoodHubs from Michael Shuman as future of local food on #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Staticflickr</div> <div>I think Sustaination might have to bring our early investment offer forward.. over excited by #ngfnwebinar — thanks @buckyboxSustaination</div> <div>Michael Shuman opens the webinar to questions.  He explains investment into Food Hubs could be a prudent move at the moment.  We also ask about investment in technology for Food Hubs…<br></div> <div>Afraid we disagree on that one! ‘Most useful basis for software in local food is redeploying old technology’ what do u reckon @sustaination?Bucky Box</div> <div>@buckybox if you *can* re-use old software, then obviously do that. But there’s *always* room for necessary innovation #foodtechSustaination</div> <div>@Sustaination I’ve not seen too many VegeBox schemes operating SAP tho. Is #Tech moving too fast to deploy old tech for emerging industries?Bucky Box</div> <div>@buckybox barcode scanners, cheap gsm cell phones for remote data capture… all useful old tech which can be used.Sustaination</div> <div>@Sustaination True, simple smart phones & tablets will have a big role in the emerging decentralised food system. Time to make it happen.Bucky Box</div> <div>NZ Social Enterprise Bucky Box to Simplify Distribution for – SeedstockJan 16, 2012 … Bucky Box is a Wellington, New Zealand-based social enterprise dedicated to building software to improve the world&#39…</div> <div>BuckyBox: Helping Farmers Get Fresh Food To Your Table – Co.ExistCommunity supported agriculture and other farm-to-consumer schemes potentially offer a great way for independent farmers to compete in …</div> <div>Software firm focuses on helping small organic farms | Springwise3 days ago … Founded by one of the entrepreneurs behind Ooooby – which we covered back in 2010 – New Zealand-based Bucky Box is a sof…</div> <div>Study on shifting 25% of food to Local systems can be found here (PDF): http://trib.al/eoufudBucky Box</div> <div>Great stuff @NGFN, TY for the webinar, really interesting & helpful! Report to follow here: http://trib.al/T2EFXN #ngfnwebinarBucky Box</div> <div>Ditto! RT @buckybox: Great stuff @NGFN, TY for the webinar, really interesting! Report to follow here: http://s.coop/aorx #ngfnwebinarSustaination</div> <div>Check out more of National Good Food Network & Wallace Centre’s work here:<br></div> <div>Welcome — Wallace CenterWelcome to Wallace Center</div> <div>Welcome to your National Good Food Network — National Good Food NetworkThe National Good Food Network is bringing together people from all parts of the rapidly emerging good food system – producers, buyers, d…</div> <div>Check out more of Michael Shuman’s work here:<br></div> <div>Cutting Edge Capital – Creative Capital Raising for Your Business » About UsJenny has over fifteen years of experience as an attorney for and creator of social enterprises. She has raised funds for and launched a …</div> <div>THE BUSINESS ALLIANCE FOR LOCAL LIVING ECONOMIES | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living EconomiesDansko Stepping up its U.S. Footprint (posted on Mar 15 2012) Philadelphia Inquirer The Dansko shoe company strives to manufacture their …</div> <div>Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael H. Shuman – Chelsea GreenLocal Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman probes the future of investing — making the case for investors to put their money into buil…</div> <div>Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street – Michael Shumanargusfest</div>Cooperatives & Community

There’s something about local food enterprise which shouts cooperation to us, and if there’s one thing we can learn from nature about feeding a geographical area / community / neighbourhood, then it’s that competition & cooperation can be utilised together for greater outcomes.

 

2012 is the year of the Cooperative, and there’s plenty of examples, events & resources about how you can use co-operative models in your local neighbourhood to either get started, or raise capital for expansion. Check out the Food feed over on the Cooperative-2012 site for more gems, including a series of ebooks on using Cooperative Models to create a better food system. There’s also lots of great examples over on NGFN’s food hub site.

 

The basic idea goes:

  1. Gather interest from your neighbourhood – leaflet the town!
  2. Establish the cooperative funding model – tell people how they can invest
  3. Create a funding opportunity & cast the net – tap your networks for interested investors & engage them in your opportunity
  4. Fulfill your cooperative investment opportunity – use the money to get started / grow & return profits to the investors.
Grants & Seed Funding

Governments, charities, philanthropists & other funders around the world are waking up to the potential for investment & philanthropic seed funding for local food enterprise.  Whether you’re an individual, community organisation or social enterprise, there’s lots of options with a little research.

 

Focusing primarily on US & UK (where the financial landscapes are most developed for local food) we have picked out the best guides & examples;

USA

UK

We’re aware of some great programs in UK which offer support & financial packages for food funding. Take a look at Local Food Grants, and Making Local Food Work.

 

If you’re looking for something outside of these regions, as people frequently are, we suggest starting with your National/Regional Government body which looks after Agriculture & Food, and then deploying the power of Google or Twitter to find local grants or support.

 

Crowd Power

Unless you’ve been avoiding the internet for the last couple of years, there’s a chance you would have heard of the ‘Power of the Crowd’ in some shape or form.  This is an emergent space where new offerings are popping up and disappearing all the time (mainly because if you don’t have a crowd, the idea wont work!).

 

Many people will be familiar with websites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Pozible, PledgeMe and more. These are the fore-runners in the Crowdfunding revolution which follow a fairly simple formula;

  • Create a Project & write a creative introduction / post a video to entice people to support you.
  • Offer Rewards – at the time of writing, there’s financial & legal barriers to offering anything more than a ‘pledge’ to support the project.
  • Get Social – share share share with your networks to spread the word you’re looking for help to get started / scale up.
  • Crowdfund! If people believe in your idea & like your rewards, they pledge money. Simple and incredibly effective.  If your project hits the target, you get the money, the pledgers get their rewards, and the world gets another project which may not have happened otherwise.
Crowfunding can be used to remarkable effect, and stories of $10k projects being funded three or four times over are not uncommon.  There’s been some successful projects related to local & community food projects, but we believe the various sites out there could be used much more for local food start ups!  Not only do you get the money, you usually also get heaps of buzz, a ready-to-go customer base, and passionate advocates who follow your progress & delight in hitting your target with you!

 

Recently, Slow Money launched Credibles; a crowdfunding investment system which returns food instead of money, this US based system has the potential to be replicated around the world.  Also launched in the last month, Three Revolutions, a crowdfunding platform dedicated totally to food.

 

We have also seen a revolution bubbling around the world in ‘Crowd Investment’ through sites such as Crowdcube. This is worth keeping an eye on!

 

As ever, these guides are a work in progress. If you’ve had success / seen someone else be successful with funding their local food enterprise beyond sharks & pounds of flesh – we’d love to hear from you! Comment or Tweet!

Springwise features Bucky Box : ‘Software Firm Focuses on Helping Small Farms’

This morning I woke up to a (good) Twitter storm brewing thanks to Springwise featuring Bucky Box pride of place on the front page.

Local Food Distribution gets some IT support

 

It’s always nice to get featured on sites like Springwise, as it means quite a few more people around the world get to know who we are, and why we do what we do.  We made a conscious choice a while back that we would slash our marketing budget, and focus on social interactions & creating value, rather than empty advertising spending – which means more money would flow into our Global Partnerships Fund.

 

Springwise picked up the Social Enterprise structure of Bucky Box, as well as showing how we will disrupt the food system with our software:

easy-to-use software that automates orders, billing and logistics, the company aims to help propel the emerging decentralized food system in general — and local organic farms in particular — as they sell direct to customers via weekly boxed deliveries. Using Bucky Box’s web application, which is now in beta, weekly administration time can be reduced from two days to two hours, the company says; it also helps to streamline packing, delivery and support. As a social enterprise, meanwhile, Bucky Box reinvests the majority of its profits into non-profit ventures related to the new food system, including farming research, public awareness, and education.

 

About Springwise:

Springwise scans the globe for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts that are ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investments or cooperation.

 

We look forward to working with many more Local Food distributors and Small Farms in the coming months and years. Thanks Springwise for your great article!

Tips for Local Food #2 : Call on Existing Resources & Support – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Call on Existing Resources & Support’ – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. You can also check out ‘#1 : Get Social – a guide to new media for local food‘.

 

Bucky Box helps connect you to existing resources & support for local food enterprise

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

 

Have you created your dream job, only to find that despite offering quality local produce from farmers who care – customers are slow to jump aboard? Or are you a startup veg box scheme which needs a pointer in the right direction to get the wheels rolling?

 

Whatever your challenge, someone, somewhere is likely to have already faced it.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you have access to a remarkable amount of knowledge from around the world, when it comes to local food systems.  Hard to find the right bit? Well Bucky Box is here to help.

 

Resources & Courses

 

There’s some great online and downloadable resources which can help you step through the early stages of set up – call them cheat sheets;

Networks & Communities of Practice

 

Connecting with people & projects of interest is vital to continuing to keep your finger on the pulse of what works, as well as what new opportunities may be around the corner. Check out some of these online & offline networks:

 

Support from Government & Charity

 

There’s some admirable work being done around the world by several governments in an effort to rejuvenate local food systems, here’s some of the programs which we’ve seen which might be able to offer you some help:

We will also take the opportunity for a specific focus on funding in the next Top Tips blog, but you can check out the National Good Food Network webinar in the meantime.

 

Technology

 

Mapping, Consumer Apps, Back End Systems, Traceability, and much much more is coming.  Here’s a run down of a couple which might be useful to local food schemes looking to make their job easier;

There’s many more examples of technology which would enable your local food business springing up all the time, so keep tuned on the above channels (and here!) for more examples.  You can also check out our blog about ‘Getting Social’ – tips for local food businesses using social media.

 

By no means is this an exhaustive list, so we’d love your feedback for other resources, networks, support & technology we should be adding too! Drop us a note below in the comments.

 

Thanks to Jenny Huston for support in the Resources section & Kirsten Larsen for tips on Australian Government Support!

Social Business & Trendhunter feature Bucky Box : Local Food Delivery Software

A big thanks to Social Business and Trendhunter, who picked up our social good business model, and ran a story on it recently entitled ‘Organic Food Delivery Software’!

Local Food Distribution software company Bucky Box, have a social good mission

 

It’s always nice to be featured as much for our social good mission & business model, as it is for the technology which will catalyse the possibilities for local food around the world.

 

Bucky Box is a New Zealand-based social enterprise that is making it easer to deliver organic groceries. This innovative software will cut down on time and errors—making the business owner and the customer happy. The tool emerges alongside the growth of grocery schemes like community supported agriculture and other distribution models, which exist in many industrialized countries for organic food and non-organic food alike.

 

Of course, our software isn’t just suited to Organic food distribution, we can support schemes who are distributing fruit, veg, meat, juices, and a whole lot more – take a peek at our video to understand a little more.

So a big thanks to @TianaReid who hunted us down and to Social Business and Trendhunter for featuring us!

Tips for Local Food #1 : Get Social – Using Social Media Engage With Customers

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave.  This week is ‘Get Social’ – how you can use new media to engage deeper with customers, suppliers & your community.

Bucky Box helps you navigate the Social Media realms

You keep hearing that you should spend more time using social media for your business, but you’re pretty sure Facebook is a worldwide popularity contest, Twitter is a flurry of 140 character status updates, you can’t see how spending all day looking at pictures on Pinterest is going to help you get customers in the door, and the bills wont get paid by your blog…

 

So, lets be honest…

Why go social?

 

Some people may still need this question answered, and we completely understand why.  On the face of it, social media is noisy, time consuming and lacks clear value to small businesses.  However we want to convince you that the opportunities far outweigh the costs, so let us take 5 mins of your time to explain why.

 

Today, more than ever before, you have an unrivaled opportunity to engage in rich two-way conversations with a range of your stakeholders through a variety of communication tools.  So, what good could come of these conversations?

 

1. Storytelling

Use this opportunity to tell your story.  Tell people about more than just your product or service – tell them about why you set up this business, what you stand for, why you’re passionate about it.  Give your business a human face, be prepared to be a little vulnerable, and admit that maybe you don’t have all the solutions – sometimes in our openness we find great results.  Storytelling is the future of social media as we see it – so take the opportunity to take an active role in the crafting of your own story with words, pictures, video and other engaging media.

Image courtesy of flickr/cambodia4kidsorg

 

Storytelling is key to positive word of mouth (digital and er… mouth…), fundamental to how we remember things, and is rapidly becoming the medium through which customers expect to engage with business, so make your stories worth telling.  Telling your story is an important part of how you elevate your business from engaging in a cost-war ‘race to the bottom’ kind of capitalism, and can help you turn a simple product into a better experience for your customers.  The kicker is, that now, using a variety of new media, you can make your customers part of that story, and give them a voice.

 

2. Visibility

The old phrase ‘all PR is good PR’ came from the desperate desire for eyeballs & ears pointed toward your business. Today, you can get those eyeballs without having to dress a guy up in a chicken suit, write endless press releases, or run yet another promotion.  With the rise of social media, you have a direct channel to millions of people if you are willing to engage in genuine conversation, and/or if you’re able to create & share interesting content to get things started.

 

Image courtesy of flickr/rosauraochoaAs a small business, you can set up an online presence without paying a penny – whether it’s a Facebook Page, a Twitter Feed, or through blogging engines like Tumblr & WordPress, you can get set up in a matter of minutes.  It’s then time to mould a profile around Who you are, and Why you’re in business.  Go ahead – ‘like’ some other people, engage in some conversations, share some relevant stories, pictures and video, and slowly but surely your page will grow in followers too.  Did you know Facebook recently launched a Directory service to help people find businesses anywhere and everywhere?  If people are looking for you, it’s your job to help them find you!

 

3. Validation & Insight

With a community building up on your page (even if it’s still small), you have a group of people who you can interact with; often that’s really important in the early days of your local food business as it gives you the opportunity to get validation for ideas (before implementing them) through the likes of Polls, or insight into the reasoning behind your customers & potential customers’ buying decisions (through comments).

 

Take this opportunity to engage in conversations and let your customers co-create the future of your business with you.  Previous to this digital ‘social’ landscape, it was possible to talk one-to-one or one-to-many, but with these decentralised communication tools, you can engage in genuine many-to-many conversations.  Embrace it, and think about how you can use new media in more ways than simply storytelling – perhaps it could be a useful customer service tool, a way to identify new pricing models, a way to alert customers to their deliveries or a way to generate a new brand identity?

 

4. Real Time & Early Warning

The great thing about new media is that much of it happens in real-time, meaning you have instant answers, insights, and feedback.  This real time world can make your business more lubricated for decision making, more responsive to change, more adaptive to positive & negative feedback, and more willing to test & experiment.

 

That gives you a huge advantage over some of the alternative ways to do Food Distribution (naming no names…) as often there are monolithic processes & systems behind industrialised food chains.  Play on your nimbleness as an advantage – you can be flexible and responsive to change using social communication – a prized asset in unstable economic, climatic & societal times.  We’re predicting the rise & rise of local food over the coming 50 years.

New media can also be great early warning systems for when something isn’t right – it’s better to be the first to hear so you can make changes and retain customer loyalty, than suddenly lose a customer of 5 years because they don’t have easy communication channels, or think you don’t care.  You can use Facebook & Twitter as highly effective tools  to engage in day-to-day or semi-regular communication with customers to keep the conversation casual – that way they’re more likely to let you know when something is wrong, rather than walking away and you never knowing why.

 

Take the customer service initiatives that Air New Zealand have been winning awards for left, right & centre. Most of these are driven through their team which monitors the social media streams; they have embedded the team into their business so that they’re part of the service, and they use the social environment & conversations with customers to test new ideas and gauge interest, as well as drive awareness of promotions & offers.  They’re able to turn a negative customer experiences back into positive ones through their real-time service, as well as deploying ‘acts of kindness’ through the ‘Air New Zealand Fairy’.

 

5. Measurable

The data driven approach to online community building, sales & conversations is a valid one, as long as you don’t use the data in isolation.  Using the metrics related to engagement such as ‘Talking About This‘, you can get insights into what’s working and what’s not – it lets you spot trends more easily, but it wont make you better at creating communities and having conversations – that’s where you need to be paying attention & asking the right questions.

 

What should be in your Toolkit?

  • Facebook – work with the social giant that has been working to create a better place for people, businesses & community groups to hang out online. Work with the social graph to learn more about your customers, other stakeholders, and engage in conversations.  There’s some good run downs on Facebook Pages here and here.
  • Twitter – the thriving local food community on Twitter is ready and waiting to chat! There’s millions of people using twitter now, so use a mishmash of hashtags, geolocation & conversation to find local customers & other people who you can reach out to for help! More good guides here, here and here.
  • Online Advertising – Google does a good job of giving you visibility for a tiny daily budget, and now you can also reach out to use Facebook Advertising & Twitter Advertising too. The ability to target down to highly defined demographics make online advertising a great option for finding new customers as a small business.
  • Blog – we’d recommend using a blog to create regular, changing content which tells your story and gives customers regular updates which create value for them.  Check out these guides to blogging for small business.
  • Pinterest – last up is the ‘newcomer’ which is on the up – a social network based on aesthetic ‘pins’ – also known as pictures.  Whilst Pinterest is quietly driving 1000’s of people to websites around the world, the world is busy enjoying the visual revolution! Here’s a Pinterest guide to get you started, and a couple of people we think you might like; HISBE, Flavrbox & Food+Tech Connect.
  • Check out our ‘Hashtags for Local Food‘ blog, or start searching for more information about Social Media on twitter, there’s some great guides for Local Business use.
**UPDATE**
Local Food - plenty of opportunities to tell your story.
If you’re looking for a guide to get started with Social Media, then check out the Spredfast Resource – Pocket Guide to Social Media.
Mashable have also picked up on the trend of Farmers & local food distributors uptake of Social Web tools.

5 Tips for Local Food Delivery

Image courtesy of The Ecologist

We realised that as of late we’ve been chatting with a lot of local food delivery enterprises from all over the world, which puts us in a privileged place to spot some of what’s working for different organisations, wherever they may be.  We thought in the spirit of open source, we’d share our musings;

 

Get Social!

The landscape of finding & engaging with customers has changed with the emergence of social media. With social media has come an unprecedented opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with your customers & stakeholders, and tell your own story like never before.  One of the best things? With over 835 million people worldwide using Facebook & Twitter, many of your customers are likely to already be there and 100’s more potential customers in your area too.

Whilst most social media sites (such as Facebook & Twitter) are free to use, you should factor your time into the equation – like any conversation, listening as well as talking takes time.  Consider super-targeted adverts on Facebook/Twitter/Google Ad Words.  We also heartily suggest telling your story through a blog (like ours!) on Tumblr or WordPress, and for the more aesthetically inclined – share your story, your passion & your vision through sites like Pinterest or Vimeo.

Remember; make your dialogue about Quality not Quantity.

 

Call on existing resources & support

In several countries around the world, there’s now NGO’s & Government programs which are set up to help local food distributors get started, or iron out any problems.  They vary from downloadable action packs to full immersive social enterprise courses!

 

So our suggestion? Research, and make use of anything out there which could help you – you’ll be surprised what’s available!

Just some of our favourite resource hubs include; Soil Association (UK), Making Local Food Work (UK), Wallace Centre (US), Sustain (UK), Eaterprises (Australia), Transition Network (Worldwide).

 

Get creative with Funding

There are plenty of ways to fund a local food enterprise beyond mortgaging your house with the bank.  Our run down from the National Good Food Network webinar on funding local food tells you how!

Teaser for the NGFN blog: Co-operative model, LION networks, Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Micro/e-Lending platforms like Kiva, Slow Munis, Local Community Pre-Sales, Local Stock Exchanges, Investment Clubs like Slow Money.

See more here: Cutting-edge ways to Fund your Local Food business

 

Leverage free & low cost tools

Let the explosion of innovation & applications that resulted from mobile technology play into your hands!  The great news about the Mac App Store, Google Play & Chrome Store is that there are more applications than ever which can help you run your business more efficiently, and many of them are free.

 

Whether you need to manage your to-do list [Wunderlist], collaborative project management [Trello], communicate with your customers for nix [Skype], manage your social media marketing [Hootsuite], or simply use collaborative document sharing & calendars [Google Apps] – there’s a host of free apps out there.

 

We also would heartily suggest you check out some of the emerging technology, specifically around local food distribution.  This is where we get to play.  There’s several options out there now, which can manage customer accounts, help you manage packing & delivery logistics, and deal with the burden of payment reconciliation. Taking away the admin burden of local food distribution is one of the main barriers to growth we can see & are doing something about!

 

Be Authentic, Tell Your Story & be about More Than Profit

We keep coming back to this as a really important part of local food distribution.  We all loathe greenwashing don’t we? So don’t do it – be authentic with the story of where you came from, where your food is produced, and how you play nice with others.  We see local food distribution as being about values, and we constantly ask people to think about business in terms of ‘more than profit’.

 

Importantly, don’t ruin it for everyone. Local delivery, organics, farm-to-fork… it’s a tiny fraction of food distribution around the world. Don’t go stomping on it by picking fights with other people trying to do something similar in your area!  Try thinking about converting other people away from mainstream supermarket shopping, and growing the local food economy?

 

Use your blog and social media to tell the story of your business. Make it about more than just ‘units’ and ‘weights of food’, and aim for something more aspirational – your Values.  Use photography, words, infographics, videos & the great testimonials from your customers to show that you’re about supporting local farmers, delivering affordable organics, or whatever else it is that got you interested in local food delivery in the first place.  But be authentic!

Here’s some of our favourite use of Creativity in Local Food to get you started.

 

Do you have any more top tips to share?

 

You can now see the expanded version of this blog here: