Tools for Local Food Distribution – designed for the other 90%

What would happen to food distribution if you provided enterprise-quality tools to the 90% of enterprises who can’t normally afford them?

[click to tweet this article]

 

Bucky Box designs for the other 90%

A little over a year ago, we posed ourselves that question. It was an interesting challenge – one of turning the problem that most local food distributors have on its head.

 

By now, most of us are aware that local food distribution has a glass ceiling – it’s about 70-80 deliveries per week where the admin burden really kicks in and stifles growth. [tweet this]

 

There’s just too much complexity to handle with spreadsheets and hacked together systems when you hit this number – you’re bound to start making errors – whether it’s making sure someone’s paid their bill, that one of the boxes should’ve had artichokes instead of carrots, or that Bob & Karen had just moved house. You know – that bit of information you scribbled on a sticky note and pinned to the wall?

 

So, the glass ceiling is really the automation of those labour intensive admin tasks – packing sheets, customer ledgers, delivery reconciliation and matching up payments.  Take away that glass ceiling, and we know that many local food schemes can grow, get more quality & healthy food to people, and be more profitable. We know this from the handful of schemes who have invested heavily in their technology and grown accordingly.

 

Back to the question – how can we change the game? How can we get more local food distribution businesses operating, serving different markets & communities, providing more demand for small farms & artisan producers? How can we shift the needle on the destructive nature of industrialised food systems? How can we bring back the food webs that existed pre-industrial food distribution? Lets call that our vision of the Food Web 2.0.

 

The answer is not simple, but it’s the challenge that we took on. It’s the challenge that we have spent well over a year working on in various forms, and it’s the challenge that we’ve got our first solution to. Bucky Box is about bringing those tools to the masses, to the other 90% – to anyone who wants to start up a food distribution business [tweet], whether it’s 20 people in their local office, 200 people at their local church, or 2000 people in their community. Simple to use. Affordable. Ready to go.

 

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We’ve got some exciting news in the pipeline to get a little bit of a buzz going around Local Food distribution, as we genuinely believe decentalising food distribution is one of the most exciting challenges & opportunities in c21st. <- [tweet].

 

It’s the forefront of enabling regenerative agriculture, improving the health of ourselves and our communities, and of lifting people around the world out of poverty. <- [tweet]

 

If any of what we’ve said rings true, and you’re thinking about starting a local food enterprise, or doing what you already do – better, then drop by the Bucky Box – Software for Local Food website and sign up for a trial or just tweet us for a chat.

 

We’re looking forward to supporting you to create a better food system.

The Dominion Post & Stuff.co.nz feature Bucky Box

Bucky Box is in the Dominion Post

 

The press this week continues with more coverage of our launch in the National press here in New Zealand.

 

Big thanks to the team at The Dominion Post who covered the launch with a story about the rise of the “Locavore” in New Zealand.  We definitely see a rising awareness in people here, wanting to know where their food is from, and wanting to support local growers and better, healthier forms of agriculture.  It’s great to see!  We believe we need to bring the trend out of just the “gourmands and ethically aware eaters” and into the mainstream, and a big factor in that is always cost. If we strip out the expensive middlemen, and make the small scale distribution efficient, and we believe we can do that – that’s our aim!

 

There’s a tip of the hat to Enspiral, our social innovation incubator – our friends & colleagues.  We really appreciated all the support, encouragement & expertise they’ve offered us in the last few months especially to get us to our Public Beta launch.

 

You can see the full article here: “App helps consumers find locally grown food”

 

There’s also a version in Stuff Technology here published the same day.

 

Our new website is LIVE!

Check out our new website!

Have you swung by our home page recently and noticed a bit of a change?

 

That’s right! Our new website is now live with much more information about our software for local food distribution.  You can take a virtual tour of the app which is still in private beta, but soon to be available as a public beta (more news coming soon on that!), plus there’s also information on our beta pricing, and our social enterprise mission tops off the party at the bottom of the page.

 

We’d really love to hear your feedback – drop us a tweet!

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!

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:

Website & Social Media kicks off

 

Here at Bucky Box, we’re really excited about what’s brewing.

 

Whilst Bucky Box is a process of evolution – you can read about the beginnings here – it’s starting to gather momentum.

 

If you’re new to the blog, here’s what we’re about:

Bucky Box is creating the tools for a better food system.

A better food system is one which is centred on benefiting people & planet, rather than simply economics.  Our vision is a system which is resilient, nourishing, and one where we’re able to rejoice in the pleasures of food once more.

Bucky Box is building beautifully designed, intuitive, easy to use, yet powerful web-based software to reconnect local food systems.

This web-based software is operating as a service, and it supports vege box schemes through automating subscriptions, billing & delivery logistics to make it easy to run, enjoyable, and make caring for your customers fun again.

 

Why vege box schemes? Well you can read our blog about them here, but we believe they have the potential to reconnect farmers to growers, and reduce the power of the middleman which often forces the environmental & social costs to growers and consumers, and controls the farming process.

 

We see our role as the enablers & facilitators of social good outcomes – we’re a product of the Enspiral collective and proud of it.  Enspiral understands the need for Business 2.0 (business which recognises social & environmental impacts – positive & negative) so we’re running Bucky Box as a social enterprise, and our main way of gauging success is the level of social & environmental impact we’re having.

 

So we’re searching for the best Local Food Champions to partner with and give back to, so if you have any ideas – let us know!

Bucky Box Website Screenshot
Last week we launched our new website, where you can see more about the app & the team behind it.

 

We’re also hooked into Twitter & Facebook if you want to follow our progress or find out more. That’s where the conversation happens, so we’d love to hear from you – we’re here to help.

 

If you’re interested in using the service – get in touch at beta@buckybox.com or sign up to the newsletter here.