5 Most Innovative Use of Direct-to-Consumer Models

screenshot from craft coffee

screenshot from craft coffee

We like this ‘new breed’ as they’re doing something a little different. They’re taking the regular products you might find in a supermarket or can’t be found in stores at all, and they’re changing the model of distribution so that they don’t have the overheads of brick & mortar retail and operating an enterprise that can be run from almost anywhere. Kinda like the local food distributors around the world.

 

Lets take a look at a few which are breaking the mould, which might inspire some ideas about new models for local food.

 

Kiwi Crate

Sick of trawling the aisles of big box warehouses stacked from floor to ceiling with colourful noisy toys? Kiwi Crate (based in the US) offer a subscription service which is a crafted offering unique to their platform. They have parents, educational advisors and ¬†kids to test it all out. It comes to you direct in the post, and they charge monthly. And they have a cute logo ūüôā

Kiwi Crate Monthly Subscription Services

 

Blissmobox

Want to try some new and exciting goodies? Prefer they were organic, eco-friendly and non-toxic? US-based Blissmobox has been pioneering the curated box market for awhile now, and winning awards at the same time.

Blissmobox Monthly Subscription Box Service Organic Eco-friendly Non-toxic

 

BarkBox

This service may take the cake for the cutest around. Subscribe for a monthly fee, tell them the size of your Pups and they will send goodies for your woofers each month. Awesome.

BarkBox Monthly Subscription for Dogs

 

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club are taking on the big boys with their cut price offering, and man-centric videos. It’s intriguing that after decades of ‘personal care’ companies building up their brands, spending millions on advertising, and developing close relationships with the big name supermarkets – a cheeky upstart like Dollar Shave Club can come along and start taking their market. We’ll let them tell you why they’re so great…

 

Turn Table Kitchen

An award must go to Turn Table Kitchen for the quirky and unexpected, we think. This Canadian subscription model curates a selection of vinyl and food each month, direct to your door.

Turntable Kitchen Monthly Subscription Music + Food

 

Great! So you’ve spoken to an “e-commerce guru” and they’ve set up a shopping cart for you, and now the orders are rolling in! Now what?

 

Oh yeah, you need to keep track of your customers, their details, their orders, their changes, their preferences, and their payments. Then you just need to work out where all those orders are going, which day, which address, what’s in the boxes, whether there’s any changes, and add a sprinkle of customer service love. Then it’s a matter of sending your delivery drivers out or working with a ‘trusty courier’ to get them, in good condition, to all your customers. Then just reconcile all the $40 payments to each of your customers. Breathe. Now whilst you deserve a cuppa, you’ve got all the other things to do to grow your business still.

 

… and right there, that’s why we built Bucky Box.

 

There’s more to service model business than simply a shopping cart – hopefully you understand the admin that it takes to run a business like this. But don’t be down hearted! We took the admin stress away so you can concentrate on building your business and keeping people happy….. and we give you a shopping cart for free.

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Idealog feature The Local Food Startup Challenge

The very excellent New Zealand business magazine, Idealog, has an interesting mix of Technology, Startup & ‘Forward looking ventures’ flavour.

Idealog - March 2013

If you were to pick up a copy of the March edition, then flick your way through their interesting stories of New Zealand business innovation, and find your way to page 64, then you’ll find a page on our Local Food Startup Challenge.

We really like this story by Rebeka White (also deputy editor of the excellent Good Magazine) as it strikes a balanced tone about the wider aims of the Local Food Startup Challenge, and the benefits for startup food distributors, small farms & artisan producers.

Bucky Box in Idealog

We’ll update this article with a link to the article online when it’s published on Idealog’s site, so those of you who don’t get Idealog in your country can read the full article too.

In the meantime, follow Idealog on Twitter or Google+ for the best stories of innovative Kiwi businesses.

Food, The City & Innovation

 

Local Food - Conference on Food, The City and Innovation

 

 

Here at Bucky Box, we’re always on the look out to bring you some ripe pickings of interesting events, guides, resources, and ideas.

 

Yesterday we spotted this awesome conference which is happening in Austin TX on 1 & 2 February (that’s only a week away!). ¬†It focuses on “Food, The City and Innovation“, and it’s hosted by The Food Lab. ¬†You can expect all kinds of interesting discussions, ideas and developments to unfold from it, as it’s a cross-sectoral approach to changing the food system – featuring engineers, designers, developers, scientists & architects, among others.

 

 

Conference Poster - Local Food, The City and Innovation - Partner

 

 

Explore some of the big questions facing us in 21st century, with a team of¬†multidisciplinary folks.¬† For those of us who can’t be there, you can follow along on Twitter at #FCICON on 1 and 2 February – you can also follow us to get some of the choice retweets of interesting conference tips & outcomes:

 

Bucky Box has become a Partner for the conference – along with the awesome Edible Austin and Capital Factory! ¬†We believe entrepreneurs and startups are going to change the food system this century, so we’re proud to be contributing to the soil out of which new food startups can grow!

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 Рlike 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 Рshare 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:

Unlimited Magazine feature Bucky Box : flying the flag for Kiwi Social Enterprise

A mysterious parcel arrived at Bucky Box HQ yesterday. ¬†When we ripped it open, we found the latest copy of Unlimited Magazine – ‘Inspiring New Zealand Business’.

It took us a moment or two to remember why this magazine had been mailed to us specifically, and then the penny dropped – a couple of months back, we’d had a good yarn with a friendly reporter who had heard about what we’ve been doing with Bucky Box, ¬†and was particularly interested in our Social & Environmental drivers, and how we’d set up with a Social Enterprise constitution.

 

Social Enterprise / Social Business startup, Bucky Box, is building Software for Local Food Distribution

Social Enterprise / Business is a fairly new concept in New Zealand, and we’re¬†modeling¬†how legal structures and triple bottom line thinking can manifest as a business here. ¬†This is a great opportunity to thank the amazing enspiral team who have supported & incubated us along the way!

 

The article, entitled ‘Social Circles’ features several Kiwi businesses which are focused on More than Profit – a friend of mine likes to call us “Yes, and…” Businesses. ¬†Also featured in the article are the wonderful local food movement Ooooby, the fledgling New Zealand Centre for Social Innovation, the wonderful co-working space for changemakers (and our good friends) ‘The Kitchen’ in Auckland.

 

We have a lot of appreciation for organisations around the world who share the vision of using business for what we believe it was originally meant for – creating a better world, being an active citizen in a better society, and finding a way to do all this within the bounds of the environment we rely on. Where does the money come in? Well that’s the lubricant to make it work. We call it More Than Profit.

 

Pick up a copy of Unlimited Magazine, or head over to their website to check out more stories about Innovation, Technology, Startups & Leadership in New Zealand.

 

** UPDATE **

You can now read Social Circles : Kiwi Social Entreprenurship on Unlimited Magazine’s website now.

FastCoExist “World Changing Ideas & Innovation” features Bucky Box

Things are a’bubble here in the office in Wellington this morning as the Fast Company article on Bucky Box went live last night.

Fast-Company magazine's blog FastCoExist which features 'World Changing Ideas & Innovation' features Bucky BoxWe arrived at work to find the twitter feed was ticking over happily with RT of the FastCoExist piece on Bucky Box’s software for a better food system.

 

FastCoExist is one of our favourite reads. It provides daily news on ‘World Changing Ideas & Innovation’, many of them businesses working for a better world.¬† It’s a great feeling to be part of that club.

 

Bucky Box is working on the new operating system for emerging local food systems. We’re open for beta testing in invite-only form. Feel free to share the word to local food distributors you think might be interested.

Creating the operating system for a new emerging local food system - Bucky BoxCreating the new operating system for local food isn’t just about supporting what’s going out in the market, it goes much bigger & broader than that, it reaches into the future.¬† We see what has happened in the last 30-40 years in our global food systems as a step backwards in environmental & social standards which have borrowed from our future. We’ve created a more fragile food system with less resilience, and now the pressures are beginning to mount up : population growth, soil health, water quality, climate change adaptation, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions which are vital to our survival.¬† All the research points toward moving to sustainable food production, distribution & consumption, which largely means small scale farms (not industrial-scale mono-cropping), regenerative farming techniques (not chemical farming which destroys our soils) and regional food systems (not industrialized supply chains).¬† We see a better way, and Bucky Box is our first step in making that vision a reality.

 

Not only are we creating cutting-edge software for the local food movement, but our social enterprise structure means that we’re going to be putting a minimum of 66% of our profits back into the movement itself through our partnerships with local food systems researchers, advocates, educators & practitioners. More to come on that matter soon, so connect with us at @buckybox and be the first to hear.

#TEDxMan : Changing The Way We Eat

Changing The Way We Eat - a TEDxManhattan conference on the food system**UPDATE: Videos from TEDxManhattan are now online here.**

Wow, what an absolutely amazing day I’ve had with my laptop, the TEDxManhattan conference, and the twittersphere!

As I woke up at 4.30am to watch the TEDx conference livestream, I don’t have the energy to give you a full write up just now, I did curate this storify feed of my favourite tweets from the event to give you a feeling for the event, and if you watch the Changing The Way We Eat website, there will be all the videos up soon!

Make sure you don’t miss Stephen Ritz from the Green Bronx Machine!

Enjoy!!

Direct link to Bucky Box’s TEDxManhattan storify story can be found here.

or here is the embedded version:

[View the story “TEDxMan from a #localfood advocate” on Storify]