Great to chat with Jan Heinvirta Co-Founder at Perfekto, a company that wants to change the broken food system by giving consumers access to edible food typically lost due to things like cosmetic imperfections! We discussed the problem of food waste in LATAM, the demand for imperfect produce, his experience at YC, the experience of delivering food boxes in Mexico, how they are thinking about raising capital and more!

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Thanks so much! 

James

The unedited podcast transcript is below

James McWalter

Hello today we’re speaking with Jan Heinvirta co-founder of Perfekto, welcome to the podcast Jan! Brilliant Could you tell us a little bit Perfekto.

Jan Heinvirta

Thank you very much for having me James.

Jan Heinvirta

Of course. So essentially what we do at Perfekto is we aim to reduce food waste in Latin America We do that by offering a subscription box of imperfect produce. So that means that ah.

James McWalter

Bowed Perfekto.

Jan Heinvirta

Weekly or biweekly. You will get a box sent directly to your home that includes fruits and veggies that might look a bit odd so maybe a bit bigger bit smaller than your usual produce at the supermarket or even out of shape out of color and whatnot.

Jan Heinvirta

Can also be because of our production so sometimes to perfectly normal and that’s um, what we offer with an aim to reduce the problem in Latin America since 54 percent of all fruits and veggies in the region end up wasted.

James McWalter

And and what drove the initial decision to start perfekto.

Jan Heinvirta

Well, it was a bit of a personal motivation I would say um during my time in Switzerland studying international management. Um I worked in a lot of restaurants as a waiter and I saw the amount of food waste that occurred. Every day and it was quite heartbreaking because it was such amazing food cooked by 1 of the best chefs in the country and we just had to throw it away. We weren’t even allowed to take it home and it was something that bothered me a lot at that time took it to go launched in switzerland.

James McWalter

Right.

Jan Heinvirta

Which is essentially an application to save meals from restaurants at the end of the day. So I really fell in love with that model. Um, ultimately I went to Mexico for an exchange year then worked that a swiss fintech helped him to expand to mexico. So. Food waste problem went away a little bit and then last year I was like I need to do something against food waste. I mean there’s something I want to be part of of the solution somehow and.

James McWalter

I.

Jan Heinvirta

Decided. Okay, why not adapt the model from tiga to go to Mexico so I started working on that I had a first prototype and then ultimately when I found my co-founder we decided to actually pivot to what today’s perfecto so it was a little bit of a process.

James McWalter

That that’s fascinating. So what was that first version and I guess what were the reasons to pivot. So.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah, so that first version was a really um, very ugly looking prototype that I um built using a nocode platform. So I’m not really a techcky. Um, but I love to get my hands on and. So I so I built a prototype with ah with a nocode platform then showed it to restaurants to potential customers. Got their feedback and yeah I I started to see that were that were a lot of cultural issues on 1 side.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, of why this model will not work exactly how it does in europe um, starting with the fact that we don’t really have a takeaway culture in Mexico whereas you certainly do in europe um, and then also when my cofounder anie joined joined me on this journey.

James McWalter

Right.

Jan Heinvirta

Together We realized that in Latin America Most food waste actually happens across the supply chain not at the consumption level which is the case in Europe and the us. So we also realized that if we really want to have a big impact. We need to focus on the big problem.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

Which lies in the supply chain.

James McWalter

And yeah, so Interesting. You know I think a lot of um, you know founders make the mistake of building more product than they validated it and so you know a system that our model that worked elsewhere. You’re like oh I can just plug and play this here. It’ll be completely fine and there’s no problems whatsoever. But then you just bring it to see the market and all of a sudden you you get? ah you know feedback pretty rapidly was that your kind of experience.

Jan Heinvirta

Exactly Yeah, that was that was pretty much that right. We saw that a lot of restaurants were kind of reluctant as well to speak about food waste. Um, others who were willing to talk about it. Ah.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

Told us they already had solutions for it. So They maybe donated to the church they donated to people on the streets right? So We we kind of found out that it’s not really that urging in our Opinion. Um. And also like for for people they were saying yeah I would need to have a delivery option right? So you would need to deliver that to my door now imagine you give and ah a meal already fifty percent off then you still have to do a delivery like economics else. It just didn’t make much sense.

James McWalter

And right.

Jan Heinvirta

And also um, what we saw is that annae actually for some context she worked at Uber at that time and amongst other things also Uber eats and so she knew that exactly at the end of the day was often when the restaurants were.

James McWalter

Said.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, getting a lot of traffic. Um via the platform because it’s when people order at home to eat dinner and with the model of 2 good to go. The idea is that at the end of the day you pick up what was not sold right now. There is a big a bit of an overlap.

James McWalter

Right.

Jan Heinvirta

Because you’re essentially taking away the opportunity to sell this food at a better price for the restaurant. Um, if if you make them sell it via this platform to rescue food waste. So It’s of course it can work right? But it. There were so many things that we saw that it will be difficult while understanding that there is the big problem is not there that we were just like okay we have to change how we approach it interestingly enough since the beginning we were thinking. Okay, this too good to go model will just be the beginning so that we.

James McWalter

Okay.

Jan Heinvirta

Can then go into grocery delivery right into into other areas where food waste occurs and so we essentially just decided to skip this ticket to go part and go directly into the supply chain. Um, also because.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

And nais father is actually a citrus producer here in Mexico and so as we were progressing and talking about the conversation about the problem she remembered how her father always came home with boxes of um.

James McWalter

I am.

Jan Heinvirta

Of lime of Mandarins right? that he wasn’t able to sell to restaurants because they were too big too. Small this this colored maybe too many seats right? So she remembered that that is a real problem that she even experienced herself and yeah, so that’s how we. Ultimately ended up with with perfecto.

James McWalter

Yeah I guess that you know very much resonates with myself so you know I mentioned before that we grew up my family grew on an organic farm and we sold boxes of vegetables and the vegetables we ate were the you know the carrots that hit the rock and became ah. You know, quite funny looking shaped carrots and so on and that’s what we ate every day because we had to sell the nicer looking ones at the Farmer’s market

Jan Heinvirta

Ah, yeah, exactly exactly So we we we heard that already like so so many times it’s really cool to to see that our assumption was was right? it was This was very um. Yeah, it felt good to know that other people who grew up in farmer families. Um had the same experience and and that it is indeed a big problem that we can help solve.

James McWalter

And so you’re looking at this. Ah you know the value chain so you have the farmer who’s growing the produce you then have this kind of production line right? That’s getting the produce you know, washed or processed in some way and then eventually it gets to the distribution whether it’s a restaurant or whether it’s you know. The the supermarket all the way into people’s homes or into people’s bellies depending on on the stage and so now that you’re kind of looking further up that that value chain. Um, how did you kind of start to kind of talk to those people What you know what were the initial kind of Mvps in that space.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah, like in in the beginning we wanted to have it as simple as possible. We were both still full time in our day jobs and operating a logistics company at the end of the day while having a full time job doesn’t allow you to operate it at night right.

James McWalter

Sharp.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, so we were looking for the easiest way to do it. So what we did was we approached other grocery delivery companies so companies that were already delivering fruits and veggies and try to figure out what they do with their.

James McWalter

To her.

Jan Heinvirta

Imperfect produce and we found ah 1 that was open to share more information with us with whom then ultimately we started a pilot where they sold us all the produce that they were not able to sell to their customers because of. Um, physical appearances and that was how we got started to actually first prove that their hypothesis was correct that people are open to buy imperfect produce or not perfectly looking produce.

Jan Heinvirta

And once we we had that um proven we had to to see how can we offer a price that is also fair and accessible. Um, because at that time the prices were quite high since we were getting it from that intermediary and. What we did was we started to talk with farmers and especially Mexico with sellers at the central de abastos which is a sense essentially like a supply center. So it’s a concept that is very common in latin america you get it in in most major cities where. Concept is that it’s a place in the city where all the farmers and disbutors bring their produce and then sell it to wholesale right? Um, so we went there talked with the sellers and producers that had stands at the Central de devastos.

Jan Heinvirta

And try to understand whether they also bring produce that is not always accepted by the traditional Market. We found that it is and so we started to just switch the supply to them and yeah it was a continuous process. But. I would say given that we have this concept of the supply centers in Latin America It was actually much easier than you would expect um to get a lot of different produce because the challenge that we saw that we see for example in the Us is that you often have to source directly from Farmers. If you want to have a ah decent catalog. You need to open up different logisticals.

James McWalter

It yeah, it’s finding the aggregation of supply is like the struggle that so many marketplaces have right? you know and your your cofounder worked at uber and you know their original model was you know the City -by-city model and then looking how to aggregate at let’s say you know an urban kind of city by city level.

Jan Heinvirta

Exactly.

James McWalter

You know you’d have to build all the relationships freshly every time you’d launch and if there are already this existing framework for the aggregation of those of that potential supply like absolutely it makes a ton of sense How to kind of jump on that I Also think it’s like such a clever way to target the companies that potentially are your future competitors. Um, who’ve already sorted a lot of the kind of Upstream problems out and so because really what you’re just trying to find out is like will somebody accept this box of veggies. You know on the demand side and like if somebody’s already done all this splye side Piece. It’s like okay we can figure that out later you know Demand generally is is.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, yeah, will.

James McWalter

You know you always find supply for demand typically right in most marketplaces. Um, so speaking to that kind of demand side. How did you kind of validate that side of things and.

Jan Heinvirta

Well what we did is and what it was quite organic I have to say um we went with the approach of instead of having a lot of interviews with potential customers. We said let’s just launch it.

James McWalter

I.

Jan Heinvirta

And and see what happens because at the end of the day we had some validation of the model already from Europe and the us where you have similar um very similar models like imperfect foods like misfits or oddbox. Um, and so we said okay the the possibilityies that.

James McWalter

Sharp.

Jan Heinvirta

It finds a market in Mexico is relatively high, especially now that grocery delivery is on the rise in the region. So we just launched it. We did an Mvp with a nocode platform as well. So we built the website integrated a few tools used google sheets and. Um, launch it at the end of January um, sold it to four friends so got them on board as first customers they shared it on social media and then from then from them. It started to grow organically so already in the second and third week we had the first customer that we didn’t know. And it started to grow like that. So by the end of February we already had like certainly one third of customers that we had never heard of them right? and so it. It’s really started to grow like that. Um quite organically like a word of mouthuse and that basically validated that there is.

James McWalter

So amazing.

Jan Heinvirta

And Interest um to to help reduce food waste and to buy these produce. Um, and now it was just about seeing how we can scale that right.

James McWalter

So and I guess yeah you, you’re still working these kind of full-time jobs you and your kind of cofounder and it’s like oh you’re starting to see that growth rate. Um at what point you’re like okay now now is the time to kind of go full time on this. Okay.

Jan Heinvirta

Well I guess we already had talked about that before we even started it um or let’s say when we were still at the other idea the initial 1 Because when I looked for a co-founder I actually had quite a rigorous process that involved many questions and 1 was it super.. It was super tough but it was very worthwhile because I’m super happy to have found that a and we got along perfectly. Um, and.

James McWalter

And it’s tough.

Jan Heinvirta

1 of the questions was under which so circumstances we go full time right? And so in my case I had already taken the position come? What will I will go full time by March right? because I had already decided I will resign my job. I want to do this full time be at this idea another 1 whatever happens I I wasn’t happy anymore in my previous company so I was going for a change anyway, um, in Annae’s case what we said is okay if if we see that we can work together.

James McWalter

So chirp.

Jan Heinvirta

And we believe that we’re onto something then she would resign around aprima may of of the year right so we had ah established some sort of timef frameme but we had else established what happens if not. So. That’s why um, when we saw that there is growth the decision to to leave the job for her was already very easy. Um, on top of that we just got accepted into why see the month where she resigned so it it all worked played out very.

James McWalter

Yeah, and I’d love to because you mentioned Ii What was that kind of experience like I believe you’re in the batch. The most recent batch. Um, and yeah, what was I guess both the interview and and that kind of process and then the actual being in the cohort itself.

Jan Heinvirta

Very well.

Jan Heinvirta

Wouldn’t.

Jan Heinvirta

Sure, um, so we at the beginning of this year we had kind of mapped out when we would want to start fundraising or preseed round and also like what accelerators we would be willing to participate in right.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

Because um, there are a lot of accelerators that take just too much time. Um and away from the founders and might not really give too much value for what you got um and so of course Ysi was 1 of the accelerators that we had on the top of our list of where we want to be in. However, when we applied we had like ferdy customers so we were like ah there’s no way they they’re going to be interested in us. But hey let’s give it a shot. Um, so we we did prepare our application Super Well. We got a lot of feedback from founders that were kind enough to to help us out.

James McWalter

Sure.

Jan Heinvirta

So x y c alumni and we applied one month later we got the interview so we couldn’t believe it and by then we had think 60 customers or ninety customers something around that we had the interview which was ten minutes um Rapid fire questions again, we had a few x y alumni that were kind enough to help us prep for the interview. Um, and it it paid out right? So we had the interview then we didn’t get any answer until like Eleven zero p m in the evening so we had already given. Ah, yeah, we were already certain that we we didn’t make it but then we we got an email hey we would like to manage to join y c and let’s have a quick call and we were yeah we were out of our we couldn’t believe it right? So we were super happy. Um.

James McWalter

Right.

Jan Heinvirta

And so that was around April I think and then the batch started in June july yeah july and night june sorry and and it was a great experience I mean.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

Our batch was remote as well and they probably will continue to be remote and this certainly has its dropbacks because of course you want the full I see experience of being in San francisco seeing all these amazing advisors founders partners in person.

James McWalter

M.

Jan Heinvirta

Bonding right? So unfortunately we didn’t have that opportunity. Ah, but on the flip side. It was also a big benefit because that meant that the cash that we get from Yc we can actually use it for the company. Not for the flights and the accommodation. Um.

James McWalter

And it goes a little far outer in mexico.

Jan Heinvirta

And yeah, and also um, since at that time it was still just me and Ana the team like we were making the deliveries we we were picking the boxes we were um. Making the orders right? So It was all us so we we anyways couldn’t have gone to San Francisco because who would deliver the boxes. So at the end for us. It was actually beneficial that was remote and and yeah, so then it was like 3 months of.

James McWalter

Um, ah.

Jan Heinvirta

Ah, the pro of program with the demo day at the end and yeah, can I say it’s it’s It’s a very very valuable and unique experience. Um, you learn a lot of course it’s very inspiring as well because you get to hear from founders like. Brian Jesky from Airbnb right? The founders from from Stripe from Gitlab So it’s it is really inspiring as well and what I liked the most about it is it on 1 way it puts you in a mood Of. Um, being fast right and and and seeing how how you can um, be faster than anyone else and and just launch and test and launch and test. Um, but so it it sounds very stressful. It is stressful.

James McWalter

So.

Jan Heinvirta

But at the same time they go a lot into the mental. Well-being of being a founder so it was very helpful to hear from successful founders How they had the same fears. They had the same doubts. They had the same issues right? Um, they had sleepless nights and and and and get to getting to hear that from from someone who is now already with a company that has done its ipo and has done super well.

James McWalter

Mother.

Jan Heinvirta

Is very comforting and and gives you some mental peace that even if shit hits the fan. Um, it’s normal right.

James McWalter

You right? And honestly, if it didn’t right? You’re probably not taking enough risks right? You’re not like pushing pushing and you know the business and in the right kind of ways I get is this a couple of really fascinating parts that that and thank you for telling that story. Um, you know.

Jan Heinvirta

Exactly.

James McWalter

Would I absolutely agree a lot of accelerators are a bit of a mixed bag and I think like the best accelerator is you know tech stars y see I guess you know 500 startups a couple others they’re very very obsessive around. Um you know showing how their program like ah makes a specific portfolio company actually.

Jan Heinvirta

Okay.

James McWalter

Become successful right? I think like the fascinating thing about yc is like they always said no to co-works right? whereas like a lot of accelerators. It’s like oh the first thing we do is throw everybody into co the cowork together and it’s like well you know we want people kind of interacting but like if they’re all just like looking over each other shoulders. You know it’s more distractions than focus I also think you know your story is quite fascinating. We had a ah.

Jan Heinvirta

Yes.

James McWalter

Yeah, know another guest on the podcast but six months ago and she’s working on a um, yeah, ah cell-based meat startup and they’re based in canada and basically they got into yc and they were like absolutely delighted that it was remote because it wasn’t remote. They couldn’t have done it because they needed to be at their lab you know developing the product very similar to you guys.

Jan Heinvirta

And hit.

James McWalter

If if you were there like your business literally stop and like the the target of like this week over week growth just wouldn’t have been even realistic and so I think as y c becomes more atoms orientated versus just pure bits and like as yc has more of ah like an effect in the real world. Um, keeping a remote I think makes a ton of sense because otherwise you’re going to miss out on like founders working on like. These mega mega problems that are you know Ah the atoms of of of you know that have atoms of as a framework rather than just bits.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah. Yeah, and also like it. It. It is makes it also more inclusive because you can see that now they’re investing in more Latin companies. They’re investing in more African companies right? So it. It makes makes it I think elsea more inclusive. Um, the fact that they can now invest in companies that might wouldn’t have the opportunity to come to San Francisco for whatever reason also mainly because of the business model itself. But but yeah I think that’s that’s a great thing about it and just something that I wanted to add also regarding the cowork. Right? Not that it is remote still a lot of people want to socialize with the batch right? So They actually maintain this advice of telling you hey we know you want to make acquaintances with other people in the batch. But hey keep it for the end of the batch focus now on just your company. Um, that’s that like listen to your customers build product. That’s that’s what you need to do right? Um, so they they.

James McWalter

Correct.

Jan Heinvirta

Continue to instill that in in everyone.

James McWalter

No, Ah, but that makes a ton of sense and like it’s going back to kind of Perfecto. You know when I think about this kind of connection between you know, perfectly. Good food that is just being wasted because of various kind of aesthetic standards. Um. You know there’s very very much like a trust component into that right? and so the consumer has to trust you guys that you know you have maybe a different aesthetic standard. Um, you’ll accept things that look ugly but the quality standards are still there. How do you kind of communicate that trust and build that trust in your consumers.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah, um, it’s a good Question. So I think at the end of the day The best way for them to see um that it’s not bad at all and to trust us is via word of mouth right? And that’s how we have grown so far. Um. Because someone they know tried it. They liked it. They didn’t see any difference right? Also for many people. It’s just obvious takes just never thought about that. This is actually a problem. So Sometimes you just basically hit the switch. And people’s mind that hey yeah, makes actually sense like of course not everything will come Perfect. It’s nature right? Um, and then also um, it’s It’s a lot about how we Communicate. Um, so we try to have a very friendly. A very transparent communication. Um, to to also always be available if they have questions so to really be close to the customer. Um I think that helps as well and now ultimately the other thing is that what’s just important to note, it’s It’s not everything is ugly looking though.

James McWalter

So.

Jan Heinvirta

Right? So sometimes looks perfectly fine. Maybe it’s just the size or it’s even just because it’s over of overproduction right? So because 1 of the biggest issues. Um in in the food waste. Um, sphere when it comes to produce is because of overproduction.

James McWalter

And.

Jan Heinvirta

Which happens especially with seasonal produce and since consumers have been kind of yeah let’s say custom that they can get mango all year long the demand started to switch right? and now they want. Mango when it’s not mango produce and so instead of consuming the produce that would actually be in season mangos being imported or being created in in in How do you say that in in in yeah and these temperature cultural houses.

James McWalter

Yeah, so bankers are producing like greenhouses.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, exactly thank you and and so that’s why also with us you can actually only get seasonal local produce So We we only sell Mexican Produce. We only sell season of produce exactly because sometimes the produce. Ah, you will get might not be ugly looking but it might be um, saved So So so to say because it’s in season and there was too so much produced that we need to so switch Swift Shift The demand to that produce.

James McWalter

Oh.

James McWalter

Right? Yeah, no absolutely you know it. It is this kind of funny development or a funding development but coming you know coming out of world war 2 right? There was like this big move to a certain type of kind of consumption pattern you know in the developed world and that that had a.

Jan Heinvirta

Hope that makes sense how I explained that.

James McWalter

You know, whatever you want, you can have it. Um, you know at a certain price and that might make sense for a t-shirt but that kind of fed over into the food system and so you know Mangoes literally grow on trees all over around Mexico I’ve seen them fall and they can be bit annoying if you live outside of maggotree and they’re like all over the ground sometimes there.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah.

James McWalter

Um, so have too many mangoes. But yeah, but as you say like they don’t grow and and they’re not harvestable all year around and so you know I guess it’s like eat strawberries the other times a year eat something at bananas the other times a year and just basically start to adapt our palates to having you know more of a variance over time and I think like you know, culturally that.

Jan Heinvirta

Well.

James McWalter

How a lot of food has gone. You know you eat certain types of food at certain times a year and the reason why people have pumpkin pie in the United states in you know october november december is because that’s when the bumpkins are ready and the reason we don’t eat them in March is because they’re not ready then and I think I think returning to that? um actually has a lot of like positive kind of you know effects from like a social.

Jan Heinvirta

Next.

James McWalter

Point of view because we start to get get into these kind of seasonal thoughtss and those kind of seasonal patterns are connected to these different types of events in our lives you know holidays and so on and so what’s what’s the kind of primary business model. Are you taking? um.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, totally totally.

James McWalter

You know is it a slice from on the consumer side or on the demand side and how are you balancing that because in any sort of kind of Marketplace dynamics. You know there’s always this tension between growing fast making sure that there’s a business to be had um on the. Yeah, on supply side in particular but then also you know making sure that you have enough of a cut and enough of a margin to like maintain your own growth.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah I would say it sounds important to to to mention that um, we’re not like a marketplace model like for example, uber eats or or something like that right? So we actually first buy the produce and then sell it so well. Basically.

James McWalter

I chirp.

James McWalter

So.

Jan Heinvirta

Right? So get let me get more into detail with that. So how it works is that you subscribe to perfecto you might pick five Kilogram Box fruits and badggies. You might want to choose what produce you have in that box and might add it then weekly to your door.

James McWalter

No.

Jan Heinvirta

So you sign up. Um and your order gets confirmed. Let’s say your delivery day is every Monday because we actually don’t have an on the math approach. We’d rather take a slow shopping approach and that allows us to further reduce food waste. Because by having this planned week. We know exactly the day before so in this example on Sunday what we need to buy for Monday and so according to the orders of our customers. Um, we’ll create the order list on Sunday evening and then.

James McWalter

Chirp sure.

Jan Heinvirta

Monday early morning our buyers go with our suppliers buy what we need for that day and then bring it to our fulfillment center pick the boxes and send it to the customer the same day. So that means um in our model. Essentially we don’t take a cut.

James McWalter

What.

James McWalter

Sure yeah.

Jan Heinvirta

From from either right? So um, we we buy it and then we so we we sell it at the at a higher price um to cover our costs. Yeah.

James McWalter

And that that but that makes make sense and then the that communicative piece as you’re kind of scaling up on the supplier side. So how are you? You know you have your list. You know we’re trying to have this many boxes you’re going to you know Central to abeto sort are similar and. Trying to find you know those suppliers now that they know you a little bit. Are they starting to put aside boxes with the knowledge that perfecto you know that’s a perfecto box versus a different type of box.

Jan Heinvirta

Yes, yes, some actually already do that. So that’s super cool to see especially with the banana suppliers because actually it’s just received my box so on the podcast. They might not be able to hear it but I’ll show you? um so we got what I’m showing.

James McWalter

M.

Jan Heinvirta

Right here is a banana that is single and so what happens with bananas that are not part of a bunch but are single They don’t get sold to supermarkets because supermarkets only buy bunches because it looks better. Um, it else has some it if they’re part of a bunch. It will also um.

James McWalter

Button.

Jan Heinvirta

Live a bit longer and and so it’s expiry takes a bit longer. But yeah, so the banana sellers. For example, they always have a box ready with single bananas. Um for us because they know that we will buy these from them. Um, so they won’t go to waste.

James McWalter

M.

James McWalter

Yet so fascinating just the experience in a supermarket and how the I has been. You know the average consumer and I’m guilty of this is well as well. Of course has been trained to expect certain things and so bunch of bananas. Absolutely um, you know we already mentioned perfect carrots but then something like Ginger which is like a kind of a messy looking.

Jan Heinvirta

In.

James McWalter

Object We don’t mind that that looks a bit random and and you know skewed all around and so like we’re completely fine with picking you know, quite ugly looking Ginger next to like perfectly you know, orange, clean carrots and I guess a lot of it’s just moving people into this you know I got an understanding who.

Jan Heinvirta

Exactly.

James McWalter

People who if you didn’t grow up on a farm you just wouldn’t know otherwise that like these things come in all shapes and sizes and so on.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, totally yeah, so it’s but I think we’re guilty of it all everyone right? Um, because most of us just grow up with that and that’s how. 1 side. It’s a consumer’s fault on the other side. It’s a bit of Supermarke’s fault as well. Um, but I mean if you go to a supermarket and you see a perfect looking carrot and then a very weird looking 1 possibility that you will go for the best 1 best looking 1 is quite high I mean how many of us. Go to supermarket now always try to look for the nicest looking apple right? So that’s why everyone like touches down put some back touches then put some back right? So um, yeah, it’s it’s something that happens. Ah that happens to all of us. It’s just about changing a little bit this yeah just this habit and so that also supermarkets can change what they supply because they will continue to only buy the most perfect looking produce.

James McWalter

M.

Jan Heinvirta

If they see that they’re not nice looking wealth 1 is not being picked by customers right? So it’s else a little bit on us to change it so that supermarkets can change.

James McWalter

No.

James McWalter

Makes a ton of sense and then looking out over the next. Let’s say year so like what are some of the goals you’re trying to reach over that timeframe.

Jan Heinvirta

So I would say now we really want to. We really want to close some of the issues that we had so far on the tech side. Um, and now so implement some of the feedback that we had from our customers.

James McWalter

No.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, really to to be able to get to a point where we can say okay, we think we found product market fit fit right so that we can really start scaling. So now it’s about first um, ironing out all the the issues that we that we’re seeing um, we just raised the.

James McWalter

A.

Jan Heinvirta

Preeed 600000 dollars. Um with that. We also want to expand the team. Um and to to expand to a new fulfillment center as well. So that we can actually handle um more more orders. And then over the next year we will certainly start our seat round within the next six months so that we can raise money to go to the next 1 or 2 cities in Mexico so this will be 1 important part to to go into new geographies. But at the same time.

Jan Heinvirta

We want to go from only offering produce to also offering other grocery items. So the reason for that is that food waste of course doesn’t only happen with fruits and veggies. But also with consumer packaged goods and we saw that.

James McWalter

No.

Jan Heinvirta

It happens quite a lot there for quite stupid reasons like for example, short shelf life. So to give you an example supermark market might not accept accept a chocolate po anymore because it only has one month left of expiry until it’s expiry date but it’s still one month right and even after it expired date.

James McWalter

Here.

James McWalter

Ah, sure.

Jan Heinvirta

Most chocolates are still fine. So that’s 1 part where we want to help reduce food waste another is like damaged packaging labeling errors etc so we want to. Start including these items to reduce more food waste but at the same time to offer more products to customers and um, we nevertheless want to also kind of become a sustainable grocer similar to good acts. Maybe in the us.

James McWalter

Okay.

James McWalter

No.

Jan Heinvirta

Um, might be a good reference because we know that maybe we cannot rescue milk every every month um so but you might still need milk every month so we want to make sure that we at least have a sustainable alternative ready for you in case, we don’t have a rescued product. And that’s how we plan to to grow our catalog to not only offer you fruit emergggies but really all kinds of groce grocery items that you need on a recurring basis.

James McWalter

That that that expansion makes a ton of sense to me. Um, you know we’re talking a little bit offline but and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned as much on the podcast but I lived in Mexico the last few years and you know the scale of opportunity in Mexico is is quite massive across pretty much and any type of startup or problem you want to solve.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah.

James McWalter

Um, you know some companies are doing a great job. You guys are up at ah at an early stage in your journey. But there’s just absolutely ton of opportunity. You know in a country with the population of Mexico and then and the city’s there and so yeah, you know, expanding it out of mexico city. Um. Yeah mexico city is what 3 times population of ireland right? you can have quite a nice market there before you kind of go on to guadalaha etc. Um, and so that makes us all of sense of my.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah, yeah, the the opportunities are really almost endless right now. So and now finally there’s also a lot of capital flowing in from investors was a very recent. Development because like I’ve been here now for over 4 years and when I got here working at the al startup fundraising was super tough here like there weren’t many funds us funds european funds were almost not interested in the region.

Jan Heinvirta

And now just completely changed now. Latin America Mexico is super hot um a lot of E Cs are trying to get in and that of course helps the ecosystem incredible in an incredible way because there have been so many companies popping up um now finding a lot of unicorns and exits. As well which is helping the the ecosystem grow. Um, and now finally a lot of problems can be addressed by by entrepreneurs who who want to make a change right? because the thing is before and you had this big. Um, national companies almost conglomerate that were leading and in several industries but giving a shitty service. So um, it’s great that now there are coming a lot of alternatives coming up um in in all verticals.

James McWalter

That’s ah makes a ton of sense. Um and looking at your background. You know I believe you grew up in Rural Switzerland and Mexico City is as far away from Rural Switzerland as possibly 1 could Imagine. Um. You know what?? what? What are the some of the things that I guess have surprised you from like a kind of culture point of view but pros and cons.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah, certainly a lot. Um I think the first thing as a swiss I have to say is when it comes to time. So as you know we swiss are obsessed with time. That’s why I have so many.

Jan Heinvirta

Watches and so in swit turn. Everything is super punctual right? So if the train is 2 3 minutes late. There will be an announcement made to tell you hey the train is late 3 minutes right? So it’s yeah and so and.

James McWalter

As as it should be as there should be.

Jan Heinvirta

And that entire dynamic is of course very different in in Mexico so was 1 of the first things that I had to um adapt to and learn that not everything will always be on time. Some things might take a bit longer and you have to calculate that. In not just in your private life when you go to a party right? Um, but else in business because in in in in private life. For example I mean my in in the beginning when I was invited to a party they said? Yeah, we see us at apm and my place so I show up 7 55 right? um.

James McWalter

Right.

Jan Heinvirta

And they’re like I haven’t even showered. They’re not even ready like hey why are we already here. Yeah you said eightpm? Yeah, but no 1 shows up at 8 pm and so and in business is it kind of works similar in a way that you have to understand that if they if they expect a time that it might take to get a license because. Especially now Mexico fintech licenses very is a big topic if they tell you yeah it takes you 6 months? Yeah, forget about it might take may take longer so you need to calculate it in because if you if you think that everything work will work out as smoothly as.

Jan Heinvirta

In in a country like Switzerland where time is very well calculated or taken into consideration then this can really kill your business right? because if if you say okay in six months we will achieve this so I will I need a runway of seven months. Yeah, maybe that won’t work up right? so. It’s important to calculate in these buffers and I think for me time 1 is 1 of the biggest topics.

James McWalter

Yeah I definitely appreciate that I mean ireland is not as ah, not as strict as Switzerland but I’ve also shown up at the at the early party I’ve also helped them get ready because there’s nobody else there. Um, and and so on and and yeah I think the the point about Runway is well-made you know. When you’re raising. Ideally, you’ll always try to have you know six months spare runway potentially before before you get to the end of that trench of funding. But yeah, if if you have to add that bit of leeway then that can take even longer.

Jan Heinvirta

Yeah, equally um at the end. Not really I Really ah liked the questions you made and maybe just to.

James McWalter

Ah, yeah, this has been great I’ve really enjoyed the conversation before we finish is there anything I should have asked you about but did not.

Jan Heinvirta

Give a little um plug there like we will be raising in the next six months. So if anyone is interested in in the opportunity. We’re happy to start scheduling first meetings we already have the first 1 set up. So if you want like early access. Got to know about the the opportunity happy to talk about it and also if you’re in Mexico feel free to reach out always happy to to help people got to know that mexico city um to appreciate the beauty and and then hopefully also help.

James McWalter

Yeah, need some delicious ah delicious veggies and and soon to be delicious other things as well. Thank you very much john.

Jan Heinvirta

Grow the ecosystem.

Jan Heinvirta

Exactly exactly Thank you so much.

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