Started out by Jiacai, Nicholas, and Tylor, Treedots was formed with the mission of minimising food waste. This is achieved through a self-sustaining ecosystem by aggregating F&B businesses on different points of the value chain. Hence, ensuring that there is no longer a need to dispose of perfectly edible food. Plus, did you know they are Asia first online outlet mall for food?
Curious as to how and why they started out and what their future plans are?
Read the full interview as answered by Treedot’s COO, Nicholas!
TSP: What inspired you to start TreeDots?
N: All three founders in TreeDots have different reasons that pushed us to drop all our current jobs to begin TreeDots.
Personally, for me, I would say my main inspiration came from my trip to Europe where I noticed that there was always this corner in their local supermarts where food products are deeply discounted – we are talking about 50 pence a quarter leg kind of cheap here! After probing around a little more, I then noticed that these food products were all due to be thrown away in a matter of days and hence were discounted to clear them out before they finally become inedible. That really ignited the idea in my head, especially after I found out that the industry norm in Singapore is that 6 months before expiry is considered expired.
TSP: Can you tell us a few challenges you faced when launching TreeDots Singapore?
N: I would say the toughest part at the start was getting people, especially the sellers, to realise that this is an issue. The F&B industry in Singapore/Asia is extremely traditional and comfortable in whatever they have been doing. Getting them to put aside resources to allocate such undesirables provides little additional value to their company. Thinking of a way to align their business needs with our social mission was thence vital to get this movement going, and the amount of resistance faced while doing so was incredible – one of our founders got spat on while pitching the idea, some called the cops on us for trespassing, etc. Buyers were unsure too and we had to constantly assure them, or think of new marketing strategies to further spread awareness that TreeDots products are perfectly good products too!
Of course, once that was out of the way, logistics then became our greatest concern. Breaking bulks into more consumable sizes means inventory, having specific delivery timings means proper scheduling…the entire operations plan was a nightmare and nothing could really be fixed at the start since we were all new to the F&B scene. It was only after when we truly understood the industry then we managed to set some standard operating procedures in place.
TSP: Since the launch of the organisation, what is the general response from the public?
N: I would say responses from the public had been pretty mixed thus far, we have gotten people who are totally against the entire idea and think that blemished products are inedible but we have also gotten people who are fully supportive of it and shop with us on a consistent basis. I would say, it will definitely take awhile and loads of educating before there would be widespread acceptance of TreeDots products. We do see huge support from all the various green communities in Singapore, trying hard together with us to promote the zero waste culture. A lot of work still needs to be done before we reach there!
TSP: Can you share with us a few statistics on the impact of TreeDots since it has been launched?
N: After just a short few months in operations, TreeDots had successfully saved more than a tonne of food products from going to the bin! We have also gotten more than 150 companies onboard to further our initiatives.
TSP: For those who are interested in getting involved with TreeDots, can you share 2 to 3 quick and easy steps to get started?
N: For businesses, simply drop an email to email@example.com indicating if you would like to be a seller or buyer or both and we will get in touch with you!
As for all the other people out there, start by adopting a veggie box with us, it will be a little bundle of surprise at a very affordable price. Simply head over to https://www.thetreedots.com/ to start shopping with us!
We also accept any voluntary help with us!
TSP: What is the main goal for TreeDots and what actions will be taken to achieve that goal?
N: Our short-term goal is really to reduce as much food waste as possible on a national scale, in order to do that we have to improve some algorithms on our end regarding product-matching so we are able to match our buyers and sellers to ensure a higher success in sales.
Long-term goal would definitely be to touch on every other waste out there and think of more ways to upcycle everything, this requires collaborations with other companies and more expansion!
TSP: What are some of your future plans for the organisation?
N: We will be involved in more talks and events to further spread our mission and get people to buy such under-appreciated products. Of course, there are a lot of talks regarding potential collaborations ongoing at the moment, and one of them will be coming out soon!
Do follow our Instagram or Facebook page @thetreedots to stay updated on all our happenings!