Tech Pitch: COLLECTIVfood

Looking to turn the problematic food supply chain on its head, this start-up has cut out the middleman so restaurants and suppliers can connect directly...

Company name: COLLECTIVfood
Founder: Jeremy Hibbert-Garibaldi (30)
Background: Hibbert-Garibaldi worked as a forensic accountant, uncovering corruption and false accounting in Africa, before launching his first foodtech start-up in London.
Based in: London
Launched: September 2017

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

COLLECTIVfood is an online procurement platform where restaurants connect directly with hundreds of independent food and drink producers.

Since we bypass the middleman (the​ traditional ​wholesaler or distributor) and go directly to the source, we can offer restaurants a more efficient and therefore cheaper option which will save them time and money while being fully transparent with zero markups on prices. The platform is also completely free for restaurants to use.​

On the other side of the equation, we are connecting food producers (who first need to meet our quality criteria) with hundreds of new restaurant customers, effectively acting as their marketing and sales team. We offer lots of other benefits too, such as logistical support and bad debt insurance.

We charge producers a small commission for these services only when sales are made – so no sales, no fees, which means it is totally risk-free for them.​

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

The way that food is supplied into the UK’s 260,000 restaurants and food outlets is old-fashioned, inefficient and ripe for disruption.

Imagine an exhausted chef who phones up an answerphone at the end of service and reads out, from a sweat-stained scrap of paper, the list of food supplies he needs for tomorrow. He’s not 100% sure of the cost of these ingredients, but he hopes that the wholesaler he’s called will get them to him without the usual substitutions or mistakes.

This is the situation we are seeing today, and it is one we are seeking to turn on its head.

Since this supply chain is worth over £30​bn, there are a few start-ups looking at this space. Luckily we have a unique model and the most compelling proposition.

Is COLLECTIVfood funded?

Yes, ​we are backed by some great ​industry insiders and restaurateurs with many years of experience under their belts, and by Frontline, a VC which invests in ​early-stage ​B2B businesses.

What were you doing before starting?

​After studying law and finance I worked for over seven years as a forensic accountant. This ignited a passion for ethics, anti-corruption and white-collar crime investigations. ​

In early 2015 I moved to London from France and started ​my first foodtech start-up (an online B2C marketplace ​for artisan food). My driving force, as it was when I was fighting corruption, was to build a business that would have a big social impact.

The marketplace was getting great traction, but the space was dominated by a few incumbents with much bigger marketing budgets than ours. We started a successful relationship with a restaurant (which is still ongoing) and it was then that I realised that there was a real opportunity to improve the restaurant supply chain.

So, earlier this year I decided to pivot the business into a​ new​ B2B model. COLLECTIVfood was born and we have been on a very rapid and exciting journey ever since.

What’s the best thing about being based in London?

In spite of the politics swirling around our heads at the moment, for me London is still the best city for tech start-u​ps in Europe – and if we can create a platform that works here, it can be replicated anywhere else. Plus we have a flourishing and dynamic restaurant scene in London (where we are focusing our attention first) which is hungry for innovation.

This means I have been able to build a great team of talented people with a wealth of industry experience who have enthusiastically bought into my vision.