Liv Up is a digital native vertical brand (DNVB) food-tech startup that makes tasty, natural and convenient food. They do so through a direct-to-consumer business model designed to reconnect the agriculture industry to consumers. Liv Up was shortlisted for the 2019/20 TFF Challenge Circular Economy of Food Prize.
How has COVID-19 impacted liv Up?
First and foremost, we had to increase production since we are a food company within the essential services. We didn’t need to stop our operations but we did need to guarantee that people were safe, so we implemented a lot of new measures in our production line such as increased distance between the production cells and every 30 minutes everyone must wash their hands and of course wearing masks and gloves. We also had to ensure sufficient products in case we needed to close our kitchens.
What challenges is Liv Up trying to solve with a direct-to-consumer delivery approach?
🍅 Fresh and organic vegetable box delivered directly to customers.
👉 Fresh food allows us to change the weekly box composition, consider seasonality and surplus of crops from farmers.
👉 As the project scales, our involvement with the farmers will become more streamlined, and we can adjust demand according to crop forecasts from the farmers.
The way we approach it is a very customer-oriented one, so we implemented it’s different feedback loops and questionnaires and interviews number to make sure that the product we are delivering is actually why people need so in less than 60 days from the start of the project we had feedback from more than a 14% of all people that purchased the products which is a very high number, so we had excellent data about what people were liking or disliking.
You are also starting a social impact project. What is your change concept?
🚀 We aim to guarantee surplus food purchase for a reasonable price, maximize the use of our budget and close the whole food chain.
🤲 We will donate 1 ton of fresh organic vegetables to social projects and NGOs every week, until the end of 2020.
👉 These projects have helped tens of thousands of people, so we are pleased to contribute to our mission to building a better food system.
👉 It also benefits the farmers, as they can sell the products that otherwise would be wasted.
As COVID-19 impacted Brazil, we saw that people were shifting their eating habits towards home, and are also more willing to buy things online. Right now, our primary products are ready to eat meals. We also see an opportunity to start delivering groceries online so that people won’t need to go to the supermarkets. The challenge that we are trying to solve is how people can get their groceries delivered at their door and use ingredients that we already use in our kitchen.
Ultimately this is a safe and easy solution:
🛒 People don’t need to go to the supermarkets; the vegetable box is delivered directly from our farmers to the consumers.
🧑🌾 This benefits the farmers too because they had agreements with restaurants and schools that are now closed; they have the opportunity to sell their extra produce.
How can other startups implement D2C business models and collaborate with NGOs, especially now with COVID-19?
🤝 We believe in the power of collaboration.
We don’t need to do everything by ourselves, but we need to have the tools that enable us to connect with customers. Find marketplace players that are open to transparency and allow you to grow your channel – that’s an easy way other startups can implement similar business models.
🔎 See what other NGOs and impact projects need to foster.
Liv Up has two NGO partners and they aim to promote smallholder farmer development; they connect us with farmers who source ingredients to us. That has been very helpful because we help the NGO to accomplish their goals, we support the farmers in selling their product, and we are helped by having a more abundant supply of organic ingredients. It’s really about finding that the players who can help you build a new sales channel and help you grow.
Adapting to COVID-19 can be overwhelming – what is your advice for founders/ entrepreneurs to get started?
Understanding your customer’s behavior and what they’re willing to pay for is an obvious way to adapt to this situation. Of course, COVID-19 impacts tend to be more on the operation side, so you need to understand your alternatives. The biggest possibility is that it’s going to impact your market. Be prepared to go online, that’s a trend that we have been seeing for the last ten days, ten years and over the previous ten months, it’s only been accelerating more, so make your strategy online friendly.
How are you hoping your efforts will help make the food system more circular?
Regarding circularity, our system is creating a positive impact overall because the more people that buy our products, the more people can be helped. We are helping to reduce food waste along the food chain plus, the integration of our farmers will drastically increase. We buy these crops from the farmers at a relatively low price since the produce would’ve been lost anyway – it’s really donating it to people in need, so we are taking the surplus from the production site and giving to the people that don’t have food on the other side. We’re balancing out the food system, so that will also make our process more circular.
COVID COLLABORATION COLLECTIVE
More from the Covid Collaboration Collective
Our recently-launched Covid Collaboration Collective (Co3) collects and shares the solutions that TFFers around the world are developing, so that they can be deployed more quickly in other places.