A new Pakistani startup is coming to the U.S., and the company aims to streamline the so-called last mile of the food distribution supply chain. Founded by Kash Rehman, Foodem was built with the understanding that the food supply chain is highly fragmented, leading to inefficient and costly practices.
According to Rehman, who recently spoke to Tech In Asia, the food supply chain largely depends on its sales team and face-to-face interactions to remain profitable. But Foodem digitizes this process, offering an online B2B marketplace for companies to procure food products.
But even after attracting distributors to the platform, Rehman reportedly entered the food service industry to gain firsthand knowledge of what restaurants need when procuring food items. In this time, the entrepreneur realized that restaurants often call multiple suppliers and distributors to compare prices before striking a deal. This tedious process, Rehman found, had do be done multiple times a week.
Foodem offers food buyers a chance to quickly compare prices and see if what they need is available when they need it. The platform, Rehman said, caused food prices to decline for buyers, who also had access to Big Data to analyze seasonal trends and customer habits. For suppliers, they could access a broader range of potential business customers without adding more sales staff.
To gain traction within the food supply chain, Rehman said he had to appeal to the existing online commerce habits of food buyers and suppliers when they did their personal, B2C shopping. Social media, too, played an important role in attracting users. But the majority of the buzz around Foodem stemmed from blog posts and news stories, and an early investment in SEO and content marketing helped Foodem stabilize in the market.
In July 2012, Foodem nabbed $75,000 in its first funding round. Just over a year ago, the company raised $600,000 from angel investors based in the U.S., leading Rehman to strengthen its position in the nation, reports said.
The food supply chain has quietly gained attention among innovators in recent years. Last March, for example, B2B inspection company SGS launched a partnership with EU-based supply chain management services provider Trace One, a deal that saw the launch of what they called the world’s first B2B social media network for the food supply chain.