Investments

Launching Martee’s—data-powered, distributed access to fresh food

Investments

Launching Martee’s—data-powered, distributed access to fresh food

Words Founders Factory

September 28th 2023 / 3 min read

The problem

The consumer food landscape is saturated with cheap, ultra-processed ‘junk’ food. Healthier, fresh alternatives are not only harder to come by but are also available only at a considerably higher price.

This disparity is a signal of the waste risk that food businesses associate with short shelf-life products. To protect against margin loss due to overproduction of fresh stock, businesses pass on higher costs for these items to the consumer (compared to processed longer life lines), and defensively undershoot their stock estimates for (or even stop selling altogether) certain fresh products, meaning fresh options can be few and far between.

This is a huge problem for the health and equitability of our food system, and represents an enormous missed opportunity for food businesses.

Whilst forecasting products already exist to help businesses predict future sales of other consumer goods, there is currently no accurate solution for forecasting fresh products to service rising consumer demand. Fresh food forecasting is an entirely different ball game because: 

  • Demand is irregular, making it hard to spot patterns in (as preference for fresh items is delicately shaped by contextual factors like the weather, and the day of the week, with consumption happening shortly after purchase)

  • Every location is different (hyper-localised influences like affluence, footfall and competitive alternative food options make it difficult to transpose demand information from one location to another, meaning insights captured in one setting may not apply elsewhere)

  • Accuracy is paramount (there is no overstock safety net for products which go off)

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The solution

Martee’s is building the next generation of demand forecasting, working data-first to deliver high accuracy outputs that unlock fresh food as both a revenue stream for business, and as an accessible resource for consumers. 

Through first building a store network (their set of data collection nodes) across diverse settings, Martee’s is selling fresh food directly to consumers first, using their custom automated smart fridges and smart vending machines for digital demand data capture, gathering localised sales and consumer data continuously.

By creating a data capture environment that spans diverse demand settings, and then applying the cutting edge of supervised machine learning, Martee’s will be able to forecast demand with accuracy, and importantly with between-settings transferability, that outstrips what has been done before. 

Through becoming experts in fresh food first, Martee’s will unlock fresh food for all businesses, delivering missed revenue from a notoriously challenging, but increasingly important segment of our food system.

The team

Harry Slagel (CEO & Co-Founder)

Harry is a second-time founder in the food industry, having previously founded Plateaway, the UK’s largest restaurant meal kit marketplace which reached £700k revenue in its first 12 months. His background is in UX and service design, having worked at Sky, as well as on a number of digital transformation projects for the UK government with roles at HMCTS where he worked within the digital reform to redesign the Immigration and asylum appeals process, and at the Department of Education to define how remote schooling could work during COVID. 

Lucy Adams (COO & Co-Founder)

Lucy brings extensive commercial and operational experience from her background in early-stage startups, most notably as an early employee at rapid grocery delivery startup Weezy. As one of the founding team also at Shareback, a B2B SaaS disruptor, she has experience taking a SaaS product from idea to execution, has led development as a product manager and has also hired an early technical team. 

Additionally, Lucy brings both a rich knowledge and academic network in food systems research and nutrition from her time studying Human Sciences at Oxford University. Prior to joining the Mission Studio, she was an entrepreneur in residence at ZINC, where she spent 6 months conducting user research with food businesses. 

Why we’re excited to invest

Lizzie Hindocha, sector director for Mission Studio, says: "Martee’s solves the difficult problem of accurately forecasting demand for fresh food, where the shorter shelf life and mis-stocking exacerbates up to 65% of lost revenues and food waste. A lot of data points are needed to predict sell-through more accurately, and what we particularly like about Martee’s is that they're turning this data acquisition problem into a revenue-generating exercise. "

"In just six months, they've been paid by several co-working and hospital locations to set up a number of fresh food vending machines, providing the team with an agile playground for experimentation and data collection. We believe that by supporting fresh vending businesses to stock better and increase their revenues, Martee’s will not only reduce food waste, but also increase consumers’ access to fresh, healthy food."

What Martee's wants to get out of the programme

  • Continued support to shape and deliver their proprietary data product

  • Guidance in their growth, brand and marketing approach, to refine their messaging and proposition

  • Support with orchestrating their multi-step product roadmap, to optimise their go to market strategy for both their consumer and business-facing products

  • Preparation for their next external fundraising round, which will be announced very soon…

Are you interested in co-founding a startup with impact at its core?

Submit an idea for our Nesta Mission Studio

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