An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Regardless of how true this old adage is, the buying and selling of apples and other produce are being slowed down by old technologies that make these transactions less efficient.
FruitsApp, a food tech startup based in Rome, provides an online marketplace to remedy this problem. It connects buyers and sellers globally, with services like quality assurance making the process easier for both parties.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of FruitsApp, Carlos Iborra:
How did you come up with FruitsApp? What was your method of turning your idea into an app?
After working for 10 years on Fresh Fruit & Vegetables trading as Business Developer for the biggest multinationals of the sector, I decided to help to evolve the way of trading, because I considered we were using obsolete ways of trading as phone calls, emails, faxes… and it was costly and inefficient. With the new technologies available, it should be possible to create a tool like FruitsApp, and we did it.
The method was to create a multidisciplinary team ready to approach any possible side of the business: sales, marketing and development. Besides this, we were selected by Startupbootcamp as Top 10 FoodTech Startups for being accelerated, and that was crucial to make the difference.
You say that the produce industry is lagged down by old technology. How is FruitsApp going to increase the efficiency between buyer and seller transactions?
Our goal is to automatize all trading process and change the way of trading using our platform using some clicks instead of endless phone calls. We connect producers with the right demand directly, avoiding intermediaries, as they can see in real time and globally, where there are companies interested in their products, and sellers have the possibility to send offers to all of them with one simple click. We streamline the trading process doing it easier and faster, helping the companies to reduce their waste.
On the other side, buyers have access to all offers of the market, and to price tendencies as well, so they can optimize their trading decisions avoiding mistakes that can cost huge amounts of money. And the best thing; logistics are integrated, buyers and sellers can see which is the best company to carry the goods.
I would imagine that some of these buyers and sellers are not tech-savvy and stick to using outdated methods because they are easy for them to use. What are you doing to make sure that these users will be able to transition to FruitsApp smoothly?
FruitsApp is very easy to use and intuitive, companies can start buying and selling with simple steps. Nevertheless, users can find tutorials for each step just in case. Besides this, new generations that are entering to the sector are familiar with this kind of technologies and platforms, and they are pushing on the direction of evolution.
Has your location (Rome) given you any obstacles in running FruitsApp?
Rome not only has not put obstacles, but also has been the point that has marked a before and after in our history. We joined there our acceleration program with Startupbootcamp FoodTech, and they were our first key partner that helped us to success. We also get our first partnerships in Italy thanks to that, as “Young Farmers Association of Italy”, who has given us visibility in Europe in our beginnings.
Again, because you are located in Italy, it’s more difficult to reach overseas users. How do you market your product to people that live all over the world?
We have started focusing on the markets that we knew really well: Spain and Italy. But the need of something like our platform in the sector has made that companies from more than 100 countries joined our platform in 7 months without invest any cent in marketing. We just used our network and social media to get this result.
How do you ensure that trades are successful?
We match the companies to increase the odds of success for them, thanks to our algorithms and AI, the companies will see the best option for their business at each moment, the result is the possibilities to close deals through the platform increase as well.
How much of a success has beta testing been? What are your next steps after your beta testing?
Thanks to our beta users, we made our platform adapting to their needs. We are in direct contact with them to create the best tool for the sector.
We will go out of Beta on September/17, with a new version that will include new features with the goal of improving user experience.
You recently got $150k in seed money from investors. How did you go about getting this money? What do you plan to do with the capital?
To convince investors to trust in you is always a difficult task. It is very important to show that you are trying to create something disruptive, and that the team behind it is the ideal to carry it out.
We will start investing in marketing and sales.
One of these investors was StartupBootcamp FoodTech. How was your experience in the program?
To be accelerated by one of the most important accelerators in the world makes the difference. They help you with points of view that you never thought about before. It was really intensive, and the output was clearly positive.
What has been your biggest challenge with FruitsApp?
I think that as in the rest of Startupers, we face a lot of challenges, and most of them in the very beginnings. We were born global, and we were facing all sides of the business with a reduced team, but nothing that cannot be solved with involvement and with jouneys of 100 hours per week.
To end, do you have any advice for people who want to get involved in food tech?
Food Tech is a vertical where the possibilities of improvement is high, so if any person has an idea and has the key factor that is called “previous experience” on it, I really encourage this people to put their effort on helping to evolve this sector, but especially in those related with agriculture. Agriculture is one of the bases of our society and our development, and we have the duty to take care of it. At FruitsApp, we will push to create a sustainable and appetizing sector for next generations.
If you are interested in learning more about FruitsApp, you should: