An innovative startup bringing food straight from farms to Londoners' tables plans to sprout up in other major cities across the country with fresh expansion plans.
Farmdrop, backed by the founders of Skype and Innocent Drinks, is launching in Bristol and Bath this week, its first foray outside of London and the start of ambitions to serve 20 hubs within the next three years.
The firm is bringing on-demand Amazon-style online delivery to the traditional farmers' market. After three years of serving the capital and attracting 17,000 customers, co-founder Ben Pugh said its logistics platform is now ready to be tested on a larger scale, with the goal of doubling its £3m revenue within the next six months.
"It’s a really big moment for Farmdrop and one that’s been coming for a long time," Pugh told City A.M.. "Our mission is to fix the food chain, using our platform to create a zero waste food system."
Users can order bread, milk, meat and other produce online directly from farmers, the numbers of which have almost doubled to 370 with the new locations. They deliver items to Farmdrop's hubs which are then distributed by the startup's electric vans. The on-demand nature means there is zero food waste while farmers receive 75 per cent of the purchase price, more than that offered by the big supermarkets.
Farmdrop operates as a "lean middle-man" and plans to set up around 20 more hubs beyond the south west, where it employs packers and delivery drivers in addition to the main business team at its headquarters in Bermondsey.
Pugh shook off the competition from giant Amazon when it comes to online food delivery, particularly when it has just bought up organic food leader Whole Foods in a multi-billion pound deal.
"Amazon’s view of the world is pretty much the commoditisation of food. Not all food is created equal – we find a route to market for them [farmers]," he said, adding that while competitive, the sheer size of the grocery market means there is room for new players to be successful.
The expansion comes on the back of raising a £7m series A in April, bringing total funding to around £11m. Investors include Skype's Niklas Zennstrom via his venture fund Atomico, Innocent Drinks' Richard Reed, Asos co-founder Quentin Griffith and Swiftky co-founder and chief executive Jon Reynolds among others, in addition to a round of crowdfunding.
It expects to think about further funding in 2018 and profit is on the horizon.
"We could go for it [profitability] whenever we wanted to. But all lights are flashing green, we can be competitive, pin our ears back, take more growth capital next year to get to that 20 across the UK," said Pugh.