Today, we are going to be talking with Josh Domingues, the founder of Toronto startup, Flashfood, to talk about their role in solving the food waste epidemic. Josh, who has spent the early part of his career in finance and consulting, has launched the Flashfood app to prevent a fraction of the food being thrown away by restaurants and retailers from reaching landfills. The foods that are nearing their ‘best before’ date are then listed on the Flashfood app notifying customers to go in to select grocers to pick up the food and pay at a discounted price. A win-win situation. Let’s hear more about how he’s doing this.
Can you tell our readers a bit about Flashfood and how you came up with this idea? What is your mission?
It all started when my sister, Paula, who was a chef gave me a call after she had to throw out 4000 dollars worth of food and needed someone to vent to. At first, I just laughed and asked why she had to do it. She said she was at crossroads and her boss had ordered her to do it. Having a background in finance and consulting, I started reading into this matter thinking that there might be a business surrounding this whole food surplus thing. It was only till I read into this National Geographics article from March 2016 that I was truly inspired. I assembled an A team of people in management consulting, investment banking, and a successful tech exit with the goal to reduce food waste and also help people with food insecurity that are unable to have healthy foods. Our ultimate mission is to create a circular solution so we can get all the food that could have gone to waste and divert this surplus to feed people who don’t have access to these foods.
Can you tell us about some auxiliary benefits of Flashfood other than reducing impact on our environment?
We are driving new customers in grocery stores and allowing them to spend incremental dollars. These are customers that might often find certain retailers more expensive. We are also reducing costs for grocery partners and making healthy foods that could have gone to waste more affordable for the consumers.
Flashfood is a mobile platform that aims to connect customers with retailers. You’ve also mentioned before that you are connecting technology and mobile use to these older, well-established companies. How did you first start reaching out to local vendors and then to major grocery chains?
Mostly through my network and the network of my colleagues that we have established. I connected with several lawyers, bankers, and former classmates and was luckily referred to the CEO of Farm Boy. We teamed up and they allowed our app to integrate into 3 stores in London, Ontario. Through the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers CFIG, we connected with other grocers like Longos. Flashfood is now integrated in several Longos locations in Toronto.
As a startup that has just launched its mobile app in January 2017, what were some obstacles you had to overcome? What were some of the challenges you faced in launching your mobile app?
The greatest challenges we faced were selling into the well-established, traditional grocery businesses. It is a very old school non-technical industry, so our pitch for them to move onto something new and innovative had its perils.
The company has set out on an ambitious and auspicious goal to ultimately end world hunger. Flashfood has launched in all locations of Farmboy across London Ontario and select locations in Longos in the GTA, what is next for Flashfood in the next 5 – 10 years?
We’re hoping to set precedent across Canada being Canada’s first with locations in Toronto and London, Ontario. We will be in Vancouver starting January 2018. We are extremely hopeful to enter the US and European markets shortly after.
As a startup in Ontario, what perception do you get from its residents about food waste?
Food waste is becoming more and more topical not only in Ontario but in North America. We’re seeing a greater shift in consumer habits to discussing and purchasing food that is going to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of food waste.
How would the app be incorporated if Flashfood was to go global? Which country would be next for Flashfood?
Flashfood is incorporated as a Canadian company. The next target for Flashfood is the United States!
What can we do to raise awareness about food waste?
Education is a big thing. We’re looking to create interesting content so that we can communicate with our user base in a meaningful way and hopefully create shareable content around food waste to reduce the amount of food that’s wasted.
What can our readers do after reading this to get involved? What resources, meetups, websites, books do you recommend our readers read about food waste and lessening our impact on the environment?
Go to your local grocers and tell the store managers about us. Ask them what they’re doing with their surplus and then ask them why they’re not using something like Flashfood to reduce that surplus. Asking the right questions could go a long way.
We would like to thank the opportunity for talking with us about Flashfood to our readers. Your story is such an inspiration to like-minded entrepreneurs and we look forward to seeing how Flashfood does in the near future!
About the Author
Maddy is a recent graduate of Biochemistry and Human Biology from the University of Toronto. While she is passionate about research, she hopes to contribute to the startup community and learn more about entrepreneurship. In her spare time, Maddy loves reading and watching Sci-Fi shows and movies. Her favourite author is Michael Crichton.