Alexander Piutti (Co-Founder, Exec. Chairman), Raphael Fellmer (Co-Founder, CEO), and Martin Schott (Co-Founder, Director Special Projects) © Nils Lucas
What inspired you to found your startup?
Raphael has battled food waste since 2009, when he founded the foodsaving movement (today ‘foodsharing’ with 27.000 volunteers). In 2014, Alex got sick and was (mis-)diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, he recovered quickly but the experience left its mark. As a serial entrepreneur, Alex decided to apply his skills in a meaningful way. During his research Alex met Raphael. Together with SirPlus founder #3, Martin Schott, the three teamed up to develop the SirPlus concept and enable maximum impact.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
Our success is massively reduced food waste across Europe, perhaps even in other regions. Impact is the key metric, i.e. tons of saved food and redistributed to consumers & businesses, reduction of overproduction, tons of CO2 avoided and resources protected. There are many use cases of how food accidently becomes surplus food. We’ll tackle those. Long-term, we aim to educate how to avoid food waste and overproduction altogether. If we achieve that, we’ll make ourseleves redundant – job done!
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Not really, as we founded the company only six months ago. Perhaps we should have started earlier. In a sense it is tragic that one has to become sick first to think about what really moves the needle in the world. But that’s our story .. and perhaps it was meant to happen this way.
What problem does your product solve?
We’re addressing various problems. First, suppliers such as farmers, logistics players, wholesalers & retailers have a strong economic incentive to partner with us: when buying or trading their surplus via our marketplace (massive volumes) we’re saving them significant disposal costs, while providing a new revenue source. Second, by selling our food to consumers & businesses at a discount, we’re saving them lots of money. Last, NGOs get our food for free, access they would otherwise not have.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
We’re focused on getting our blueprint right, with Berlin as a pilot. Storage, offline store & delivery will act as our micro-system to match supply & demand. Once the blueprint works, we’ll move to other cities and replicate the approach, supported by a digital marketplace to connect more channels. An efficient digital marketplace (Alex‘s passion) will be our mechanism to really scale. In 10 years we hope to have a full-blown SirPlus infrastructure in place, producing a powerful social impact.
How are you different?
The composition of our founding team is odd but complementary. Raphael is a food saving activist who has dedicated his life to the battle against food waste, via his money-strike and the food sharing movement. Martin is an environmental engineer, passionate about sustainability and CO2 reduction. Serial company builder Alex is excited to crack a social problem with high-tech approach and sustainable business model. The founders are excited about their unique concept and the impact it could have.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
Potentially as many times as they touch food, ideally every day. We want to transform food waste into benefits for everyone. Picture SirPlus as a convenient service. Think Amazon Fresh, but saved. We want to deliver to homes & businesses. Think about all the not-so-perfect looking veggies and fruit that don’t make it to wholesale. Who cares what they look like? Restaurants could work with such food, no problem. But a secondary market is just not (yet) in place to allow for such options…
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
Our key stakeholder is mother nature, planet earth. If we succeed, we’ll reduce pollution and save resources, helping mitigate climate change. But of course that will take many, many years. First, we want to create an impact on a local level, later worldwide. Imagine Berlin without hunger, say in 5 years. Berlin is still somewhat of a poor city. 1 of 4 school kids here do not bring a packed lunch to school. This is something we’d like to solve. Reducing poverty would also be a fantastic result.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
The startup ecosystem has grown significantly over the last years and has now somewhat matured. 2006 was probably the year when things really started taking off here, for a number of reasons. Berlin attracts great talent, both founders as well as employees wanting to join an exciting new venture. But digital Berlin is still at its infancy. An Eldorado for entrepreneurs wanting to start and scale their business here. More corporates are moving in. B2B is a massive opportunity, also for SirPlus.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
Mostly pros, no serious cons. One could for example argue about the perceived bureaucracy of the Berlin administration, first hurdle to overcome for international folks joining the digital workforce over here. There are certainly a few things that could and need to be improved. However, each startup hubs across the globe has its own set of pros and cons. Berlin is an amazing and exciting place to launch a startup. We love the city, its creativity and vibes. Brilliant place to kick off.
Bonus Question: Anything else that we need to know about you?
Alex & Raphael first met in the summer of 2015. At that time, Raphael was still living without money (total of 5 years). Somewhat bizarre meeting for both of us, given our different mindsets 😉 We lost touch, had no contact for about a year. However, we eventually got back together given our mutual vision of a world without food waste!
SirPlus was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.