1) What is exactly that you do, and what is your start up about?
SIVA Industry offers an innovative phytosanitary solution to fight against the oriental fruit fly. It is the post-harvest treatment of fruits and vegetables. This process consists of cleaning up the fruits and vegetables, while preserving their visual and taste qualities. The solution, based on the principle of water steam, is 100% organic. Thus, organic certified fruits and vegetables keep their label after treatment. In addition, our process has a considerable advantage for the supply chain since the treatment extends the shelf life of the plants by 10 days.
2) What is the problem that your start-up is trying to resolve?
The fruit fly is a pest that attacks certain fruits and vegetables in tropical countries. As a result, since 2019, the European Union has banned the entry of these plants from countries where the fly has been identified, particularly in Asia and Africa, but also in the Overseas Territories. The challenge for Europe is to protect its continental territory from a potential invasion.
Fruits and vegetables currently regulated include mangoes, citrus fruits, capsicum (peppers and peppers), cucurbits and psidium (guavas), among others, but the list is set to expand as research reports have identified other fruits and vegetables infested with this insect.
3) What inspired you to start this particular business?
Our main motivation was to help relaunch the export of fruits banned by Europe because our family and friends living in mainland France no longer had the possibility of eating French mangoes and other tropical fruits from Reunion. In addition, the local sector was doing very badly. We have experienced layoffs in the sector and the reduction of activities related to the export of fruit because of the fruit fly. In addition, we wanted a solution that would preserve the organic certification of treated fruits.
4) When was your start-up founded? What stage is your startup currently at?
Our startup was founded in December 2019, when the local authorities requested that we work on a solution to the problem of fruit exportation due to fruit fly invasion. Our startup is now at TRL8.
5) Are you the sole founder? If not, how did your team meet? Who does what on your team?
We are two co-founders but also partners in life as a couple.
Siva GRONDEIN, president, has experience importing fruit subject to phytosanitary regulations in Reunion. That is why he was contacted by the local authorities to work with the State services on a phytosanitary solution against the fruit fly to relaunch exports to the European Union. Siva takes care of the R&D part and the partnership relations with the institutions and actors in the agricultural sector. A professional engineer by international standards, he also brings his expertise to the field.
Ophelie Pomeng, chief operating officer, graduated from a French Business school and is in charge of the commercial, administrative and financial management of the startup. She is also in charge of managing the logistics. She brings her management and business development skills to the industrial sector.
The paths and soft skills of each of the partners complement each other perfectly to carry out this international project.
6) What is your start-up business model, and how does it work?
We mainly provide the treatment service to our customers, but we can also provide the product supply and the packaging service in addition to the treatment service.
7) At what stage is your start up currently at? (Early-stage, Growth stage, Established)
We are currently in the early stages.
8) Can you discuss any significant milestones that your start-up has achieved so far?
First, it was the European approval of our territory by EURODOM to use our technology.
Then, we obtained the approvals of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in 2020 as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 2021.
In December 2021, we relaunched the exportation of mangoes from Reunion Island to France thanks to our solution.
In December 2022, we won the Public Prize of French Tech Rise 2022 among 20 startups selected throughout France.
In February 2023, we were designated as an industrial community as part of the Territories of Industry program.
In June 2023, we took part in the Reunionese startup delegation at the Vivatech show in Paris.
9) Can you provide some information about your target market and its size?
Only for mangoes, the estimated market size is about 400 000 tons for the European importation market.
10) How do you acquire customers or users, and what is your customer acquisition strategy?
We respond to a sovereign mission that obliges all operators in the agricultural and export sectors to go through a post-harvest phytosanitary treatment to put fresh fruit on the European market. We are therefore addressing all exporters and fruit producers from third countries wishing to do business in Europe. We are becoming an essential intermediary to comply with European regulations thanks to this phytosanitary passport.
11) What is your target audience?
Our service is mainly aimed at the export market to the EU because it allows our customers to comply with phytosanitary conditions when entering the European market. But it is also aimed at the local market, since it guarantees the end consumer a healthy product. We therefore target professionals such as farmers, exporters, but also individuals such as passengers who wish to transport regulated fruits in their luggage.
12) Regarding your marketing strategy, do you use social media, and if so, is it in-house or outsourced?
We are present in social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. As we do our marketing and communication strategy ourselves, all is in-house.
13) Have you faced any regulatory challenges?
We are the only company authorized by the European Union. We have obtained an agreement from the Ministry of Agriculture to use this solution on fruit and vegetables for European markets. On the other hand, we perfectly master the administrative procedures concerning the applications for approval of the territories and the applications for approval.
14) Can you discuss any partnerships or collaborations you have established?
We have created a network of agricultural and export partners. The purpose of these partnerships is to structure the sectors upstream and downstream of the production chain.
15) Are you going to internationalize? If so, how are you planning to expand internationally?
Yes, we are planning to internationalize because we would like to set up our model in the various countries facing the problem of fruit flies.
We are considering franchising our business. We have also been supported by the EIT INCORE program to prepare a strategy.
16) Can you discuss your pricing strategy and how you determine your product’s value?
Our pricing model was determined according to our production costs and the psychological price noted by a panel of consumers. People are ready to pay for our service to guarantee the safety of all their purchased products. For example, in 1kg of purchased fruit, they cannot be sure that the fruits are safe until they cut them. So they can lose money by throwing away a part of the damaged products. Thanks to our service, the entire 1kg is treated and safe to eat.
17) What are your plans for expanding your team in the future?
We are currently thinking of hiring a new PhD graduate in order to further explore our R&D work by the end of the year. When our factory is set up, we should create fifteen jobs from production to support services in the first year of activity. This should take place in 2025.
18) Can you provide examples of any social or environmental initiatives your startup is involved in?
We are involved in social and environmental initiatives not only because we developed an organic phytosanitary treatment and we pay attention to using eco-designed packaging, but also because we plan to create a real, dynamic, sustainable and fair ecosystem for all players in the sector, in particular farmers, the first links in the distribution chain. By structuring the agricultural and export sectors, we intend to enhance farmers’ incomes, encourage the diversification of crops with a view to moving towards food sovereignty, in response to the political will of the Government, and participate in the reduction of food waste.
19) Are you looking for start-seed investment or VC funding? If you are looking for funding, where can potential investors contact you?
We are looking for VC funding in order to grow our business and build our factory. If investors are interested in our startup, they can email us at email@example.com or contact us by phone at the following number: 0693014265.
20) How did you hear about our blog?
We met at the VivaTech event last June in Paris. It was great to hear that our startup could be promoted on your blog for free.