- 1) What is exactly that you do, and what is your start-up about?
We make healthy snacks out of fresh fruits and vegetables using dehydrating and vacuum roasting machines, and healthy drinks from grinded dried fruits and vegetables.
2) What is the problem that your start-up is trying to resolve?
Trying to minimize farmers waste (grade B & C produce) while creating healthy snacks for the Lebanese public
3) What inspired you to start this particular business?
We started as a fresh fruit and vegetable home delivery service, and we heard the same complaints from all farmers. They were throwing away 20% of their produce. So, we tried to find them a solution that would be mutually beneficial, which we did.
4) When was your start-up founded? What stage is your startup currently at?
We started in 2019. We are currently at the scaling stage, where we are planning to increase our variety from 2 main items (apples and oranges) to 5 (bananas, potatoes and 1 more vegetable mix).
5) Are you the sole founder? If not, how did your team meet? Who does what on your team?
Yes, I am the sole owner. From the start, we made it clear that we would be employing ladies with special cases: cancer survivors, wives of army martyrs and women with domestic problems. We made an announcement on RLL radio that we want ladies with special cases. Many applied and we chose our team. And they have been working with us since then. Our business consists of ladies who clean, slice and stack the vegetables on the racks to be dried and packed the other day. The financial & marketing part, I take care of personally.
6) What is your start-up business model, and how does it work?
We work with apples and oranges, so our work is seasonal. Our contracted farmers get us their produce and get paid on the spot. Then we proceed with the cleaning, sorting, slicing and drying processes. This takes 24 hours. The next day, we pack them in bags and start another batch. Each week, we complete 2–3 batches. We then send our products abroad to three overseas customers and 10 local customers. We also dry vegetables to make powders that are used in cleansing and cooking.
7) What exactly differentiates you from your competitor in the marketplace? Can you name a few?
We are present in locations where our competitors are not. We reach people on a personal level (1250 unique customers). We are not present in large stores but rather at selective points-of-sale, like health shops, pharmacies, gyms, diet centers, and selective stores. We have competitive brands in the Lebanese market, like Mums, Pomz, Kwikeez, Pometto, Dimples among others.
8) ) At what stage is your start-up currently at? (Early-stage, Growth stage, Established)
We are currently at an early growth stage and are looking forward to expanding our variety and market locally and abroad.
9) Can you discuss any significant milestones that your start-up achieved so far?
We entered four major markets: the USA, Australia, Nigeria and Cyprus, in less than one year from the start. We plan to enter more markets with new products using new techniques.
10) Can you provide some information about your target market and its size?
On the Lebanese level, we plan to reach 20% of the total market share in 2 years’ time. Currently, 80% of our production goes for export. By expanding our production line to include five or more items, we will be presenting our target market with more variety. The size of the market is increasing and so is the demand for healthy snacks. Currently, no solid numbers are available, but common sense projects around 100.000 bags produced and sold per year.
11) How do you acquire customers or users, and what is your customer acquisition strategy?
Since our current market is mainly abroad, we have contacted various friends and potential partners, sent them samples to show local stores, and then started getting orders repeatedly. As for local customers, we are contacting stores and potential POS in person to ensure a certain level of store quality. As for online, we have our delivery service online, which has been active since we started the fresh fruit and vegetable delivery business.
12) What are your main revenue streams?
Our apple chips and orange chips are the main revenue streams, along with our detox mix (made from dried and ground spinach, celery, beetroot and other healthy veggies).
13) Have you received any funding or investment for your start-up? If yes, can you share the details?
No, we haven’t. All funding is from personal sources. We received technical assistance from USAID, though.
14) How do you plan to scale your business in the future?
We plan to get a new technology called Vacuum Roasting, which roasts fruits and vegetable at reduced atmospheric pressure, resulting in a healthy outcome while saving time and overhead costs. After that, we plan to start selling in bulk abroad.
15) What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far, and how did you overcome them?
Financial restraints were the hardest, so we focused on the export market, where the customers pay in full in cash and upon ordering.
16) How will you measure success for your start-up or the achievements that your startup has reached?
By monitoring three variables:
The quantity of raw material sold every year
Number of employees added every year
Total sales per year
17) How do you prioritize and manage your resources, such as time and budget?
We are a small business with seasonal fruits to dry. So, we focus on our best-selling item, apples, during high season, then wait for the orange season to start. We sell only cash, and we always look for contract farmers. So, we don’t have any accounts receivable in the market, and we pay all our farmers, suppliers and employees in cash.
18) What is your marketing and branding strategy?
We have decided to market our brand under the name My Daily Basket. It’s a friendly name that people are already familiar with from past fresh basket service. We are positioning our brand as an affordable, healthy product that is available at health shops, diet centers & other similar stores. We are not trying to compete with conventional chips. So, while entering the Lebanese market in full late this year, we plan to utilize online sales, using social media and food bloggers to maximize the healthy aspect.
19) How did customers/users find out about you?
Social media and word of mouth are currently the most effective tools on the market today
20) What is your target audience?
Families and students for chips. Food processing industries for powders.
21) Regarding your marketing strategy, do you use social media, and if so, is it in-house or outsourced?
We use social media frequently, and it is in-house.
22) Have you faced any regulatory challenges?
Yes, while mainly exporting. The industrial permits are quite a hassle.
23) Can you discuss any partnerships or collaborations you have established?
We have been working with a remarkable lady for TA, funded by USAID, and she has directed us to make byproducts to reduce waste. Which we have.
24) What are the key things about your industry that outsiders don’t understand or misperceive?
People often compare our products to conventional chips, which are totally junk and not healthy at all.
25) How do you handle feedback and incorporate it into your product or service development?
We monitor our customers frequently. Hence the focus on direct marketing. We do frequent tastings and improve the products continuously. This has assisted us in avoiding mistakes and receiving timely and accurate feedback.
26) What is the biggest missing feature, meaning the one thing that customers/users keep asking for?
More variety. Which is understandable. But to produce more variety, one needs a whole set of machinery that is costly to import.
27) Are you going to internationalize? If so, how are you planning to expand internationally?
We are already present in the international market, but our production is limited to a certain 40.000 bags a year due to the current machinery. We plan to work on that in the coming 2 years to expand more efficiently, especially with the increasing demand for healthy snacks worldwide.
28) Can you share any testimonials or success stories from your customers or users?
Yes, we can. easily
29) How do you ensure the security and privacy of users’ data?
No one has access to our data at all except for me. And our systems have two-step authentication for access, only through my mobile. Or else all data will be destroyed.
30) How do you stay updated on industry trends and adapt your strategies?
My food engineer and I, along with my partners abroad, surf the stores weekly and the net for similar products and trends. This is a priority. We also look for new technologies and techniques to save time, money and improve production and quality.
31) Are there any patents or trademarks associated with your start-ups?
Our My Daily Basket is a registered trademark, and we have succeeded in making our own detox mix that we are improving daily.
32) Can you discuss your pricing strategy and how you determine your product’s value?
Our pricing strategy depends on three variables: cost, competition, and uniqueness. The balance between these three determines the price. For example, the cost of the detox mix is low but the value is high, and there are very few competitors in Lebanon. So we are selling it as a high-value item. Same in our export market, especially France. Pricing depends also on the shelf life of the product, etc.
33) How do you plan to build and maintain customer loyalty?
With consistent quality, a satisfied customer is your best salesman. We have experienced that since 2019. Our products will be available all year. Same and improving quality all the time. Delivery service is available even to the remotest areas. We plan to deliver worldwide with the healthy mountain tea line that we are starting soon.
34) What are your plans for expanding your team in the future?
By expanding our line of production, especially with the hot infusions, I plan to expand the team to harvest team, production and sales in all of Lebanon. Starting this winter.
35) Can you provide examples of any social or environmental initiatives your startup is involved in?
From the beginning, we chose to serve two players in our industry: our farmers (suppliers) and our staff. We contracted with many farmers for continuous supply to save them the hassle of the gross market and pay them in cash. On our staff level, we searched specifically for special cases (medically disadvantaged, home and family issues, harassment, etc.).
36) How do you approach customer support and handle any issues or complaints?
My personal number is printed on all our products. I answer all calls personally. It’s not easy, but we get to fix all complaints in minutes instead of days.
37) What have you learned so far from launching your start-up, and what pointers would you give a person reading this blog who is interested in having a start-up of his own?
Use local raw materials. Help your community. Draw a clear plan for your customers and product. Don’t ever give up. Maintain quality over price. People appreciate good quality and are willing to pay for it.
38) Six months from now, what will be the biggest problem?
Moving to a bigger location
39) Are you looking to hire new employees for your team? If so, what job openings do you currently have?
Not currently. No. I have enough for the time being.
40) Are you looking for start-seed investment or VC funding? If you are looking for funding, where can potential investors contact you?
I am looking to increase production by adopting a new technology called Vacuum Roasting. It will increase production by five times while reducing operational costs significantly. Potential investors can reach me on my personal mobile at +961-3-885707.
41) How did COVID affect your start-up??
It has boosted our sales since we started home delivery. We now have more than 1250 customers who order regularly online, and we deliver our products to them and their families.
42) How is artificial intelligence (AI) affecting your industry and your company?
It may affect our sales greatly if we integrate it into our mobile app that we will build soon.
43) Why should we feature you on our blog?
We started from zero. In the midst of COVID. No external funding, using 100% Lebanese products and labor, and we did it.
44) How did you hear about our blog?
We met with Mr. Bob at an exhibition three months ago.