People are becoming increasingly conscious about what they eat and the methods of food production. There is more dedication to eating healthier food instead of mass-produced, saturated and processed food. It is this desire to reduce the carbon footprint of food products, coupled with the desire to obtain career autonomy, that led to the birth of Supp.li.
Supp.li is a platform that connects chefs to local food producers through a simplified online platform. It caters to the needs of HoReCa—hotels, restaurants and catering businesses—by enabling chefs to source healthy food products from local farmers and thus, reduce the carbon footprint of product distribution to the barest minimum. So, when you think of Supp.li, think of sustainability.
In simple terms, Supp.li is the guy who connects the chef to the local food producer.
“We do everything in between the farmer and the chef: logistics, pricing, invoicing, quality management, customer service.”–Zsolt (co-founder, Supp.li)
In a chat with the founder of Supp.li, Zsolt Balog, he lets us know the name Supp.li is from the word ‘supply’. He thought of the idea 3 years ago, and after some research, raising the initial capital, and setting up the platform, the service started in 2018.
The products which you can find on Supp.li include bio vegetables, non-bio vegetables, free-range chicken, sausages, and healthy spices. Supp.li currently serves hotels and restaurants in Hungary and supplies over 20% of the food products used by their clients.
“Act as if you would be the ultimate owner of the company…”–Zsolt (co-founder, Supp.li)
Zsolt started Supp.li with three co-founders, most of whom he had worked together with on a previous entrepreneurship venture. Presently, there are ten members of the Supp.li team including the four co-founders, shareholders, and employees (who Zsolt prefers to call colleagues). New team members and colleagues are admitted based on the skills and competences which are required for the advancement of the project at a particular time. Most importantly, Supp.li expects their team members to be flexible, proactive and hardworking.
Decision making in the Supp.li team is straightforward, as they meet to discuss in their weekly meetings. For more technical decisions, the people involved meet separately and discuss to reach a decision. The simplest decisions are made immediately, but if it requires more data, then decisions are made based on the available data.
Supp.li uses two major types of advertising; traditional social media marketing on Instagram, Facebook and via text messages, as well as word of mouth referrals. For Supp.li, these are the most important media through which they can easily reach out to the target market—the chefs. Supp.li only registers food products on the platform when they are sure of the quality, in order to maintain their reliability and ensure that the clients get the best quality. They check the farmers’ food certificates, check their previous references, and in most cases, go out to visit the farmers. The Supp.li platform is very user-friendly, and efficient, saving the buyers’ time and effort when they place orders.
An important achievement for Supp.li which Zsolt highlighted is that they have begun to earn money from the venture, growing 40 percent month-over-month in terms of number and value of orders. This March, they received 450,000 euros as seed investment which will be used to further grow the business for one and a half years until the next investment round comes up.
Like most startups, at the inception of Supp.li, the initial source of investment was the savings of the founders. They were also fortunate to receive 50,000 euros from the European Commission through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project. Presently, they have gone past the survival phase of the startup, they are now unto the growth stage where all new investment is channeled to the further growth of the business. They have great hopes for growth as they look forward to having many more buyers and sellers on the platform. They also intend to reach other regions in Europe like Northern Italy, Poland, Austria, and Germany before exiting the market.
“…this is a pretty supportive environment.”–Zsolt (founder, Supp.li)
Zsolt describes his experience in the iLab as a positive one in a supportive environment. Noting that there are no rules which would limit you in terms of what you want to achieve as an entrepreneur, as long as you are able to achieve your objectives. The physical space, the training opportunities which iLab offers, the chance to share ideas with the founders of other iLab teams, as well as the assistance of CEU finance students who sometimes help with the business model; the iLab has been very beneficial to the Supp.li team.
So if you love to eat out but wonder about the authenticity of the food products used to make the meals served at your favorite high-end restaurant, as long as they purchase their food products on the Supp.li platform, you can be rest assured that all products are locally sourced from local farmers, and they are as fresh and healthy as can be.