Burger Beer Bistro x TreeDots: Mouthwatering Goodness

Today we’re back with another piece on our Buyer’s Feature series!
In this series, we feature our close partners, who form part of Singapore’s community of food waste warriors.

Mmm…burgers!

Up next in our Buyer’s Feature series, we cast the spotlight on our favourite burger bar! B3 (short for Burger Beer Bistro) serves up delectable western dishes and fine beer with an environmental twist!
As their supplier for poultry and fresh produce, we are delighted to be able to feature their efforts in combating food waste on our blog.

What’s Brewin’ at B3?

Located at SMU, B3 caters to diners in our heartlands. With burgers, pasta and an ambience that’s rockin’ some incredible vibes, B3 is a favourite among SMU students and staff.
Calling avid football fans, for B3 might just become your new turf. B3 screens live football matches for its customers and has even got special promotions during this World Cup season.
We’re here today with Head Chef Don, who proudly shares that all their dishes are all done in-house and made from scratch!

Don’t their burgers look mouthwatering? Their Sawadee and Heart Attack Burgers are their bestsellers!

B3’s Bold ideas

A restaurant’s meals are their literal bread and butter. And Head Chef Don knows what’s best for his customers.
To him, it is of high importance that he does not compromise on the quality of his ingredients.
In that case, how is working with TreeDots an ideal choice for him? After all, we deal with food waste, right?
“We learned about TreeDots through a friend’s recommendation, and there is no denying that the price and the quality of the products are good.”
It is perfectly understandable when other restaurants are hesitant on the idea of obtaining produce from the TreeDots marketplace- even those of perfect quality! This is because there is still a strong stigma surrounding food items that are bound for the trash.
However, Don prefers to let the food speak for itself.

He rejects food items that are of poor quality or have gone bad, and our products definitely do not fall under this list.

“All of the produce are still good. As a chef, that is most important. Whether the food was bound for the trash or not doesn’t matter to me.”
That’s right! Did you know that our products are even fresher than those sold at your supermarkets? This is because we obtain them directly from importers and suppliers! We get our hands on the food months before they reach our local stores.
As a frequent buyer of frozen poultry, B3 quells the notion that frozen goods are ‘less unhealthy’. The bad rap that frozen foods often get are in fact unfounded for.
Advanced freezing techniques used today are able to preserve the taste and texture of our beloved food products. Sometimes, they are even better than fresh food.
Here at TreeDots, we carry a wide variety of items that range from fresh produce to frozen poultry and seafood.  And fret not, for we are able to vouch for the quality of our products!
We obtain all our food items from importers and distributors that are too, suppliers to our local supermarkets, grocery stores and F&B outlets.

Boundless Benefits

When asked about B3’s partnership with TreeDots, Don has no regrets. It wasn’t hard to make the switch from conventional suppliers to one like TreeDots. To him, it was a win-win situation.
Getting his ingredients of equal or better quality at significantly lower prices sounded like a good deal. Don says that, “since we started getting our food products from Treedots, it has really lightened our cost by a lot. In the F&B industry, what matters most is that you always control your cost.”
To add on to that, TreeDots’ social cause appeals very much to them. B3 stands as a restaurant with a green mission, and reducing food waste definitely aligns with their goals to go green.
Fancy a meal at an eco-conscious place? B3 at SMU awaits!

Interested in buying from us or want to find out more? Hit us up at [email protected] or contact us to receive our full product catalog!

The 10 habits of Highly Effective Food Waste Warriors

So, you think you’re great at minimising the food waste you produce. Do you have what it takes to qualify as a Food Waste Warrior? We’ve got 10 habits down, read on to find out if you fit the bill!

1. You store and use your leftovers

It doesn’t matter if you’ve cooked too much or can’t finish your food when dining out, you’re always ready to da-bao.  You whip out your plastic baggies, beeswax wraps or tuppaware containers to pack them for a meal later!

Can’t finish that muffin? Into a takeaway container it goes!

You also make sure to use your leftovers. You don’t want them to fester in the fridge only to end up in the trash afterwards. Using leftovers gives you a chance to be creative with your meals, because really, the possibilities are endless.

2. You buy less and only what you need

We often buy too much and overestimate how much we can really eat. You find it really helpful to plan your meals, make a grocery shopping list and stick to it.
If you’re at a buffet, you take bite-size amounts of food you’re keen to try and go back for more if you like them.

Rethink your serving sizes when you dine at buffets.

3. You don’t mind ‘ugly’ produce

You think that food is food, no matter how they look like! They ultimately taste the same, so why the discrimination? Others see them as odd, but you view them as perfectly imperfect.
People would always find you browsing the aisles where these under-appreciated food items are found. Others don’t know this, but the shelves here stock the best food bargains and some of the cheapest prices!

French supermarket introduces lumpy and misshapen fruit and vegetables – sold at a 30% discount – to combat food waste

4. You treat the expiry date as a guideline, not a rule

You’re okay with products that near their expiry, or even those that have expired.
Author of Wasted Food Jonathan Bloom recommends to “Trust your senses instead of the date on the package. Trust your sense of smell and sight and taste” when it comes to expiry dates. As stated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, these dates often signify food quality instead of safety.

5. You spread the word about food waste

You feel that every single person deserves to know about this problem! You actively try to get the people around you to understand, and if possible, hop on board as well. It’s not always easy, but you tough it all out!

6. You finish every morsel of food on your plate

Apart from ordering only what you’ll eat, you make sure to finish your food down to the last bite.
Your friends identify you as the one with the cleanest plate after every meal. If you don’t like cucumbers in your chicken rice, you make sure to inform the vendors firsthand.

Just how much food are we wasting when we over-order?

Whenever you want to try something new, you’d grab a small portion or share it with a friend so that you waste a minimal amount if you don’t like it.

7. You’re a pro at managing your fridge

You practice FIFO: First in First Out to prevent leaving anything forgotten at the back of the fridge, only to find out that they’ve spoiled after a few weeks..or months.

8. You keep your bananas and apples separate

You know how to best store your foods to prevent them from spoiling too early.
You have also mastered the art of freezing your food. We love freezing overripe bananas- they are perfect for smoothies and muffins. Freezing the bag of raw meat that you bought at a discount also ensures that you’ve got enough to last you through the week without spoiling!

9. You compost your food waste

Sometimes, even after maximising the use of your food, there’s just an inevitable amount of waste left. Instead of dumping them into the bin, you compost them!

Food waste can be composted into fertiliser for use in gardens and farms, making it a zero-waste solution!

Don’t have a compost bin or don’t want to make your own compost? Don’t fret! You can freeze all your organic waste and deposit them at Citizen farm @ Queenstreet, who will compost it for you.

10. You participate in food rescues

Reducing food on an individual level makes a whole lot of difference. But you know that banding together as a community can slash the numbers further. Hence, you participate in food rescues to ensure that surplus food produced in the community goes to those who really need it.
Wanna participate in a local food rescue? SG Food Rescue is looking for volunteers! Hit them up here.

So, how many habits have you checked off? Are you a Food Waste Warrior? If you’re not, fret not, for we can start inculcating these habits right now.

And together, we can make a whole lot of difference.

4 Types of TreeDots Products to Fall in Love With

TreeDots stands out from the rest of the marketplace because of our easily affordable prices. Hence, the number one question we get is-
How are your products so cheap?
Today, we are going to answer this question by introducing you to 4 types of items we have on hand. We’ve fallen in love with them, and here’s why you will too.

1. The overproduced/ overstocked

  • Forming the majority of all our items, our friends here are produced or imported in excess, thrown out simply because there’s just too much of them to sell. Well then, more for us at a fraction of the cost!
  • Reasons to love them: They fulfil the usual retail aesthetic standards, so perfect to start with if you’re new to trying out our products. It’d be like buying from your usual supermarket, just cheaper!
  • Our best sellers: Boneless chicken, Australian carrots, Chinese cabbages

Learn about the Top 5 Reasons Why Businesses Buy From TreeDots

2. The blemished (aka ugly food)

  • These guys may have a bruise here or a wrinkle there.
  • Apart from that, they’re largely perfect and this makes us wonder how the aesthetic criteria at supermarkets could have missed these foods
  • Reasons to love them: These little imperfections are negligible. If needed, though rarely,  a little slicing or shaving would do the trick.
  • Picture: Did we mention the giant heads of cabbage and bunches of spinach that we obtained? Now, don’t these green bundles look fresh and delicious to eat!

3. The oddly-sized/ coloured

4. Close-to-expiry

  • Forming the minority of our products, we feel that these are some of our best buys yet.
  • In a bid to clear these items 3 months before their expiry date, these items can be up to 80% cheaper.
  • While we do not sell expired products, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN strongly encourages us consumers to use these dates as guidelines, not a fixed rule.
  • Reasons to love them: Where else can you get a bottle of extra virgin olive oil at close to $6 a litre, or grapeseed oil at less than $2 a litre? Need we say more?

5. Bonus: The Out of Specs

  • We don’t usually have these guys on hand, but when we do, we whip out our recipe books and get cooking.
  • Would you discard a packet of squid rings with 50% of them broken? Sure, we can’t make perfectly round calamari anymore. But preparing this delicacy stir-fried, pan-fried or grilled with traditional recipes?  Heck yeah!
  • Why we love them: More reasons to get creative in the kitchen, they taste the same (or even better knowing that we’ve saved them from the landfill) and are very kind to our wallets!

The Verdict

So we bring to you the 4 main types of products you can get at TreeDots. Have you figured out why they are so affordable yet?

As unlikely as it might seem, these items would have ended up in the landfill if not for TreeDots and our partners. Items that fall in these four categories are bound for the trashbin simply because retailers are not willing to buy them. And this is because WE as consumers reject these products whenever we go grocery shopping.

That is why you can get them for cheap.

Interested in buying from us or want to find out more? Hit us up at [email protected] or contact us to receive our full product catalog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Participate in Stop Food Waste Day in 3 Easy Steps

Is food waste really that big of a problem to warrant an entire day dedicated to fighting it? Sure, wasting food on an individual level should be a relatively small issue. But combine the waste of the entire nation (and the globe!) and we get a massive problem that’s hard to stomach.

Step 1: Be aware of the problem

So yes, food waste IS that big of a problem. But how big is it exactly? Let’s break it down. The FAO of the United Nations explains it well in this short clip.

The food we consume have to pass through many hands before reaching our dining tables. Unfortunately, losses are incurred at every stage of the process.  And as explained in the video, food waste is deeply entrenched in all levels of the industry!
Here are some quick bites about food waste.
  • Did you know that Singapore generated 791,000 whopping tonnes of food waste in 2016 alone! That’s equivalent to two bowls of rice per person a day.
  • On a global scale, 40% of our food goes uneaten. Picture throwing one-third of the food on your plate away! Calculate the numbers and you get  1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted every year.
  • Combine all our wasted food and it becomes the third largest emitter of GHG in the world!
  • The author of of Wasted Food narrowed down the 3 main factors of food waste to: abundance, beauty and cost.
  • At the retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.

 

Just a fraction of the fruits and vegetables that were bound for the landfill if not for our partnership with the Uglies Market at SMU.

 How much food do you throw out as a consumer?  Would you throw out a basket of strawberries you just bought from the supermarket? 

Pretty tragic right? Like all of the food we consume, these strawberries travelled a pretty long way to reach our tables, only to end up in our trash bins because we forget about them.
Many of us don’t think twice about tossing leftovers away or discarding produce that’s left in the fridge for too long. Multiply the impact across all households in the country and we have on our hands one of the biggest contributors to climate change.

 

Step 2: Act now

When food waste happens on such a massive scale, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, we know that baby steps are the way to go. Here are some simple ways you can start acting now!
  • Buy only what you need with shopping lists and planning your meals in advance. Click here and here for useful tools that we feel make this process fun and easy!
  • Store your food properly. Here’s a comprehensive list of how to store all kinds of produce.
  • Freezing is a great way to prolong the lifespan of your food. Master the art of freezing here.
  • Treat expiration dates as suggestions/guidelines, not the law.
  • Manage your food waste at home with apps such as No waste and
  • Buy meals from restuarants and food stalls at discounted prices with 11th Hour and treatsure.
  • Hosting a party for your colleagues or a get-together with friends? We recommend the really awesome Guest-imator: it helps you calculate how much food to prepare for your guests and even puts your menu, shopping list and recipes together!

 

Step 3: Spread the word

 

Food involves all of us. Everyone has a part to play in this ecosystem. You can do yours by simply spreading the word.

Bonus step: For the aspiring food waste warriors

For those who ask, “how can I do more?”, we’d love for you to come on board as a food waste warrior.
Here at TreeDots, reducing food waste is at the centre of whatever we do. We help society target one of the biggest contributors to food waste- those at the top of the supply chain. By redirecting excess food stocks from big players such as food importers, suppliers and distributers to businesses, we’re helping to unlock the value of food that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Looking for cheap food or the best food bargains? We’re the place for you.
Are you a business owner or have a company in mind that you’d like us to reach out to? Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] We’d be happy to hear from you.

Top 5 Reasons Why Businesses Buy From TreeDots

Are you a business owner looking to save cost and cut down on food waste the easiest way possible?

You’ve come to the right place! Join over 150 businesses and save up to 30% on fruit, vegetables and poultry when you shop with TreeDots.

TOP 5 REASONS WHY BUSINESSES BUY FROM TREEDOTS

  1. Save up to 30%
  2. Guaranteed Freshness
  3. Guaranteed Safety
  4. Easy Transaction
  5. Save the Environment

1. Save up to 30%

We get all our products direct from importers and suppliers. This means that you can get cartons full of your desired produce 30% LOWER than retail prices (we have buyers reporting cost savings up to 80%).
That’s right, we offer the best food bargains. With us, you fill bellies and save your pocket at the same time. Check out our online market here or email us for our full product catalog. Hurray for cheap food!
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Asparagus, red bell peppers and carrots are just a few of our best deals!

 2. Guaranteed Freshness

We bypass the middlemen in the food supply chain to deliver products directly from the suppliers to you.
It takes typically several weeks for produce from the our sellers to reach the retail markets. This means that you will be receiving products fresher than those sold outside!

Our products are fresher than those sold at retail markets!

Did you know that we also don’t hold any inventory? We do this to make sure you receive your products the same day we collect them, fresh from our suppliers and no loss in quality from holding the items!

3. Guaranteed Safety

We personally check all our items to make sure that what you receive is perfectly safe for consumption. While most of our products are in perfect condition, some may be a little bruised or slightly blemished.
Rest assured, they are still edible and safe to consume. Say yes to ugly food!
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We deliver frozen poultry and fish direct to your doorstep.

In compliance with cold chain management safety standards SS 585: 2013, we deliver all our goods in our own refrigerated trucks.
By doing so, our products maintain their initial shelf life so that you can keep them as long as possible.

4. Easy Transaction

The buying process is simple.
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  1. Browse through a wide array of products on our website and add desired items to your cart
  2. Make your payment online
  3. Sit back and relax while we deliver it to you
We desire transparency as much as you do. Find out where your packet of french beans came from, how much cheaper it is, why it’s cheaper from the suppliers themselves and more—all on our online platform.

5. Save the Environment

Here at TreeDots, we work hard to make sure that reducing food waste is at the centre of whatever we do. We know how hard it can be to be eco-friendly. Singaporeans alone throw close to 800,000 tonnes of food every year.

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Rejected food items at the top of the supply chain often end up in the landfill or become incinerated.

Hence, we are dedicated to making it as easy as possible for you to do your bit for the environment. Every purchase you make directly saves it a trip to the landfill. It’s that simple.
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Every purchase counts!

Have questions? Hit us up  at [email protected] or contact us to receive our full product catalog!

3 Ways To Start Hustling based on The Lean Startup Methodology

Getting started is one of the biggest roadblocks for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Lean Startup Methodology has been hailed to help startups achieve maximum acceleration at a minimal cost.
We engaged in a lecture and hands-on session about running a startup, the lean way. Conducted by Bryan Long, Co-Founder of Stack and Founder of The Testing Ground, we knew we were in good hands.
We have combined our key takeaways from the session with our own experiences to share 3 ways you can get hustling!

1. Embrace Failure

Singapore is no Silicon Valley. We avoid failure like the plague!
However, failure is a mental hurdle that founders must cross and eventually, embrace. Want to reach the finish line faster? Fail early and learn early.
Failure has been lauded as the mother of success, and for good reason. Startups that ultimately succeed emerged from failure after failure while iterating on their ideas.
At TreeDots, we’ve been shoved out of offices and spat in the face. Our early ideas were far from perfect. The F&B industry was also a brutal one. We were uncertain, tired and discouraged.
But we pushed on.

2. Test Your Idea

Startups don’t usually start with deep pockets. When we’re strapped for resources, developing a perfect prototype can often be out of the question.
The solution: Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP-yes, you read that right!) An MVP is the fastest way to effectively test if your idea and return with the most valuable insights.
Traditionally, corporations can take up to a year to develop their business models, prototypes and final products before finally testing them.
As a startup, you can run your tests monthly or even weekly with an MVP. That’s 52 times more opportunities for validated learning!
Our MVP was a photo of a blemished head of cabbage. We went door-to-door, showed this photo on our phones to potential customers and asked, “Would you buy this, if it was cheaper than the market price?”
Our MVP cost us nothing to produce, and taught us that:
  • Food distributors and importers are our potential customers, not wholesalers.
  • There was a market for ugly but perfectly edible food.
  • Yes, we can continue building on our idea.

3. Make Continuous Improvements

After rounds of testing with your MVP, you are sure to end up with lots of data. Use the insights and feedback you received to decide whether to pivot or iterate.
Were your initial assumptions correct? Can you proceed with several tweaks in your business model? If yes, go ahead and make iterations to further refine and develop your idea.
If no, your idea may require a pivot– A change in your business model while maintaining the essence of your initial vision. Remember, the changes you are making should be guided by the data you have collected from your tests.
Here at TreeDots, our ultimate goal is to reduce food waste.
We started by thinking that food caterers would be our perfect early-adopters. We assumed that they had flexibility over their menus and were accruing low-profit margins from their sales.
Over time, we realised that these food caterers value their relationships with their food suppliers. They were also already well-versed in the art of negotiating for the best prices to survive in the low margin environment.
It turned out that our service wasn’t that valuable towards that sector at the beginning.
This called for a change in our entry strategy. We shifted our focus to organisations that wanted to procure their raw ingredients at less competitive prices. These organisations included small restaurants, cafes and voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs),
A pivot in our target audience then became key to kickstart our sales.

Start Hustling Now

Get creative with designing your MVP. Go out and talk to your customers, users and partners. Consolidate feedback and make iteration after iteration. Prepare to fail but also be sure to emerge wiser after every stumble.

4 Things We learned as a Startup at the VCIC Asia Regional Finals

When we were invited to the Venture Capitalist Investment Competition (VCIC) Asia Regional Finals on 3/3/18 to participate as a startup, we couldn’t say no. An opportunity to practice our pitches, learn how to negotiate terms and rub shoulders with actual venture capitalists(VCs)? We’re definitely in!

Tyler pitching at VCIC. Image credit: nbs gradstudies

This was definitely a most rewarding experience for us. And today, we want to share four of our biggest takeaways!

The Appeal of Social Enterprises

Prior to the competition, we had the impression that compared to deep tech companies, a social enterprise like ours wouldn’t stand a chance.

Hence, it was surprising when we found that our social impact was the most appealing factor to the VCs. Not only were they heartened by what we were doing, they also felt that social causes like ours were worthwhile investments!

This came from many of the students who would go on to become VCs. And our value proposition turned out to be our social impact.

We realised that times have changed and that we definitely had a distinct edge over purely profit-driven companies.

Always Seek Out Like-Minded Investors

VCs will be the ones helping you scale up and grow. They will connect you with the right networks that are key to the success of your startup. What happens if there’s a mismatch between your interests or worst still, your end-goals?

We learned that an ideal VC would:

  • See value in what you are creating
  • Want to achieve your goals with you
  • Have the capabilities to help you achieve the very same goals

So, always be on the lookout for investors with the capacity and interests to help your startup achieve your long-term goals.

Know Your Term Sheet Clauses

Knowing how to negotiate the terms in a term sheet is essential to secure a good investment. The negotiation session at VCIC was certainly helpful in preparing us for such occasions in the future.

How do we differentiate between an agreement that is favourable or not? How can we protect the interests of both the investor and the founder? These are questions that we as founders, need to know how to answer.

If you are planning to raise funds through seeking out potential investors, we highly encourage you to know this skill like the back of your hand! Doing so will not only help protect the shares of the investors and founders, but also ensure that your startup is going in the right direction.

The Team Matters Most

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it once more.

After a networking session with the VCs, we’ve ascertained this fact yet again. While our profit margin, market size and company traction are key to securing investments, these factors are secondary. Our primary objective should always be building a strong team first.

Your team matters most because you will be the ones bringing the ideas to life. Business ideas can change and your company’s performance can improve. But your team is forever!

How We Won the Grand Prize at the Social Startup Challenge 2018

Recently, we won the Grand Prize at the Institution of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Social Startup Challenge 2018! Hurrah!

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Woohoo! TreeDots at the Social Startup Challenge 2018

This would not have been possible without the help of our interns Jia Le and Yu Sheng, who also represented us at the competition.

Creating Real Impact

The award was a sign of validation that here at TreeDots, we are doing real work. At the competition, we shared about two of our social impacts: one, reducing food waste; and two, providing affordable food prices to lower-income groups.

At TreeDots, we don’t simply sell to businesses. We also reach out to lower-income groups and ensure that for them, each meal only costs $0.48. Because of that, they are able to meet their required 2 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of meat per day. This was not achievable with the prices at supermarkets.

To top it off, our judges at the competition were active players in the social entrepreneurship scene. It was heartening to know that all our hard work had been recognised.

Tough Times Don’t Last…

As of February 2018, we saved a whopping 1.5 tonnes of food– our biggest achievement to date. We started out with lots of hurdles because we were new to the industry and had to learn everything from scratch. During our first 2 months of operations, we only made $200 in revenue.

However, we pulled through. We continued making refinements and spoke to our advisors. Ultimately, we managed to save so much food in just 6 months.  Seeing the impact we made is a huge validation. Previously, we constantly questioned ourselves if we were doing the right thing. Now, we want to make that number grow, and grow exponentially!

…Tough Teams Do

The three of us have varied skill sets and experiences. Hence, we all come in from different angles and that really value-adds to the team. You want different skills and styles of thinking so that you have different ways of approaching a problem.

Cai (also known as Jia Cai) puts on the table the tech skills and expertise that Tylor and I lack. Tylor’s experience in investment banking helps increase our sales and attract potential investors. I go micro, and it helps because I’m handling the operations.

That’s how we value-add each other.

Eliminate all Fear

The startup scene can be very intimidating. Our advice to budding entrepreneurs is:  START DOING. If you have an idea, you’d have some things you wanna test- go ahead and test it. Test it and talk to somebody! When you start doing and getting your hands dirty, you’ll eliminate that initial fear.

You WILL face rejection, and that’s okay. If lots of people reject your idea, that’s good too because then you’ll realise that you might be doing certain things the wrong way.

And that’s a wrap! Today, we learned: 

  1. When you’re faced with setbacks, keep refining your idea until it works.
  2. Work with others with different strengths and skills to bring out the best in your team!
  3. Have an idea? Start doing now! You’ll overcome your fear once you try!