Are there ugly fresh chickens?

We have all heard about how fruits and vegetables are being wasted due to cosmetic filtering, but do you know fresh chickens undergo the same treatment as well? A life reared to ultimately be killed for food is already horrible, now it is killed to be thrown?

Simply unthinkable.

Yet it is happening. Thousands of fresh chickens are being thrown away on a daily basis because they do not hit the requirements to be models on the display freezers. Here is a list of why fresh chickens get thrown away:

1. Sizing

cheap fresh chickens

Of course, the most obvious one. Just like all living things, an average number of days is needed to grow a chicken to a certain size. The most popular sizing – 1.2kg chickens – takes about 32 days to grow. However, just like all living things, not all chickens grow to 1.2kg in 32 days. Some grow bigger, some are still just tiny. Regardless, these chickens are usually thrown away since they are too small or big to be displayed on retail shelves. “They would stand out like a sore thumb amidst all the 1.2kg”.
Besides, automated machines these days are made to only process chickens of a certain sizing. In fact, one of the companies we met recently only take in chickens that are 1.75kg (yes, that precise) because their automated chicken cutter can only take that size.

2. Injuries

Alright, slaughtering is not a pretty process guys. The slaughterhouses work tirelessly, and chickens knowing that they are going to be killed won’t just sit there. Loads of knocking around the cages when idling, and workers have to hold them down sometimes. At times, these struggles and relatively forceful handling do result in bruises and broken bones.
Have you ever seen a displayed fresh chicken with such injuries? No? Well, point proven.

3. Anomalies

Chickens, like all other living things, will have deformed parts sometimes. Uneven sizing of wings, overgrown thighs, etc. Although genetic selection, and relatively better farming conditions have reduced the chances of deformities from happening, they will still happen. However, we have checked with chefs and slaughterhouses, such deformities are never harmful (cancerous/bacterial growth is another thing altogether). These chickens are definitely still more than fit enough for consumption!

4. Overstocking/Overproduction

Remember when we said there is a chance for the fresh chickens to not come out the sizing they want despite rearing for a certain duration? What do you think these farmers/slaughterhouses will do to prevent themselves from breaching their contracted volume of sized chickens?
Rear more of course! If I need to supply 10,000 1.2kg fresh chickens a day, I will just simply rear 15,000 1.2kg fresh chickens in case some of them fall short or over the sizing. This just means more is being produced than required. Doesn’t take a genius to know what happens to those over produced ones.

5. Storage Issues

I know some of you are thinking, since there are people out there who will use these fresh chickens, and overproduced chickens can still be the right size – why not just store it and sell it after?
Well, you will be right if fresh chickens don’t come in on a daily basis. There is almost no storage for fresh chickens as it will then be considered fresh frozen which is lower in value. Also, storage isn’t exactly a very cheap thing either. Higher cost, and lower margins? Who will be willing to undertake this?
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We have been working with various poultry slaughterhouses to help them re-distribute these fresh chickens. As our favourite saying goes – one man’s meat is another man’s poison – there is always a use for undersized/oversized chickens out there in the market. For injured and deformed chickens, we have also managed to process and re-distribute them accordingly.
By doing so, we managed to help businesses increase their margins by allowing them to procure cheap fresh chickens at almost 50% discount from their usual prices (whoopie!) and saving them from the bin at the same time. Slaughterhouses and farms are happy too since they have us to take care of their logistics! Doing the same thing as what they always have been but earning extra income, these farms and slaughterhouses are more than happy…
Interested to find out more or know someone who might be? Simply hit us up here or drop us a comment to see what we can do for you!

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!

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!

IMAGE 2018-03-07 11:29:03.jpg

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!

 

TreeDots at EarthFest Singapore 2018 – Our first ever event!

Some time in December, TreeDots was invited to set up a booth at EarthFest Singapore 2018. We were having a bunch of mixed feelings then, it was between excitement and fear because of the same reason, the entire TreeDots team had never set up a booth before!

Fast forward till now, we were glad we went took the leap of faith and went along with joining EarthFest Singapore 2018. Plenty of sleepless night, and thankful for some of our friends who decided to help us out – special thanks to Flora Artisan for helping us with the styling of the entire booth! The weather was great that day as well, despite having rained for the past few days.

TreeDots Founder Team at Earthfest Singapore 2018

TreeDots Founder Team at Earthfest Singapore 2018 with our booth beautifully set up by Flora Artisan

Made plenty of new friends along the way, started a new product specially for that which is awesome for our fresh produce sellers onboard – Adopting a Veggie box. Nobody knows what will be under-demanded by the market, and being able to put them into a box and sell it to customers whom are cool with surprises? PERFECT PLAN. Check them out here, and probably order some to take a break off grocery shopping for a week (or more) and prevent all these perfectly fine vegetables from being thrown away!

Many exciting collaborations are also in place, we met organic farmers who are keen on being listed on our platform, content generators willing to help us publicise our ideals, professional executives who are volunteering to improve our business operations for free, and we even got ourselves a short paragraph in a Straits Times article!

We thank everyone whom have supported us thus far, and for those whom have missed EarthFest, worry not for we have taken a short montage of us working hard that day for you!

Click here to view if the video isn’t working!

With this, the event is over and we thank all of you for your continuous support. Do check out our page more often for more upcoming events!