Gastrofy is a Gothenburg-based company that creates a value chain between recipe sites and e-grocers. When using Gastrofy you can choose from a vast amount of recipes and create your personal food bag, which then gets delivered to your home. Lukas met with co-founders Robin Rendahl and Felix Bengtsson to discuss the origin of the idea and their journey up until today.
Background and idea
Upon entering the office at Stena Center you get a sense that this is a passion project and both Robin and Felix brim with enthusiasm about their new startup.
Robin started his first company when he was 19 years old. He imported shoes and clothes from India, which he then sold to high school students in Gothenburg and Stockholm. Later on he studied Economics at Lund University for three years and also received a Master’s Degree in Technology Management. He got a job about six months before he finished his studies and spoke to Felix during the course of the Master’s thesis, which made him contemplate over the future:
”After I got my job and spoke to Felix I felt an emptiness, since I did not want the job. I wanted to start something on my own. So we founded Gastrofy and got an early investment from Felix’s old boss. I then quit the job and we began developing our startup. I moved to Gothenburg since I have a lot of contacts here.”
Felix also studied in Lund, but changed direction and moved to Denmark for studies at Kaospilots, an entrepreneurial school. In addition to this he co-founded an event firm called Incubemate that executes over 400 events on an annual basis in northern Europe:
”I ran the company together with a friend for a few years and left it in 2013. So I have worked with corporate events for quite some time.”
In 2011 he got a job at Rocket Internet and was initially stationed in Copenhagen and later in Berlin. While doing research for this article I found myself thinking that one of the guys must have some kind of culinary interest. I asked them about it and found out that Felix’s parents are old restaurateurs and that the idea stemmed from a big interest in food.
”I experienced a lot of late nights in Berlin and bad eating habits. I was at the office all the time and the idea from the very beginning was: what if you could internationalize the Swedish phenomenon ’Linas matkasse’, a company that delivers recipe bags to households. Can you further improve this concept? Since we got an early investment from my boss I decided to leave my job.”
It took quite some time to get the company off the ground from idea to reality. They started discussing it already in December of 2011. Robin explains:
”Our aim has always been to shop food with the same mindset as when you shop it at a supermarket. When you enter a supermarket you immediately think about what you are having for dinner and some recipes come to mind. You should be able to do that online as well.”
Felix further illustrates that they needed their own idea:
”We realized that strong companies were present on the market, which meant that it was unnecessary for us to start another recipe site and compete with them.”
Instead they focused on other aspects that paid off. Gastrofy recently started a collaboration with CoopOnline, who supplies the food, and according to Robin and Felix Coop was the best possible partner. The food can be ordered by using Gastrofy’s web-app or by clicking on the Gastrofy button on selected recipe sites.
”We are dependent on collaborations. The recipe sites are essential for us, since they have hundreds of thousands of visitors. When we collaborate with them there is a Gastrofy button under the recipes that leads the visitor to the Gastrofy home page, where you in turn can buy the recipe.”
Robin previously had ”Linas matkasse” for a year during his time in Lund. So he knew how that type of business model worked and could spot the positive and negative aspects of it. But they actually went to supermarkets and handed out a one page-survey to customers as well as doing telephone interviews with old and existent customers from Linas matkasse. From there on they could distinguish the good and the bad parts and the improvements that were needed.
A lot of the e-grocers do not make a profit and I asked Robin and Felix about the challenges of this concept and the insecurities of buying food online.
”If you look at England, the market for this type of business is more mature than the Swedish one. Ten percent of all food that is being bought in London is bought online. But the Swedish market has started to grow and I think it is going to grow a lot more in the coming years.” – Robin
During 2014 ICA, one of the biggest actors in the retail food sector, will introduce an online service. Felix highlights that when they go online there will be a bigger acceptance and awareness among people to buy food online. It is the day the whole e-grocery industry is waiting for.
A report from The Swedish E-commerce Trade Association shows that there has been anxiousness among customers to buy groceries online since you cannot see the actual product. But this is an old problem according to Robin:
”The e-grocers realize that if they give customers a bad product they will lose those customers. Because of that they are very careful and choose high quality products. But we at Gastrofy do not know who bags and delivers the groceries. Therefore it is great to have a reliable partner in Coop.”
Home delivery and cost
During the last step of your purchase at Gastrofy you will be redirected to Coop where the payment is made. You can choose home delivery and you can, at the earliest, get it the day after the order. In the survey Robin and Felix made they found out that people wanted the option to pick up the food in the store on the way back home from work. Felix points out the trends regarding delivery:
”If you look at London, some of the companies have same day delivery and some U.S. companies make deliveries within an hour. So we can see where the trend is headed.”
When ordering products from Gastrofy the price will be the same as in the actual store. The target group is families with children – a group that consists of people with less time on their hands. The charge for delivery is only 49 SEK (Swedish kronor) and you have to make a purchase of a minimum of 500 SEK.
”It is not that expensive, especially if you have a car and need to drive to the store. That also includes parking and gas costs.”
At the moment Gastrofy delivers recipe bags in Malmo, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Kalmar and Norrkoping and will soon expand to more cities.
Swedish startups usually run into difficulties when it comes to investments in the early stages. But, as pointed out earlier, Gastrofy had a good start. Robin recalls:
“We got lucky, Felix’s old boss is now one of the co-founders of 1Apeiron, they believed in the team and gave us our first initial investment as well as guidance through the first startup phases. That first product helped us receive more capital afterwards”.
Felix sheds further light on a key problem:
”It is difficult to get funding in the early phases since you have not made a name for yourself yet. But it is also about finding the right capital that knows the pros and cons of investing in a startup. Smart capital is hard to find.”
Gastrofy has also obtained a loan from Region Västra Götaland and express their gratitude toward the organization. They make a point that there are excellent public investors out there, something a lot of startups maybe are not aware of.
Gothenburg as a startup community
Gastrofy is based in Gothenburg and I asked Robin and Felix about the city as a startup community, a question where they both gave different answers:
”I love the startup community. You help each other and there is not a lot of competition. There are few of us in Gothenburg and everybody knows everybody”. – Robin
”For me there is one thing missing. In Stockholm the community is better when it comes to events and startup gatherings. We should strive to develop that community in Gothenburg as well.” – Felix
The vision – where is Gastrofy headed?
Gastrofy just launched, but that does not stop the team from thinking about the future. In Robin’s words:
”The vision is that we should be a link between several recipe sites and e-grocers.”
Felix ends on an interesting note:
”Compared to our competitors we are acting on a more personal level and try to build data from the purchases so the customers can get further recipe recommendations. In that way we are trying to be Netflix for food.”
Gastrofy offers all readers of Swedish Startup Space gets an 80 kr discount of the first buy by using promo code “vadblirdettillmiddag”