A startup called Portobel is working to help food producers move their business so that they can support direct-to-consumer distribution.
Portobel Supported by Veer Ventures and led by Ranjit Kumaran, co-founder of file-sharing company Hightail (acquired by OpenText) and loyalty startup Panchab (acquired by Walmart Labs).
Kumaran told me that he and his co-founders Ted Everson and Itai Maron started with the goal of improving the delivery process by using low-cost, Internet-connected devices to track each order. As they began testing it – mainly with dairy companies and other producers of bad goods – customers started asking them, “Hey, you can monitor these things, can you actually deliver these things Can? “
So last year, the company began making its own deliveries, which included managing its own warehouses and hiring its own drivers. Kumaran said the resulting process is “a machine that transforms bulk pallets into direct-to-consumer delivery.”
He also emphasized that the company is taking safety precautions during the epidemic, ensuring that all its warehouse employees and drivers have masks and other protective equipment, and that drivers use hand sanitizers between deliveries.
Portobel currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles / Orange County. Kumaran said that the COVID-19 epidemic only intensified the startup’s demand for services, with the number of homes serving tripling since April.
This may sound a bit surprising, as the supermarket was originally a store that customers are still visiting regularly. In addition, there are many options for grocery delivery.
However, Kumaran suggested that the D2C model is better for both producers and consumers. Producers receive recurring orders for large packages of food. And for consumers, “If you buy directly from a wholesale producer … everything is in stock.”
For delivery, he said that when you buy your groceries online, things are packed and shipped to your local store. “
“All those things about selection and availability that lay aside – modern grocery stores are not set up for efficient e-commerce delivery,” he said. “They need to block the corridor to pick up the product, there is no dedicated space to deliver. This kind of why, if you’ve tried [grocery delivery], Has unexpected distribution windows. Scaling online is a challenge for these people. “
Portobel’s clients include San Francisco-based grocery company Moo Kou Market. Alexandra Moussour, founder of Mu Guy, said in a statement, “The epidemic has driven retail as we knew it in a new wave that blends and merges all past and present forms of commerce. Where the Mu Cow Market like Companies enter and can grow further thanks to services like Portobel. “