The Escapist: Oddbox co-founder Deepak Ravindran
Deepak Ravindran, co-founder of Oddbox, on starting a business that loves all veg
In 2015, I decided to quit my investment banking career, having worked in financial services for 13 years. I wanted to start something that solved a real problem affecting people's daily lives.
On a holiday to Portugal, my wife and I came across an imperfect-looking tomato that tasted divine. We were puzzled as to why fresh produce in the UK's supermarkets looked so perfect but didn't taste as good.
I researched and found that in the UK, 30% of fresh produce is wasted as a result of strict supermarket specifications, or because it's deemed surplus to requirements. The estimated annual food waste is around ten million tonnes and worth £17bn.
So I co-founded Oddbox, a social enterprise that fights food waste by locally sourcing misshapen and surplus fruit and vegetables, and delivering weekly wonky veg boxes to homes in south London (with plans to expand to other areas) and wonky fruit boxes to offices in central London. We donate up to 10% of our produce to food charities and local community projects which tackle food poverty, such City Harvest, and the People's Fridge in Brixton.
In our first quarter of operations, we worked with a single supplier, had ten customers, used to pack our boxes at a local church and deliver them to customers ourselves. We now work with 22 suppliers, operate from a warehouse, and have grown 400% in the last seven months to serve 350 homes and offices. We see a bright future in 'imperfect' produce because we believe that, just like people, fruit and vegetables come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Order a wonky office fruit box from £14.99 or a wonky home fruit and veg box (south London only) from £8.49; oddbox.co.uk