Our Co-CEOs Philip and Duncan gave a revealing Q&A about how Upstock came to be, the company's ultimate mission and ambitions, and how launching during a pandemic was actually a blessing in disguise.
We shared a bunch of really fun stories about the journey so far, about raising $3.5m during lockdown, key lessons we learned from building Xero, some of our guiding principles, and how our values have had an important impact on our business.
Spoiler alert: here are some of the big takeaways...
The ultimate mission
Our ultimate mission is to dramatically reduce food waste, which is one of the largest contributors to climate change. We've already seen dramatic reductions in food waste with our current customers and we're just getting started. We sit in the middle of the food supply chain and our software eliminates ordering errors, which is a major cause of food wastage.
To make that happen, we need our business to become an industry standard for wholesale ordering. We believe this is a phenomenal opportunity to have a massive impact on the hospo industry by streamlining operations to cuts costs exponentially, while also having a massive impact on climate change by reducing waste, while building a great business – all at the same time.
How the pandemic was a blessing in disguise
In New Zealand, we experienced one of the world's strictest lockdowns – which brought the country and most businesses to a grinding halt. Fortunately, we were already a remote business – so it didn't slow us down, if anything it sped us up.
We also noticed two very interesting trends – all of the suppliers on Upstock are essential services, so they kept operating during lockdown. Some of them at reduced volumes, but others had a significant surge in orders.
The other major trend was the sudden adoption of digital tech for online ordering, most significantly in hospitality. These trends combined to help us close a $3.5m capital raise at the height of lockdown. And the adoption of our app continues to mirror the adoption curve of the industry overall.
Putting our values into action
The first thing we did when we formed the business was to write our guiding principles. Underpinning many of our principles is the to plan to stay lean and stay focused. This sums it up well...
Our product is the simplest software for the greatest value. We don't try to do everything. We aim to do as little as possible to make something extraordinary. We focus on what will have the biggest impact for the most people.
An important reason we set out to stay lean and focused is to avoid burnout. Both Philip and Duncan experienced burnout while building Xero, which is also why we structured the company to have Co-CEOs (which comes up in a very ironic, funny way in the video).
We do it not just for mental health – although that's an enormous part of it – we also stay focused so we can deliver higher quality, higher impact results with minimal effort.
Watch the full video
There are heaps more insights and fun stories in the video.