Walter Rodrigues, Paulo Monçores, Saulo Marti and Eduardo Petrelli, the co-founders of Diferente. Photo: Courtesy.
Business

Big names think that somewhat ugly organic vegetables reaching consumers' tables is a good business. Meet Brazil's Diferente

The startup that makes the midfield between "non-standard" vegetables that would end up being discarded and the consumers' tables has just raised a BRL 24 million seed round.

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Organic vegetables, fruits, and somewhat ugly vegetables that would probably end up being discarded are the main products of a new Brazilian food tech startup, which seeks to bring these foods straight to the consumers’ table at a more friendly price. Diferente (literally Different) announced on Wednesday (30) a seed round of BRL 24 million, which, according to the startup, is a record funding for any food tech at this stage of development in Latin America.

The round was led by Brazil‘s MAYA Capital (a fund that already invested in Chilean NotCo) and was followed by five other funds, two of them debuting in Brazil: the American fund Collaborative Fund, which has already invested in Beyond Meat, and the British fund FirstMinute Capital.

Several individual investors also made up the round, such as Matias Muchnick (founder and CEO of NotCo), Abhi Ramesh (founder and CEO of the American Misfits Market, which does the same as Diferente), Hamish Shephard (founder of HelloFresh, another food subscription business) and Tiago Dalvi (founder and CEO of e-commerce platform Olist).

READ ALSO: With the “Kinder Egg” strategy, startups attack food waste in Latin America

The startup model is, in essence, similar to that of the Brazilian Raízs or the Chilean Lomi; the difference, however, is in the fight against waste — a point at which it approaches other Latin American startups, such as the Brazilian Food to Save, the Mexican Cheaf and Chilean GoodMeal. By offering food that would previously go to waste, Diferente’s business model generates an impact both for food producers (who avoid discarding a relevant part of their crops) and for final customers (who can consume quality food at affordable prices).

“We currently have a network of around 200 partner organic food producers throughout Brazil, which we are, since the beginning of the operation, strengthening the relationship and building a sustainable partnership from beginning to end,” said Walter Rodrigues, a former executive of Rappi who co-founded Diferente and is responsible for coordinating the startup‘s logistics and operations team.

According to him, producers who sell their products through Diferente (products that would previously be discarded) can increase their revenues by 15% to 20%.

The team of founders of Diferente is also formed by Eduardo Petrelli (one of the founders of the James Delivery app, acquired by Grupo Pão de Açúcar in 2018), Saulo Marti (who led marketing and growth areas in startups such as Olist and 8fit) and Paulo Monçores (executive coming from VTEX, who assumes as CTO at Diferente).

READ ALSO: Group food shopping app Trela raises $25 million funding led by SoftBank

How Brazil’s food tech startup Diferente works

Diferente customers can choose three subscription models (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly) and three types of baskets (individual, couple, or family). These baskets can be made up of up to 50% “nonstandard” food, which helps fight waste and can result in up to 40% less cost than they would cost in the traditional market.

Before reaching the final customers’ table, the food goes to a distribution and treatment center at Diferente. There, the startup buys, evaluates the quality of the food, and assembles the package that will be delivered to consumers. It is also in this center that Diferente makes routing of deliveries, with food preservation as a priority. Delivery, by the way, is free.

The service is available in all neighborhoods of Sao Paulo and, with the new funding, should reach other cities in the metropolitan region soon.