The founders of Brazil-based food tech startup Olga Ri: Beatriz Samara, Bruno Sindicic e Cristina Sindicic. Photo: Courtesy.

With a sustainable approach, Brazilian startups Olga Ri and Da Mata want to reduce dependence on delivery apps

With their own delivery platforms, the two foodtechs want to reduce the importance of industry leaders like iFood and Rappi in their operations, while investing in sustainable ways to produce and transport their products

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Among the many companies riding the wave of healthy food and sustainability, two Brazilian startups have been gaining notoriety, attracting investors and looking to expand beyond dependence on iFood, Rappi and other leaders in the delivery sector. With their own delivery platforms, Olga Ri and Da Mata want to reduce the importance of these other apps in their operations while investing in sustainable ways to produce and transport their products to the consumer’s door.

“We have been looking for a solution (for packaging) for years. Initially, we used a plastic bowl, something that bothered us. It was difficult to find an operationally and economically viable alternative. The product needs to be able to travel well on a motorcycle, so it’s a big challenge. We started talking to Já Fui Mandioca two years ago to try to create something different and more sustainable”, said Caio Ciampolini, partner and CEO of Da Mata. “It took a year and a half to test products and formats to get the packaging we have today. We’ve made several adjustments along the way, but we’ve had very positive feedback from customers and it’s very much in line with the brand’s values. Using a plastic container that will be used for ten minutes and takes years to get rid of was something that didn’t sound right to us,” he added.

Caio Ciampolini, partner and CEO of Da Mata

Sustainability is also one of Olga Ri’s pillars. “Those who consume [our products] know that our salads are different. They realize that we have a concern that goes from the supply chain to the kitchen and delivery. We work hard in order to guarantee the salad arrives in the best possible condition in the hands of the customer. But, beyond that, we also offer a very nice digital experience. We have a very rich and visual app of our own. And our brand generates a lot of identification, as we talk about many important topics that our consumers value, such as diversity, urban lifestyle, sustainability, environment. This all ends up being very relevant for the end customer”, said Bruno Sindicic, co-founder and CEO of Olga Ri.

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Both companies faced the challenge of the pandemic and managed to extract positive results from the crisis. Da Mata, for instance, started with an average of 30 deliveries per day, and in 2022, it has already surpassed the mark of 1,000 daily orders. Another thing the two food techs have in common is their own delivery apps and the effort to bring customers to them, reducing dependence on industry leaders like iFood and Rappi.

“I find it very difficult not to be on platforms like iFood and Rappi. Mainly iFood, which is very strong throughout Brazil. I’m pretty skeptical about the next two or three years (about giving up those platforms). What I think is a good goal is for the 25% of customers we have outside of these apps to become 40% [today, 75% of orders come via iFood and Rappi]. Like it or not, a platform that centralizes all options is very practical for consumers. It is not reasonable to discard such strong channels, even having our own. We have to strengthen it without forgetting the alternatives”, said Caio Ciampolini.

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Brazilians are, statistically, one of the people most concerned about food, because they see it as the main way to be healthy. Developing a startup in the midst of this culture brings a small advantage.

In the United States, for example, ‘being healthy’ is more linked to medications, dietary supplements and physical exercise. Brazilians have always understood that health starts with food. This helps us, because with people trying to be healthier, they rethink their food, looking for something more balanced, complete and less processed. All of this directly favors our product, as our menu is mostly made up of fresh products such as greens and vegetables that have just left the countryside for our kitchens.

Bruno Sindicic, co-founder and CEO of Olga Ri

Olga Ri has just raised BRL 30 million and has already announced an expansion to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second most important city, while Da Mata is thinking of expanding its activities first within the state of São Paulo. “Our plan is to consolidate our presence in São Paulo. Soon, we will open our fourth dark kitchen unit (focused on delivery) in Vila Mariana. We already have Brooklyn, Moccha and Pinheiros. To cover almost the entire region, we will need eight kitchens, including perhaps two outside the capital, in ABC or in Alphaville,” said Ciampolini.

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A curious feature that indicates a trend in the segment is the creation of concept restaurants that goes beyond delivery. It is clear that Olga Ri and Da Mata will continue to focus on delivery and owe a lot to the delivery culture that has been perpetuated in Brazil, but operating physically is not out of the plans. While Olga Ri has already announced its plans to open at least five physical units in Rio and São Paulo, Da Mata is preparing to launch a concept kitchen in São Paulo.

“It’s not a traditional restaurant where you assemble your salad and have your meal. The idea is to be a dark kitchen that also encourages pick-up at the point. The customer places an order on the way to work, for example, and stops by, picks up the ready-made salad, and takes it to eat later, for lunch. We also want to put some tables on the sidewalk, so that people can order online, arrive here with their order ready and eat”, explained Ciampolini.

If the healthy meals segment is on the rise as never before, brands like Sindicic’s and Ciampolini’s see their own platforms not only as a way to retain their customers, but also to understand their desires and maintain a more direct channel with them.

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“We understand that, as we have many recurring customers, having a direct dialogue channel is very important. With our own platform, we were able to better manage the direct relationship. But, of course, this is also very important for branding, but the issue is more about loyalty and a better understanding of the demands of this recurring consumer”, said Sindicic.

“We have our own delivery platform. We always had. Our company has always been focused on delivery, so it is important to have our own platform, to have a closer dialogue with our customers. We even work with exclusive products from our own platform, to encourage the customers to use it. It’s important to build customer loyalty, to make activation easier,” said Ciampolini.