As the population grows, food waste is a key area that needs addressing to feed the planet while using fewer resources. OneThird is a startup addressing this before food reaches the shelves of our supermarkets. Using their proprietary technology, they can accurately predict the shelf life of produce and help determine the best use case: sell the produce as it is or use it in something else like a smoothie or a preserve. OneThird is a startup from StartLife’s à la Carte program and this is a conversation with founder Marco Snikkers about OneThird’s story from founding, to StartLife’s support, and beyond.

Many startups are founded following university research that lends itself to a product and commercialization.

This isn’t the case for OneThird. The company was instead incubated within the corporate Halma before spinning out in 2020. Inspiration for the startup came from looking at expanding the market for sensors they were using at the time, which were only really used for medical purposes rather than food. OneThird Founder, Marco Snikkers, found through conversations with a lot of companies in the food industry that food waste was really causing a headache.

The scale of food waste issue is huge. That’s the reason why OneThird is called that: because one third of all food is wasted. Not only is that a problem for solving world hunger but food waste also accounts for 10% of CO2 emissions and 25% of water use.

In response to the food waste crisis, OneThird has developed both a hardware and a software.

Saving food waste with AI

The hardware is a scanner that uses infrared light. Think of it like an x-ray for food that scans to see what is going on biologically. The software is a cloud platform – where all the data produced from the scanner is stored in real time. A smartphone app and online dashboards are used to retrieve actionable results in real-time. The produce database enables the system to predict shelf life using AI.

The more data in the database, the more exact the result of shelf life. Plus, each time the sensor is used, the data produced feeds directly into the database.

Together, these elements make it possible for customers to get actionable insights into their produce freshness and make smarter decisions in their supply chain. This results in less food waste. The idea is to predict shelf life of fresh produce before it even hits the shelves.

OneThird's technology being used to check the ripeness of an avocado.

Growth of OneThird

“When I was searching for the first round of funding, it was the middle of COVID time and StartLife organized F&A Next completely online and that was where I met my first investor: Shift Invest. So, when I was looking for the next round of funding, last year, I reached out again to StartLife and asked if they knew whom I should talk to. As we weren’t early seed anymore, StartLife could help us find a different type of investor.”, says Marco Snikkers, CEO of OneThird.

OneThird was already growing and further ahead than startups that typically join our Accelerate program, so joining à la Carte was the natural choice. Through us, introductions were made between OneThird and partners. One of the introductions was to Pymwymic, StartLife Investor Partner.

Earlier this year, Pwmwymic was one of the investors that helped OneThird raise €2.75M euros in a late seed funding round, alongside other StartLife partners Shift Invest and Oost NL.

Looking to the future

With the investment round, OneThird has a firm eye on expansion.

In short, expansion means more people. More customers mean more members of staff. Right now, OneThird supports the produce strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, and avocados. “We want to be supporting more than 10 produces by the end of the year and that needs the right amount of effort and people involved,” adds Marco.

The more produce OneThird can support, the more food waste can be prevented, which is the company’s mission.

That is the plan for the near future, but looking to the distant future, OneThird is ambitious:

“In five years’ time, we will have prevented 150 million kilograms of waste together with our customers and we’ll be active in many countries in Europe and the Americas. We will have become the standard quality assessment tool for our customers as they digitize their quality processes. After that; expand to the rest of the world.”

“In five years’ time, we will have prevented 150 million kilograms of waste together with our customers and we’ll be active in many countries in Europe and the Americas.”

Advice for AgriFoodTech startups

Marco finds support important for startups. 

“Seek help because there’s so much help to be offered. Not only use support from accelerators like StartLife but also connect with embassies, universities, and take advantage of regional development funds.”

What’s also important is talking to customers.

“Talk to your potential customers as soon as you can. And don’t stop talking to them. Develop your solution and validate it by maintaining a dialog with your customer otherwise you’ll end up developing something which doesn’t have a use case,” adds Marco.

We at StartLife are happy to be a part of OneThird’s journey and are excited to see the impact of their innovation being adopted more widely by producers in order to accelerate food waste prevention.

Are you a scaling startup who could also benefit from StartLife’s support? Check out the à la Carte program here.