OneThird is a startup providing customers with a food waste prevention technology that accurately predicts the shelf life of fruit and vegetables. The company recently raised €2.75M euros ($3M USD) in a late seed funding round from StartLife’s investor partners Shift Invest, Oost NL, and Pymwymic. The investment round increases the total amount of funding raised to date to €5.75M ($6.1M). The company’s approach is customer-driven, and the company is looking for customers and partners who can help them move forward faster. The company is planning to increase the team and scale the business.
One third of food is wasted. Not only does this equate to a loss of $1 trillion but it also accounts for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Marco Snikkers, CEO of One Third, says it is “a huge waste and disappointing”. OneThird is one of the startups which StartLife supports that is working towards Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for halving food waste by 2030.
OneThird’s mission is to help their customers achieve just that by using their innovative food waste prevention technology that accurately predicts the shelf life of fruit and vegetables. The customer then knows the best use for their produce, whether it goes to market as fresh produce or is used in another product such as a smoothie or soup. Thanks to acquiring €2.75M euros ($3M USD) in a late seed funding round from StartLife’s investor partners Shift Invest, Oost NL, and, most recently, Pymwymic, OneThird can take its next steps in this mission. This funding round increases the total amount of funding raised to date to €5.75M ($6.1M). Following this great news, StartLife sat down with Marco Snikkers to discuss OneThird’s solution and their big plans to reduce food waste.
How will the funding help?
“The investment will help us support shelf-life prediction of more fruit and vegetables and to extend our reach to customers internationally.” OneThird recently received a wave of media coverage after revealing their avocado ripeness checker. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of an overripe avocado before, so we understand why it captured everyone’s attention.
Inside OneThird’s Revolutionary Food Waste Prevention Technology
“Our product consists of three elements: the hardware, software, and a unique produce database, using algorithms to predict shelf life accurately.” 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 (Artificial Intelligence). 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 three 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.
One Third’s approach deviates from the typical method of predicting shelf life. “Right now, in the food supply chain, if you look at quality control, people check based on lab-based values like brix or acidity which are currently done destructively. So you go into a lab, they squeeze out the strawberry or the tomato, they put it in an instrument, and it tells you the sugar content brix.”
With OneThird’s approach, the need to destroy a part of the produce is taken out. No need to send produce to the lab, and it predicts in real-time an actionable parameter; shelf-life, meaning more food waste is prevented. Marco explains that OneThird’s approach is customer-driven:
“When we were talking to various parties in the industry about how quality assessment was done, we didn’t know what the solution would be. We were looking for their pain. We asked, ‘what keeps you awake at night? What’s costing you a lot?’ And then you don’t get an answer like, ‘oh yeah, I’d like to replace my brix meter because it’s destructive.’ It’s more like ‘my customers are rejecting a batch from time to time. That’s costing me a huge amount of money and stress. How can I prevent that or why are they rejecting it?’ Well, it turned out often shelf life wasn’t as expected. So, we looked at why don’t they know shelf life, how can we fix that, and then developed our product from there.”
Growing with Partnerships
During our conversation, Marco talked of the importance of making connections and finding partners. “You can’t be on an island by yourself, especially not as a startup, because we don’t know everything and – obviously — we’re looking for customers but also partners who can help us move forward faster. One of these partnerships is the one OneThird has with StartLife.
“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.”
Of course, finding investors is not the only benefit StartLife has to offer. Additionally, other connections and support prove a golden ticket for developing successful partnerships.
“The connection and being part of the community around Wageningen we find valuable. Not only for the knowledge but also potentially people we need to hire and finding the right kind of advice as a startup. As you go through many phases, you always face new challenges in building your company, like finding investors. You need to find the right type of investors and accelerators like StartLife can really help with their network and get you in touch with the right people. This paid off for us in our last round of funding!”
The biggest benefit Marco has noticed about StartLife is the community and network. “It’s about being part of the community and this [the latest investment round] is an example of how the community works. We find it important that together we grow this ecosystem in the Netherlands. It’s a small country, but big in food, and it’s good to help each other succeed!”
OneThird’s Plans and Priorities
So, with investment under the belt, what are the next steps for OneThird?
“The reason we needed this investment is our current customer traction. We’ve signed up customers, we’re signing up more in the coming year. We needed to increase our team supporting the expansion and successfully implement the updates for our customers. We’re currently covering produce like strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, and avocados. But we want to be supporting more than 10 fruit and vegetables by the end of this year, which takes more effort and investment. Call it investing ahead of the curve, ahead of getting the revenue from your customers, but it enables us to scale our product and increase the level of support towards current and future customers. So, the short answer about the next steps is increase the team, scale the business. To further scale beyond this, we expect to close our A series round in 2024.”
When asked where OneThird will be in 5 years’ time, the answer was optimistic. “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.”
An ambitious startup supported by confidence from investors. 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.