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East Ventures Leads Investment for TreeDots, Providing Social Commerce for Groceries

It's a Singapore based startup: the fresh funding is to accelerate regional expansion

Marsya Nabila - 12 November 2021

TreeDots, a Singapore-based social commerce startup for groceries (also maximizing the decent potential of the leftovers), announced a series A funding round of $11 million (over 157 billion Rupiah) led by East Ventures (Growth Fund) and Amasia. There are other investors join this round, including ACTIVE Fund, Seeds Capital, Nir Eyal (writer), and Fiona Xie (actress).

The funds will be used for platform development, the company's food logistics optimization, TreeLogs and regional expansion, post entering the Malaysian market last year.  The company didn't mention its next target country.

TreeDots' Co-founder & CEO, Tylor Jong said to DailySocial that his team is currently in discussion regarding the plan. "We have plans to expand our regional coverage and we are in the middle of comprehensive exploration [the next country] where it will make sense for us," Jong said.

TreeDots was founded by Tylor Jong, Lau Jia Cai, and Nicholas Lim in 2018. The company is a marketplace for surplus and imperfect groceries, in response to the wasted food isssues, especially decent food that is being thrown away. TreeDots technology helps redistribute unsold inventory from suppliers to businesses such as restaurants and cafes, enabling them to obtain affordable food supplies.

Globally, there is one-third food produced for consumption is wasted. In Asia, most of these problems are caused by inefficient supply chains. Imperfect food in terms of aesthetic is often dumped even though it is considered decent as the ones commonly found on grocery store shelves. This surplus food is often burned or left to rot, producing methane and other greenhouse gases with 86 times more harmful impact on global warming than carbon dioxide.

“We realized that grocery store chains tend not to buy a huge chicken or in the imperfect shape because it would look weird on the shelves. However, F&B outlets could not care less as it will be cut and processed to be served. Therefore, they'll be very happy to be able to buy the same products for up to 90 percent cheaper than the alternatives. It encourages us to start a surplus food marketplace to match the supply and demand for these products," Jong explained separately in an official statement, Thursday (11/11).

TreeDots's target market is F&B franchises and social commerce to accommodate group purchasing. Thus, consumers can buy the same product with much cheaper price. TreeDots sends multiple orders at once to a single address and group buyers can pick up their individual orders from that address. It allows buyers to save on logistics costs, as well as reduce emissions compared to traditional e-commerce models that require a special trip for each order.

In terms of sales. prior to joining TreeDots, suppliers often paid for a delivery service to send their waste to a landfill. In this case, they can now earn additional income from these imperfect products in a way helping to preserve the earth.

TreeDots also helps digitize suppliers' operations using an app, and they recently launched TreeLogs, a cold-chain logistics to improve the supplier's operation efficiency. This vertically integrated ecosystem allows upstream suppliers to focus their efforts on their area of ​​excellence, food processing and production.

“Food wasted has becocme a trillion dollar issue, but what excites us is the fact that suppliers are starting to use the TreeDots system for their entire income, not just leftovers. When one of their trucks can make one delivery to an area, TreeDots can make five deliveries on the same trip by working with the entire supplier group. The increased network density allows for lower logistics costs and emission levels,” East Ventures' Managing Partner, Roderick Purwana said.

TreeDots Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) has grown more than 4 times year on year. “There are a lot of businesses serving the F&B industry that comes with difficulty during the pandemic. However, we are very impressed with the ability of the TreeDots team to drive exponential growth amid difficult circumstances,” Amasia's Managing Partner, who also led TreeDots' initial funding round in 2019, John Kim said.

As TreeDots business expands, Janet Sarah Neo, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Government Affairs at Lazada and Executive Board Member at Temasek Foundation Liveability, will join TreeDots as a Board Observer.

Startups with resembled energy

With the resembled energy to maximize the potential of surplus food, a local startup called Surplus has launched in Indonesia. The platform allows F&B businesses to sell excees and imperfect yet decent food products at certain hours before closing the shop with a half price discount.

More than 400 Surplus partners come from across Jabodetabek, Bandung and Yogyakarta. Most of them are engaged in businesses that produce a lot of excess food products, such as bakery & pastry, cafes, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, catering, and agriculture.

Original article is in Indonesian, translated by Kristin Siagian

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