This startup has a lot on its Platter
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Meanwhile, the overarching aim of B2B software entrepreneurs over the past 15 years–with software eating the world and all that–has been to bring every possible business process online, no matter how niche the market.
Surprisingly, there are still gaps. Looking to fill a potentially big one is Platter, which is deeply immersed in the food wholesale business. Scroll down to read all about them.
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Platter wants to help the food wholesale market go digital
There are two types of B2B tech founders - the type who uses their outsider status to disrupt a sector they previously knew nothing about, and the type who have lived and breathed a sector for so long that they know its pain points instinctively.
Jack Clegg is in the latter group. He describes himself as having been born into the food wholesale business. This is the part of the food industry that buys food in bulk to supply businesses that serve meals, such as pubs, restaurants, hotels, and hospitals.
Having grown up seeing his father run a company in the industry, he has spent much of his working life in the industry himself, first in the family business in Lancashire and then in London, heading up sales for a large wholesaler.
During the Covid lockdowns, there was a real problem with food waste that sellers couldn’t shift. Clegg realised that the lack of digitisation in the industry meant this issue was far more challenging than it should have been in the 2020s.
And so he set to work on what became Platter, which bills itself as “the UK's first ordering platform for the food wholesale industry.”
Although Clegg never worked in tech until now, his co-founder and CTO Andrew Johnson is an experienced developer and founder who most recently cofounded Loupe, a startup serving watch and jewellery retailers.
Easier business, smarter waste management
London-based Platter sits between the wholesalers and their suppliers.
“Food wholesalers can have anything between 10 and 100 suppliers across the UK and overseas,” says Clegg. “And at the moment they’re ordering on pen and paper.”
Platter plugs into wholesalers’ ERP software to allow easy online ordering from all supported suppliers, saving time and potentially cutting down on mistakes in the process.
“We plug into your ERP system. We bring your internal systems onto our dashboard, and you are able to order quickly and efficiently through our platform. It's a place where you can send orders, receive orders, and keep all that information in one place,” says Clegg.
Suppliers, meanwhile, can use the platform to manage their orders and communicate with the wholesalers they sell to.
And as for the waste food problem that led to Platter’s birth in the first place? The platform allows food waste to be donated to charities.
Over time, Clegg says, the startup wants to get smarter about waste by identifying market opportunities for unwanted food.
“Once we've connected with enough buyers and suppliers, we can start to look at food in real time. So if you're a wholesale buyer and you've got five tons of a particular product that you're going to struggle to sell, our network will understand who else can buy that product, so we can start to make smart sales in the background.
“Currently all they can do is pick up the phone and try to sell it at a 50% or 75% discount. We want to use that data to be able to get them better value and cut down on the errors and food waste at source.”
Platter’s MVP is currently on the market. Clegg says it’s already generating revenue from 22 initial users. The product roadmap for the next few months includes the ability to track food transport, so wholesalers know when their food will arrive. Automated re-orders and data dashboards are also planned.
More intriguingly from a business growth point of view, Platter is about to start testing a payments feature that handles a real pain point for suppliers.
“Wholesalers get paid by their customers, who are generally pubs and restaurants, in 60 to 90 days, which in turn means that they delay payment to suppliers. And suppliers need capital to run their business,” explains Clegg.
To solve this, Platter is partnering with a third-party finance provider to pay the supplier instantly without requiring wholesalers to change their behaviour. While Clegg says he can’t name this third-party right now, he says they will take on the risk associated with advance payments.
This solution to payment delays could turn into a real driver of growth for the startup through a flywheel effect.
“When we connect one buyer with a supplier and we solve that payment problem, the supplier then says to us, ‘hey, can we get everybody to use it?’ So they then send an email out to their 200 or 300 customers, asking them to order through Platter,” explains Clegg.
It could work on the other side too, where wholesalers buying through Platter drive their suppliers to sign up.
But Clegg says Platter is being careful before they launch the product too widely.
“We really need to make the product as sticky as possible and make sure we're solving the right problems.”
Investment, vision, competition, and challenges
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