Posted on September 24, 2020
Eight startups have reached the final phase of the Agrytech Accelerator Batch 3. Berytech reached out to hear from the founders themselves about their journey in the program so far.
Food industry stakeholders across the MENA region, and specifically food manufacturers in Lebanon usually face several problems, the main ones being related to limited access to foreign markets and export rejections which often drive down their sales. Also, they often try to improve their market positioning and become more competitive in terms of food safety and quality standards. In addition to that, COVID-19 came to remind businesses, now more than ever, of the need to integrate technology and remote work into their schedules, and of the importance of complying with food safety and quality requirements.
FoodSight helps these food industry players overcome their food safety challenges by creating an online network connecting them to freelance professionals. Using the latest online technology tools, this one-stop-shop platform will allow them to hire food safety experts and access an online library of regulatory documents. By that, they will be able to enhance the quality of their food products and by that reduce rejections and complaints, reduce wasted time and effort, and increase productivity. All that in an easy, convenient and affordable way compared to current alternatives.
According to co-founders Fidele El Achkar and Nathalie Nasr, “Participating in the Agrytech Hackathon back in August 2019, with all its success, was the start of the FoodSight journey. This short challenging experience made us want to further explore our idea with all its opportunities, leading to building a successful business. Being accepted into Berytech’s Agrytech accelerator program was a joy. We were prepared for serious work and commitment, but we did not imagine at first the huge success we have now reached, nor that the road will be as challenging and tough as it has been!
Starting Phase I of the program in October 2019, in parallel with the Lebanese Revolution, was a push for us since we believe that change is needed and it starts with each one of us building solutions answering to current problems. During the first 2 months, we were able to have a deeper look into the market, the pain points of the food chain stakeholders and their needs, to validate our idea and to build a prototype.
The high interest we received made us work even harder during Phase II. The economic crisis did affect the market level of responsiveness, but despite that, the lockdown gave us more time to better shape our idea in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well which stressed the need for our platform now more than before.
Revisiting our business and revenue models, performing deeper market validation, testing and getting feedback from users on so many levels and at different stages, drawing our startup’s forecast, sales and go-to-market strategies while developing our MVP and launching our marketing and traction campaigns were amongst the multiple activities we were able to accomplish during this 4-month phase.
During Phases I & II, Berytech’s Agrytech Program team supported our startup’s early stages through education, mentorship and financing. The experience was a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education, accelerating the life cycle of our to-be company, compressing years of learning-by-doing into just a few months!
All the struggles we faced during these times, did not affect our dedication and insistence on pursuing this bumpy journey, although one of the co-founders had to step down due to personal reasons related to his family.
Our hard work paid off at the end, and we were able to launch in June our platform (first MVP version), with 2 successfully completed pilot projects, 1 paying customer on board and 15 users registered on the portal.
Today, with a new co-founder on board, 3 customers, and 30 users between food manufacturers and industry experts, we are at a pivoting point.
The Beirut blast was something out of the ordinary, and not something we were able to cope with as fast as we had to during all the previous problems faced. All things considered, as resilient as we Lebanese people are, we had to move on with our successful yet-to-be business, but now with more careful and sharp steps.
Our current objectives are to further develop our product, try to onboard additional customers while studying deeply the GCC & MENA markets for more opportunities there. Getting more traction and reaching a product-market-fit are our targets for the coming months, challenged by the legal incorporation of the business, cash, market responsiveness and adaptation.
Lebanon, and the agro-food businesses specifically, need more definitive and practical solutions. FoodSight will be here to always connect them when they need results!”
Learn more about Berytech’s Agrytech Accelerator program.