An interview with OostNL about the early stages of OpenDairy
Thanks to its participation in the Market Readiness Program (MRP) and Investor Readiness Program (IRP) of Oost NL, OpenCommodities from Arnhem found an investor for its new platform. The startup develops an online marketplace of dairy ingredients where buyers and sellers can find each other directly, without the intervention of intermediaries. Co-founder Martijn Goedhart (on the left in the photo): "The MRP taught us to test our ideas in a structured way." A 'coaching angel' from the Business Angels Network of Oost NL supported OpenCommodities with important technological issues.
Goedhart himself has a background in the dairy industry: "Sometimes you're so close to the problem that you miss a lot of things. That is why it is good to test and validate your ideas in a programme that is not about that market." says Goedhart about participating in the MRP, who then began the search for an investor: "IRP was a logical next step for us: What exactly is your revenue model and how do you present yourself to investors? The processes were very successful for us."
Goedhart expects the platform to be online by the end of summer 2021: "Through our marketplace, parties can sell their raw materials, in a transparent and efficient way, so you can keep the value in the chain as much as possible."
Goedhart calls the MRP and IRP programmes, in which entrepreneurs work together on their ideas, 'very useful'. Because of Corona, all sessions were online.
"That is different, live it is a bit easier to give each other feedback. But I met interesting people. You hear things that you take into your own plans. One of the participating companies is doing something similar to us, but with flavourings. They were already a bit further along with their platform, we sparred a lot with each other."
Goedhart: "If you understand the market, you tend to skip steps; you think for the users. MRP forces you not to do that. You ask potential users of the platform very structured questions. Then you learn a lot about their wishes. With IRP, we went deeper into our earnings model and how we could present ourselves to potential investors who were unfamiliar with the market. The processes were very successful for us because we were awarded the Rabo Innovation Loan and found an investor. We can now develop a complete and innovative platform; MRP and IRP have certainly contributed to that. Through the Business Angel Network of Oost NL we found a software developer who helped us in the field of IT."
Goedhart knows all the ins and outs of the dairy industry and saw room for improvement. He explains the current situation: "As a rule, dairy processors have a surplus of about 10%. That milk cannot be 'valorised' into regular dairy products and is processed into long-life products, milk powder and butter. These products must be sold globally, but the sales process is labour and capital intensive. Among other things, you have to arrange logistics and give customers payment terms."
To get rid of this worry, processors often sell their residual stream to traders. They unburden the producers and supply the milk powder to customers all over the world. However, this has disadvantages:
"Producers no longer know where their products end up, they no longer know their customers, it becomes opaque. In addition, traders cost a lot of money. Customers also want to know more and more where their product comes from, how sustainably the seller produces and what the CO2 emissions of transport are. We offer the best of both worlds: the transparency of self-selling, without the associated costs and hassle. The financing and logistics are done by professionals, they are part of our ecosystem."
The startup's first marketplace focuses on the dairy commodities market. The company is looking for co-entrepreneurs to optimise and digitise other commodity markets as well. More information is available on https://opendairy.com.
This interview was originally published in Dutch on the OostNL website. More information on OostNLs activities and programs can be found on https://oostnl.com/en.