Introduction About Just Dabao
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), around 539 million kgs of food were disposed of in Singapore in 2020 alone. Among these, some were actually still edible!
That fact leads Ms. Jennifer Widjaja, co-founder of Just Dabao, to create a start-up that will help address this issue by providing a platform where partnered eateries can sell their surplus food at a discount to individual consumers.
Ms. Jennifer Widjaja | Founder of Just Dabao
How it works – customers can join justdabao telegram group or visit their website directly to make a purchase. Some options include free delivery to your doorstep while some require you to pick up directly from their store.
Not only will this help reduce food waste and — by extension — carbon emission, it will also help the struggling eateries to make ends meet by reducing their sunk cost, eliminating possible storage cost and also increasing their income to stay afloat during the pandemic.
A personal mission
“That kinda’ hit home… I just wanted to do something that can give back [to the society].”
Blind Tasting Between Surplus and Non-surplus Food, a Campaign by Just Dabao
She also contacted Mr. Srikanth Katikala, a friend in India whom she had known during her MBA course in Boston, USA, to ask if he was keen to join her as a co-founder. He was very supportive and agreed to help.
Both Ms. Jennifer and her co-founder work together in strategic business planning and its implementation, while also figuring out the logistics and distribution methods. They also work together in ensuring a stable cash flow to the company by way of acquiring investors and fundraising.
Good news came in the form of a grant from ESG (Enterprise Singapore Grant), which she applied for and received in late 2020. As one of the conditions of the grant is to be committed full time to the company, she had to quit her comfortable job at Bloomberg and went all in.
The realization that she had to resign during the difficult pandemic period made both her parents concerned and doubtful, but Ms. Jennifer had made up her mind and decided to move forward.
It’s all about networking
Since it was a new concept, many potential investors and partners were understandably sceptical of her company. In fact, it took her 1.5 months to get her first partner on board.
Satisfied Just Dabao Customers Collecting Their Mystery Shiok Bags
It was a young chef from an eatery who was equally open-minded and cared about sustainability. She smiled when she described how she had done all her preparations only to be told that he would sign up as a partner even before reading her proposal.
It was then that she emphasized on the importance of networking.
She told the story of an establishment who had a big event that was cancelled off and was left with 90 tubs of ice-cream, and about a bakery who had cosmetic defects on her batch of canelés and contacted her to donate the pastries.
She had also liaised with popular eco-conscious influencers such as Paul Foster, Kate Yeo, and Bread Angel, whom she had all reached out to for the sake of increasing her brand awareness.
Plans for inclusive community involvement
When asked about her short-term plans for Just Dabao, Ms. Jennifer answered confidently, “We want to get more merchants on board. Right now, we have around 100 plus merchants. It’s great, but it’s not enough.”
She truly believes in our inherent longing to do good for others. However, this wish may be dampened by the fact that not all eateries are conveniently-located near the buyers. This is the reason why she also needs to take into account the accessibility of her distribution method.
The Plastic Bags Used to Carry the Food in Are All Fully-Biodegradable
The company is now looking into deliveries. She said she felt blessed to have several schools and institutions helping her. She has six students assisting with researching some cost-effective and environmentally-friendly delivery options, while another group of students are helping with analyzing consumer demands.
Once the best method has been finalized, she plans to involve the disabled and underprivileged to help with the deliveries to further promote community involvement and inclusivity.
Ultimately, she wants to gain more funding and expand her start-up to encourage awareness and behavioural change in the society; and sets her goal to saving 6 million kgs of food waste by 2022.
As for her end-of-year goal, she said, “I do want to save at least, like, at least close to 100k kgs of food.”
Message for future start-ups
“Just do it.” Ms. Jennifer said.
“More than the success, I think it’s a very good experience. You learn a lot. At least I feel like you shouldn’t be afraid to fail.”
She also warned not to expect a lot of monetary gain and an easy start, and that it was important to surround oneself with supportive people.
“You also need to enjoy working with somebody because it’s a lonely journey. It’s all of these people who will keep you going.”
“It’s not gonna be easy, but it’s worth it.”