Throughout the past year, food shortages have attracted a lot of media attention. There’s another problem we haven’t been talking about enough, though: food waste. Every year, an estimated 1 billion tons of food — a third of all food produced globally — winds up in the garbage, pollutes the environment, and aggravates climate change. 

Perfekto recognizes this problem and wants to help solve it. It takes imperfect fruits and vegetables that might otherwise get tossed and delivers boxes of them to subscribers in Mexico City, Mexico. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Jan Heinvirta to hear about how the team got together and Perfekto’s marketing strategy.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Funding Round Details

Perfekto logo
Company: Perfekto
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $10,000,000
Min Investment: $100
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Mar 31, 2023
View Deal

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

We make nutritious food more accessible while tackling food waste. We do this by rescuing food items that otherwise would be discarded due to physical imperfections or surplus and sell them via a grocery subscription service to our customers, who save time and up to 30% on their grocery bill.

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

I always found food waste to be a stupid problem — ever since witnessing it while working in the hospitality industry. When I moved to Mexico and saw the problem here was even bigger, I decided I have to do something against it — otherwise, who will? I just felt like I had to take matters into my own hands.

Who is on your team, and how did you come together?

I feel truly grateful to be surrounded by a stellar team that shares the same vision. I initially met Anahí, who is the daughter of a citrus producer and was leading the Uber Grocery initiative in Latin America (Latam) at that time. She had experienced first-hand how her father came home with boxes of limes that were rejected due to aesthetics — and, on top of that, knew of the huge opportunity in Latam’s grocery space. 

Understanding that our business model would be highly dependent on efficient logistics and operations, we reached out to Juan, who used to be Anahí’s boss at Unilever. After leading logistics at Unilever, Juan had scaled Walmart’s e-commerce operations in Mexico from scratch to more than 1,000 employees — so we knew he would be the right fit. It was Juan who pushed us to make Perfekto subscription based, as he knew that this would unlock the necessary efficiencies to create a grocery business with positive unit economics that could scale to masses with less capital needs.

There are already similar companies offering fruit and vegetable baskets in Mexico City. How do you differentiate from them?

Existing produce basket providers tend to have no scalable technical infrastructure, only offer “surprise” boxes with limited variety, and often are not able to complement the order with additional grocery items. From our own experience and customer surveys, we also know that competitors’ customer service is not good — whereas at Perfekto, we have a customer satisfaction score of 90% and a net promoter score of 70. And the industry average is 39. In addition, they tend to be more expensive, and tackling food waste is not their objective.

What is your marketing strategy?

Word of mouth plays an important role for us. People love to share on social media with their friends and family about Perfekto — something that people don’t do with their usual grocery purchases. We further fuel this word-of-mouth effect with content marketing around recipes, education, and other shareable and engaging materials. In addition, we use paid ads to create more awareness, and thanks to our mission, we get high engagement and thus lower customer acquisition costs. Recently, we have started to work with small and micro-influencers who have an audience with high engagement around topics like sustainability, health, cooking, and others — which is proving to be a promising marketing channel for us.

Who are your typical customers?

With our offering, we have caught the interest of the two fastest-growing buyer groups in Latin America: the emerging middle class and women. Eighty percent of our customer base are women, most of them in the age range of 30 to 40 years old. The majority live in urban residential areas and are in the low to upper-middle class, and what they appreciate most about Perfekto is our positive impact, price, and quality.

How is your company impacting the environment?

It is estimated that food waste is responsible for around 8% to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the entire aviation industry. The reason is that more than a third of food is wasted, which emits gasses like methane. Contrary to the U.S., most food waste in Latin America occurs prior to the consumer stage — meaning across the supply chain — due to industry standards around aesthetics as well as supply chain inefficiencies. At Perfekto, we are helping to reduce food waste by rescuing food items that otherwise might be tossed away due to physical imperfections, and we are creating an efficient supply chain thanks to our subscription model, which allows us to do an accurate demand forecasting that ensures we eliminate wasteful buying processes, amongst others.

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

The money we are raising is part of the seed round we are currently starting. With the funds, we intend to have a positive cash flow by mid-2024, which will make our operations in Mexico City self-sustainable. That will create the foundation for our expansion to other cities in Mexico and ultimately our international expansion across Spanish-speaking Latam.

We look forward to seeing where Jan and his team take the company. Perfekto is currently raising on Wefunder.