Investing in the Future of Food: SIMPLi reimagines complicated, international supply chains to function as local ones

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Investing in the Future of Food Supply chain

Supply chain challenges exacerbated by the pandemic have bolstered consumer interest in buying local to better support farmers, ensure product quality and reduce environmental impact, but many do not want to sacrifice the savings or year-around variety that global supply chains offer.

And, now, thanks to startups and companies like SIMPLi, they may not have to.

The young company, founded during the pandemic, reimagines the international supply chain to function more like a local one – allowing consumers access to nutrient-dense, fully-traceable ingredients sourced directly from farming communities around the world, while also supporting regenerative agriculture.

To achieve this ambitious mission, SIMPLi recently closed an initial seed fundraise led by industry veterans well-known for their ethics, including the co-founder of Eat the Change Seth Goldman and the Abell Foundation. While this investment will help the company cultivate its B2B relations, SIMPLi also is building its B2C business with expanded distribution at Whole Foods stores in the mid-Atlantic.

While simultaneously pursing multiple channels may sound ambitious, the duo behind SIMPLi are confident in their capabilities and believe that an economy of scale is the best way to meaningfully change the backend of the supply chain and improve farmers livelihoods.

Meeting modern consumer demands

The idea for SIMPLi was born from the modern consumer desire to know where food comes from, to support the local economy and, yet, still have access to staples year-around.

“We really see SIMPLi as filling that gap of connecting directly to those farmers, being able to know their stories, know where your money as a consumer is going,”​ that it is having an meaningful impact and the products are high-quality, company co-founder Sarela Herrada said.

She explains that SIMPLi is able to do this by cutting out the middle tier where ingredients are aggregated – and sometimes adulterated – and buying straight from the producer. This allows the company to fully trace each ingredient, vouch for its quality and that it was produced in an environmentally way and also ensure that farmers are paid more than market rate.

To effectively deliver against these goals, SIMPLi is taking a multi-prong approach that focuses first on advocating for and amplifying farmers’ voices, second providing a sense of stability through long-term direct orders and third by relying on third-part certifications to encourage regenerative farming and to educate consumers, Herrada said.

Seed funds help SIMPLi embrace omni-channel approach

To magnify the impact of these efforts, SIMPLi recently closed its seed fundraise, which will be used to recruit a best-in-class team, scale operations and strengthen B2B relationships.

Co-founder Matt Cohen explained that SIMPLi seeks like-minded people who share the company’s vision and are interested in making a social and environmental impact while also improving access to nutrient-dense foods.

“The second piece that we’re really focused on for this first round of funding is the marketing – increasing our brand awareness, mainly on the B2B side, expanding the partnerships we have today,”​ and expanding relationships internationally, he said.

This likely will include supporting the company’s recent launch into 49 mid-Atlantic Whole Foods Markets to reach conscious buyers and support a mission shared with the retailer and consumer.

“The last piece is enhancing sound technology,”​ including SIMPLi’s website and “connecting the dots between all the pieces of the supply chain to work … seamlessly for consumers and clients to experience themselves,”​ Cohen said.

‘We want to create accessibility’​ with economies of scale

Building out a new business across multiple channels simultaneously may sound like a tall order, but SIMPLi’s founders have a wealth of experience on which to draw to help build economies of scale to drive meaningful impact.

Herrada explained that she has 12 years of experience in operations and supply chain and so knows what it takes to partner with stakeholders and ensure reliable access and a positive experience across wholesale and retail.

She added that the young company is learning from the struggles of others in managing their supply chains during the pandemic and is hoping to build a system that solves for many of today’s challenges.

Ultimately, Cohen said, SIMPLi wants to become a leader in the sustainable and ethically sourced ingredient space by gaining consumer trust, building brand awareness and supporting partners at all points along the supply chain to “recreate a better world.”

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