Story by Rob Rombouts/Photo Submitted
Staying on top of school work can be a challenge. Doing that while also launching a successful new business can be even more so. But it’s a challenge Alysaa Co and Divyansh Ojha have jumped into.
The pair recently completed their 2nd year in the Consumer Behaviour module of DAN Management. During that year, they were launching FoodFund, a subscription-based produce delivery company focusing on reducing food waste by delivering misshapen and surplus foods from farms, greenhouses and distributors to customers.
The pair initially met through a case competition, became friends soon after and then developed their business.
Ojha was inspired to start the company after noticing the amount of food being thrown out by major retailers, while also seeing the contrast of people in London looking for food or shelter. He began to work on a business case and presented the idea to Co to get her feedback.
By August 2017, the company launched what was intended to be a 4-week pilot. Within eight days of promotion, 90 people had signed up, and the pair knew they had something.
“We figured it out as we went,” said Ojha. “We didn’t have to do much to get people to see what was wrong once they were made aware.”
“We believe in offering fair wages to farmers for all their products” said Alysaa. “We don’t think farmers should have to accept discounted prices based on how their produce looks.”
The business is currently focused on deliveries in London and the surrounding area, but there has been interest from customers as far away as Toronto, and Co and Ojha say they may consider expanding there in the future.
While they faced extra stress as they balanced school and business, the education provided through DAN Management provided valuable insight as they developed.
“DAN Management is a program that gives a lot of depth and breadth of business knowledge. It gives a lot of understanding that other programs lack. It does a lot to prepare you for business,” said Co.
“It was good to be taking courses while running a real business,” said Ojha. “I want to see more entrepreneurship fostered through courses.”
“I wasn’t actively thinking about it, but the things we learned in class really resonated when we were working on the business,” said Co. “We were able to apply learning from our courses to our own problems. People often say you won’t use what you learn in university, but it really does come into play.”
“The beauty of being in consumer behaviour is that it is so qualitative, so it was very applicable to what we were doing, it really helped us understand the interest of the farmers and of the customers,” said Ojha. “It’s a program you can come into with limited previous knowledge and you can build from the ground-up. DAN Management builds on learning, not just piling on knowledge.”