What happens when two brothers decide to create a simple tool for shoppers to use to identify the best, most nutritious (and sustainable) food products?
That’s precisely what brothers Alexander and Arthur Gillett did and the results: a site (and an app) that tells you HowGood the groceries that you’re buying really are for you. HowGood rates grocery products for the greater good, covering everything related to sustainability and social responsibility, from carbon emissions to labor relations. So consumers get the goods on their nutritional content and how sustainably they were created.
HowGood an idea is that? Not bad, considering that the company just closed a $2 million seed round from a team of investors, including FirstMark Capital, Highline Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Serious Change LP, Jake Lodwick and Joanne Wilson.
CEO Alexander Gillett serves up the detail – with some input from one of his investors..
How is HowGood different?
We offer information at the point of purchase in a way it’s never been available before.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
“Grocery is a $600BN a year market and the biggest trend in market has been the shift to health and sustainability. HowGood is using big data to change the food system from the bottom up,” said Rick Heitzmann, Managing Director of FirstMark. “Most ratings systems are confusing for customers. HowGood is simple – give shoppers information they can engage with and can’t find elsewhere to help them buy products that are the best for their health, society and the environment.”
What’s your business model?
We license ratings to grocery stores. They pay us to make sure everything in their stores gets rated.
What was the funding process like?
It was better at clarifying our focus than writing a business plan. At the end it was rewarding.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Finding the right people to get in front of. It really is all about fit. Also balancing when we started raising so that we could maximize the valuation but didn’t run out of runway.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Potential for positive impact and earnings, and long term genuine knowledge of our industry.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Launch in stores across the country.
Bring the HowGood ratings to 15 million people via multiple platforms.
Begin to show the depth of the data that HowGood uses to create its ratings.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Make a focused, bold plan, and then be careful and prudent in your execution.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We are primarily focused on expanding our reach in grocery stores. We’ve seen great success with Co-ops, Independents and regional chains. The more people that use this information in their decision-making, the better the impact we have!
What’s the one food you probably personally can’t live without?
Breakfast sandwiches with Avocado.
What’s your favorite Fall escape near New York City?
Catskills! I grew up there, so it’s beautiful and it’s home.