This article is part of a series on Women in Tech. Read the series here.
It’s estimated there are 39 million takeout meals served in the City of Toronto each year. That amounts to some 78 million containers that can’t always be recycled. That’s a lot of waste.
Enter Suppli, an innovative reusable takeout container company that’s looking to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the amount of single-use packaging waste that’s created because of food deliveries.
“The concept for Suppli was inspired 10 years ago by a documentary I saw on the Tiffin lunch system (better known in India as "dabbawalas"). It's an intricate lunchbox delivery and return system that delivers hot lunches from homes to people at work in India,” CEO Megan Takeda-Tully says. After initially pitching the concept to her friends, she realized the market wasn’t ready to dive into the world of reusables for takeout. But by 2019, with environmental decline close to the top of people's minds, that had changed. In 2020, the company was born.
Consumers can sign up for a Suppli account online, which allows them to receive reusable containers whenever they order from a list of participating restaurants. QR codes keep track of what containers belong to what person/order. Once a person’s enjoyed their meal, they can simply rinse out the containers and drop them off at a specific location where they’re then sanitized and reused.
“We partner with restaurants and other related industry players, such as third party food application hungerhub,” Megan says. “Our partnerships, both with restaurants and with channel or strategic partners like hungerhub, come from a mixture of inbound and outbound contacts.”
They’re also expanding their network through @mySuppli. ventureLAB came highly recommended to Megan and her co-founder Julianna Greco and when they received an invite to pitch they “were ecstatic.” Part of the draw to the program, they say, is “its focus on women entrepreneurs in tech” as well as “the structure of its programming and the strong mentor bench.”
“We came into Tech Undivided at a pretty key point in our company journey, making some key updates to our model, launching our beta product, and preparing for our next fundraising round. It ended up being a really perfect fit.”
Today, as the Suppli team prepares for a big product release coming in the first quarter of 2022 and the building out of their platform, Megan and Julianna say it’s the support of their network that’s helped them get to where they are today.
“Lean on your network,” Julianna says. “Ask questions and always seek to know more about your customer personas.” Data-driven feedback is also important because it will help you price products and determine how to use internal resources.
Megan adds: “Not even the simplest task will end up being as easy as you thought it would be. Don’t let it discourage you; just keep pushing forward. Personal and entrepreneurial support networks are really key – have the personal ones in place before you start; seek out the entrepreneurial ones (hint: Tech Undivided and other cohort programs are a great place to start).”
ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided offers a comprehensive 6-month program to enable women-led tech companies to scale their businesses. The program creates a support ecosystem of resources and networking opportunities for women founders focused on key pillars of raising capital, commercializing technology and IP, attracting talent, and acquiring customers. Applications for Tech Undivided are open now! Apply today to access mentorship, peer-to-peer support, strategically aligned partners, and opportunities to pitch.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,500 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.