The purpose of the Tech For Good series of interviews is to create a platform that showcases and champions companies, products and technologists who are using technology as a force for positive change in the world.
Pete: Hi, I’m Pete, founder of Ooooby (an acronym for Out of our own back yards). We provide an online platform for independent farmers and food producers to sell and deliver food direct to households. Our offering is unique because our platform is the only solution that facilitates all the sales, transactions and logistics involved from the gate to the plate. What makes Ooooby a force for good is that it puts the control and ownership of the supply chain into the hands of the food producers that feed us. Over the last 80 years, food supply chains have become too long, expensive and wasteful which means that food producers get squeezed on price and customers pay too much for decent food. Ooooby shortens the supply chain and makes sure that the food producers are paid fairly and households get good food at reasonable prices.
Pete: The idea behind Ooooby came to me in 2008 during the global financial crisis. I was importing food from Europe at the time and selling it through the major supermarkets in Australia. I saw first hand how large scale food took market share away from local food producers and also how fragile long haul supply chains were in the face of global economic shocks. This caused me to think about what a better food system would look like. I concluded that small-scale, local, independent and ecologically sound food producers were the future. From there it was a matter of figuring out what was preventing these food producers from taking their rightful place in the food market. It ultimately came down to giving them the power to coordinate with each other and to own and control their own sales and distribution channels directly to households.
Pete: We designed and built the technology by putting ourselves in the shoes of the people that we were building it for. We did this by establishing and operating a food hub in Auckland, NZ that sold, packed and delivered food every week from local farmers and food producers to local households. This presented us with countless problems to solve with technology. I’d say the main challenge was to design the tech to be both very sophisticated and very simple to use.
Pete: I think it’s because we live in a time when it’s obvious that big problems need to be solved to make life worth living in the medium term future. As a society, we’re learning that more stuff and money isn’t the key to happiness, being part of improving society as a whole is more fulfilling. Tech is one of the levers that can effectively improve things.
Pete: The key thing I’ve learned is that tech for good is a long game. It takes time to tackle big problems and it takes time for the target audience to really understand the importance of their role and to transition from old habits that are part of the problem to new habits that are part of the solution.