Elie Skaf, Co-founder and CEO of Right Farm, speaks to My Startup World about how Right Farm is helping businesses source smarter.
Please introduce right farm to our readers
We are a fast-growing B2B technology company, founded here in the UAE in 2021, with the aim of revolutionizing the food supply chain in the MENAPT region, and transforming how businesses source their produce by aggregating the local, regional and global supply of fresh produce through an innovative online B2B buying platform.
We leverage the power of data and technology to optimize the process of sourcing fresh produce and modernize the connection between food suppliers and businesses. We are always on a mission to create a more sustainable supply chain whilst addressing food security by increasing operational and financial efficiencies across the fresh produce value chain.
I am happy to say that the company has been extremely successful in such a short period of time, and we already have plans to expand into other markets, such as KSA and Egypt in the near future.
What led you to come up with this idea and how did you fund this venture?
We felt that there is a strong need for this service, especially in the region and more so in the last few years as climate change action is becoming more critical and we have witnessed supply chain disruptions across the globe. Historically, agriculture has long been at the centre of social and economic life in the Middle East, with a huge focus on the production of fruits, vegetables, cereals and livestock and as the population continues to increase, companies and the public, in general, are becoming more aware of the importance of securing our food supply chains and providing more sustainable/new food-tech solutions.
To help fund this venture, we were able to raise USD 2.8 million (AED 10.2 million) in our seed funding round with the support of our loyal investors, led by DisruptAD, ADQ’s venture platform. The raised funds were very beneficial in accelerating our rapid technology development and aggressive growth plans in the region.
What were the initial difficulties you faced and how did you overcome them?
We set a target to launch the business operationally in 100 days and we managed to do so. This was a joint effort between our team, our investors and supply partners. Hiring talent, finding a location for our warehousing operation, securing our supply of fresh produce and generating a buyer pipeline was all done in 100 days, an extremely difficult feat that we managed to pull off, mainly because of the commitment and drive of the team and the support from our investors.
As any startup founder will tell you, the first few days and weeks are extremely difficult because naturally the business picks up slowly, and keeping the team motivated and believing in the potential of the business is not an easy task. It’s all about building the right culture and hiring talent that understand our mission and vision, believe in the impact and value we are creating and last but not least, are committed to taking this venture to great heights.
Your comments on the recent fundraiser (2.8 million seed funding) and how you intend to use them?
The investment has helped us in accelerating our start-up journey and unlocking access to ADQ’s growing food and agriculture portfolio. The funds have also assisted in establishing product-market fit and developing technology to modernize the fresh produce value chain and to ensure a seamless customer experience while maximizing operational efficiency and enabling scale across markets.
The recent funding round was a great catalyst in helping us maximize further growth opportunities across different segments of the market as we aim to build a sustainable and commercially viable business. The funds will be used to build our tech stack, team, operational expansion across the UAE and continuing on our high growth path that we have experienced since launch.
We look forward to announcing our next fundraising round in the near future as we aim to provide our services to the largest number of people possible.
Where do you see Right Farm over the next 2 – 3 years?
If the past few months since launch is any indication, we believe that the company will continue to grow at an exponential rate in the UAE as we continue to capture market share in a $5bn fresh produce market, and especially after we start operating in KSA and Egypt, which are both markets where we see a huge potential to disrupt the current way fresh produce is procured and supplied to businesses. Afterwards, we will start looking at new markets as our goal is to offer our services across the MENAPT region and we feel that the growth opportunities for this are endless with an $80bn opportunity.
According to sources, the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and the best way to tackle this potential issue of food wastage is to optimise food production with less wastage happening across the supply chain. The technology in agriculture is still in its emerging stages, and with the current developments happening, we could see a wider range of crops being produced in vertical farms with more local production in the GCC increasing and a more data-driven agriculture operation being born.
We look forward to complementing the industry growth and tackling any potential issues by addressing and implementing sustainable solutions for food security challenges, and maintaining our focus on sustainable agriculture for a more healthy and secure future for the food industry.
Kindly offer your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and startups.
This might sound a bit ‘cliché’, but our advice would be to just follow your passion, without worrying too much about any potential obstacles or the chance that your business might not succeed right away. As long as your idea is feasible and helps address any gap or requirement in the market, the timing is right and your team is talented, then there is no reason for your business not to succeed.