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Oluwakorede Kehinde Talks to Us About Bridging the Gap Between Restaurants & Customers Through Comestibles

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Oluwakorede Kehinde was used to having food whenever he was hungry. But as a first-year undergraduate, the reality of how difficult access to quality meals was dawned on him. Where he was, getting foodstuff was “a hell of stress.” When he tried to eat outside, he was also met with long queues and disappointments. He had an idea: he could use technology to solve this problem.

While studying Industrial and Production Engineering at the University of Ibadan, Oluwakorede read countless tech business books to learn the nitty-gritty of starting a tech business. In 2015, Oluwakorede attended a Wennokick program, organised by Wennovation Hub opened in Ibadan. After the program, and alongside his cofounder, Frances Ukpokolo, he built Comestibles – a food tech company with the vision to become Africa’s Food Amazon giving everyone everywhere quick and easy access to food from farm to table. The rest, they say, is history.

We invited Oluwakorede to share the idea behind Comestibles, its operations, the challenges of building a startup, and all the good stuff. Dig in!

Many Nigerian tech startups take the fintech route. What, in your personal or professional life, influenced your decision to start a food tech company?

Growing up, I saw firsthand how difficult and tedious it was for my late mother to visit the market to get foodstuffs for the family after a long day at work. Sometimes, as children, we were even left under the hot sun waiting for her to round up her purchase at the market. 

My late dad was a farmer and I did experience how hard it was for him to sell his produce at the right price and time. So when in my second year at the university, I met my co-founder, Frances Ukpokolo, with whom I shared a similar passion for building a platform that ensures access to food, easily and quickly. We had a brief discussion about the idea behind Comestibles and the journey began.

We know Comestibles is bridging that gap between restaurants and customers, but what’s that unique thing that sets it apart from other food tech companies?

Comestibles provides a better channel for the foodstuff purchase experience for families, individuals, and small food businesses. Also, unlike other companies in our space that does on-demand delivery of food and requires their customer to always come online to make purchases, with Comestibles our customers can easily create a purchase routine for a list of items to be automatically bought and delivered to their homes at intervals and time they choose. Also, the ability for consumers to lock prices for foodstuffs for up to 90 days and also buy foodstuffs and pay later on our platform makes us stand out.  

This sounds really good. Let’s talk about consumers being able to lock prices for foodstuffs for up to 90 days. How’s that working out for you, especially with inflation and the steady rise in food prices?

Most of the items are bought in bulk at the point of locking the prices, so this helps us to hedge against inflation. Our price lock system also works in a bi-directional manner, we aggregate products our customers want to do a price lock for on a monthly basis and for a certain period either 60 or 90 days and we leverage this to create purchase contracts and agreements with our suppliers to supply that volume at a fixed price for a certain period. 

Interesting! Comestibles has been operating for close to 5 years now, what major wins has it recorded so far? 

Our major success story so far came in June this year when we came out of stealth mode with our new business model and raised some funds to support this. So far we have made almost $10,000 in revenue and we currently service about 100 active customers. 

Congratulations to you and your team, now tell us about the not-so-great moments

Over the last 5 years, the idea behind Comestibles has evolved. When we ran our first-ever pilot, it was a difficult journey of many starts and stops due to several reasons like funding, finding the right target market and building a business model. At the beginning of this journey, we started with servicing students with meals but that didn’t work out. Today, we have been able to find the right target market and business model, however, it’s quite difficult raising funds as a food tech or agric-tech company as most VCs are interested in fintech-related businesses.

Dear VCs, food tech companies are doing well, invest! Invest!! Let’s talk about the future, Korede. We know Comestibles’ vision is to become Africa’s Food Amazon, giving everyone everywhere quick and easy access to food from farm to table

Yes, that’s correct.

So what is Comestibles working on to ensure this vision?

We’re working to ensure our platform powers a majority of food purchase transactions across the continent by the year 2030 and ensure that Africans that live in urban areas have quick and easy access to food in the comfort of their homes.

Sounds great. Beyond Comestibles, should we expect any personal project from Oluwakorede Kehinde in the coming months/years?

For now, no. I am fully focused on running Comestibles and building a company that is going to impact positively on how food is bought and sold.

 

 

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All photos are from Oluwakorede Kehinde/Instagram. Many thanks to Oluwakorede for having this conversation with us. See more on Comestibles here. 

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