Scaler Interview: Instock
Location: The Netherlands
Primally scaling in: The Netherlands
Field of work: Nutrition & Sustainability
What’s Instock’s recipe for success?
Instock puts food wastage on the map in the most fun, creative, accessible and delicious way. In between a scaling workshop in London and the launch of their new cookbook, co-founder Freke van Nimwegen finds some time to talk to us about their road to success…
The founders of Instock met at Albert Heijn. As assistant supermarket-manager, Freke saw how much good food was unnecessarily wasted every single day: not because it was past its sell-by date, but just because it wasn’t completely perfect any more (such as a net of lemons with one bad one and three perfectly fine ones in it). During an internal competition, Freke and the other founders presented their idea for Instock, and won.
From there on, things evolved quickly. In four months time, Instock managed to launch their pop-up restaurant in the Westerpark in Amsterdam. Now, 1.5 years later, Instock has their own Restaurant, Toko and Food Truck. Initiatives that all carry out the same message: food shouldn’t be wasted, it should be enjoyed and appreciated. And that’s exactly what Instock does. Every morning, their electrical food rescue car drives through Amsterdam to pick up the harvest of the day. Then, delicious and inventive dishes are created with them.
Ever since the foundation got launched in 2014, Instock has done an incredible job addressing the food wastage problem. In 1.5 years time, the foundation has saved over 90.000 kilos of food. In terms of energy savings, this means that 48.000 kilos of CO2 wasn’t emitted for nothing. By creating delicious meals out of products that otherwise would have been binned, Instock also manages to create consciousness about food wastage in a delicious and positive way: ‘’Most people who visit our restaurant come because they’re intrigued by the concept. Very often, they expect simple food. However, after they’ve enjoyed a three course meal that didn’t only taste delicious, but also looked amazing, most people are quite shocked to the realisation that the food they just ate, normally would have been thrown out.’’.
Because it sounds like Instock is quite good in creating something greater than the sum of the individual ingredients, I wonder: what’s their secret recipe for success? According to Freke, making the food wastage problem accessible and fun is key. ‘’We believe that the only way to make current believes about the importance of addressing the food wastage problem more mainstream is by reaching as many people as you can in a fun, delicious and accessible way. Because Instock does this, people come back. Cause if it was only for the concept, they wouldn’t.’’. In addition, Instock is unique in the full sense of the word: there are no other Dutch restaurants like them.
But of course, Instock’s success didn’t come easy. Freke tells me that, over the last two years, she has learned a lot. For her, an important realisation was the fact that, because of Instock’s unique concept and approach, sitting back and relaxing is never an option. At Instock, every single day is a new challenge that requires good coordination and focus: ‘’Because we never know which ingredients we’re going to get, we always need to improvise: what’s the menu going to look like?
And how are we going to communicate the dishes on the plates?.’’. Freke also tells me about Instock’s unique relation with their suppliers: ‘’Because all the founders have a background at Albert Heijn, we know their processes and line of work, and we know the people. This makes the coordination with the stores a lot easier.’’.
In order to start saving at least 200.000 kilos of food every year, Instock is looking to expand their restaurant to two new locations in the Netherlands. By the end of this year, at least one of them should be up and running. In addition, the foundation is in the middle of developing their own product line and cookbook. ’’By giving people hands on tips on how they can start saving food in their own kitchens as well, we hope to change people’s mind-sets and thereby enlarge our impact.’’.
When I ask Freke what piece of advice she would give to other social entrepreneurs, she says: ‘’The key is to start as soon as possible by scrumming, which means focussing on what you really need and start off with that. When we launched Instock and said we wanted to open the doors of our pop-up restaurant in four months time, everyone thought we were nuts. But by cutting on all the unnecessary and making concessions – opening three days a week to begin with and working withfreelancers instead of directly hiring a team – we were able to do it!’’.
So how did The Hub contribute to Instock’s success?
Impact Hub Amsterdam inspired Instock through Impact Hub Scaling: ‘’By participating in the program together with other really interesting social entrepreneurs, we gained a lot of energy. The vibe during such an event is really inspiring.’’ – Freke, co-founder of Instock.
Impact Hub Amsterdam connected Instock to other initiatives and social enterprises such as fellow-Hub member Starters4Communities: these connections have resulted in interesting connections.
Impact Hub Amsterdam enabled Instock to participate in useful workbenches and programs such as Impact Hub Scaling that helped Instock improve their overall strategy.
Interview with Freke van Nimwegen, co-founder of Instock
By: Nadine Maarhuis – 03/03/2016