Lior Lavvy is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of artizone, an online farmers’ market and home delivery service that connects more than 200 artisans in Dallas, Chicago and Denver, to consumers seeking fresh, locally sourced and produced specialty food products. Established in 2009 by five Israelis with a love for food and a truckload of high-tech experience, artizone says its innovative technology and operational model give artisans a single platform for marketing, selling and distributing their hand-crafted goods, expanding their reach to the entire metro-areas artizone currently serves.
We had a unique opportunity to spin off our existing company using its technology platform as a foundation. Since we had a management staff of talented technologists who also shared a love for food and artisanal craftsmanship, we decided to pair our tech skills and our passion and create something to better the world. We wanted to provide a vehicle for artisans to create and build their businesses.
Unlike similar platforms in the space, we are more than just an online retailer. Artizone’s platform allows direct farm-to-table products to reach customers by supporting the artisan first and foremost. Our robust back-end platform gives artisans all the tools they need to expand their reach and grow their business – fulfillment management, reporting and analytics, forecasting, online store front, marketing, social media tools and more. Also, our unique product delivery logistics model organizes each individual artisan’s production and delivery timelines with each of the customers’ orders, allowing for pick-up of the products immediately upon being prepared by the artisan and delivery to the consumer within hours – and when customers want them.
In addition, most online grocery stores only offer mainstream products, which may or may not be sustainably produced. Artizone would be the first choice for the customer that is looking for a unique, quality product, such as an organic, locally produced strawberry jam, as an alternative to the mass-produced brands; and want it delivered quickly, direct from the artisan.
Lastly, we carefully curate the artisans on the site making sure they follow the quality standards and the uniqueness required by the customers.
I was blessed with the opportunity to serve in a managing capacity in several technology companies, where my responsibilities included overseeing operations, key accounts, software engineering and product management. At artizone, and as a founding member, I was able to bring this diverse experience into building something new, that requires all those disciplines to join hands.
From the outset, we have intentionally designed the artizone platform with multidimensional scalability in mind. We have an artisan and contributor fulfillment suite full of business system support tools, where they can customize their online store and have access to financial tools to better forecast sales and aid in supply chain management. New artisans can be live on our site with a custom storefront within hours. Our advanced logistics fulfillment automation allows for quicker, fresher and more efficient product distribution. On the consumer side, the platform facilitates a better user experience for sharing purchases, crowd-based search and recommendations, integrated social media and a personalized, intuitive interface. Our business model is innately self-sustainable because it is founded on helping artisans grow their businesses, which in turn, grow ours.
Statistics show there is a clear consumer demand – an entire movement actually – toward farm-to-table, sustainable food production. According to the National Resource Defense Council, between 2006 and 2014 the number of farmers’ markets across the U.S. increased by 180 percent, while the number of school districts with farm-to-school programs jumped 430 percent. With that steep of an increase in demand, investors should be taking advantage of every opportunity they can to get a foot in the door. That includes investing in technology platforms that facilitate this process, as those are the most scalable form of business within this industry.
Find a mentor within the same industry, seek advice, and work closely with him or her to gain wisdom that can aid in developing a sound strategic business plan. Forming the right partnerships and working with like-minded mentors can improve a company’s chances of long-term success and help elevate its presence as an organization that truly cares about making a difference.
Also, finding compatible investors that are passionate about your industry and believe in your company’s mission is key to ensure continued growth and profitability. This shared passion, and an understanding of your industry, will formulate a recipe for the ideal investor-business relationship.
Every company has a business plan, but in order to stand out from the competition, it’s important to tell your company’s unique story to anyone who will listen so they can truly see and understand your vision
Michele has been a director with Financial Poise since 2012.
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