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Idealog—in the ideas business

Bucky Box gets onside with local growers

A fresh new Kiwi startup is out to help the local food movement by taking admin hassles out of the equation so farmers can spend more time growing their tomatoes and less time sorting out receipts.

Bucky Box was conceived in 2009 when founder Will Lau was working with Ooooby, Auckland’s local food scheme and helped it launch its vegetable delivery service.

During this time Lau learnt about some of the problems in New Zealand’s industrialised food system, and our future food security issues and decided he wanted to work on something similar, where produce was delivered from smaller organic farmers to people around the community.

He is a big believer in box schemes, but says the amount of legwork involved in administration is colossal.

Lau has now created a web-based application, Bucky Box, for food box delivery companies like Ooooby to take care of the IT, administration and operational side of things, including subscriptions, packaging and delivery logistics, plus billing and invoicing.

He spent five months during 2010 trialling a prototype with Ooooby and officially launched the private beta of Bucky Box in May 2011.

Bucky Box is owned and incubated by Enspiral, which invests in startups tackling social and environmental issues, and is targeting local food distributors, produce box schemes, and food hubs who want to focus more on production and distribution and less on administration.

Other users include farmers wanting to sell directly to consumers, lifestyle business entrepreneurs and community organisations focusing on food security.

Bucky Box was named for Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, an inventor, designer and humanitarians best known for his cheap shelter and transportation designs and inventions, including the Dymaxion car.

“Bucky Box is a social enterprise – a business pursuing social and environmental impact as a primary goal. We’re also working on our mission to create a better food system via community engagement while supporting other organisations working on the same goal,” says Bucky’s lead developer, Samson Ootowak.

The Bucky Box team is still working on a pricing model for the system. Currently a minimum of 67 percent of profits are donated to organisations committed to building better food systems. Some of these include The Dirt Doctor, Soil and Health Association of New Zealand and Australia's Food Connector Foundation.

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An excellent system, I'm proud to be part of it.
Well done guys.

Great work guys! Can't wait to be involved in the future! :)

I personally think that this startup idea is definitely a positive initiative for both Bucky Box and the local farmers. It is easy to kickstart a business and get it moving to the right direction, but having to handle the admin portion could be a bottleneck which directly impacts the business prospects. Having Bucky Box settle all that, including storage and delivery, really lifts off the burden from the farmers so that they can fully focus on what they do best — farming. This cooperative startup is a definite plus.

Audrey Greenwood
Audrey Greenwood

It's really fascinating idea on how to help the little man to really get ahead in the world. I agree that too many of the smaller farmers need a little help to get their logistics and administration on track so they can focus on their unique produce! This is really a great initiative and I hope we have more enterprising individuals who create a start-up that helps more underdogs out there.

A successful company, be it small, medium or large, sometimes need a helping hand in order for it to progress forward and prosper even further. A partner service like Bucky Box is a good example to how partnerships can really help companies, regardless of the industry that they are in, to get more business opportunities with a little assistance. It is common to see companies now having additional ancillary services to work hand-in-hand with them in order to provide better all-rounded services to customers. Self-storage units now have moving and packing boxes right in their center itself, saving customers the trouble of finding them on their own.

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