Provender Raises $800,000 Seed Round, Enters Toronto Market

The old saying goes that what we eat is what we are. If that’s the case, FounderFuel graduate Provender is going to disrupt our identity.

Provender, founded in 2013, has raised an $800,000 seed round from Real Ventures, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Freshii, Kinetic Café and private angels.

Equipped with a fresh injection of capital, the Montreal-born startup says it is expanding to the Toronto market.

The food industry is one of the world’s largest, but it is relatively stagnant in a world where disruption seems to be the norm. Provender aims to change that in a number of ways.

The team wants to put farmers back in control of their own sales. By disintermediating the supply chain, and connecting farmers and their stories with the restaurants that use their produce, Provender aims to use the power of the Internet to forge direct relationships from farm to fork.

They want agriculture to become more of a data-driven pursuit, not only for individual farms, but for regions in aggregate. By collecting local data from farmers on the ground, they can create an open API that is useful for everybody in the area.

Finally, they want to open up a diverse ecosystem of food to restaurants frictionlessly, building sustainability and resilience into the foods we eat.

“Provender provides a window to local products and farms,” says Terry Kobayashi of Ursa Restaurant. “Using the technology they provide, the marketplace helps us see and understand what is available to us from a multitude of local farmers. It offers an easy way for us to stay true to our mission of sourcing locally and sustainably, all while helping local farms get greater access to restaurants by show casing their amazing products.”

Provender is using new technology to take a new angle on the supply chain that has delivered food for decades. While a lot of technological innovation has focused on the later portions of the supply chain, elongating the lifespan of food through refrigeration or chemical preservatives, Provender wants to go back to the beginning.

The platform aims to shorten the cycle from soil to table by allowing farmers to communicate directly when a new crop will be ready for the tables of the restaurateurs who buy from them. This allows for the possibility of pre-orders, and helps get fresh food into restaurants faster.

Think of Provender as a futures market for fresh food that changes the rules of the game. Instead of dragging out the supply chain at the end, it aims to shorten it by directly connecting seed-to-table interaction. Restuaranters can indicate their purchase intent before crops have even been harvested, reducing risk throughout the supply chain.

With files from Roger Huang.