Working in grocery stores during our studies, we became worried for the future. We witnessed tremendous amounts of food being wasted every day.
Together we started our company, TotalCtrl, with the goal of developing a digital tool that would help fight food waste while saving our customers time and money. It all started with the intention of helping grocery stores, as that was where we had first-hand experience with food waste, but after learning more about food waste we found that most of the food waste happened at the consumer level. According to research, you and I were to blame for enormous amounts of fully edible food being wasted every year. 40-50% of all food that is wasted is wasted by households, you, and me. And the reason for this is that we lack control over our inventory, we forget to use the food before it expires, we buy double, and it is a hazel using time to get better control and to be creative in regard to how to utilize existing items in recipes.
After extensive market research we found that the consumer was extremely interested in having a solution that would notify them prior to expiry dates, give them recipes based on inventory and digitize their kitchen. They were interested in this if it helped them save time and money. If it also helped reduce food waste, that would be a bonus, but not something the consumer was so concerned about – in late 2017. Charlotte learned how to code via YouTube and created a prototype of the solution and had it tested by over a 100 people. They loved it.
For us, TotalCtrl, it did not make sense to build such a solution for consumers as it would not make financial sense. So we sent out cold emails to all the online retailers in Norway. I think, at that time, it was about 12 players in the market. The second biggest online retailer in Norway, Handleriet.no, said: yes, this is something we would like to be part of. Together we formed the requirement of the Handleriet.no app.
It was a success. Handleriet.no was happy and TotalCtrl had proven that the technology worked. The solution got a lot of attention and was also ranked as one of the most innovative digital retail solutions, alongside Amazon and Walmart by Retail Insider, but despite increased revenue, Handleriet.no had to close shop in August 2019. Running an online retailer in Norway is hard, and the costs to big to handle. This meant the end of the Handleriet.no app, but not the end of TotalCtrl.
The goal moving forward is to scale the TotalCtrl Home solution globally, ensuring that all consumers plan better, use and purchase food smarter.