You have always wished fruits were delivered to your home just like your pizza. What if you get organic fruits directly from the farm at a price lesser than the market’s? That’s exactly what Subzi.pk is doing in Faisalabad. Started by two food engineers, the startup brings fresh fruits and vegetables straight from farms to homes, decreasing cost and delivery time.
According to Qasim Ali, one of the co-founders of Subzi.pk, by the time fruits and vegetables reach the market, their prices have gone up by five times. The number of middlemen involved overcomplicate the process and increase the delivery time which lowers the quality of the foods. Besides, many small scale farmers are exploited for their labor and paid insufficiently. Some even have to work part-time in mills to feed their family. For Qasim and Mohsin Shafique, who had agrarian backgrounds and technical expertise in food engineering, it was an opportunity they could not miss.
They started off in late 2016 with the belief that there is a demand they can meet. Qasim left his full-time job in Lahore, convinced Mohsin to join and rented a container in the suburbs to start. The next big challenge was the website. “We not only asked the guy to make us a website but also teach us how to use it,” recalls Qasim and laughs. Money didn’t come easy either. They worked extra time teaching home tuitions, sold their PEC numbers and asked their families for loans.
Their breakthrough came when they delivered to a place far off from the city center. The buyer turned out to be an employee of a large textile exporting company. She spread the word in her circle and the next day they got a bulk order from that textile company. The startup took off but still lacked financing and resources it takes to scale up. Then came NIC.
They were introduced to NIC through a talk Qasim chanced upon to attend in 2018. Time went on, and they eventually applied for the induction without much hope. Luck was on their side and after several stages of assessment and interviews, they were inducted for incubation at National Incubation Center in Islamabad. What started off as a small venture in the suburbs of Faisalabad is now being incubated for large-scale business all over Pakistan. This a developing story. Stay tuned!