After salivating over Mint Market's press release, I chatted with founder Ricky Spero to learn more.
What's your favorite story about how customers used Mint Market during beta testing?
In the very first sale during the beta period, Ever Laughter Farm sold $60 of Swiss chard to Scott Howell at Nana's. Sam at Ever Laughter could drive up to Nana's, knock on the door of the kitchen, hand the staff his box, and just chat with them.
Most technology companies building an Internet service worry a lot about how to create a community. For us, the community is already there. By moving the transaction onto the Internet, we can get the business out of the way so when these folks get in the same room, they can just enjoy one another's company.
The thing that's really gratifying for us to hear is, "Why hasn't someone done this before?"
So why hasn't someone done this before?
The local food economy is so underserved from a technology perspective that any place you put your finger down, there's some kind of need. Right now there's not a lot of overlap between what different Internet companies are doing in local food, but we expect that over the next few years we'll see a lot of new companies pop up.
Also, it's easy to see a lot of inefficiencies, but it's hard to put your finger down on what the real problems are.
How did you find the right problem?
The same way that every startup does—we tried everything else first. After kicking around ideas about retail and farmers markets, we started talking to farmers and chefs and it started to click.
We heard the same problems over and over again: it's hard for chefs to establish and maintain the relationships they need, and the farmers have to spend a ton of time booking and managing orders. It's incredibly chaotic—there is no equivalent for the farmer's market when it comes to wholesale. So that's the problem that we wanted to solve.
How important is the Triangle community to Mint Market?
This is about as perfect a place as you can imagine to work on this problem. There are so many talented people who have been working on local food issues for so long—the farmers, the chefs, the retail community. So if we can make the Triangle's local food scene even better, we know we've solved a real problem—and that's how we'll know that we're read to solve the problem elsewhere.