The “greengrocers” are not your typical sellers of vegetables. Rather, they are a group of young makers in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, all well educated, part of the post-85 generation who feel at home working with and for leading global companies. With an innovative spirit they have tried to change a traditional industry by incorporating the use of the Internet. After more than two years of delving into the fresh food e-commerce industry, they labeled themselves “greengrocers” and developed a new world for the sector.
Yang Wei, founder of Xiaonongnv.com, a fresh food Online-To-Offline company based in Shenzhen used to work at Tencent and yhd.com. Yang was inspired during a conversation with his friends: They mentioned that many white-collar workers have no time to shop in food markets though they want to cook at home. Yang then thought a service providing shopping groceries online would be welcomed.
Yang and his friends launched their entrepreneurial plan through WeChat in June 2013. They raised 100,000 yuan in funding, bought a second hand minibus and rented an office. However, after six months doing the job part time, Yang found it difficult to ensure the company’s survival.
Yang then decided to make some fundamental changes. He paused the project to re-evaluate it and then quit his job in the middle of 2014. It was now sink or swim.
The restaurants in Shenzhen were the natural customers with their daily need for large amounts of fresh vegetables.
They visited restaurants to introduce themselves to the owners. Though about 70 percent of the owners were initially cool to their proposals, enough were interested to make it a going concern. “We held a discussion that lasted the entire night and came to a conclusion — we can do it.” Said Cheng Yuchao, who is responsible for stores.
“In one week we completed the development of the WeChat ordering system’’, said Li Fei, who is responsible for sales.
“Then we rented a place and drove to various destinations to deliver groceries. The whole system went online after only ten days.”
In this team, the oldest was born in 1985 and the youngest was born in 1991. The younger people generally do not cook and rarely shop for groceries. At the beginning some of them even bought the wrong food.
Starting up a business means starting from nothing. The average daily working hours is around 16; some of them even live in the office. But the company can handle nearly 1,000 orders a day and has over 2,000 clients.
The greengrocers have shown a business idea that is food for thought.