10 Questions with Ooooby Founder Pete Russell

Pete Russell is the founder of Ooooby, which stands for “Out Of Our Own Backyards” his business started from Waiheke Island and is now expanding around the world with an opportunity for you to be part of making that happen. Pete talks to Get Frank:

1. What is Ooooby? 

Ooooby is local food made easy.  We deliver locally grown and artisan food to your door or local pick up point.

2. Most men don't think about food until they are starving and they are reaching for a pie, why is food so important to you? 

 I'm just like most men.  The problem is that that when I'm starving the convenient options are typically not the best ones for my health, for society or for the planet.  That's why we're working to make local and artisan food as convenient as possible.

3. Isn't an apple an apple no matter where it is grown? 

Not all apples are created equally.  The thing is that a locally grown apple is more likely to be fresher and more natural plus you can enjoy the sweet taste of knowing that the grower is being paid more without you paying more.

4. You were a highly successful business executive in Sydney, why did you suddenly change directions? 

The sudden global financial crisis had something to do with it.  In September 2008 our food importing business went from making healthy profits to nauseating losses overnight which got me wondering whether we were in the right business.  After a few months of stepping back to look at the bigger picture I became aware of the unsustainable nature of industrial globalised food.  I just didn't want to be part of the problem anymore. 

5. If you could set a hub up anywhere in the world where would that be? 

I have family in Yorkshire in the UK so that would be my first choice.  Funnily enough that is where we plan to open a hub in 2016. 

6. What's the weirdest vegetable you've ever put in an Ooooby box? 

Bamboo shoots. 

7. Google's former chief executive Eric Schmidt's wife, Wendy backed Ooooby with US$150,000, why was that? 

Wendy Schmidt's foundation, 11th hour, was seeking ways to support ecological agriculture and when presented with the Ooooby model they felt that it solved many of the problems facing ecological growers in terms of access to the market without needing to charge boutique rates.  Ooooby provided a way for locally grown organic food to be made more accessible to residents of Fresno which is considered to be a food desert even though it lies right in the middle of the central valley which is one of the US's largest food producing regions. 

8. Your expanding Ooooby further, why did you choose crowd funding over private equity? 

Crowdfunding has been chosen as our capital raising method because it  allows our customers, growers and crew to each have a slice of the pie.  It perfectly aligns with the philosophy of food for the people, by the people.

9. If people invest they don't earn cash dividends so how does it work? 

Shareholders earn dividends just like with any other shares, it's just that our shareholders agree to only spend their dividends within the local food economy.  This is achieved by converting dividends into vouchers that can be used to purchase local food or pretty much anything to do with advancing local food development.  Purchases could include things like buying tools and inputs for your home food garden through to buying land for the purpose of growing food.  The reason we are reinvesting all dividends back into the local food economy is because we need to help more food growers and artisan food producers onto their feet so that supply can meet the ever growing demand. 

10. How do people find out more if they are interested in investing in Ooooby? 

Visit www.ooooby.org and sign up to receive the investment documents.

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