Yazdan Navabi is the Founder of Food Upcycles.
Food Upcycles is on a mission to combat global warming and other environmental issues by giving businesses a chance to send their foodwastes to be reused and converted back into healthy organic soil.
They divert food wastes and organic waste away from landfills and upcycle them into a product of higher value!
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Choose Food Upcycles to compost
- Target customer
- The current status of food waste that Food Upcycles is working to eradicate
- Composting is better
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio brought to you by on pay built in Atlanta. OnPay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at unpaid. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of GSU ENI radio, and this is going to be a fun one today on the show. We have Yazdan Navabi with food upcycles welcome.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:00:44] Hey everyone. Thanks for having me. It’s great to be back on Business RadioX. I’m so excited to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:50] Well, I’m excited to get updated about food up cycles. What’s been going on over there?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:00:56] Yeah, there’s been a lot of a lot of discussions, a lot of talking, a lot of phone calls, a lot of visits. I was I was really hoping last time I was on the show that I could have paying customers next time. That’s not the case. We’re still pre-revenue, but we got very close to launching a pilot this summer. We got we got a lot of traction with Publix grocery stores, but that kind of fell through just because of our size and our volume capacity. But that’s kind of like the biggest news of the summer, really. That was that was really big. However, even though we didn’t move forward with that, they’re still very interested in the way I understood it. As soon as we can handle more volume, they’re going to be there with to work with us
Lee Kantor: [00:01:43] Now just to remind folks, tell us about food up cycles in terms of what the concept is and how you’re serving, folks.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:01:52] Yes. So we are a food waste collection service. We’re subscription based, but we also offer per request pickups. And so basically, just to give you a gist, instead of sending organic food waste to landfills instead of just throwing it away, we want to we want people to have a separate bin where you can put all your organic trash. Separate from plastics and papers and whatnot.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:17] So some folks have like composting. Is this kind of taking the place of composting?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:02:22] Yes. Well, this is compost, yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:24] But like, I’m doing it instead of like I have a bin for aluminum and and things like that. And I would have a bin for the stuff I would compost if I don’t want to put, you know, set up my own composting thing in my backyard.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:02:36] Right, exactly. Exactly. And so we come and we pick up the bin, we swap it out with a clean one that’s kind of like the industry standard. Then we take it to our site. We let nature do its thing. We let the waste turn to compost and then we supply to farmers. And then that completes the cycle.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:57] And then and that’s the upcycle that you’re talking about in the name, right?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:03:01] Yeah, most people actually don’t know what that is. It’s a fairly new world and everyone knows that recycling is recycling is trying to minimize the waste when you’re disposing of something or trying to use part of it. But when you’re talking about upcycling, you’re actually turning that thing into something of higher value. So something that’s kind of like easier for people to understand is imagine you have a bunch of driftwood just floating in a lake and then you turn that to like a very expensive high end table, for instance, that would be upcycling. And that’s essentially what we’re doing with trash. We’re upcycling trash into beautiful, nutritious soil that farmers can use.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:45] And then that’s an important part of this, right? So people may not understand when they’re just kind of throwing stuff down the garbage disposal. That’s like kind of gold. For some people, all of that material could be put into soil and the soil becomes that much more rich and nutritious. And it’s it’s valuable to somebody, right?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:04:07] Absolutely. Actually, I’m I’m very happy. You said that some people, not many, but some people call compost black gold because it is so valuable. And fun fact to get the same amount of vitamin A from one orange that your grandparents used to get, you would have to eat eight oranges while they would just have to eat one orange. And that’s how our food is of nutrients. Farmers are forced to use synthetic inputs, synthetic fertilizers, things like that, and it does make the foods grow. But it’s not even comparable to to what it should be.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:42] And this is one of those businesses that if if everybody was just kind of accepted this like we do now of having bins for recycling and just have bins for this composting and have an efficient system to take this away and then repurpose it and upcycle it. This would benefit lots of folks, this is something that could really make a difference and and it wouldn’t take like we don’t need 100 percent compliance in order to make this go. If you just had a good amount of, I would imagine, kind of restaurants, businesses like grocery stores like that to do this. And eventually, I’m sure the consumer this can make a big difference in how much more nutrition we would be getting in our foods.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:05:26] Correct. Correct. And the, you know, the nutrition part, having more nutrition in our food that would take slightly longer. But the immediate effect and our 4Front problem that we’re trying to tackle is actually all the gases, the global warming gases that are released from these food wastes when they’re in landfills. And it kind of gets really scientific and really nerdy, and I try not to get too much into it because I get really caught up. But basically when you put food in any type of organic waste in a landfill because it’s so pressed down, it doesn’t get oxygen and proper water, it rots and aerobically. It rots in the worst way possible, and it creates a lot of methane and a lot of carbon dioxide and pound for pound. If you were to take, let’s say, a thousand pounds of waste and put it in a landfill or compost it, composting it would produce 90 percent less greenhouse gases. And that’s just an insane amount because landfills. It’s there like the fourth or fifth global contributor to global warming, and some figures will even claim it’s almost there. So by composting this, we can reduce these gases by 90 percent
Lee Kantor: [00:06:41] And you’re going to create an upcycled product that’s super valuable and beneficial. So this is like a total win win win all the way around, like. It’s just taking up space and it’s negatively impacting the space it’s taking. This is something that seems so obvious and simple. It’s just a matter of, you know, kind of getting the escape velocity. You need to get this thing up and running. Now what businesses like you mentioned a grocery store. What types of businesses should be kind of at least experimenting with this and working with you?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:07:14] Yeah, so our company, our main, our main target, our main mission is helping the environment and cutting back these these global warming gases and also doing more positive things in the long run. And so we’re focused on volume. We want big volume, so we’re not trying to service households and things like that. One pound here, two pounds there. We’re trying to go to the source. We’re going to be driving trucks and using fossil fuels, for sure. So we want to make sure that those trucks are are having the most positive impact they can. And we’re going to be doing that by targeting targeting grocery retailers and large, large volumes. And once we’re able to scale more than we want to go after apartment buildings, large, large volumes, that’s what we’re focused on. I’m not sure if that’s a good question.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:02] Yeah. So that’s your first target are kind of the the bigger, bigger players here because you can get more bang for your buck in terms of impact.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:08:11] Right? But see, now the challenge is we’re like a small company and we’re trying to go after these volumes. So we kind of broke things down into three phases phase one or stage one. We’re going to be servicing vegan restaurants and juice bars just because that’s a lot lower cost for us. It’s easier and it’s just a lot more streamlined. And then as soon as we can get some more funding and move to bigger space and we can handle larger volume capacities instantly, we’re going to be jumping into retailers, big stores and then a few years down the road, then we’ll progress the apartment buildings
Lee Kantor: [00:08:47] And then talk about the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund. How did that? How’d you get involved with that?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:08:53] Yeah, I was. I was. That was the culmination of a lot of hard work, but also just a lot of luck and a lot of just a blessing. You know, sometimes things happen and I was actually, you know, I’ve been working on this for over two years, and I was at a point where I felt like I didn’t have. They were they weren’t new things coming into the mix, and it was just kind of like the same thing. And even though I was trying to talk to new people and trying to do different things, nothing new was happening. And then, you know, it happened a few months and then I heard back from Main Street. I kind of almost forgot about it. I was like, You know, I didn’t get it, but I just kept following up every now and then it felt like I wasn’t in. And then I just heard back like, you’ve been selected and it’s kind of hard to believe.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:42] And then explain what you got and how you’re kind of using the resources that they provide.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:09:49] Basically, it comes down to things, you get some funding and you get some resources and they set us up with with a mentor. So we have like one main mentor. But but honestly, people from the N.I Institute are so helpful. They’re so they’re really like a family. They’re so, so caring. And so even though we get assigned to one mentor, we really kind of get to tap into the entire institute. All you have to do is reach out and ask for help, and they’ll be there and they’ll answer your emails late night. I mean, it’s been it’s been a lot of support. And we do get some funding too, and we do get support for our presentations. Or let’s say, I have a meeting with a potential customer and I have some some doubts going into it. I could just reach out and be like, Hey, do you think I should say this or do you think I should say that? Or support?
Lee Kantor: [00:10:40] Yeah, so that type of kind of business intelligence really can prevent you from making a mistake and really help you accelerate your growth and maybe open some doors for some folks that could become your customer.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:10:53] Yeah, one big thing I struggled with because my my startup just kind of intel, so many different parts and different players, and we have farmers, restaurants, big businesses. I had a huge problem with with just like trimming down and consolidating my information, and I am kind of wearing all the hats here. So I’m the R&D guy, I’m the CEO guy, I’m the marketing guy. And sometimes in the beginning when I was present, I would just have so much information. And for an outsider who doesn’t really know about compost, it’s all just mumbo jumbo. And they’ve really helped me to be more selective with the present, with the information I’m presenting and kind of like what to leave in and what to leave out.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:39] Well, congratulations on all the success. I mean, it’s it feels like you’re on the brink of something really important and and really kind of worthwhile a mission worth going on. Congratulations.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:11:53] Thank you. Yeah, I’m hoping to start our pilot this fall, for sure. We’re talking to different restaurants and hopefully we can get that launched soon. You just need more funding and we need more partnerships. So anyone listening please spread the word.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:07] And if somebody wants to learn more about the business, what is is there a website? Is there a way to connect with you or somebody on your team?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:12:16] Yes, because we are a new startup and we’re strapped for cash. Our website is not live yet, but all our social media handles are food up cycles, and it’s it’s spelled just how it sounds. And our website, once it’s live, will be food, upcycled dot org.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:34] And then and then there are way like which one is the best one to connect with you? Is it LinkedIn? Is it?
Yazdan Navabi: [00:12:41] I would say Instagram.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:43] Instagram, yes. Ok, so if they go on Instagram and look to look up food up cycles, they’ll be able to find you and then connect with you and then hopefully do some good for folks.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:12:56] Yes, and learn about composting. We, we try to like make a blend of educational and entertainment on our Instagram because I know compost is not the sexiest thing out there, so we try to make it fun.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:09] Well, it’s important. I’ll tell you that. And and it’s it’s one of those things where it’s valuable and it’s sitting right in front of all of us. And if we would just pay a little bit of attention and if there’s a way to make it as easy as possible, I’m sure more people will do this just like we sort stuff out every day. I mean, then organizations that are dealing with this, there’s no need to be throwing all this away. There’s a better way to deal with all this waste. And I think that you have, you know, come up with a way that makes a lot of sense for a lot of people.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:13:40] Yeah. And I think most people are open to it. It’s just another thing to do. Right? It takes a person or a company to kind of like,
Lee Kantor: [00:13:48] Make things up, make it easy and then they’ll do it if it if it kind of can work seamlessly into their workflow. They’re going to do it with that. It’ll be a no brainer because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the if you can make it easy, they’ll they’ll do this for sure. I believe that.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:14:05] Yeah, me too.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:06] Well, congratulations again, and thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Yazdan Navabi: [00:14:13] Thank you so much, Leigh. Thanks for having me again.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:15] You got it. All right, this is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on GSU. Any radio.
About Our Sponsor
OnPay’s payroll services and HR software give you more time to focus on what’s most important. Rated “Excellent” by PC Magazine, we make it easy to pay employees fast, we automate all payroll taxes, and we even keep all your HR and benefits organized and compliant.
Our award-winning customer service includes an accuracy guarantee, deep integrations with popular accounting software, and we’ll even enter all your employee information for you — whether you have five employees or 500. Take a closer look to see all the ways we can save you time and money in the back office.