Seoul, 2017. A third-year college student noticed a huge problem with the food surplus in his dorm. The cause? Drunk students who will vomit even with the sight of food. With his then-roommate, they took the initiative to “rescue” these foods and sell it at a much lower price. From what seems like a very simple idea, it’s now being evolved into an emerging food waste management startup, DamoGO.
His name is Farras, a Bantul (one of the regencies in DIY Province) native who -at the time- got rejected from most of the Indonesian universities he applied to. He then used the power of the internet to research scholarships around the world. The result was all positive, he got accepted in all countries he applied to, Malaysia, Turkey, and Korea. Farras has always been interested in business and finance, but being advised by his parents to study engineering, he buried the dream and finally decided to go to Korea, as a recipient of KGSP (Korea Government Scholarship Program) to study in Korea University School of Civil, Environmental and Architecture Engineering, graduating in 2019.
Being the rebel that he is, Farras then started his business and came up with the idea to build DamoGO, a startup that focused on strengthening food security. With the company’s motto, “Create taste, not waste”. They believed that every food is edible, and he stated that “The problem lies in the distribution of food.” Uneven distribution then creates a new problem, expired food, overstocking, and so on. DamoGO started from retails, directly partnered up with bakeries, restaurants, and hotels, to “Give a second chance for these foods by selling them with a lower price,” as he explained.
Questions may arise, “Why expanding to Indonesia?” Farras then gives out eye-opening facts about food waste in our country. Every single person in Indonesia is responsible for 350 kg of food waste each day, even unconsciously. The second reason is that there are only a handful of companies or organizations that tackle the issue of food waste, “Well, it's understandable because the topic itself is not ‘sexy’,” he adds.
Expanding to a different country may lead to bigger challenges. Farras pointed out the biggest difference when operating in Korea and Indonesia, “Educating clients was a challenge. In Korea, restaurant owners were very open to the concept but here, they raised eyebrows and were rather hard to convince.” Being a new player in the industry makes Farras work 2 or 3 times harder to educate these business owners, and still constantly trying to find the best way possible.
DamoGO’s Co-founder and CEO, Lin Hwang is over 10 years his senior and is an experienced player in the F&B industry. He was the founder of Halal Guys Korea and then sold his stocks to join DamoGO. Their age difference creates a unique dynamic that somehow works. For their employees, DamoGO has a system called ‘1,6, and 12’ in which they will do their job description for 1 month and if they fit right in, they will be contracted for 6 months, and further a one-year contract. Their company culture also highlights the difference in their founders to their employees. Mixing age groups and gender also create a good atmosphere in the company.
Only 2 months in the industry in Indonesia, DamoGO already partnered up with Nutrisi Garda Terdepan (NGT) to donate food for healthcare workers in Yogyakarta. Only in one week, they managed to donate 100 kg of rice, 50 kg sugar, 50 kg cooking oil, and 20 boxes of snacks. They also received 2 million of money that they will also use to buy snacks from collapsing stores, then redistribute it to more healthcare workers. Not only that, Damogo already partnered with 1200 food and beverage outlets all over Indonesia.
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