Vikas Garg on Creating a Billion Plant-based Eaters

March 15, 2019

DFSS is coming up March 29th and we’re bringing some of the participants to you now with a pre-summit interview.  In this edition we talk to Vikas Garg, Founder & CEO of abillionveg.  If you want to see a listing of speakers and sessions, please click here.  To register as a delegate, click here.

 

Vikas Garg

 

1. Can you briefly explain what abillionveg is?

abillionveg is a global discovery platform for anyone looking for something plant-based. We’re making it easier for people to find great options, whether that’s a great vegan dish in Vancouver or an ethically produced skincare product. Our platform is entirely based on peer reviews. Since we launched our app in May 2018, we’ve grown to nearly 20,000 reviews in 63 countries.

 

2. What are the goals of abv?

Sustainabilty and social impact is at the heart of everything we do. We’ve built a platform that gives people more power and the ability to share feedback with thousands of businesses around the world. Longer-term, we want to provide a foundation to creators in the space. Anyone who has a great product idea should be able to find his or her first 10,000 customers on abv.

 

3. What is your vision of what abv will be in 5 years time?

The force behind a million businesses around the world improving their sustainability by offering more plant-based options and a foundation for innovative creators that use abillionveg to reach conscious consumers around the world.

 

4. Last year, you appeared in a documentary that is quite popular on YouTube. Could you please tell us about that?

It was an honor to be featured in the documentary film Let Us Be Heroes! The filmmaker, Rebecca Cappelli, is an incredibly inspiring advocate. I wasn’t sure what to expect and saved watching the film for the opening night in Singapore. I was blown away! There were a few tearful moments, watching the plight of marine life and the work that organizations like Sea Shepherd do around the world. I think all of us have a story, and I was just truly honored to share mine.

 

5. In 2018, abv received some funding. How do you pitch abv to investors?

We have big dreams and we’re building something very different. Investing in our company isn’t for everyone, but if you take a moment to imagine what if we accomplish even 10% of what we set out to do, we’ll have built something pretty amazing that’s valuable for humanity, for the animals and our environment, and for our investors.

 

6. abv has more than 10 staff. How do you go about recruiting, screening, and retaining staff?

Recruiting has been very hard in the beginning. You’re a small company, with limited funding, and you want to hire people that are very skilled. It’s especially hard for me because I always had the luxury of working for really sought-after companies where we had a constant flow of amazing talent, and we could spend what we wanted to hire them. Now, we’re at the opposite end, a small start-up that nobody has heard of, doing something that leaves most candidates scratching their heads. I am the luckiest person in the world to have such amazing support from people like Stephanie Dickson from Green Is The New Black and from our own team. We now have 8 full-time and a dozen freelancers and interns.

Our team was recently asked to score from 0 – 10 questions related to how important our company’s mission was in attracting and retaining them. It was amazing to see that we didn’t have a single score less than 8 and mostly 9s and 10s.

 

7. You also have interns. How does that work?

It’s been wonderful to see the engagement from college students. We’ve had interns from top colleges in Singapore including NUS, Yale-NUS, and NTU, from some of the best schools in America including Princeton and Cornell, as well as Monash in Australia, and Edinburgh and Nottingham in the UK. We’re constantly on the lookout for young, bright students that want experience bringing together technology, business and social impact.

 

8. How do you see abv co-existing with other apps, such as HappyCow and Trip Advisor?

TripAdvisor is an amazing platform with 700 million reviews of hotels and restaurants around the world, but its not so useful if your focus is sustainability. HappyCow is a great tool for people that want to research vegan or vegetarian restaurants around the world. We’re focused on improving the experience for people that are interested in plant-based food, packaged foods, and pretty much any product that can be made in a sustainable way without harm to animals or the environment. We’re focused on measured social impact, supporting animal rescue, and building a truly great platform that provides a foundation for both consumers and businesses entering the space.