Read the Article in Capital Media on CogZum and its Smart Kitchen App, CozZo
The Company Offers a Catalogue of Provisions, a Rational Shopping Assistant and a Precise Expiry Date System
According to UN data, one-third of the food produced in the World is thrown away. Households in Europe and North America leave between 95 and 115 kg of edible products each year unconsumed, or an average of 700 pounds (1500 leva) in monetary value. Ivo Dimitrov thinks he can offer a solution to this problem. His app CozZo (which operated by CogZum) launched a SaaS that assists the rational management of food in the kitchen and prevents it from being thrown away. The application is a combination of a digital shopping list and a self-learning smart catalogue of the food consumers have in their homes.
The Solution Starts with my Refrigerator
The idea for creating this system is not a sudden gasp of inspiration, it was formed for over a year period. The developer of the application, Ivo Dimitrov, notices that in his own household the food is not managed rationally – often when shopping, he fails to buy everything he needs and he also discovers that he discards a large amount of food. He started to look for a solution to the problem – first through the classic methods such as post’d notes on the refrigerator, and then with existing mobile apps that offer a food management system. He felt that existing shopping apps were able to meet only partly meet his needs, and that they were all missing the main component – an algorithm that can monitor the expiration date of food. Dimitrov believes that, unlike our grandmothers who had both the time and skills to utilise all the ingredients, modern generations have difficulties in terms of time and skills to manage their shopping and kitchen. As a result, a dramatic amount of food is thrown out.
The moment a product is marked as bought in the shopping list, it is moved to the ‘at home” catalogue. The application constantly monitors the status of the products. As soon as the expiration date approaches, the catalogue sends a warning to the user that it is time to utilise the product. So far, data on purchases and exhausted quantities are still not automated and require to be entered manually, which takes time and effort. The developer of the app plans to optimize this part of the process in the future. His ideas is a camera that will be installed in the refrigerator that will automatically monitor the expiry dates of the products.
According to Dimitrov, the app helps consumers choose what to buy and decide what they really need. This avoids doubling on purchases by both partners and overstocking. But besides assisting in kitchen organization, the creator of the application believes that this tech solution has the potential to solve more global problems. “CogZum greatly improves our ability to track the food that comes in and stays in our household, and therefore reduces the amount of food that has gone out, ie disposed food,” explains Dimitrov.
According to the Founder, consumers in Bulgaria have a more conscious attitude towards food compared to those in other countries where their prices are low and the abundance is huge. This is due to the bigger proximity Bulgarian have to the process of food growth. “This is on the one hand, but on the other, daily in our country is becoming more hectic, and the time that can be dedicated to food management is decreasing more and more.” Prudent food management at household becomes impossible for a modern, dynamic family without such tech interventions. This is also the primary user profile of the application. ”
For the first stage of the development of the platform, Cogzum receives 100,000 euros of funding from Odasio, an investment company managed by Ms Nevena Suleva, which supports projects in the field of green technological innovations. The funding will be received in several stages, with an option for reinvestment. The start-up company also plans to apply for European funding.
Dimitrov expects that the apps earning will significantly increase after the launch of the family account that will allow all member of the household to share and update information in real time synchronisation. Dimitrov expects that this upgrade will demonstrate the serious potential of the platform, which is already evident through the current interest towards the solution. The Bulgarian company was among the 30 projects selected to present at the European Food Venture Forum 2018. In addition to EFVF, CogZum has been selected as finalist at the Food Matters Live, REFRESH Food Waste, MobCon Europe and entered the Top 50 Changemakers in Europe – a selection made by Food Waste Innovation Network.
The app has almost 10,000 downloads and is officially offered on five markets – Bulgaria, the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland, but it has users in more than 20 countries. The app’s largest market is currently the UK, and the fastest growing US is. In the next two years, the platform will be developed for all the Western European markets. As a next step, the application is planned to be translated into German and Spanish. “Such projects require a very long initial development timeframe, and the development of the application has not stopped, since its beginning in 2016. Up till now only about 25% of the ideas have been implemented,” says Dimitrov. The release of Android and Apple Watch versions are planned for the first quarter of 2019. In the near future, CogZum will offer its own smart kitchen appliances as well as many other extra functionalities of the application. The ambition of the Founder is to create a holistic solution for the kitchen of the future.
A few months after the launch of the app in the UK, Dimitrov found that it was difficult for consumers to adopt the name of the app and it was changed to Cozzo, with the double letter “z” conveying the two key messages of the brand – zero food waste and zero shopping troubles.
The company is already negotiating with several large British supermarket chains that have online stores. In the future, the application will also offer an opportunity for online grocery shopping, as it is growing in popularity, as research indicates. CogZum is also considering a partnership with British start-up OLIO, which offers a solution for food sharing among consumers.
As main competitors of the business, Dimitrov points to other applications for shared shopping lists as well as online shops. Yet he thinks that the app will attract new users from competitors through the unique functionality of real-time food expiry tracking.
Q & A:
Capital: How do you advertise?
I.D.: For the time being, we advertise through digital, on social networks. We have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, and a blog on our own site where we look at the issue of food waste reduction and food management from many different angles. Our target are predominantly families and Facebook is the most important channel for us.
Capital: What is the biggest challenge for your business?
To reach out to people and convince them of the seriousness of the problem. The biggest challenge for our business today is developing the platform and finding strategic partners. We want to enhance the good cause we’ve got, with more information and insights, so that everyone can understand the problem of food waste.
The other big challenge was finding people. When I started the project, I tried following “the success recipe”. I thought that such a difficult project had to be started by at least two or three people, so we could help each other, but I never found these people. There were people who joined the project for a while and then gave up. Currently, the team consists of three people – from me, a marketing person, and a QA engineer. We are partnering with a design team and are looking for further expansion of our team in the future.