Orbisk: Scaling Customer Delight

Every year, around 200 billion kilos of food from restaurants goes to waste. ScaleUpFood graduate Orbisk is determined to decrease that number. Its innovative AI technology automatically recognizes how much and which types of food are thrown away, allowing establishments to optimize their resources and reduce food waste by up to 4,000 kilos per year.

The team has the ambitious goal of becoming commonplace in every type of restaurant. With a target of serving 5,000 restaurants in the next 4 years, they are already looking at addressing 20 million kilos of food waste on the yearly basis. And its potential isn’t going unnoticed. Unilever Food Solutions has just announced that it is partnering with Orbisk to tackle waste in the Dutch hospitality industry.

We asked CEO Olaf van der Veen to walk us through Orbisk’s scaling journey, highlighting some of the success factors behind becoming an impact scale-up.

#Scaling focus 1: Learning and Experimental Culture

One of the foundation pillars of Orbisk’s culture is honesty: “We agreed with each other [co-founders Richard Beks and Bart van Arnhem] before we hired the first person that we would be brutally honest about every decision that we make and why”. The goal with creating such a transparent and experimental work environment is to encourage team members to challenge the management team and each other, improving overall results.

Our research findings support that an experimental culture is a success factor to scaling – almost all scale-ups (96%) encourage their employees to experiment. Same goes for entrepreneurial freedom: in 63% of scale-ups, each employee has the freedom to deviate from the playbook when they deem necessary. 

#Scaling focus 2: Delighted Customers

“In the end, everything is about your client”.  Olaf’s advice to those on the road to scaling is to really listen to your clients. Don’t get fixated on how great your product is. Instead, allow clients to debunk your solution – let them tell you why it doesn’t work and in what ways it doesn’t work. Because it’s only then that you can make something that they actually want. Ultimately, everything is about their needs. 

Our research indicates that delighting customers is key for scaling success. 56% of scale-ups sell a product/service that is a must-have for their customers, versus only 37% of stall-ups. They provide products that solve a real and urgent need, and are significantly better than what is currently out there.

#Scaling focus 3: Ride Waves

The Covid-19 crisis was an immediate and devastating blow to Orbisk’s hospitality clientele, and created a lot of uncertainty for the company. It was a moment where the founders’ resilience was tested and they responded in a way true to their company culture and customer orientation. Total transparency on the challenge with their team enabled them to band together and overcome the insecurities. Understanding that for large corporate customers who could weather the storm that waste reduction, efficiency and sustainability would be core to post-Covid strategy sharpened their sales pitch and customer relationship.

Our research shows that scale-ups ride waves – more than ⅓ of scale-ups view the success of their company to be the result of unexpected favorable circumstances to at least a moderate degree. Scale-ups leverage this additional momentum to move fast.

We have spent the past 3 years studying thousands of scale-ups. We have found that the difference between a scale-up and a “stall-up” comes down to 20 success factors. Find out more in The Art of Scaling.

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Murat Izmiroglu

Author Murat Izmiroglu

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