Coast to coast: California ideas come to NNY

New York the ‘right market’ for Wholeshare

California startup Wholeshare is market testing Northern New York as a location for future business growth.

When Peter Woo was looking for a market to test Wholeshare, his San Francisco-based startup company with the concept of group buying local, sustainable foods, he decided to uproot and move to the north country.

That move across the country has helped Mr. Woo and his team at Wholeshare gauge first-hand how his company may fare in markets across the United States.

“There are a lot of practical issues in Upstate New York that we probably wouldn’t have gathered if we sat in our offices in California and just speculated about how people live in other markets,” Mr. Woo said.

Mr. Woo and co-founder Matthew Hatoun, who both attended Brown University, Providence, R.I., began Wholeshare in 2009 as a way for groups of people to have access to high quality, affordable local food.

“Wholesale sellers of food, the ones who sell to grocery stores and restaurants, are happy to deliver to residential areas and consumers directly,” Mr. Wood said. “However, they have a minimum order amount, sometimes $300 to $500 dollars, and that’s a lot for individual families.”

Woo

So how it works is a user visits www.wholeshare.com and becomes a coordinator. The coordinator starts a Wholeshare group, organizes and runs the group and oversees group deliveries. When another individual decides to get involved, they sign up for free on wholeshare.com and join a group in their area. From there, it’s as easy as shopping on any e-commerce website. Add to the cart any items you want and enter a credit card number, once the deadline approaches and if the minimum order set by the supplier is met, the goods are delivered to members of the group on a set day and at a predetermined drop off point.

Wholeshare also works with local distributors and farmers throughout the state in hopes that they will offer their products to Wholeshare groups.

“We have maybe five large distributors and probably 20 to 25 small farmers that we are working with,” Mr. Wood said. “We have been hiring salespeople and building out our customer support and trying to hit the entire state. We are looking to reach out to people that might be interested in starting and running groups.”

Mr. Woo notes that the selling point, and the ultimate goal, of Wholeshare is to offer users access to foods and products they otherwise would not have access to.

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