A business and its journey stem from the core values, the spirit, and the vision of its founder. Every business goes through a constant series of challenges, testing the will and spirit of its team and its leadership. With this edition of The Enterprise World, “The Most Successful Business Leader to Watch Out”.
We are here to bring you the next upcoming names in the world of business. Leaders that are going to lead us to the future and unlock the next big opportunities!
Today, we are going to talk about an innovative company and an invigorating leader. You must be thinking what’s so different, well wait till you hear how Blendhub is the next revolution in the Food industry!
Now without further wait, let’s take this exciting interview ahead.
In conversation with Henrik Stamm Kristensen, Founder and Chief Moonshot Officer at Blendhub. Let’s get to know more about the company, its offerings, about Henrik’s professional journey!
Brief us about the company, what inspired you to start the Blendhub?
I am originally from Denmark but have traveled and worked all over the world until I was stationed in Spain working for a global leader in the functional food ingredients space.
In 1995 I decided to stay in Spain and start my first food technology company because I have been fascinated since childhood by how different food ingredients can create novel and completely unexpected recipes for both industry and final consumers.
Since the start of my first company, I have been exploring how science and technology can accelerate the transformation of the food industry sector which is completely broken and transit towards transparency in global supply chains.
In 1996 I founded Premium Ingredients, which specialized in blending powder-based food recipes from traceable ingredients sources for the food industry. After initial success with B2B customers in Spain but lots of failures trying to sell our solutions in other countries, I realized we had to take a different approach to move forward.
And the company started the evolution from being a local “blender” towards becoming a global network and collaborative community platform offering Food-as-a-Service, which is Blendhub today.
After 36 months and 15 million Euros in building a state-of-the-art “static” blending, packaging, and quality control factory in 2004 in Spain, I challenged my engineers to develop a disruptive portable powder blending factory in a 40” container which we patented in 2010 and then deployed in a rented building prepared to highest food safety and security standards in India.
Since then we have been developing a completely new business model around a global network of localized food production hubs, located closer to raw materials and closer to final consumers and intend to support anyone from idea, test, and validation to the launch of healthy and sustainable food products anywhere or what we today call Food-as-a-Service.
I also founded Chemometric Brain as a proprietary software of Blendhub to digitize food quality control and in January 2020 Chemometric Brain separated into a completely independent organization due to significant interest from many organizations to adopt the technology into their own companies.
Chemometric Brain’s mission is to democratize the implementation of NIR technology in food companies to digitize quality and expand this towards completely digitized supply chains to ensure increased food safety and avoid food fraud. Because consumers want to know what we eat.
What are the products or services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
Blendhub’s solution is the world’s first Food-as-a-Service platform.
Food as a Service (FaaS) aims at empowering especially SMEs to detect market opportunities and launch healthy, sustainable, and affordable food products anywhere, faster, safer, and cheaper than ever before.
The access to first-hand multi-local market data provided both through our global network of hubs, our data mining team, as well as our value-aligned partners around the globe, is a main competitive advantage, we want to share with the food ecosystem.
Food retail prices, nutritional standards, ingredients availability, local trends, a price that consumers are willing and capable of paying, etc. are key data to facilitate thousands of SMEs and startups to launch successful food products. We are today helping food companies from ideas to launch new products and personalized nutrition anywhere in the world in less than 90 days!
On the other hand, by localizing food production through a network of hubs, we decrease costs (by 30 to 50%) by increasing the efficiency of supply chains removing costs that are not adding any value to the food product itself.
By decentralizing food production and stimulating local supply chains, we make food production and products cheaper and available to more people in more places; generate local employment, and decrease gas emissions among others.
Replication is at the core of Blendhub business. We deploy identical production hubs featuring portable powder-blending units worldwide. One unit, all hardware, and software included, fits in a 40′ container and can be deployed in less than six months anywhere.
Blendhub has to this date deployed 7 hubs completely self-financed in Spain (2), India (2), Mexico, Colombia, and Thailand.
Tell us about the team of Blendhub?
Blendhub mission is to change the rules of the game in the global food system, fostering localization of food production to make it more efficient and sustainable and ensure access to healthy and affordable food products to all people in all places, sustainably.
And in the center of everything we do are people who share our purpose and core values; ambition, non-conformism, rigor, honesty, and conviction.
At Blendhub we are working on the implementation of a platform business model to share the real value created among all stakeholders who believe what we believe and share our vision. We have affiliate partnerships with food technologists, formulators, machinery specialists, and many others creating joint value anywhere in the world.
Tell us about your professional experience?
I started cooking at home when I was very young, was obsessed with learning why people were eating what they do, had working experiences during elementary school 12-14 years old cooking in a bakery, elderly home, an all-night restaurant, and started working as a trainee in Shell 2,5 years when I was 17 while studying at night, starting as purchase assistant in a multinational food ingredients company when I was 20 until I found my first of 5 food tech companies in 1996 being 32 and still here today trying to change the food industry for better.
What are the key achievements of your business journey?
It has been a tough journey because when you are a visionary person you often find no understanding around because any idea is crazy until the day it has been implemented.
And when you work with many ideas creating an entirely new toolbox you need to work hard to convince everyone from the CEO to purchase, supply chain, R&D, quality, and others that localizing production makes sense; to adapt recipes to local needs and tastes; to formulate different recipes using different ingredients sources and ultimately to apply exponential technologies to food production; and, above all, to foster collaboration and shared value creation at a local and global level with the ultimate purpose of making healthy and affordable food and nutrition available to all people in all places.
Only in the last few years with broken global supply chains, we have started to see how some bigger food companies are joining the “localization movement” and accepting that global production models need to become local to be more efficient and sustainable. At the same time, Blendhub’s platform business model is starting to grow exponentially with many more partners around the world resulting in many more decentralized and transparent platform collaborations between value-aligned stakeholders participating in local and global supply chains.
And we are also beginning to be recognized for what we are trying to do. In 2020, Blendhub was recognized as one of the world’s most promising circular economy initiatives by WCEF, SITRA, and Deloitte. And in May 2022, during the last meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Blendhub was featured as a leading example of sustainable social impact.
Any client experience you would like to highlight?
A recent example of platform collaboration has been the valorization of Ragi (finger millet), a typical Indian cereal with high nutritional value but low economic value. In collaboration with an organization that supports farmers in India, local entrepreneurs, and an NGO that helps communities in need, we have created unique food recipes like shakes, beverages, and porridge adapted to local consumer taste, texture, and preferences, in general, making it possible to diversify its consumption and make it more accessible to more people.
At Blendhub we have created powder-based Ragi food supplements with micronutrients in a powder that are easy to store, transport, and consume. They mix with water or milk, dissolve instantly, and are ready to take.
And we have reached consumers in underserved communities like the slums in Bangalore through novel models of entrepreneurship to provide basic nutrition to thousands of children in that area.
The Ragi supply chain value creation project represents everything that Blendhub is all about: localization of production, local value creation, and collaboration between different partners to bring healthy and affordable food and nutrition to all people in all places, sustainably.
What is your favorite quote?
“Ideas are easy but execution is hard”