The city may be known for its farmers markets, but throw in something called the Internet, and you have the latest technology startup in the Mission: Good Eggs Inc.
The Good Eggs website officially launches today, with the goal of organizing local food producers into a single space where they can connect with their avid shoppers. The site features mini-biographies of vendors, photos of the products and a standardized checkout process with various pickup locations.
“We’re trying to serve as a virtual hub for the local food phenomenon,” said CEO Rob Spiro, who founded the company in 2011 with Alon Salant.
The site’s participating producers have different specialties, from Serendipity Farms in Carmel Valley, which grows seasonal fruits and veggies, to the Mission-based Jablow’s Meats and Four Barrel Coffee.
As of today’s pilot launch, almost half of the site’s nearly 40 food producers come from the Mission, with others hailing from around the Bay Area, but eventually the company would like to expand. “Our hope is that Good Eggs is a marketplace concept that we can scale nationally,” said Spiro. The site also provides recipes and news about local food events.
In the traditional business model, supermarkets buy food from producers at wholesale prices and mark it up for consumers. “For the most part, the vendor is getting a higher portion of the retail dollar,” said Spiro. “Usually it’s the minority that goes to the actual food producer.”
Good Eggs takes only a 3.5 percent cut of producers’ sales, and there’s no membership fee for participating in the site.
“We’ve specifically and intentionally aligned our incentives with the food producers, so we only succeed if they succeed,” said Spiro.
Most of the producers signed up with Good Eggs for increased exposure, but also to give up some of the hassle associated with running a business, since the new site will handle customer transactions. This allows them to shift their focus back to what got them into the business: making food.
“There’s a lot of logistics involved with getting food delivered to people’s homes,” said Luke Chappell, owner of Luke’s Local, which makes assorted meals geared to the office environment. Now that Good Eggs manages his customer transactions, “We’re really able to focus on the quality of the box,” he said.
Lenore Estrada, who co-owns the Mission’s Three Babes Bakeshop with Ana Deride-Castellanos, has had a similar experience since Good Eggs started handling her transactions. When Three Babes Bakeshop started out, there weren’t many orders to keep track of. That’s changing.
“I don’t want to be managing a hundred different people’s billing information, and I don’t have that kind of time,” said Estrada. “If you’re going to sell bigger, you can’t do everything yourself.”
The bakeshop used to use Google Checkout for its transactions, but that service doesn’t allow recurring billing, which is problematic for Estrada’s regular customers. She said she tried other services, like Paysimple, but they were too expensive.
Good Eggs’ service costs less, and it offers Estrada something else that’s important: time, which makes larger orders, for hopeful clients such as Google or Facebook, easier to pull off.
For other producers in the Good Eggs network, the arrangement is more ideological.
“There’s more to this than just selling meat,” said Jonathan Lewis, who runs the meat-buying collective Pastoral Plate.
Lewis said he desires a “highly educated and motivated consumer base” that understands where its food comes from.
“There’s a great awareness in San Francisco about food, but there’s still an education gap,” Lewis said. Before producers can bridge that gap, he said, they need more exposure, and Good Eggs offers just that.
“I feel like if I can connect people to their food, I can connect them to the issues.”
To celebrate the site’s launch, Good Eggs Inc. will be at the Mission Community Market at Bartlett and 22nd streets tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will feature live music, some of the site’s local food producers, tastings and a pig roast.