From starting local, to going global
With a little help from Xero, Walter, Andrew and Fai from boxgreen took a bite-sized snack idea and turned it into a reality. Now, they have their sights on providing healthy snacks to all offices in Singapore — and beyond
From an empty stomach to a head full of ideas.
It wasn’t too long ago that boxgreen began as an idea between friends during work, when the long hours and whirr of a candy-filled vending machine were getting tiresome. Getting a nutritious snack that was tasty and convenient proved hard to come by. And so there they sat: a couple of investment bankers who thought it was high time office snacks everywhere got an overhaul.
Pretty soon Andrew, Walter and Fai found themselves scouring supermarket shelves and collecting the most unique, healthy snacks they could find, then delivering them to offices nearby. Other businesses then craved their snacks for pantries too – the idea had officially taken off.
Initial success was one thing, but leaving their jobs and working on the idea full-time was another. Eventually, the three founders reached a point where they had to make that call.
Getting their fill of new experiences
Since that point in May 2015, the team at boxgreen have been hard at work making office pantries a little less dull. One of the main learning curves for the founders, in particular, was building a culture that would serve their business well. Finding the right people was hard, and as the business grew, the challenges changed and they had to learn to adapt to the market – creating a space where people felt happy to come to work was paramount.
“I think the toughest challenge is people. Building culture and a team that can work well with each other is not always that simple as the business grows bigger and processes become more complex. I see my teammates as important stakeholders in the business and I want to create a space where they actually feel happy coming to work rather than it just being another job.” – Andrew, Co-founder, boxgreen
As the business has grown, so has their ability to find the potential in new markets. In February of 2016 they expanded to Malaysia, and in January 2017 they launched their first ever vending machine – a play in which they see as a valuable part of their offering moving forward. Another aspect is keeping their customers informed of how and where they source their products.
“One of the goals we hope to achieve in five years is building out a more transparent supply chain so that there's more traceability of the ingredients we use. We also hope to make this accessible to our customers. Hopefully, we can also start investing in other businesses with similar sustainable goals.”
Serving others by thinking outside the box
A big part of boxgreen’s ethos is not only to snack good, but to do good too. With every snack sold, a portion of the proceeds goes towards providing meals for the needy. And regular trips to the local soup kitchens and excursions abroad help them put this ethos into action. To the founders, it was important this approach was taken from the very beginning.
From the old way of bookkeeping, to a new way forward
When the business first began, boxgreen was using Wave to keep their books in order. As demand increased over time, the team switched to Xero, and haven’t looked back since.
One of the major benefits of Xero was the ability to set up an online payment option in their invoices through Stripe, which seamlessly links into their inventory management software.
“Discovering that we could easily set up a Stripe payment link in our invoices and the seamless linkage with our inventory management software was ideal. We were using Wave and we realised that it couldn't receive payments. When we switched to Stripe, Xero was the way to go.”
Along with automating their payroll, processing payments, syncing with their business bank account – Xero has given boxgreen the ability to be financially clear about what to do next in their business.
Another perk of using Xero with their accountant is the ability to look at the books while on the road. “We were in an Airbnb in KL showing our financials to a friend who is now currently our finance manager.”
Xero connects with more than 700 third-party apps, like payroll, inventory, e-commerce and more, to solve your industry and business needs.
Cooking up a plan for world domination
As for boxgreen’s future? It doesn’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon. In fact, their sights are firmly fixed on supplying snacks to more offices and meeting rooms abroad, along with tackling a whole host of other projects at the same time.
"I think we've definitely made an impact on office pantries with our snacks. We've served a few hundred office spaces, bringing a little slice of quirkiness into the work day and hopefully showing that healthier snacking doesn't have to be dull."