Bessie – 5 May
Bessie Box works with local farmers and fishermen to deliver their naturally raised meat and seafood directly to customers’ front doors in the Calgary area. They offer high quality produce at grocery store prices. In comparison to other food delivery services, Bessie can offer the same quality of product at a better price and with a better customer experience.
Bessie has gone through two accelerators, the Trade Accelerator Program with Calgary Economic Development and the Junction program at Platform Calgary. This has set them up for extraordinary growth.
Bessie has had more than 700 orders from over 300 customers. They were earning revenue less than 6 months after their launch and, over the last 6-8 weeks, their growth has accelerated; their sales have increased sixfold. They now hope to open an Edmonton location in the next few months.
The challenge they now face, after their early success, is maintaining growth in a post-COVID world. Their plan is to continue to do customer discovery and establish how to best market, engage and retain customers. Launching in Edmonton will also pose a challenge. While the Bessie team are currently unsure about what operations will look like at this time they know they can keep it lean and hit the ground running.
Shanika Abeysinghe, Co-founder – Shanika obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Film Studies and Law and Society at the University of Calgary. At the age of 23, she was named the Executive Director of the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival (a Calgary-based socially conscious documentary film festival), while maintaining a role in communications at the Calgary Drop-In Centre. There she built and supported campaigns that raised more than $1.4 million to support the city’s most vulnerable. As a champion for Calgary, Shanika has sat on committees for many organizations including: Kids Help Phone Calgary Chapter, Calgary International Film Festival, Canadian International Fashion Film Festival, Famous 5 Foundation, University of Calgary Alumni Arts & Culture Council, and the Calgary Stampede. At Bessie Box, Shanika leads storytelling, marketing, and customer success. When she isn’t working, she can be seen watching some obscure foreign film at a festival or eating her way through Calgary’s best cuisines.
Spencer Kerber, Co-founder – Spencer graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Calgary and immediately began his career as a product owner with IBM. Many nights and flights were spent building advanced analytics products for industrial process facilities. After learning the ropes, he left to apply his energy toward his passion for food. In 2019, he built Bessie with the hope of making relationships between farmers and consumers easier. He believes the future of food is dependent on people’s connections over shared meals. Outside Bessie, Spencer enjoys unscripted travel, accidental adventures, and solo reading time.
Alexander Leakos, Co-founder – Alex graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Calgary, but made a quick switch to finance upon graduation. After graduating, Alex worked at Roynat Equity Partners, a Private Equity firm, as an Analyst where he built fancy spreadsheets and performed research and analysis on current and future portfolio companies. In the summer of 2019, Alex joined Shanika and Spencer full time at Bessie and is learning how companies operate from the ground up, not just from a spreadsheet. Like the rest of the Bessie team, he is passionate about getting good foods into the hands of customers.
Bessie received angel investment early on in their development. They are currently not looking for funding, instead focussing on growing the company organically. At this time, Bessie plans on expanding their team by bringing on an intern. They have primarily been working with a few contractors/freelancers to boost their capacity up until now.
Bessie operates a direct to consumer business model. They have, however, built an app for B2B sales for when restaurants open again.
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