Toronto man walked away from financial job to start side hustle and people are loving it
Would you walk away from a secure financial job at a well-known bank, just to start a side hustle with your family?
Well, that's exactly what someone in Toronto has done.
It turns out it was the right move to start up Odd Bunch, as the produce delivery project racked over 1,000 new orders when they appeared at the CNE.
Odd Bunch is different from other produce delivery services in that they refuse to reject produce simply because it's size, shape or colour could be considered to be less than appealing. In fact, they're prioritizing so-called "imperfect" produce to fill their boxes.
"We were at the CNE and the response from the Toronto crowd was insane," Divyansh Ojha of Odd Bunch tells blogTO.
Before Odd Bunch, which has by now diverted nearly 6 million pounds of food and had nearly 20,000 households sign up, Ojha had started up FoodFund while still just starting university.
"I started FoodFund having walked away from a finance job at CIBC," says Ojha.
"That was in my first summer of university. Ran it all through years two, three and four and decided against management consulting recruiting in final year to do it full time."
He knew he was already on to something with a food delivery service program, and that he wasn't happy on his former track.
"In the summer between my first and second year at university, I landed a job at one of the big five banks in wealth management and was pumped," says Ojha.
"Very quickly, I realized I despised what I was doing and found myself working hours and hours on my idea after my day job. In late June of 2017, seven weeks in, I quit. Within 50 days, FoodFund was established from scratch and we had sent out our first batch of deliveries."
FoodFund, which he started in 2016 during his first year at Western, blew up during lockdowns, and almost had to stop accepting new orders.
"March 2020, when the first wave struck: business grew 10 times in 30 days and we were just blown away. Quite honestly, if it weren't for the team banding together, we would have likely come to a halt," says Ojha.
The launch of Odd Bunch has similary blown up, and has been the second time ever they've considered not accepting new orders temporarily to keep up with demand.
It's a family affair, too: Divyansh runs it with his cousin Aditya. And not only are they on a mission to divert produce from landfills, they also want to address food affordability concerns that are top of everyone's mind.
"Since March 2020, the price of fruits and vegetables, among other food groups, have seen sharp increases," says Ojha.
"For someone who has been in the industry for five years, it was ironic because there didn't seem to be a supply issue: if anything, we're wasting more at the source."
With this in mind, Odd Bunch was started up in May 2022 to give growers a place to sell their produce, and offering it for up to 50 per cent less compared to an average grocery store.
"The CNE feedback, if categorized generally, was one of thrill, disbelief and encouragement, in that specific order. People would be thrilled to see sample boxes and our price comparison against the average grocery store," says Ojha.
"That led to disbelief, but not one coming from skepticism. It was rooted in the lack of awareness about retail cosmetic standards and food waste as a whole. When it all clicked for the CNE-goer, we got sign-ups and words of encouragement."
As for what's next for Odd Bunch, they've been working with some restaurants and juicers and are planning on continuing to expand within that realm. If you're interested in a box it's easy to sign up, but if you're affiliated with a restaurant or juice bar and think it might be interesting to partner with Odd Bunch, they're definitely into hearing from you.
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