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Created with the purpose of offering fairer rates and rules for delivery workers and restaurants, AppJusto (something like “FairApp”, in Brazilian Portuguese) has raised more than 1.8 million Brazilian Reais ($350,000) in a public offering. The round, raised through equity crowdfunding platform Kria, attracted 939 investors – a record for this kind of investment in Brazil

AppJusto was launched in August 2021 as a socialtech. The company seeks to generate a positive social impact on the gig economy and to be an alternative to the current monopoly in restaurant delivery services, which is mostly held by iFood, which has gobbled up 80% of the market.

The platform has about 17,000 registered workers, of which 3,000 operate in the city of São Paulo, and more than 300 active restaurants (out of a total of 900 registered). Since its foundation, the startup has made more than 8,000 deliveries and has 22,000 users.

The goal is to reach 3,000 restaurants and 5,000 approved delivery workers in eight months, reaching 15,000 deliveries. Crowdfunding resources will be used to increase the base of establishments and improve the product. Soon the app should gain new features such as receipt via Pix (an instant payments system created by Brazil’s Central Bank which has rapidly grown in popularity) and new features for logistics operations.

In addition, the startup, which until then had not invested in marketing, will plough resources into this area. “Our growth strategy is different from other platforms. It is not creating discount coupons, promotions or free shipping. When we talk about marketing, we think about how to reach more people. This involves creating content, answering questions about the Platform Economy and showing how AppJusto works”, said Rogério Nogueira, co-founder of the company, in an interview with fc Startups.

The executive adds that the company still does not have high sales figures, but that the product is validated and in the go-to-market stage. “We bet on the flywheel model, building a virtuous cycle in which one stage feeds back into the next”, Nogueira said.

“Having registered restaurants increases the supply of products, and good prices attract more consumers. This makes more couriers interested in working with us, and with more orders successfully delivered, more restaurants want to join the operation,” he added.

Reinforcing ideals

According to Nogueira, the option for equity crowdfunding modality was made due to the similarities between the modality and the values that guide the startup. “To have sustainable growth in a market that suffers from a monopoly, the best thing to do is to foster unity and collectivity”, he said.

To illustrate his point, the executive mentions his inspiration from the pillars of cooperativism. “A model in which everyone participates, has a little bit of the company and grows together. A strong sense of community where everyone wins as the business advances. Considering all this, there would be no way for us to choose a different model from equity crowdfunding”, he said.

In this modality, several people come together to make a joint investment, providing the capital needed to achieve the goal defined by the startup. In the case of AppJusto, the minimum ticket to participate in the round was 100 Brazilian Reais ($20), a decision to facilitate access for the most diverse audiences and reinforce the construction of its community.

“The value was thought specifically so that delivery people could invest”, Nogueira said. The objective was to make it possible for those who use the app as a source of income to become the owner of where they make a living (or, at least, part of it). On the restaurants’ side, the value allows entrepreneurs who suffered from the pandemic and are still recovering to invest and also profit from the returns of the business.

Among the nearly 1,000 investors, 30 are app delivery workers and another 30 are restaurant owners. “We expected much more”, said the entrepreneur. “But we understand that there was a limitation of communication, time and formalization of the offer. The financial crisis also hampered this process.”

The fundraising process was open for six months, and concluded on May 28. Nogueira guarantees that this will not be the company’s only crowdfunding round. AppJusto has enough money to operate for 9 months and it should open a new offer to reinforce its cash position early next year.

The power of the network

Nogueira and his partner, Saulo Brito, are not new to the startup ecosystem. They had already founded other companies of their own and together launched Allya, a collaborative corporate benefits network. In 2019, after their exits, entrepreneurs were studying what the next step would be and came across the “Delivery” episode of Greg News, a HBO Brasil television series that combines humor and real news, in a similar manner to another HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Starred by Brazilian actor and comedian Gregório Duvivier, the program exposed the reality and working conditions of app delivery people. “We had already studied the Platform Economy and the sector’s monopoly, but the AppJusto project came about when we saw the Greg News episode”, said Nogueira.

Cut to 2022, a few months after the company started operations, and a restaurant advised one of their customers to order through AppJusto. The establishment explained the benefits of the platform: transparency, equal display of restaurants in order of distance from the customer, prices up to 20% cheaper than in other apps and an average remuneration of 11.88 Brazilian Reais ($2,30) per delivery, not including tips.

That consumer placed the order, liked it and shared the experience with their friends and co-workers. What no one knew is that he was part of the production team at Greg News. It didn’t take long for Gregório Duvivier himself to talk about AppJusto on Twitter.

“As you can imagine, they don’t have big investors – just big enemies. All they need is a little push from you to get going. Any donation is welcome. If you can’t donate, please spread the word,” said Duvivier on social media.

The post aired in May during the startup’s investment round. “Gregório had already prompted us to create the company and coincidentally was the turning point of our crowdfunding. When he made that post, the fundraising process accelerated”, said the founder of AppJusto.

According to Nogueira, the company’s future looks promising. “People began to see that we are operating well, that we have solved a market problem and that the investment’s chance of profiting is real. The round was very symbolic, because it shows that we are not alone. This strengthens the network effect and the society strategy that we truly support”.

(Translation by Leandro Miguel Souza, editing by Angelica Mari)

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