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The increasing demand for sustainable products drives the development of the plant-based market. abillion (formerly known as abillionveg), a Fabrica portfolio company, develops an app-based platform where users can search and rate vegan products, propelling the growth of the market by creating an online community for sustainability-conscious consumers.

Vikas Garg, the founder and CEO of abillion, talks us through the landscape of the current plant-based market and how the platform helps businesses engage their customers.

 

“Being vegan has been one of the most uplifting and impactful things I’ve ever done.”

What’s the mission of the company?

Being vegan has been one of the most uplifting and impactful things I’ve ever done. But going vegan was a really hard journey and often felt like a sacrifice! So, I started abillion to make it much easier for people around the world to discover and enjoy this lifestyle. Our mission is to build a technology company that helps billions of people around the world transition to a much more sustainable way of life.

 

What’s your outlook on the plant-based market in the next 5 years?

When we add up sectors like food, fashion, and beauty-we get to a global consumer market that’s more than $6 trillion in annual sales. Sustainability is a big, global mega-trend for the next 20 to 30 years, and we think consumers are going to focus on plants. Our goal is to help 10-15% of the world’s population move to plant-based living in the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a big chunk of the consumer wallet.

 

What’s your company’s strategy to engage Omnivore users?

Nearly half of our members enjoy meat, fish or dairy on a regular basis. They’re part of the abillion community because the app and our members help them find vegan food or sustainable products wherever they want. The community is supportive, responsive and gives them a voice.

 

Compared to food products, it’s harder to find plant-based fashion and lifestyle products in the market. How does the app help users search for these products more easily?

Our members have helped us build the world’s largest directory of sustainable consumer products across sectors like food, fashion, beauty & wellness. We have more than 80,000 consumer products reviewed across 20,000 brands around the world. Members can find product information and soon will be able to connect to retailers near them or online where they can complete a purchase.

“Our mission is to build a technology company that helps billions of people around the world transition to a much more sustainable way of life.

The plant-based market seems to be more mature and accepted in the US and Europe. as a Singaporean company, do you find that Asians are actually more accepting of plant-based lifestyles than we thought?

There are 14,000 vegan dishes listed on abillion across nearly 3,000 restaurants in Singapore. Anecdotally it feels harder because there’s more media buzz around the growing vegan movement in the US or Europe, but it’s also happening here and all-around South-East Asia. Singapore is one of our ten most engaged markets globally and Indonesia also makes the top-10 out of nearly 130 countries.

 

Content is another major feature of the app – how does the review platform and content support each other side by side?

Like Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin, we’re a platform for members, by members. That means
authentic user-generated content. Member reviews form the foundation for everything we’re doing as an ecosystem, including our industry awards and certifications, activism, corporate engagement, and even donations we’re making to support conservation efforts around the world.

 

Covid-19 has changed consumer demand and behavior. What are the risks and opportunities your company has discovered amid this global crisis?

This has been our best year and in particular Q2 was especially strong both for member and content growth. With restaurants around the world closed, many of our members shifted to using the app to find information about vegan products and review those they’re purchasing. We think this time will pass and a new sense of normalcy will arise, and we’re positioning ourselves to help our members complete all aspects of their lifestyle through abillion including purchasing what they’re looking for.

“Our goal is to help 10-15% of the world’s population move to plant-base living in the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a big chunk of the consumer wallet”  

On the supply side – although food ordering apps and other digitized platforms have embraced the opportunities arising from the stay-at-home orders, many retailers and restaurants have been affected by the pandemic and have closed down their businesses. How does abillion respond to this dynamic situation?

Hospitality will resurface. Things will get back to normal. People are social creatures. We’ve seen that during this crisis anytime some level of freedom comes back, everyone’s immediately on it. For us, restaurants are one part of our story. We’re working to make it easier for people to find vegan options, and that means building technology that allows us to spread information to decision-makers at tens of thousands of restaurants around the world every week. Direct to Consumer is also a big theme, and we’re seeing consumer food brands experiment with shipping directly. We’re excited to see this develop and we’ll find opportunities to partner with mission-aligned brands.  

VIKAS GARG
Founder and CEO of abillion 

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