Democratizing access to healthy food through the digital market

Democratizing access to healthy food through the digital market

Paulo Monçores, CTO and Co-founder of Diferente, a leading foodtech from Brazil, tells Intelligent CIO LATAM that the principal technological solutions developed by the company are optimizing its operations.

Paulo Monçores, CTO and Co-founder of Diferente

Diferente, a leading foodtech in Brazil for organic food subscription boxes, establishes direct partnerships with farmers to rescue organic products such as fruits, vegetables and herbs that would otherwise go to waste.

In addition to its positive social and environmental impact, the company aims to provide healthy and affordable food to all Brazilians through its digital market while actively supporting small organic producers.

Paulo Monçores, CTO and Co-founder, Diferente, said: “The foundation of our conception is social and environmental impact, and consumers are increasingly aware of their choices, seeking initiatives with this profile. Today, consumption goes beyond choosing the best product and service, but also considers the brand’s values and responsibilities to society.”

As a leader in engineering with over 15 years of experience in software development, project management and leadership, Monçores has worked for major companies such as Shopify and Wayfair.

The CTO explained the principal technological solutions developed by the company to optimize its operations. He also discussed the challenges faced when creating a flexible e-commerce platform.  

How did the idea of creating Diferente come about?

There are three partners in the company. Our partner and company President, Eduardo Petrelli, realized that access to healthy food was difficult and expensive. The experience of buying online from traditional markets also did not make this process any easier.

We wanted to ensure people could access healthy, fresh items at more affordable prices without leaving their homes. From a personal experience point of view, we started to understand and study whether we had the opportunity to create something impactful in Latin America.

What are the principal technological solutions developed by the company to optimize its operations?

Since the beginning of Diferente, we have established as a principle the internal development of technological solutions for all operational areas that we consider essential to our business. This approach gives us greater autonomy and control over the company’s activities.

Our company developed its own e-commerce platform, and we have a programmed purchase model. In addition, the system that manages the operation of our operations team was also internally developed.

There are several excellent solutions in the market for warehouse management, and the specificities of our segment and our business model led us to prioritize internal development, giving us more freedom to grow without technological restrictions. Through our e-commerce platform and application, customers have a better experience managing their subscriptions.

What technological challenges were faced when creating an online subscription platform for Diferente’s customers?

To summarize, our major technological challenge was ensuring flexibility. Our model is not a traditional subscription. Our customers can customize the boxes they receive by adding or removing products. This customization process results in weekly variations in the customer’s subscription value, reflecting their specific weekly needs.

Ensuring this flexibility is crucial for our technological products to provide customers with a seamless experience, whether through web platforms or mobile devices and to ensure that our services are resilient enough to handle different levels of customization.

How does the company ensure an efficient and intuitive user experience?

The majority of the investment in our company goes into our Research and Development (R&D) team. We do not see technology as an expense but as an investment.

We have an extremely multidisciplinary team. Our business verticals include people from product, engineering, data and design. With this kind of team addressing the problem, you ensure that different perspectives and blind spots are covered.

Another crucial aspect is the autonomy given to the product, engineering and design areas. Our product team counts on employees who define what to build on the platforms. They are always ahead of what the teams are doing, being able to provide a more long-term view of where we are going as a company.

Considering Diferente’s growth, how does technology assist in managing the distribution center and the logistics of delivering the baskets? Are there specific systems or algorithms used to optimize these processes?

For the scale we have, it would be impossible to be efficient without our operation system. This system handles everything from managing product purchase requests to loading the vehicles.

Regarding technology for operations, we always work with two principles: efficiency and effectiveness. At all times, we balance actions in our technology roadmap that will optimize the time of department employees and improve the quality of activities performed to enhance the service experience for our customers.

Currently, we have technology solutions for the product purchasing process from suppliers, inventory management, distribution of items for each customer’s basket, the printing of labels for each basket to facilitate assembly, dispatch management and integration with a routing system to ensure customers receive their deliveries within the agreed-upon time.

Does Diferente use data analysis or Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve operational efficiency?

We have developed our own Artificial Intelligence (AI) called PitaIA, which analyzes preferences, restrictions, the frequency a customer has received certain products and the nutritional composition of the baskets to determine the contents of each customer’s basket. Through PitaIA, we can understand what the customer likes without them having to tell us explicitly.

Another module of PitaIA is our integration with ChatGPT. There are products that our customers receive, and they would like to know what to do with them, how to handle them, or even how to make them last longer. Through our integration with ChatGPT, customers can access recipes for the received products and proper handling instructions.

How does Diferente address data security and customer privacy on its online platform? What measures protect personal information and ensure user trust?

The first step is ensuring that you have the right tools and partners. All of Diferente’s technology is cloud hosted. We work with the Google Cloud Platform to manage our infrastructure.

Any part of the operation that deals with sensitive data has certified partners in the relevant authorities and holds the licenses to operate in the segment.

From the beginning, we knew how to build our services with the appropriate levels of security in the infrastructure layers, services (APIs) and data models.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

LATAM English

View Magazine Archive