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Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka Alumni Story - Interview with CRUST Founder & Group CEO Travin Singth

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Japan and the world, Japan's startup ecosystem has continued to strengthen and so too has interest from overseas tech companies when entering the Japanese market. In this article, Travin from our Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka Program, Cohort #2 shared with us the story behind his experience with Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka and his market entry into Japan. Hope you have fun exploring his journey with us!

Travin Singth
Founder & CEO of CRUST Group

Travin Singh is the Founder & CEO of CRUST Group, a food-tech startup from Singapore at the forefront of food loss management.After being a Republic of Singapore Navy Regular for six years, Travin left in 2017 and became a Financial Advisor, before starting CRUST in mid-2019. He is an avid homebrewer and wholeheartedly believes in the ideology of using our resources wisely, hence the birth of CRUST.Travin believes that the answer to the global issue of food waste lies in collaboration with producers, consumers and everyone in between. He narrates the experiences that led him to this conclusion, the lessons learnt along the way and the ideas he has for the future to achieve his dream - reducing global food waste by 1% by 2030.

Tell us your founding story, how CRUST got started?

Back in 2018, I knew I wanted to start a business, but I did not want to just start a company with the sole purpose of earning money. I wanted to build a value-based company that gained profit but was mostly about finding solutions; kind of a reference for how businesses would be done in the future.

I wanted to show people that money is a by-product of doing the right thing in the right way. I’d been home brewing beers for a while and did a lot of research into the origins of beer. I learned that the preservation of bread is one of the oldest forms of making beer. That was my eureka moment.

I also grew up with the mentality to not waste food. Since young, my mom would cook for us and if we didn’t finish the food on the day itself, she would incorporate it into something new the next day. That is the ideology I brought when starting CRUST Group, creating a value-based company: developing value-based products that reduce food waste.

Meeting with Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka

What was your experience with the Startupbootcamp program and how did this help with your plan for the Japan market?

It was a difficult but great experience. Really an eye opener. Made me realize that there was so much I needed to learn. But learning and working alongside companies in Japan, helped us understand the Japan market more and made us more prepared than before.


Some government agencies and top executives of large companies have a gloomy view of the Japanese market, saying that the population is decreasing and economic growth is slowing down. Is Japan really a big market for startups? What opportunities did you find in the Japanese market?

It is still the third largest in the world by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity. So there are still plenty of opportunities in Japan. It took us a year to build strong relationships in Japan but we have gained immense traction in Q3 2021 in Japan and have already secured funding in Japan and are on track to secure plenty of contracts with larger companies too.


What is the problem you have faced and how did you tackle the issue regarding entering the Japanese market and localizing your business in Japan?

Most of the problems we faced were similar to other startups and it's not just about Japan as a market and understanding it, plenty of challenges were focused on startups such as R&D, Supply Chain, Talents etc. We are highly collaborative so we do learn plenty while working with other larger corporations and we have adopted a learn, unlearn, relearn strategy in CRUST Group when faced with challenges.


What is the most important lesson you have learned since you entered the Japanese market?

Japan is a highly cultural market and building long lasting relationships is really important. Some take more time than others but with the right mentality and approach, it is not impossible.


What’s next for CRUST within the Japanese market?

To get CRUST everywhere in Japan and thereafter launch our 2nd brand CROP (non-alcoholic beverage brand).

Many thanks from Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka to Travin for sharing his story, and all the best for the future!

■ About CRUST

Based on our belief in a circular economy, CRUST Group is a food tech startup valorising food waste & loss into unique beverages and products for our food service and retail partners. Our mission is to reduce 1% of global food loss by 2030.

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