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It all began as a simple concept to improve food equality.
Hi, my name is Courtney Bell, and I’m the president and co-founder of Ungraded Produce. Ungraded was founded by me and a friend the summer of 2015 before our Junior year at Duke University. From the desk of our summer internships in Durham and Detroit, we learned a lot about the extent of food insecurity in these cities and the scarcity of fresh affordable produce. Both cities are home to many food deserts. We were inspired to find a way to make fresh foods more affordable and accessible and saw an opportunity to connect consumers with discounted, high quality ugly produce back in Durham. We quickly realized that this was a great way to fight food waste as well!
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With no prior business experience, we set out to build Ungraded Produce, and launched a trial period on Duke's campus. During the fall semester of our Senior year, we delivered 10 pound bags of ugly produce to 15 subscribers out of the trunk of my car. Our official launch rolled out after we graduated in 2017!
Our passion won the prize!
Ungraded is a hands-on operation, and we’re presented with unique challenges every day to test our strength. With support from our peers and mentors, we turned our once-lofty idea into a reality. Our first notable success came when we won the 2017 Duke Startup Challenge along with the $50,000 top prize! And, we recently secured our first major investment! These funds are playing an instrumental role in our expansion efforts and give us tremendous confidence to keep moving forward with our mission to improve food access and fight food waste.
Small but mighty.
Today, Ungraded Produce is run by solely by me, my (mostly) female team and Troy, our new operations manager. We have grown to over 300 subscribers in the North Carolina Triangle, and look forward to serving more customers every day!
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