Food flight

Posted by on December 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm.

The founder of the local small business Foodscrooge, Tim Ray was only in his Picton office for half a year before media giant Torstar made its bid and purchased the fledgeling web-based business.

WagJag, a group-buying business owned by Torstar, will absorb Foodscrooge into its interface as WagJag Grocery, with Ray still at the helm. But instead of working out of his office in Picton, Ray will relocate, minus his employee, to an office in Toronto.

Foodscrooge is also a group-buying business, but focuses on bulk grocery items, mostly meat and fish. Customers who sign up for the service are alerted about sales and have a limited time to purchase food at sharply reduced prices because of the large quantity purchased.

The concept follows a similar trend as other group-buying services, like Groupon, but is the only one to focus on food.

Ray’s business made headlines in March when he, along with three other Queen’s University students and alumni, won the Queen’s School of Business Prince Edward-Lennox and Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (QSB PELA CFDC) business plan competition.

The prize for all three winners was a $150,000, interest-free Government of Canada loan each to start a small business. The only requirement is that the start-ups must be located in the County of Prince Edward or Lennox and Addington.

According to Craig Desjardins, executive director of PELA CFDC, the purpose of the competition was to make it attractive for upand- coming business people to invest in the area as a place to start a small business, and to start hiring.

Still, the localization of the tech sector in the GTA, and a lack of essential services, such as broadband Internet in rural areas, makes staying in the County a tough sell, as Ray’s experience makes clear.

“We tried to convince Torstar to move their office to Picton,” quipped Desjardins, “but obviously with no results. That’s the free market. We’re certainly sad to see Tim leave us but that’s the nature of the free market.”

Although Desjardins is disappointed that the County will be losing Ray, he does not think the buyout is negative. Rather, he says that the company’s success, defined by Torstar’s interest in it, will make the program more appealing for future applicants.

Ray agrees with that sentiment.

“I think we brought a lot of publicity to Prince Edward County, and especially this competition that is going to be bringing in a lot of entrepreneurs,” said Ray.

Ray was born in Stirling, raised in Belleville and has family in Foxborough, so he feels connected to this area. He said that personally, he want to stay true to the place that helped him achieve success. “My goal is that I would be [with Torstar] for the next two years, and then work with the PELA CFDC to launch a company based out of Picton again.”

In a news release announcing the acquisition, Ray credits the QSB PELA CFDC competition and the tech centre in Picton for his company’s success.

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