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Friday, Sep 30, 2022
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The Briefing

Like many, Mark Taylor last year looked out over a cyberspace horizon that seemed lined in gold and took the leap. Drawing on the expertise he had developed in more than two decades in the food distribution business, Taylor set up Volumefoods.com in Encino, an Internet company designed for food service buyers and suppliers. By using the Internet, Taylor figured that food service buyers, especially those with smaller needs, could join a pool with others looking for meats, groceries and other food products and take advantage of their combined purchasing power to get better prices. What Taylor didn’t anticipate was the tradition of personal relationships that prevails in the food service industry. As far as buyers were concerned, the bargains couldn’t compensate for the personal attention and direct-to-the-supplier communication the Web site lacked. Now back to focusing on his distribution company, Taylor & Associates, the entrepreneur has learned a thing or two about startups. The CEO shared his insights with Business Journal Senior Reporter Shelly Garcia. “At the time we designed this, there was such euphoria surrounding everything Internet. So we launched the company in October, but we really formed the basis for it a year earlier. Everyone we talked to said, ‘yeah, great idea.’ We had no trouble signing up manufacturers. “The food exchange model doesn’t work. People are not going to a third party to buy their food, so the whole model which Volumefoods was based on has basically been invalidated by the marketplace. “I thought I could broaden the trading base between buyers and sellers, and the reality is that people buy from the people they want to buy from, and it’s not just who has the best price. “Volumefoods is still up and alive, but the company is really looking to import pieces of the technology into other people’s Web sites to enable food companies to do business electronically (as an adjunct to their business). The business may end up being more valuable in its parts than it was in its totality. “I’m in negotiations with two companies. I haven’t closed any deals yet. I think I will but, in the meantime, my life is a combination of running and managing my offline food brokerage company and continuing to see value and maximize the value of what we had created in Volumefoods. “Regardless of whether people are using the exchange, we developed some wonderful tools. I don’t regret having developed this technology because I now have hundreds of new trading partners for my offline business.”

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