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Software Startup Spoiler Alert Tackles Food Waste with Data Transfer Solutions

A BrickFTP Case Study

A Boston-based tech startup was in search of a proven FTP solution to automate the process of transferring client data. Spoiler Alert provides software and services that help clients like Sysco and HelloFresh manage, analyze and mitigate the negative impact of food waste and unsold inventory. Because the company processes data from food service brands on a frequent basis, it needed a reliable, adaptable FTP solution suited for software developers.

BrickFTP outperformed competing providers by offering flexibility, connectivity, highly responsive support, and features including a webhook API that provide real-time alerts and notifications when client files are added. These features have assisted Spoiler Alert in better serving their clients and ultimately support them with managing unsold inventory.

The impact extends beyond the success of their clients’ bottom lines, as this integration and automation of data ingestion has helped the brands Spoiler Alert works with reduce landfill waste, increase food donations and strengthen the positive influence their organizations have on the environment and communities.

BrickFTP offers a very convenient API for notifying us the moment a file is added. So there's very little effort we have to do on this end in order to process those files. Without Brick, everything was largely a manual process. So it's a huge benefit for us.

Jessica Janiuk, Software Engineer, Spoiler Alert

Intro

With a reported $218 billion spent on transporting, processing and disposing food waste, those in in the food industry its supply chain are taking action to combat the impact of uneaten product. However, many of these solutions are one-off initiatives. Spoiler Alert aims to create a holistic food waste management strategy to reduce unused food at the retail, manufacturing, and distribution levels.

A sample diversion breakdown from the Spoiler Alert app.

The startup, born out of MIT in 2015, achieves this by building technology that revolves around tracking unsold inventory management. The ultimate goal is to take practical action to solve the planet’s most impactful energy and environmental issues. The company achieves this by using data, specifically, to reduce food loss and waste.

Because Spoiler Alert handles large amounts of client data on a recurrent basis, they needed a secure, reliable, time efficient, long-term FTP storage solution for clients to upload and transfer this data. Then Spoiler Alert can track, analyze, manage, and report instances of wasted product and drive food recovery for some of the world’s largest food brands.

Challenges

Food industry clients send new FTP files to Spoiler Alert’s team each week. The startup needed to find a seamless solution that would process these files via a webhook that alerts their team when new client files were added to specific folders in a centralized location. Because Spoiler Alert is comprised of employees with highly technical backgrounds and expertise in the areas of software development, they also sought out a customizable FTP storage solution with a full developer-oriented API that would allow for flexibility and acceptance of their preferred controls.

Food service companies Spoiler Alert works with rely on FTP for data transfers for food waste, so they required a solution with a proactive support team who would be open to suggestions from one team of developers to another. They also sought out an FTP storage solution with reliable and capable connectivity and an interface that allows for customization, organization, and convenience to keep their operations running smoothly.

How BrickFTP Helped

At the end of every week, Spoiler Alert receives FTP files from brands that show up in their custom BrickFTP site. Because of the API and webhook integration, their team does not have to worry about interfacing with their FTP client and are alerted automatically when new files are added. After each file arrives in the client’s designated FTP folder, Spoiler Alert’s engineers process them via the webhook alert, reducing the amount of effort on their end to process the files.

The automated flow saves time and manpower, as prior to utilizing BrickFTP, Spoiler Alert’s engineers relied on a largely manual process of processing each client file. One the largest companies Spoiler Alert works with needs to upload files from multiple locations on a regular basis. The company transfers a large amount of data and required a reliable way to ensure the files would be added in a timely manner.

Below are key BrickFTP features that have helped Spoiler Alert better service the food industry:

Webhook API

Spoiler Alert’s team of developers was able to integrate their existing programs with BrickFTP’s webhook API, which alerts their team when an event occurs on any file, group, user, or permission. These notifications are crucial to Spoiler Alert’s operations. Receiving an email alert whenever a file is uploaded reduces back-and-forth communication and streamlines awareness of each action to keep operations running smoothly.

Comprehensive logging

BrickFTP’s ability to record detailed information on any action taken by a user, as related to any uploaded file or folder, takes activity notifications to a higher level for companies like Spoiler Alert who will use BrickFTP as a long-term component of their operations. All actions are logged for seven years.

Scalable file support

The startup has clients who need to upload vast amounts of data on a continued basis. BrickFTP supports 1TB file uploads and 10,000 GB of monthly storage/bandwidth usage for Enterprise plans, so there is no worry about running out of space for clients’ data.

Sharing made simple

BrickFTP allows one-click file sharing, white-label branding, drag-and-drop uploads and unlimited users to make it easy for Spoiler Alert’s clients to share data regarding their food and waste management with their team. Clients can access their designated folders within BrickFTP’s web interface on any modern browser.

Highest security standards

BrickFTP makes the continued security and protection of all customer data a top priority. Brute-force protection means users will be locked out of their account after a specified number of login attempts. Team members can set custom expiration dates for files and set highly specified levels pf access and permission to any user or group. BrickFTP also maintains compliance with GDPR regulations to keep Spoiler Alert’s client data protected.

Results

By utilizing BrickFTP, Spoiler Alert was able to gain value from the service’s webhook API, which sends an HTTP GET request to their specified URL whenever a client file is uploaded, downloaded, edited, renamed, deleted, or copied. This allowed the growing company to receive alerts whenever client files were added to a folder within their BrickFTP site, streamlining its process for gathering data to enable item-level tracking and reporting of food recovery and waste diversion activities.

Since adopting BrickFTP for its file upload and data transfer needs, Spoiler Alert has experienced significant growth and acclaim for its work within the food distribution industry. Its meal-kit delivery client HelloFresh doubled its percentage of donated food that came from unsold inventory and reduced its landfill-bound waste by 65 percent at one facility.

Spoiler Alert will continue to integrate with BrickFTP as long-term solution to assist the startup in expanding its client base and better serving its existing customers in the food manufacturing, distribution, and retail industries.

Published on September 6, 2018