HIBT Lab! Goodr: Jasmine Crowe-Houston - Transcripts

November 24, 2022

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Millions of Americans don’t have enough to eat — a startling fact considering 40% of the food produced in the U.S. gets thrown away. And a lot of that food… from restaurants, supermarkets, office buildings and more… is perfectly safe to eat. What’s worse is that this discarded food waste produces harmful methane emissions that contribute to global climate change. Jasmine Crowe-Houston is an entrepreneur who became obsessed with these problems. In 2017, she founded Goodr, which works with businesses to take unused food and deliver it to those who need it. Instead of paying waste management companies to throw surplus food into landfills, businesses can work with Goodr to deliver that food to local nonprofits that get it to people in need. This week on How I Built This Lab, Jasmine talks with Guy about solving the logistical challenge of delivering surplus food to people experiencing food insecurity. Plus, the two discuss Jasmine’s decision to launch Goodr as a for-profit organization, and the growing corporate focus on sustainability that’s led to Goodr’s rapid growth. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

Transcript

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L. A. V. I. Y. O. dot com hello and welcome to how I built this lab I'm guy rising thirty four million Americans don't have enough to eat and several million of them are children and it doesn't actually make sense when you think about it because there is more than enough food to provide for everyone every day in fact forty percent forty percent of all the food produced in the United States gets thrown away and a lot of that food is perfectly fine but every day millions of tons of food are thrown out by restaurants supermarkets warehouses catering companies hotels and corporations and many state and local laws make it really difficult to re distribute that food to people in need and to make matters worse all that food ends up rotting away in landfills and then produce massive amounts of methane emissions jasmine Crowe Houston is an entrepreneur who became obsessed with these very problems in twenty seventeen she founded a company called good which works with businesses to take unused food and deliver it to those who need help before jasmine launched she was running an agency that helps black celebrities set up charitable organizations on the side she set up pop up restaurants and parking lots to serve free food to homeless people in Atlanta where she lives that experience with his eventually leads jasmine to start you started an organization called black celebrity giving this is back I think it two thousand eleven around the time that you sure and BA tell me tell me about that what was the idea behind it

yeah I have been a full time entrepreneur which is crazy to think about guy for over a decade of my life and I originally had this almost a consultancy where I was helping celebrities really defined they're giving blueprint how they were going to use their star power for good and I have built hundreds of nonprofits and I would create all their programming help them do their board training finding their board members creating all of their program descriptions and fund raising in one of the things that started to become a really repeat cycle for me I realized I was really busy around thanksgiving Christmas and back to school but other than that the rest of the year I was pretty much twiddling my thumbs

and you were you were busy during those times yes because that's when charitable giving kind of ramps up around those times of year

that's when people tend to care

yeah kids going back to school let's let's get school supplies it's Christmas time what's good gifts to kids the stuff like that exactly yeah

in one of the days I said to one of my clients Mrs around thanksgiving one year and I'll never forget I said Hey you know the people that are standing in line for a Turkey in November are also hungry in October

yeah

that this was not just a you're only hungry you know two or three times a year you can find yourself experiencing hunger anytime

during the year

and I think that my my celebrity clients were just really focused on playing football basketball you know being hit pop stars R&B legends and it didn't really stick to them and one day I was driving through downtown Atlanta I drove through an area that was really highly populated with homeless populations and I thought you know what I need to start doing something and so I went home and I posted on Facebook I'm starting this initiative called Sunday soul every Sunday I'm going to be feeding people I you know come out and join me

so all right so you you're driving history to Atlanta and you know like you see I'm in the bay area you saw a house people living in tents and people mail without regular food you posted on Facebook that you want us to feed people and what what was the idea that you would just cook a bunch of food and bring it to a location in and that was what you do

yeah the idea was that it would be like a good Sunday dinner like if you go to you know Churchill you're just relaxing you know we whatever it is that you do on a Sunday but you typically have that good Sunday mail that was my idea that I wanted to give people experiencing homelessness dignity and a really good meal and so it was a mixture of like a good soulful dinner and you know old school music so like the temptations the Jackson five you know read the Franklin that was the end next year and I would rate tables and chairs and linens and print out these menus it used to just be so funny but I was letting people feel like they were at a restaurant even though we were in a in abandoned parking lot or behind the building

and so you would you basically have friends and I want to be involved bring food and you search for like fifty hundred people at a time

I was serving anywhere from three fifty to five hundred people at a time sellers with building yeah I would start doing the shopping on Wednesday and start doing the cooking on Friday for an event that was on Sunday so it's a pretty big undertaking

and you would do like pasta spaghetti and just just things that you can make in large quantities

yeah for sure I got really good at making chicken and making process because of course before that the food inflation those are more affordable I'm but it would be multiple things because that was that was the thing I wanted to give people an opportunity to just have dignity and choice

yeah

and so we weren't just giving them Hey here's it's peanut butter jelly sandwich you're hungry just take it so they got a chance to order an appetizer salad and entree to side items and then they would get a choice of a desert as well so it's like a real restaurant

and you just set this up in a parking lot in Atlanta and asking people to donate because it probably was a lot of money to do that

yeah it certainly was a lot of money and I got smart you know I would start to if I was gonna do fried chicken I would order the fried chicken from like a grocery store I mean pick that up and you know ask different groups to pitch in like five ten dollars I also put a lot of my own money into it as well

all right so you you basically decide on your own to basically feed people on the weekends and and a lot of times you'll see church groups do this or nonprofit groups to this and you were just on your own just thought you know there are not enough people feeding people are hungry you felt like you needed to do something

one hundred percent I felt like there were people that were feeding people there is a lot of initiatives but I felt like people were not getting the dignity and choice state people like you and I have well we're hungry it was just like Hey take this food you're hungry have it and I wanted to do better I want it to essentially you know do gooder I want to

just step back for a second ask you in general about the problem of hunger in the U. S. could you give it to talk about this and everyone listens to go see it it's so good but I was and I guess I shouldn't be amazed because I've been in this profession my profession for more than twenty five years but forty percent of the food consumed in the U. S. is thrown away every year that's what I read is that true

it's true and in that equates to about eighty billion pounds of food he says

billion pounds of food is thrown away just thrown out

so if you can imagine a billion right that sounds like a lack in the U. P. eighty billion I mean this is a lot of food I mean

that what what is it it's it's not the food that we throw away from our plates it's like things that the grocery stores and Costco and Kroger throws away it's it's Matt right is that we're talking about

you know it's from the farm to the fork way since taking place said there's farmers that are having to plough things under him when we saw huge instances of this during the pandemic you saw those stories in Idaho potato farmers that you know how to waste millions of pounds of potatoes because people stopped ordering so you see that you you see the food that's not perfect when it gets to the store I can't tell you how many truckers I'll give us calls all the time because if they're late say they're sitting on in traffic on because there's a bad accident on the highway and they get to that grocery store that distribution center late they can have the whole truck refused and so now you have eighteen wheelers of probably twenty pallets worth the food items that now these truckers are like having to figure out how they're going to get rid of it because I've got to go and get another load of food gets there is the events that we go to right how many times have you been to a wedding are conferencing you know you're sitting in the house all religion or yelling at the cruise ships I mean I was at a conference maybe about two weeks ago and you could see that they had planned for let's say a thousand people I mean there are hundreds of tables and every table was already pre set with a salad and bread on the table and I looked around and there must have been at least twenty tables that were completely empty

well yes I mean we've all experienced at an end so we're talking about it's it's totally insane I mean we we produce so much food in this country and waste so much food in this country and so so this is a fact and I don't even know what what percentage of methane and carbon emissions come from landfills in the U. S. must be very significant

exactly project drawdown last year said that food waste was the number one thing that we can do to combat global climate change and just to give you some aspects food is the single largest source of everything that's in a landfill

and just by being there rotting away it really submissions

exactly it releases harmful methane gas emissions and and beyond that I mean when you think of where landfills are and you think about poverty and you think about health outcomes associated terminates a health it's really bad

yeah

on every level

the second thing I want to kind of ask you about is how old people are fed right so there are I I'm I'm in the bay area here has obviously a huge snow crisis you know without house people and it's shocking when you see it you're in Atlanta there's also challenges in cities like Atlanta New York Chicago etcetera most people who are who cannot afford food who who need to be fed how did they get it where where do they get it from

yeah there's a lot of different resources there's certainly churches and synagogues and you know there are feeding and having different programs on on a daily and weekly basis there are soup kitchens that still exist a lot of times if they are experiencing homelessness they are sometimes in and a homeless resource program so whether they're staying at a shelter they're going to the shelter for certain times it could be like it's too cold outside orders storms and they know that there are places to go where they can actually get food and then there's people like me who are bringing food directly to people that are living on the streets on a daily basis

all right so why you while you were doing Sunday soul what did you start to see that you realize a problem I mean where the gaps in in what these other groups and organizations and agencies were doing that that you saw the I mean did you see it in a opportunity innovate in a new way

yes there are there are a lot of things that I saw one thing I started to see a lot of families that would be there on a daily basis every time I was feeding they repair and and one time I talked to the family and on and on never forget they were a family of mom nine you know so husband wife seven kids and I remember I would say like you guys are here every week because I watch them you know get out of homelessness get into a house you know start trying to rebuild and one day the dad said you know we have to sell our food stamps every now and then just so we could pay our rent and I mean that really that's stuck to me and and he wanted to know when we were going to be there so that they can come and get food because it was a consistent good amount of food and he knew his family was going to get a good meal so I saw that I saw that people were really desperate for food I'm so even if they have food stamps are all the things that we think make people have access to food there still a lot of struggle in that people when they have to make a choice am I going to pay for my ram I'm gonna pay for my car payment I'm gonna pay for medicine or am I going to pay for food food is often the first to go but the biggest thing that happened with these guys I woke up one morning in February of two thousand and sixteen so by this time I've been feeding on the streets for almost four years in a video of one of my restaurants went viral I had a fifteen second video on Instagram there was nothing but just little pictures and they captioned a look with this group did for the homeless in Atlanta

well

and people started tagging me in the video and I woke up and I was like all these free requesting one of their reoccurring questions that people kept on asking me was who donated the food I started to think like I don't get enough for this food donated and I go to Google like so many people do and I I literally Google what happens to extra food at the end of the night from restaurants and I will say I fell into the deepest rabbit hole I I remember it like it was yesterday being up until almost four o'clock in the morning reading a Harvard Business School their food law policy had done like an eighty three page report on food waste and are reading through this and I am blown away with how much food goes to waste in this country thinking about the millions that are hungry in realizing wait we waste all the food that could feed all the hungry eight eight it just was like aha moment like Hey I've got to connect these two

we're gonna take a quick break when we come back more from jasmine Crowe Houston the founder of a gooder you're listening to how I built this lab and guy rise stay with us one thing I love about hi bill this is that I get to hear incredible stories of people who were inspired to step up and grow a successful company and it's also why I love Shopify because it is an all in one commerce platform that makes it super simple for anyone anyone to start run and grow their own business Shopify makes it easy to sell to anyone from anywhere when your ready to launch your thing into the spotlight do is Shopify ecommerce platform backing millions of businesses on the street and around the globe and thanks to twenty four seven support and free libraries full of educational content Shopify's got you every step of the way go on try Shopify for free and start your online store today sign up for a free trial at Shopify dot com slash built all lower case go to Shopify dot com slash build to start selling online today Shopify dot com slash build you've got back to back meetings errands to run and chores to take care of what's the secret to clearing your to do list a little help from door dash you can get dinner household essentials and everything on your grocery list delivered along with the restaurants you love you can now get groceries and other essential items delivered with gord ash get drinks snacks and other household items in under an hour for a limited time our listeners can get fifty percent off up to a twenty dollar value and zero dollar delivery fees when you download the doordash Appan enter code one three that's fifty percent off up to a twenty dollar value and zero delivery fees when you download the door dash app in the app store and enter code one three don't forget that's code wonder you for fifty percent off up to a twenty dollar value and zero dollar delivery fees with doordash subject to change terms apply welcome back I'm guy rise you're listening to how I built this lab and my guest is jasmine Crowe Houston the CEO and founder of bitter and thank you basically go down this rabbit hole you discover what we've just been talking about that all food is wasted because most people don't know that they don't know that forty percent of our food is just inside the doorway right

I didn't know it yeah yeah I didn't know it

and so you start to read this and clearly the gear start turning your head you're thinking maybe this isn't a food problem yeah

I think that's exactly what it is in the in the other thing that started to happen too it was around the emergence of the food delivery and you know I'm like wow all this technology is being created to get food faster people like you and I but who's going to build something for the have nots the millions of people that don't know where their next meal is coming from who's building for that and we have all this food going to waste all these people that are going hungry why are we not trying to build something that will connect those two together in in the in terms soft tool really big problems and we were talking about all this food going to waste all these people going hungry and we're not we're not stopping and that's really what I thought I could do

so basically

you

land on this notion this concept that that is really a logistics problem feeding people in the United States should not be it should not be a struggle there's more than enough food for everybody in the world and essentially most of time a lot of food that sort of way is still perfectly safe perfectly good to eat right

more than you would believe fresher

I mean for example their rules right that govern like shelf life of food right sell by dates etcetera I mean it on any given day you can probably go behind a supermarket and and see what they're throwing away and much of that food is perfectly safe and consumable right

under your present still till this day I probably get no less than three to four either emails tags on social media pose of people everyday people going to a grocery store scene this perfectly good food that gets thrown out I remember one time a lady in and it's it's funny because she she said she actually got in trouble for it but at a Walmart in Atlanta the power went out in I mean win out for less than twenty minutes right and because of that they were throwing away everything in their freezers and everything in their coolers and so she calls us and she was like Hey I don't know if you guys can get here but we're about to draw this food away so we get up there we bring like I think we have like a U. haul truck one of our vans in I was blue I mean that everything is in the freezer so all this food yes all of it just going away so I'm like oh my god why does this happen every single day what's funny guys if we go to if we go to Walmart we got a grocery store and we purchase groceries what if we stop someplace else chances are we don't even make it home in twenty to thirty minutes or

get all right

we put this food in our refrigerator freezer and it's perfectly fine but because of this fear of litigation this fear I'm gonna get in trouble if you know this food is a perfectly great it does go to waste and I remember the day that we did that and we took that food two different senior homes and this had to be thousands of dollars thousands I mean maybe twenty thirty thousand dollars worth of food that we were able to give to these seniors that would've gone to waste and it was it was perfectly good food

all right so two thousand seventeen you decide to found good and the idea is let me build up a logistics company that essentially can find and deliver food to people who need it first of all I think a lot of people be surprised to hear that it's a for profits not a non profits not a charity so why did you decide to go to go that route rather than than a nonprofit or charity organization

yeah yeah you know you know what this about me right guy I knew all about nonprofits there is yeah that was the thing that I knew I mean I have been building nonprofits for however long so that's that I knew the reason why I decided to go for profit right as soon as I realized that it was definitely this logistics problem was that businesses are already paying to throw the food away like that's when I realized that was kind of like the way

they were paying people to haul enough

they're paying people this perfectly good food they're paying companies to come and get it and throw it in landfill which oh by the way is terrible for our environment a leading contributor to global climate change you know a huge problem in itself insight by weight I'm gonna come in offering these businesses a sustainable way to deal with their waste and it's going to help their community is going to save them money both via tax deductions that they're going to get for donating the food that's edible but also by paying for excess waste pick ups that they don't technically need and they're going to help their community they're going to it's going to be good on the environment they're gonna help feed people and that that was a business and in for the first year of the business every company I spoke to was like oh we can't work with you because you're not a nonprofit let's look at what and then it started to make real business sense because they were already paying waste companies to throw the food away

yeah and and also I mean if you were a nonprofit you would be spending ninety five percent of your time fundraising raising money from anyone anywhere

off all the time like I was I would say ninety nine percent of my time fundraising and just never knowing you know when the next nation was gonna come when the next grant was going to come it's not profits are hard business

yeah all right so you decide to run as a for profit N. and the idea was that that essentially companies restaurants grocery stores catering companies are already paying people to haul away their food waste and most of it what we call food waste is actually food that hasn't been eaten consume still packaged in many cases

many cases

and so so your your idea was well why don't we just essentially be the waste management provider why don't we deal with that

exactly that's exactly what I thought it was interesting because I I didn't want to use the term waste because your point this is an all wasted food a lot of this surplus so we started offering a service when I called surplus food recovery your excess food in what I told the client that we were doing as we were stopping their surplus food supply chain problem because right now they were just throwing it all in the in landfill and what we could do is help that edible food get to people in need but the food that was not edible there were other uses of that they're putting in a landfill we can recycle it we could turn it into animal feed there were other use cases for it that it didn't have to go to waste and so that's what really helped us kind of think that we were sustainable waste diversion company the alternately we handle the logistics of getting food to people in need

one of the things that you decide to do is from the get go is that you're gonna be a technology company that actually because this is a logistics challenge you have to build a robust technology platform to deal with logistics like if anyone like nose in the U. P. S.

they don't

think of themselves as a package delivery company they give themselves a logistics company right like the logistics like if you like I think a one point you PS had drivers make fewer left turns and it just like save them now the millions of dollars a year just by that one little hack you are logistics company happens to be delivering food people need but you would build a platform for so how did you start what did you even how did you even begin to do that

well I started hanging out around Georgia tech

yeah

and I entered into a hackathon is a team of one he literally started drawing out the wire frames of this is what I think that first screen is gonna look like these are going to be the users I would take advantage of everything guy you know any office hours when you know companies aren't big data agencies are like on the beach for my I'm in between a big project and they're offering office hours I would go I'm I would get my friends to kind of come and be my team because I I'm a solo founder back come help me take notes in in the in goal with this and I'm I ultimately started entering pitch competitions and lose that prize money to get the first version of the platform to market so that's really how it happened and I ultimately ended up meeting someone at a coworking space there was an actual engineer who's like Hey I'll help you build this on the side and we use that outsource dab agency plus him that was kind of like my product manager but also still at an engineer himself to get that first version built and that is what I started out using to sell to customers but prior to that it literally was a clickable prototypes that I got built at that hackathon near Georgia tech's campus that I use for almost a year to talk to clients about what this was going to do and I was just really honest with customers and saying like Hey you would be my first customer in this market are you would be my first corporate cafeteria my first airport in getting them kind of excited about this idea of like we can't end hunger together

so the idea was that they would have a customer would have this app and they could like enter what they have available into the into the app and then could go and then a delivery truck or pickup truck would come and take it

yeah I mean I almost look at it on this is like a reverse like uber eats or Instacart where we went inventory everything is that the business sells all their food and food items we make it really easy now in our technology's gotten so much more intuitive or they can upload their full menu in a matter of seconds and now they click on the items I have a hundred chicken sandwiches you know two hundred chicken pizzas and then they would push request pick up and what our platform would do is calculate two things the estimated weight value of all those items as well as the tax value of all of those items at time of donation and then once they requested a pick up we deploy a driver depending on how much food they're picking up it could be a vehicle or it could be a truck a cargo van it really just depends how much food were recovering we get that food picked up and we deliver it really close so that's kind of our our our big secret sauce right we're not going to go from San Francisco to Palo alto all this time passing you know hundreds of nonprofits in that in that distance so we keep the food really close we get it delivered to the nonprofit they sign for like they would a UPS package the driver takes a picture of the donation that signature now generates for our clients I donation letter our record of everything that was donated and then a sustainability dashboard that converts how many pounds of food they kept battling and Phil to what that means for CO two emissions that they've helped to prevent as well so that's pretty much the day into Ian how that part portion of the business works

let me understand the business model so essentially you go to a client right and you say you're paying somebody to take away this food surplus food anyway why don't you pay us and then we'll take it and we will distributed to nonprofits who will then make sure the people who need the food are fed

exactly yeah we charge like almost like a waste company so a waste company waste management Republic services whichever they are charging based on volume how often they're coming out sometimes how many bins they're picking up and so that is really the way that we look at it as well but our prices based on which vehicle because that album a car is definitely cheaper than sending out a tractor trailer so we have customers that pay for a number of pick ups per month from greater said they're either paying for eight pickups twelve pick ups twenty or thirty pickups on a monthly basis they can use whenever they have access to it

and I guess the difference between you and the about waste management services that they were they're just gonna pick it up and dump it you guys are gonna pick it up given to nonprofits and then hand them a slip with their donation credit so they can actually exactly right not slick it's almost a rebate like they they might pay you X. the hundred dollars a month but they might get a twenty five dollar rebate from the donation a tax credit

it's even bigger than that we typically see a four K. ten X. R. Y. so they're paying us a thousand dollars a month they're typically donating four thousand dollars worth of food

well

on a monthly basis so that in in you know honestly guy that was what I buy most companies would want to do it for like Hey you want to feed people you want it you get the tax deductions well honestly the tides have changed and now everyone is concerned about yes she's insisting ability and every company and an American now has a sustainability department I could tell you five years ago that wasn't the case I met with the really big company that just became a client of the gunners and they they were one of those ones are like all we can never work with you because you're not a nonprofit and I'll tell you this year they sent a message to our general sales inbox right when I was the CEO gravel their foot four years ago yeah Hey like you guys have all these employees you have a hundred thousand employees you've got all these cafeterias like let us get the food in and get a donated and they literally wrote to us and it said we are trying to get a handle on our food waste problem I'd love to talk to somebody about getting this set up that is what's happening now when I was talking about this for five years ago no one was talking about sustainability now was this this idea of climate change and it seems real we also didn't have a pandemic where we witnessed millions of people experiencing hunger they had never been hungry before and so the mindset has changed in this matter this matters to people people care about not wasting food making sure that their neighbors have access to food

we're gonna take another short break but in just a moment we'll have more from gooder CEO and founder jasmine Crowe Houston I'm helping businesses waste less food people stay with us I'm guy rise and listening to how I built this lab everybody has something they look forward to in the fall then if you're in health care they're something extra exciting on the horizon brand new fall colors and styles from Biggs if you haven't heard makes makes the company a scrubs around their engineered with innovative technical comfort technology to be ridiculously soft and incredibly durable so you're always ready to take on the day in style pick up a set in one of their new fall colors for a look that's one hundred percent awesome all season long fakes believes the awesome humans and health care deserve awesome scrubs to match had to wear **** dot com and use code one Jerry to get fifteen percent off your first order that's W. E. a R. F. fight CS dot com promo code one three the best what's it called welcome back to hardball the slab I'm guy rise and my guest is jasmine Crowe Houston founder and CEO of Qatar you really created a logistics company a technology company in addition to being a service provider right because you have clients I mean they're people who need you know they're nonprofit so your sense your clients they need this food I mean I just try to get my head around all the challenges you have to face I mean you had to build a network of trucks and vans presumably to pick this food up in addition to building the tech stack tell me a little bit about I don't know about that about the transportation side of this

yeah it was that was the craziest thing that we we ever built because it was it was almost a market place right guy because on one side where we have all this food we've got to match it with all these nonprofits and now we've got to handle the logistics of drivers right to match up with with the food and the nonprofits and so when I first started I was you know spending all my time in light we were driver lift driver Facebook groups and I was trying to recruit all these who were left drivers and and then I thought I needed yes partner with somebody's logistics companies that are already out there like you're bracing your lasting your door dashes in your roadies and have them you know get that pick up request and they go and pick up the food and I pay them and so that was like a a smart thing that I finally was able to make happen in two thousand and nineteen but at first you know the first year and a half we were only operating in Atlanta we were using kind of owner operators people who have their own vehicles they could go and pick up the food and we were paying them per pick up

so basically you guys are subcontracting to these to these other companies and that's how you're able to scale it up

exactly and that's how we can turn on any city in a matter of days you know we really spent a lot of time in building out thousands of nonprofit center network they can receive this food at any given moment I'm in being really smart like we have hundreds of churches and yeah thousands of shelters but we also have senior homes

so we

I spent a lot of time building that network and really building community and letting people know that we care about them and that was what really was the differentiating factor between us and a waste company

yeah

we really focus on being like part of the community

how do you deal with I mean obviously we talked about how so much of this was perfectly good food the quality is still good it's just you know might be passive I I drink milk condemning pass expression is all the time it's perfectly safe we all do it but how do you make sure that once you get it Bennett's handed off to the nonprofits that it's still going to it because eventually it's it's gonna go bad so how do you manage the safety of the food

yeah you know the safety matters every it matters by county that's a one of the things that we learned early on who spent a lot of time understanding how long food lives in Broward county versus Dade County in Florida versus you know Cobb county in Fulton County and in Georgia because every health department is different so we moved the food really fast we also require that all of our nonprofit partners have a pretty solid agreement in place with us they have to be able to store the food so having access to freezers or refrigerators and we also have a whole nonprofits team that works closely with our nonprofits make sure that they are able to receive the food if they have any issues they let us now and likely him five years we've only ever had one nonprofit they said Hey we got some food that just doesn't look good and we were able to get that food picked up and we were able to compost it I thought about these things really early before I had any customers I was building this nonprofit network I was doing the R&D on how long the food lives and then we're really intentional with how we communicate that message to our clients

so as you grow right and I know you've got other I mean there are the store like good or branded stores that churches right where people can just go in and there's what looks like a regular convenience store and it's a you can go as

three

three but in terms of building a a company that's not really sustainable but but profitable too do you have to rely alternately on other revenue sources or can you can you make it happen purely with the fees that you get from from picking up the the surplus foods

yeah we can one hundred percent make it happen on our surplus food on our waste stream business I think when we started building these these go to grocery stores in our pop up markets a ladder that was during the pandemic because as you can imagine that all of our customers you know enterprise corporate cafeterias college campuses stadiums and arenas they were closed in so it was like how are we going to stay in business and the main thing that we were focusing on is like how do we make sure that people have access to food and so we started being really creative and bringing on some strategic partners like the NBA like you know State Farm you know different football players basketball players that that wanted to work with us to address food insecurity in this different round how many any did prove to be a good source of revenue for us for a couple of years but we really started to to really hone in on on how we started last year which was on the surplus food and how do we get this food at a landfill and as businesses started to go back and it's still you know I've been down everyone's not back in the office there still a lot of excess food that were capturing just because the capacity of the offices in at one hundred percent so we're seeing a lot of that as well but yeah we we really believe that we're going to scale nationwide and soon internationally strictly with this model because it's working that multiples are great it's the churn is so low because who wants to say like Hey I don't care about feeding people anymore let's let's keep putting our food and landfill it's a once customers get started with us they really love it

are you when you started this idea out originally it came from this these meals that you're making for people for forty years and you were really connected to to to house people and people who really were food insecure now of course should give scale this up do you have any I mean you knew you had so much person to person interaction with people directly affected impacted by what you do do you still have that do you still get that

you know not not to the level and I used to be feeding people on the streets is definitely different hi you know because that was it was just so personal like when you cook a meal and serve it to someone and see them enjoy it and you know tell you like this is amazing you should run for president one day like that level of enjoyment you know I do miss that we I do spend a lot of time still chatting with our non profits and you know going to visit them and you know making sure that they are good so I I get that part of it but that the people you know like being able to go to an actual person I is not the same as well as it was when I was feeding on the streets but I think I expected that as I grew I think our our impact is so much greater you know when I was feeding three to five hundred people every other week when I was feeding on the streets now I can be you know providing three to five hundred meals with every delivery in doing you know thousands of deliveries on at on a monthly and daily basis

yeah tell me about about the plans going forward I mean you've got obviously this you know you you are and how many cities now are you in

what about thirty four cities right now

well well thirty four cities and presumably plans to grow even more in twenty twenty three

shoots plans to grow twenty twenty three I mean Alex I think I always tell the team like eight thirty four cities is great thirty four states is better with multiple cities in every single one of those states so I think we're really trying to expand I'll be honest with you that there still some some legislation that prevents us from going to certain cities so we're waiting for things like that to get better but on the positive side there states like California New York and New Jersey they are introducing legislation that makes it illegal for businesses to throw away their food they have to recycle it or donate it so that's that the hope that we're going to start you know expanding their

plus we

I've got some really big partnerships you'll see a lot of that like the expansion with our current customers I'm C. dax magic we have a great partnership in place with magic Johnson's and joint venture with said excel is a rolling out across all their locations I think it's really about expansion now which is really why we raise some money to hire more team and to be able to grow our footprint

we went into this and and and and it was inspired by this idea that food security shouldn't should not exist it should not be an issue in the United States because there's more than enough food to feed people but of course like with any problem it's impossible to solve it a hundred percent but how much closer do you think we can get to MetService eliminating food insecurity if all of the excess food that is wasted is is redistributed

I think we can get really close my goal is always been to reduce food waste by fifteen percent of this country which will provide about twenty five million people with food which is that that's crazy right we're saying fifteen one five not fifty if I can reduce food waste by fifteen percent that would be enough food to feed about twenty five million Americans so that's that's that's our goal people always say like well you end hunger I don't know if I will in my lifetime this is something that affects one in nine people on the planet so it's a huge undertaking but I want to be able to say because of good nobody in Atlanta no one in San Francisco no one in New York is hungry because we've created access to food at no cost to millions of people and that I mean that is the real thing I think a lot of times it's hard for people that you know have access to order whatever they want anytime they want as as a relates to food to comprehend that there are so many people they don't know where their next meal is coming from and they and they live with these critical choices every single day what we're really trying to check to make a dent in the

end really it sounds like you're convinced this only could have worked as a for profit

I believe it would only work as a full as a for profit

because the efficiencies are just built and it forces you when you know that that there is moneyline is employees in line you've got to make it work you have got to make it work there's no fall back there's no funders there's no donors there's no philanthropic direction that requires you to do something in a specific way

a hundred percent I mean and I think remembering that that's where I started from makes a lot of sense to people you know because people are always like why didn't you become a nonprofit and I've heard people that Reich all if you were a nonprofit you'd be getting you know billions of dollars in donations and and sometimes I look at the I guy I remember I'm looking at like that the donation report from a local food bank and one of the cities that we are in any one year they have like a hundred million dollars in donations you know and and I was like wow like that's kind of crazy how much how much money they get in in here we are you know trying to do so much with a lot less but it's it's a new model I mean we really are distracting to industries one this seems really philanthropic the way that this is always been solved is really you know charity where we're donating money to the food bank are our company is going to go and hold up a big check and pack some boxes and and that's what we do and they were also disrupting the waste industry which was Hey we're going to send out a truck three times a week we're going to fill up your dumpsters at whatever you put in I'm we're gonna go put in a landfill and so they think that here we are this company that saying there's a better way to do both of these things it's we're a disruptor and I and I'm proud of that yeah

for sure and I imagine you probably had your fair share of of people who are not so kind to you for that reason

yeah I mean it's it's funny because you talked about my Ted talk it when that first came out I mean it was just like that I wasn't even expecting the act I would say they hate rare like the negative responses that came from it but it happened because I'm sharing my my opinion which is what that talks are all about like thought provoking conversation starters but people in a degree and yeah I've had a lot of that like you know if she should you know stick to feeding people on the streets and I'm not gonna allow technology to solve hunger I mean it's it's really interesting some of the comments that I've seen but I've always said like why would we not want to use technology to do something like reduce food waste and solve hunger we can't just only use technology to meet our future husband and wife and and they have social network this is a real opportunity to use technology to do something good and that's what I'm doing

that's awesome of course there's going to be pushed back in again the people who are gonna say oh they should never be a for profit business but I think that the tier point those approaches have been good there's certainly amazing nonprofit and philanthropic churches and and non preferences do great work but it hasn't it I mean if the problem has been solved we have to try everything good try other things

I love that you said that because that's exactly what I think everything is working now whether it's food pantries food banks as I said in my Ted talk they serve and the mince purposes and they're needing you know even with all of those things in existence though guy the fact still remains that people are going to bed hungry tonight so we're not doing enough and and that's what we're trying to do here is to learn more a used technology to do good

jasmine thank you so much

thank you I really appreciate it

thanks so much for listening to how I built this lab you can follow how I built this on apple podcasts Amazon music or wherever you're listening right now the next episodes available right now or you can be in all of our episodes at free by subscribing to wondering plus apple podcasts more the wondering if you wanna follow us on social work at how I built this on Twitter and Instagram and I'm AT tie rods on Twitter at doc Ross on Instagram

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the music was composed by routine our audio engineer with Neil route

action team and how I built this includes Alex Chung KC Harmon Carla

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