My husband who works with the county received an email in December about Launch1000. He brought it up to me and I held onto it for a week or so and then finally decided to apply. One of the questions on the application was do you have a business or plan to start one in the next six months. I felt a little bit intimidated by that and didn’t fill the application out at first. But a few days later I decided to submit it and see what happened. I got in!
My idea was about providing meal prep meals for people. It started when I became a mom and my kid would wonder into the kitchen at 9 at night and ask me for lasagna out of nowhere. Now I’ve figured out how to make and freeze homemade food that can be heated up and available any time. But until Launch1000, doing this as a business was all in my head. It LOOKED GOOD in my head. But as I started Phase 1, I started putting my idea on paper and talking to other launchers about it. And that was HARD. But the more I brought my idea into the world, the more and more real it became.
At first, since this was an online class, I thought, I’d better get my notebook out to take notes. What else can you do with an online class but take notes? But it turns out this program has gone far beyond that. My notebook has turned into a journal because this course is about practice.
One of the first things that happened was that I met up with my accountability partners and my Tribe of 3 who really have become friends of mine. When I first got into my tribe of 3, I was thinking, “How is this going to work?!” One of my accountability partners does catering, and another is an event planner who pivoted to doing law enforcement technology. What does that have to do with my idea? But our first meeting was at 8 pm on a Friday and it lasted until midnight. It was amazing. It reminded me of a Picasso quote which was, “Why hang out with painters when I already know how to paint?” Now we support each other with everything. We call each other crying when we get overwhelmed. We text each other when we have hard days and to make sure each other are ok. We help each other with the course material but it goes beyond that as well.
As I got into Phase 2, I really had to get out of my head and go out and go talk to people about their food intake. Right off the bat, I realized I needed to figure out who my target market was and where to talk to those people. I thought about where busy people went after work and I went to grocery store prepared food area and started talking to people there. Then I heard that senior citizens in some assisted living facilities didn’t have access to a kitchen. THEN speaking with my cousin, he mentioned his company gave staff a menu that they could order from for lunch for the whole week and I started thinking about THAT too. And now my little vision was becoming bigger than my head.
My assumption was that these people don’t like to shop or they don’t like or know how to cook because they don’t have time. From my curiosity conversations, I realized my competition was these packaged and delivered meal prep services and I realized that’s not what I am. With those services, people DO get the convenience that I offer, but they have to eat whatever they’re given. They’re also locked into someone else’s schedule now because their food is delivered on ice and they have to come home to bring it inside.
So instead of branding myself just as a mealkit service, now it’s a personal chef service or a personal chef mealkit service. Which means people can order what they want and have that delivered to them or I can come to their home and cook for them. It’s like peeling an orange – I didn’t see the individual pieces of the problem until I started peeling back the skin to get the real picture. The more questions I asked the bigger the idea became.
I’m excited about the program – if I get through a phase I’m so excited. I’ve started thinking about partnering my business with other businesses – how to get my business in front of other businesses. It’s been a journey and I’ve learned so much about what I want to do. It’s been beyond my expectations. I’m very grateful to Westchester County for this great opportunity for a lot of us citizens in the county. I don’t know what the price of this would have been if it wasn’t provided by Westchester but it’s been invaluable. I’ve lived in this county since I was in the 3rd grade and this is actually my second experience with a Westchester County program. The first time was a hands-on culinary class that resulting in me earning a certification. Now I get to combine my culinary skills with this new business framework and I’m very excited to continue down this path. Thank you Westchester County.
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