This of course is not the Lou Ferrigno green! No Hulking allowed out over here!
Not going to lie, 2015 was probably the toughest year of my life. To be truthful, since we are still here, that means we can survive anything! The thought ending this year is this, “You will keep failing until you are tired of failing”. Not sure where that thought came from, but it’s definitely pushed us to define our strategy for 2016.
2016 is the year of green for us… We want to make it the year of green for you too! When we say 2016 means green, we’re talking about the planet, your pockets, and your diets! We want the year to include organic eating, more practices towards sustainability and reducing food waste, as well as money in your pockets. We’ve always been moving towards this, and we’ve got a BIG Vision, but not until today were we able to articulate it in such a short and awesome greeting as a NYE meme.
We will begin by moving forward on our Stretch Recipes membership opportunity which will reward Organic grocery shoppers for purchasing organics and shopping with our friends, favorites, and partners through cash back and gift cards. We will also release the Stretch App which empowers you to meal plan while saving on Organics and host our two annual events which put you in a space to learn and taste the recipes while being social within your community. This year, we will also unroll and begin to reveal what the company will do for on going revenue and local, sustainable impact throughout the world.
But I have to tell you, it was not easy getting here. In order to move forward and make progress, we have to identify our mistakes and our failures. While 2015 was not all bad, it taught us some very tough and formidable lessons. So we’re going to share these lessons with you so that you have a better understanding of where we are today and how we are able to propel forward.
So here’s the year 2015 in review:
January – Lauren Foster named Top 15 People to watch in 2015 by the Austin Statesman
February – Participated in the UT Food Lab and were told we didn’t win because we didn’t have investor funding
March – SXSW Pitch competition for New Way to Start Up. Placed Top 5.
April – IBM New Way to Startup; launched a gofundme under the advisement of our extremely cash strapped supporters and the need to book consistent revenue for the company.
May – Revealed part of our new format at NewCo (minus the tech)
June – Left the startup scene because a lightbulb went on when we realized there were too few actual capital resources for Seed and Series A in Austin; we lacked the advisor support to get us there; and because we spent over a year listening too much to the wrong advisors, we were not pulling money into the company and found ourselves without the profits, resources and network needed to raise in other markets. This I’m sure was because it was this idea that because you have customers, you can have them pay to build your product and focus on one thing. Makes sense, but if there isn’t Advisors and funding to start you out, you can’t get there. This is a shame because retailers have been waiting on our product for 2 years now and when we started, we wanted to build the product and users to add real tangible conversion value for the retailers.
July – Awarded a Community Investment Award by the State of Texas. Lost IBM’s New Way to Startup because we failed to get SBIR & investor funding because we had selected our advisors wrong and expended too much time pitching competitions, rather than getting the product where it needed to be. Won Audience choice for 33 Entrepreneurs, but lost the competition because we didn’t IBM name drop during the pitch and we were not previously funded. Our business model didn’t seem plausible to the judges although it’s been validated by both Whole Foods & HEB. The good news is, we gained the winner of the contest as a technical partner for the company (we hope to keep him on the team permanently ).
August – Focused on building up the events side of things with pre-planning the Winter Wonderland Festival. Changed the format and business model for the Cooking Experience in an attempt to get more active physical and social participation.
September – Lots of validation at this time: Tested Grocery delivery model based on serving sizes for 60 days. People said they liked the idea, but none of them actually paid for it. Tested meal prep service for 60 days starting at $80/week with open menu option, one thousand interested; none of them paid for it. Tested Snack Box services, hundreds interested in the idea, none purchased. We don’t know if this is an affordability option or the actual market. Will try again in another market in 2017 to see if there are actual conversions.
October – Peach Preserve Bourbon Night. Realized that the monthly events will never work without a private set venue location.
November – Venue double books for our monthly cooking event leading to the official cancellation of monthly events until we can have our own venue. Periscope broadcasts at Caffe Medici teaching coffee consistently for a week.
December – Pushed back back the Winter Wonderland Festival due to primary chef family emergency and vendor failure to comply. 😮
Whoa! Sounds like a really bad year…. BUT IT WASN’T
2015 had been exactly what we needed to experience tremendous growth going forward. It is through all of this that we revamped our Shop Site, turning it into a membership site and got way clearer on what the future will look like for Stretch Recipes.
When faced with so much failure and adversity, we got back to what the simple truths are. We wanted to serve the planet and the people by what we do. We wanted to build our revenues based on our ability to make this happen in a way that reduces costs for our customers will providing value to the consumers so that they can eat better and save more. We wanted to do this from the perspective of someone who has made it to give someone else a hand up. On a personal note, I took such a personal financial blow because I believed things could happen where we could get funded based off of customers wanting the product that I was thrusted into a living position where I couldn’t afford to give $1 to a man on the street or my loved ones. It is because of this happening and everything that led there that made things so much clearer.
Particularly, how we will pivot the company to provide the most impact to the companies and people we seek to empower, rapidly and effectively. We spent a lot of time failing and because of this, we talked to a lot of people, we learned about where their true problems are and how balls get dropped. We learned that while unfortunately, we are not type to dog and pony when the person taking us to the dog and pony show doesn’t care about our personal livelihood or the true success of our company (which we measure in dollars and engagement), we are still ready, able, and capable to win and in 2015, we have paid the ultimate costs to do so!
I’m extremely excited because this new path will make the lives of the market we serve better, while reducing food waste and creating lower costs for our partners and members. If people thought we were disrupting before, they haven’t seen nothing yet!
We will have an official announcement in March as to what we are doing and how companies and individuals can participate and earn more money. If you’re interested in learning more about how to help, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . In the meantime, feel free to join our Stretch Recipes Membership. Our membership has been revamped to simply a social rewards/rebate program. Anyone up for living the Stretch Recipes lifestyle that earns $25k or higher is encouraged to apply! We provide $1-$5 or 1-10% cash back and gift cards on purchases with our partners, friends, & favorites. Members just send their receipts and let us know where they shop, we do the rest!
Outside of Membersips, 2016 is the year that we will:
– Re-launch Stretch on 2/14 at our Alice in Winter Wonderland Festival
– Host our Winter Wonderland Festival at Fair Market 2/14
– Host the ATX Grilling Championship in Austin 6/25
Thanks for reading and remember, 2016 means green! May our planet, diets and debts be clean! 😀