“In each city we (NewCo) invite a select number of NewCos to open their doors and share their unique story. NewCos are on a mission to create all types of positive change in the world. While many are technology companies, many more are innovating in fields as diverse as retail, healthcare, transportation, media, and energy. NewCos believe that work can be rewarding beyond a paycheck or profit – work can be a purposeful expression of both individual creativity as well as common purpose.” – NewCo
In just 1 week, “80 innovative companies in Austin will open their doors and welcome the world inside,” writes John Battelle, NewCo’s Founder and CEO, Investor & Author begins as he selects his top picks for NewCo.
My company, Stretch Recipes was highlighted as his pick in his blog post about NewCo ATX !!
A little over a year ago, I would have never pictured where I am standing today. It has been an amazing, blessed, hard, and surprising year. Starting a company is extremely hard and having the tenacity to go at it again day after day with the same passion baffles even me!
Of course I would be selfish in this blog post and encourage you to come to NewCo and attend my session. We’re presenting Sushi Zushi!
I started my company with this burning desire to bring people hope in the form of an mobile consumer app called Stretch that could change the world by providing nutrition, financial literacy, reduction in food waste, social & gaming engagement while providing a boost to the economy. I could do this simply by combining the convenience of digital couponing with meal planning. It is no easy task, it has taken time, it will take time for it to be it’s full platform. In the meantime, I run fast and hard to get to market because I have met with the people waiting on my product.
From affluent stay at home moms to a young man that recently lost his job and is on food stamps for the first time – this is what drives me. It is the understanding that people want and deserve the best for themselves and their families; that some of them are crippled by mental blocks from generational cycles of misfortune; that some people simply spend so much time working that they are too tired at the end of the day to figure it all out. It is the understanding that hospitals are slow to change and for years have been coldly handing recently diagnosed people pieces of paper and no additional support to actually help them implement and stick to new diet changes. It is the understanding that I don’t like my coupons after I buy and I always forget them! It is the understanding that my “Why” is so powerful and it is easy for me to chase down this solution and see it’s value, because I have lived it.
I grew up on the Southside of Chicago with my grandmother who was diabetic, had heart disease and cancer. I left home at 17 and walked into a grocery store for the first time and had no clue what to do. What were these dirty looking veggies? They don’t normally look like that on my plate. I went on to be the first person in my family to graduate from college, to earn a MBA, and make 6 figures. About a decade later, my youngest brother went to the grocery store for the first time and blew his entire budget in one trip on Cheetos, Chips, and Ground Beef. While yelling at him and asking him, “What the heck was he thinking?” He replied, “I don’t know.” And it hit me like a ton of bricks, because he wasn’t saying this to get out of answering, he was saying it because it was true. I thought to my childhood where I spent every day obtaining sustenance in a triangle of fast food. Going to the local corner store to by my grandmother white powdered donuts and a pepsi for breakfast. Yes, my sick grandmother. Was this just our family? No. Some families may be more affluent or less, but we eat what we have been raised to and what is accessible to us. We generally change our diets when we are forced to and sometimes that becomes hard.
Even in households where one family member is sick, rarely does the entire family change their diet. This is akin to a family drinking formaldehyde every night for dinner. One day, Grandma comes home with a doctors note saying she can no longer drink formaldehyde so the family begins giving her water. However, everyone else continues drinking formaldehyde because they still can. They don’t have a doctors note yet. In my opinion, some Saavy Mom Bloggers and Healthy Eating Guru’s build their practice around their own lifestyle and spend a lot of time shaming and condemning this behavior. They pass judgement and spout out what works for them, rarely realizing that food is a personal experience and there are people who struggle to afford blenders and some work too many hours to add a Nutrition degree to their credentials. In the back of their minds, these same judges see a woman in the supermarket with a shopping cart full of processed foods and say, “What is wrong with that woman, why is she feeding her family that?”
These judges don’t take the time to examine the root. That one of many possibilities are shaping their decision making –
– this woman is working crazy hours and doesn’t know the next time she’ll be able to make it to the store
– this woman buys groceries every 1st of the month and runs out by the last week so she and her family are famished when the 1st rolls around again
– this woman only knows how to make about 5 recipes
– this woman gets yelled at by her kids, works long hours, and just wants to get in and get out with this routine that she knows because anything else is too time intensive
– this woman has been told her whole life that eating healthy is unaffordable so she doesn’t think otherwise
– this woman is paying a crazy amount on her rent so her kids can be in a better school district
– this woman buys to make her family happy today
– this woman believes that if it were so bad for her family, the store wouldn’t sell it
– this woman owns 1 skillet, 1 pot, and forks and knives
– this woman has a different definition of well
– this woman knows nothing else
– this woman is a man and could have the exact same problem.
These are just some. But none of them equate to – I don’t want to feed myself or my family well.
Let’s put this in a different perspective, to pass judgement on this woman or man in the supermarket is the same as seeing a woman always walking with her head down and engaging in a series of abusive relationships without taking the time to realize that she grew up with a mom who called her ugly since birth and told her she would never amount to anything. This young woman believes she is ugly because the people who matter most to her have told her this her whole life. This is all she knows about herself and this is how she will engage with the world. She feels beaten down in life, tried a customer service job but got fired for not smiling, so she can’t even afford a hair brush… We all know that to rebuild self-esteem it takes time, but it requires tools and better vision and a hair brush helps. She can’t just hear it from you and only use a mirror and brush when visiting your house, she has to own one of her own and preferably a talking mirror with an inscription that says, “Hello Beautiful” when she looks at it. Over time, she will say “Hello Beautiful” to herself before the mirror says it.
I hold the fundamental belief that providing people with the tools to empower change in our lives are the solutions we create at Stretch Recipes
. It is with this empathy and understanding that is the heart of innovation at our New Company. This is where my company seeks to create change and will build our company and apply our profits to seeking these type of empowerment opportunities.
I’m just one company out of many that have not only an understanding of how their company can be impactful and create positive change in the world, but have taken action.
These companies will be at NewCo. Not only showcasing, but in attendance alongside everyday people (your market!), potential customers, investors, and influencers from Austin AND around the WORLD. Adding events to your schedule and attending to support other companies will always be needed by Austin business. Supportive, collaborative, and innovative is in this City’s veins. Yes, of course we get many emails that fall into the nether region, we see so many social media posts over and over again by the same companies. It’s easy to fall asleep at the wheel or be lazy about driving from North to South to Central. It’s easy to take these local companies for granted, but here’s the most important thing to know – Attending NewCo is not only to grow your own business or the businesses that speak to what we value the most, it’s to create more opportunities for all Austin businesses. These are the same businesses that will create positive impact throughout Austin. It’s connecting with each other to show the world that we are ready to take the helm and not just drive positive change in the world, but continuously create it.
During SXSW, I pitched IBM and placed Top 5 for their New Way to Start Up Pitch Competition and am currently one of the contestants on IBM’s Social Biz Reality Web Serires, A New Way to Start Up. Our first day, before even moving into the house, we met with the Mayor of Austin. We discussed what the city could do to create innovation and social good opportunities. He is extremely supportive of this effort. I will be the first person to say, I didn’t like politics until I started a Company because of words like effort. I still don’t, but what I do like and have earned the wisdom to understand – people create change by believing it is possible and then taking action. My entire entrepreneurial journey and life is proof of this. I sometimes joke that I’m like that blindingly optimistic and happy dog that runs into a wall and shakes it off like nothing happened. I bark at nothing for two seconds and it’s all forgotten, the rest is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s because my entire life has been a success because I believe it is possible and I take action.
NewCo opening up its doors next week, May 28th-29th is a call from outside of this city, an opportunity for you to stand up and tell Austin, tell the world that building companies that create positive impact in the world is not only important, but required. It’s the opportunity for you to connect and share your story with everyone while having a good time!
Long story already made too long… I will be at New Co because I believe we have the power to create positive change by being the positive change we want to see and being present at the party. What about you?
Are you going to NewCo? Tweet us @StretchRecipes and @NewCoATX and be sure to tell us if you’re hosting a session and what companies you are excited to see.
See you there!