I took 218 meetings to get my first yes.
Our favorite quote
I took 218 meetings to get my first yes.
Our favorite quote
How She Started: Being a founder is risky. What made you decide to go full-time with Goodr?
JCH: It was the passion for what I was setting out to do that made me go full throttle with it. I really love feeding people. I was feeding people on the streets before I ever started Goodr, and this was like an opportunity for me to do more. It wasn't the money because starting and running a business is hard. My motivation was rooted in passion and the belief that I could bring about significant change.
There are many organizations that are dedicated to hunger, but they don’t allocate resources properly. People should be eating nutritious food, and many of the food drives that I saw were giving not only incomplete and unrelated foods, but many of them were unhealthy.
HSS: Many people struggle with raising money. Why did you raise and how were you able to secure investment?
JCH: It was super hard, especially as a woman of color. I think the reason I ultimately decided to raise the money is I needed it. As I was getting quotes from software developers, it was costing $100,000 plus dollars and I didn't have that. I needed the investment to scale the business, hire additional staff, and invest in marketing.
HSS: As you mentioned you are a woman of color which statistically makes it much harder to raise. How were you able to raise?
JCH: I took 218 meetings to get my first yes. I remember I would always be saying to myself, OK, if after 50 meetings, I don’t get an investment I will quit and get a job. I remember my dad sent me so many jobs during this time because the odds were not in my favor. It took a lot of different meetings and I learned to change the pitch a little bit. I was talking about the environment and people going hungry. Investors were unmoved. They had never been hungry and didn't know anything about people going hungry. They were well-to-do their whole lives. They didn’t seem swayed by the more altruistic appeal of the business.
I ultimately had to modify my approach, which is what helped me secure funding. I learned I needed to start talking more about the business opportunity, how much money is spent on wasted food, and how we should be getting a piece of that to keep the food out of landfills. When I reframed the business as a monetary investment, I captured their interest
It was a lot of pitching, cold calling, showing up at bars and restaurants, and networking with the right bar
HSS: How did you acquire your first customers?
I had various channels. One of my customers came to me from social media. She was an administrative assistant and at the time at Turner Broadcasting Systems (now Time Warner). She arranged a meeting for me with other administrative assistants and chefs, which eventually led to them becoming our first corporate customer. I entered a lot of pitch competitions and met a lot of potential customers that way. I got the ATL airport contract the same way.
HSS: How do you retain your customers?
JCH: Our key to customer retention lies in delivering exceptional service and providing an intuitive, user-friendly app. We also provide data on everything from inventory, tracking data, many pounds of food that we compost on their behalf, emissions that they're helping to keep out of the environment or helping to reduce how many pounds of food they've been diverting, how many meals they're providing, the kind of nonprofits that they're serving, the things that they're wasting the most of, and the list goes on. Our app simplifies food pickup for donations.
HSS: What is your growth strategy?
JCH: We are looking to scale via city expansion. Atlanta is our home base and that's where we started, we identified the next 5 cities that we want to target. For example, we’re making a significant amount of revenue in Dallas and Denver and now we want to grow those markets. We're taking a market-maker approach. I'm trying to get the right mix of businesses that fit our customer profile and scale with those in a lot of different markets. We collaborate with government entities, colleges and universities, and corporations in the cities we operate in.
HSS: As you look back on the business, was there an event or inflection point that had a significant effect on the business?
JCH: When I secured funding. Without that capital, I wouldn't have been able to hire people. We went from a team of 1 to a team of 5, from a team of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30, and now we’re at 40. The money helped me grow the team.
Additionally, the pandemic was a pivotal point for us because we had to reimagine the business. We were serving all these businesses that were producing food on a day-to-day basis. When the pandemic happened a lot of those businesses closed, and consequently our whole model had to really shift. For example, we couldn’t go into the airport or a certain business, so we had to rethink how we fed people. This forced us to evolve in a way to stay alive.
HSS: What are your lessons learned so far?
JCH: It never gets easier and being a founder is hard. A lot of people will say the goal of the founder is to make sure the company never runs out of money. That's a lot of pressure on you because people depend on you to feed their children. I think that's a big lesson for me.
However, if you're doing something that you really love that you would do for free (I was doing Goodr for free for years before it ever was a company) then I think it will all ultimately work out. My passion is what's always been able to keep me going despite the many challenges that I have faced.
HSS: Do you have any additional advice to female-founded businesses?
JCH: I would definitely encourage, if you can, to bootstrap for as long as possible. Right now the market is so crazy. It's harder to raise capital and it's a lot more expensive. That means you’re giving up more of your company for less money. If you bootstrap for as long as you can then you can prove that you have customers that you provide value to and when you do eventually raise you can get a higher valuation for your business.
HSS: Thanks so much for taking the time!
- Insight: Identify a gap in the market and find a way to address it.
- Insight: Persevere when raising money. Your first Yes may not happen immediately.
- Insight: When pitching to investors make sure you show them how they get their money back first, even if your business has a strong social mission.
- Insight: Maintain visibility across diverse platforms to reach a wide range of potential customers.
- Insight: Create a user-friendly product that offers a seamless experience and consistently reminds users of the value they receive.
- Insight: Establish partnerships to facilitate business expansion.
- Insight: Make sure you can keep your business nimble if you need to pivot.
- Insight: Realize that being a founder is difficult.
- Insight: Passion can help fuel your business.
- Insight: Bootstrap for as long as you can to prove to investors that you have a strong value proposition.
I formed a partnership with SHE Media. SHE Media is "A mission-driven media company that focuses on the extraordinary power of content to inform and inspire the world."
I've always been passionate about women helping other women. I created this blog to tell stories of successful female-founded businesses. Hopefully, these stories will help inspire more women to found their own businesses.