Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Michael Martinez, the owner and founder of Eat Clean, a healthy meal delivery service located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We prepare healthy meals with all-natural and organic ingredients, then deliver meals directly to the consumer's doorstep.
Our customers are typically 25-44-year-old professionals that are too busy to cook or want to live a healthy lifestyle. We opened for business back in January 2015 with just three of us in a shared commercial kitchen space. We have now grown to monthly revenue to over $300k per month in sales.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The idea came from my desire to enjoy healthy foods as well as to help others live a healthy lifestyle. I did not have a background in preparing food although my roommate at the time was a chef and helped start the business and prepare our original menus.
Do whatever is necessary to be able to grow your business and usually, it takes a lot of sacrifices that are not fun at the time but when you look back on it your proud that you actually did go the extra mile.
At the time the business was started I was fresh out of college renting an apartment. I actually had to downsize and move into a mobile home due to the massive cost of starting a food business.
Kitchen equipment such as commercial ovens, walk-in coolers, and freezers are very expensive. My goal was to grow fast and I learned quickly that without investment it was only possible if I was willing to sacrifice and invest everything into the business.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We prepare our meals from scratch using only natural and organic ingredients. We have a full kitchen staff that includes three executive chefs, one chef is for our breakfast menu, the second chef is for our dessert items and the third chef is for our lunch and dinner menu.
We receive all of our ingredients fresh, then prep all the vegetables and marinate the proteins. Our kitchen staff will then cook all of our ingredients in the oven or on the grill. None of our items are ever fried.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The business was started with three of my long-time friends and just $3,000(which was all that I had in my savings account at the time). That money was used for kitchen hours in a commercial kitchen, food and our original website. By our third month, we were delivering to over 100 customers each week and we then had to lease a space and build our own kitchen. Initially, our customer base was family, friends, local gyms, and sports teams.
The space we leased was a pizza restaurant that we had to tear down and build it to our requirements. Later on, we then leased the two locations next to us for additional space to prepare our meals.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Social media was a huge resource for us to attract customers. Back in 2015 some of our competitors did not even have an Instagram account and we used that to our advantage. We offered meals at a discounted rate or even free meals to social media influencers that were in our area.
Once we started to grow we made sure to branch out and started advertising on Google, Facebook and a lot of events, giving potential customers a chance to taste our product. Such as Health Fairs, Corporate Lunches, and Gym challenges.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
When I look into the future I see us shipping our meals nationwide and opening kitchens in different states to offer our local delivery system to big cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
Our goal is to one day be the biggest meal delivery service and go beyond that in time.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have personally learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes. One mistake was the way I managed people in the beginning. Trusting people a little too much and I was not patient enough with our staff in the first few years.
I have learned that people learn at a different pace. I have also learned that sometimes it’s better and more advantageous to find someone with potential and take the time to mold them, rather than to pay big money for someone experienced that may not buy into our culture as much.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use a CRM called Hubb. We are fortunate to have a great relationship with them and they have customized it around our form of business.
We also use a delivery software called Workwave which allows us to receive pictures of each delivery and track our drivers in progress to make sure our drivers are safe and on time.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I personally listen to Ben Greenfield's podcasts, I research healthy foods daily and I’ll watch documentaries for inspiration. Watching what others had to go through to accomplish their goals, is very motivating and that’s why I enjoy watching documentaries.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The advice I would give is to put the business first and to keep your foot on the gas. Earlier I referred to the fact that I had to downsize to live in a mobile home for a certain period of time.
I would strongly recommend doing something like that or moving back in with your family for a certain period of time. Do whatever is necessary to be able to grow your business and usually, it takes a lot of sacrifices that are not fun at the time but when you look back on it your proud that you actually did go the extra mile.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently looking for sales representatives that have knowledge of the health and fitness industry. The main goal would be to acquire corporate accounts, where we can provide their employees with a healthy option for lunch. Hours would be from 10-6 pm.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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