Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Caleb Askins, co-founder of Chefpanzee, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Chefpanzee is a locally-focused food delivery service. Think DoorDash, but built to serve our community--you won't find any large chains on our platform. We charge our partners a third of what major services charge. We pay our drivers better as well. We work with local restaurants, food trucks, private chefs, caterers, and local producers. The idea is to create a full ecosystem where chefs, markets, producers, et cetera are cycling money and efforts within the community.
Tell us about yourself
When I got out of the service, I went to business school in the Bay Area. Chefpanzee was originally an idea for a school project. This was during the time that DoorDash was beta testing. It became clear that all of these third-party delivery services were focused on carving bigger pieces of the pie--no efforts at all to building up entrepreneurs or actually servicing any local community needs. My wife, Indu, and I moved to Utah and started Chefpanzee. Chefpanzee isn't built to grab market shares. Utahns care about their community and, given a chance, will aggressively support it. If we light the path, the community will walk it. A movement to emulate can start here in the Beehive state. That motivates me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Utah is a true melting pot. The LDS church has brought cultures from all over the world. These cultures have left their impact on many aspects of our community...not the least of which is food. I spent five years in the 82nd Airborne. On one of my deployments in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, we traded for bread every morning. It had many names, depending on the kind and who you were speaking with. I've found two places in Salt Lake City that make it fresh daily! The idea that Utah is dull is wholly inaccurate. The idea that food in Utah is bland and fatty is antiquated. Salt Lake City, for instance, ranks 8th in the world for vegan options per capita. Every time we open another mind to the reality of the food scene, here is a proud accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There is no safety net. One could go to school for 30 years straight and not possess the skills required to facilitate every aspect of the business. You can only hire or outsource on an already tight budget. A small business owner watches 1000's YouTube videos! At the same time, when your small business ventures into uncharted territory, no videos exist. Each new problem could shut your business down, and you often have no choice but to blaze that trail alone.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Think big.
- Start small.
- Expand slow.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Indu and I have traveled extensively and don't plan on stopping ever. Please, move away from your social feed and realize that the world is filled with problems bigger than ours. The world is also filled with beautiful scenery, amazing people, and delicious food. And always remember that you may very well be the smartest person in the room, but every person in the room knows something more than you do.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.