Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Drew Munro, Co-Founder and CEO of UpMeals, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
UpMeals is a Vancouver-based food technology company on a mission to make healthy, nutritious meals available 24/7. Innovative SmartVending machines, modern corporate catering, and private label solutions provide custom, healthy, sustainably packaged meals that meet the highest food safety standards. UpMeals uses proprietary AI-driven software to create their custom meal solutions and reduce food waste. Using the data collected from its platform, UpMeals uses its software to improve menu offerings based on user feedback and popularity. UpMeals has its solutions deployed in environments like airports, universities, office buildings, transport hubs, and more.
Tell us about yourself
I started my career as a professional chef. Before UpMeals, I founded a scaled an award-winning catering company in Vancouver. I realized that the way most large companies provided healthy food options to their employees was very inefficient and wasteful, so we started UpMeals to use some exciting proprietary software and technology to create custom meal plans that reduced waste and were easier to manage. Each day, I'm motivated by the fact that our team is making healthy, nutritious options more accessible for everyone. Whereas previously, a student studying at night, a traveller on a late connection, or an employee working after hours may not have access to nutritious meals, UpMeals is solving that problem across Canada with its unique solutions.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of the things we're most proud of as a business is our zero-waste operation. In traditional catering and food service, large quantities of perfectly edible food are thrown away and not repurposed. Through strategic partnerships, UpMeals has been able to repurpose its unsold or surplus meals nearing expiry to a network of local charities, creating a zero-waste operation.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being a business owner at times can be a lonely experience - there are so many responsibilities and things to take care of, especially as a start-up in growth mode. It's important to build a support system both inside and outside the company by connecting with our founders and business owners who are experiencing similar challenges.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be laser-focused on the problem you aim to solve in the market and how you plan to do it better than anyone else (if you have a solid business plan about how you believe you can execute this, everything else will come much easier).
- Niches are okay. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Dominating a specific market sector is meaningful, and there are many success stories of businesses that have done this successfully.
- START! The importance of small, actionable daily steps cannot be overstated. Don't worry about having everything figured out yet. Just start!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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