Even though health is a major trend in the food industry right now, healthy food isn’t always easy to find. That’s the reality that led one entrepreneur in L.A. to start Milk & Eggs.
You can read about this startup and how it’s changing the way consumers can buy healthy food items below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does
Provides an online farmers market for businesses and shoppers in Los Angeles.
Founder and CEO Kenneth Wu told Small Business Trends, “Milk and Eggs is an LA-based online farmer’s market that partners with local farms and businesses you would find at your Sunday market to bring quality products at low prices directly to customers’ doorsteps.”
Focusing on healthy, locally-sourced food.
Wu says, “While many big box chains have entered the online grocery market, few have made an effort to offer customers food that is being grown/baked in their own communities. Milk and Eggs fills this gap in the market with locally-sourced products at affordable prices.”
How the Business Got Started:
Out of necessity.
Wu explains, “First, I have a family history of diabetes and have early stages of diabetes (diagnosed pre-diabetic 10 years ago). For this reason, I’ve always been health-oriented and concerned with eating healthy and having fresh, locally-sourced produce and artisanal goods. I’ve been borderline for the last 10 years and I manage it by having a healthy diet and being active.
“Second, when my son was born, my wife was nursing and our family was consuming much more food. My wife’s high metabolic rate due to nursing meant she was having to eat more and it was so onerous during the 0-6 months of infancy to buy groceries that were both voluminous and healthy while in a sleep deprived zombie-like state.
“Having to go to the market so often to keep up was very time consuming and a hassle with two little ones. I’ve been doing ecommerce since 2001 and it baffled me why groceries and food have not gone digital yet! It was amazing, we could buy anything from TV’s and sofas to socks online, but I couldn’t buy a tomato or chicken! We would have loved to be able to order food rather than trying to pack up and head to the market, shop and then lug the bags in from the car. But as we were looking for a service to fit our needs, we realized there were very few options.
“Many that were doing delivery either offered mostly packaged and non-perishable foods, junk food and things from the center aisles of the grocery store. Otherwise, there were produce subscription box services but often you would at most get these once a week and offered little control or input as to what ingredients you received. The types of produce and food would be picked for you by the company, you had no control over it and you would still need to take a trip to the store or order elsewhere for the remainder of the items on your list.
“Otherwise, only higher end companies and grocery stores would offer delivery or pick up and it was incredibly expensive. We wanted to eat healthy but also affordable.”
Closing a couple of big deals.
Wu says, “The company’s biggest win was probably when we landed contract to supply all of the WeWork’s. This was as very serendipitous sequence of events. We first closed Compass Realty Group, another tech startup changing the real estate world. Compass happened to be one of WeWork’s largest national clients, having offices in all WeWork’s throughout the country. In doing business with Compass, we attracted the attention of WeWork and connected the dots through Compass. This was a big 1-2 deal for us and afforded us a great foundation for our volume and logistics.”
Investing in advertising.
Wu says, “Signing on to cable and radio advertising was a huge potential risk and gamble. We had to gamble half a million dollars on these campaigns and trust that they would convert listeners and watchers to believe that our value proposition was worth their attention and money. This one campaign could have single handedly turn our business model upside down but it has so far been very successful at getting our name out to the public.”
Find the right team members.
Wu says, “As of today, the one biggest thing we would have done differently is be more selective in the hiring process to ensure the strongest team. We’ve had a few roles that team members were struggling to fill, partially because the growth was faster than we could anticipate. Something I’ve learned from this process is: try to hire for what you will need in 6-12 months as opposed to hiring someone to fill the current role. Especially in quick growing startups, needs and roles are constantly changing. It’s important to find the right team members who can be flexible, help you anticipate needs and grow with your business.”
How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000
Hiring and rewarding team members.
Wu says, “Hiring even more incredible team members and putting in a bonus program for personnel. The people are the most important aspect of any business and we value our team.”
“Life is what you make it.”
Wu explains, “This is the title of the book by Peter Buffet, son of Warren Buffet. To me it means everything that happens in your life is, in some shape or form, your responsibility or a result of something you have done. How do you handle the failures as well as the successes? That’s what you make life to be for yourself.”
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Images: Milk & Eggs, Top Image: Kenneth Wu More in: National Farmers Market Week