When we moved to New York City together after college, we both wanted to connect with local food networks. We volunteered to help run our local Community Supported Agriculture group; Josh became involved with emergency food distribution in the city, and Sarah was teaching NYC high school students to cook. We decided to begin leading free, hands-on cooking workshops for families in the community where we lived. The response to these workshops was overwhelming: people were eager to cook, but simply having access to ingredients and to workshops was not enough. There was a need for a solution that provided convenience, simplicity, and quality.
Fresh Routes is inspired by our love for simple home-cooking and our dream of it becoming an everyday routine for all. We know that for most of us, cooking with fresh ingredients at home is the only way to eat well on a budget. We also know that home cooking can be both delicious and healthy, simple and exciting. We decided to launch Fresh Routes together, as a couple, because we love sharing food with friends, family, and our community.
We started Fresh Routes in 2012 after winning the Food for Health Business Plan Competition. From the outset, our goal has been to make healthy, homemade food accessible for all. In mid-2015, we launched a new take on cooking kits, designed to offer customers and retailers a convenient, off-the-shelf meal solution. Each of our kits includes step-by-step cooking instructions, gourmet pantry ingredients (globally-inspired spice blends, grains, oil, vinegar, and much more). The kits include everything except the fresh produce and protein — a shopping list on each kit guides the customer to buy exactly what’s needed to make each meal. Our kits are ideal for individuals looking to add cooking into their weekly routines, and for couples and families that want to add some spice and fun into their existing dinner rotation. We sell our kits in a growing number of retailers in NYC, online with nationwide shipping, and at pop-up events and markets around the northeast.
In the past six months, we have connected with even more customers and we’ve branched out into exciting new retail spaces, including grocery stores and farmers’ markets. In the next 6 to 12 months, our goals are to grow even faster by attending food shows, connecting with larger wholesale accounts, and re-designing our packaging to better suit the grocery retail environment.
We will use the loan to exhibit at food trade shows where we can connect with wholesale and distributor representatives in order to grow our sales accounts. The key costs include exhibitor fees, booth design and materials, travel expenses, labor, and sampling and demo materials. We will also use the loan to redesign our packaging and purchase new packaging inventory. These packaging changes are crucial for ramping up production capacity and also improving the durability of our product throughout the retail environment.
Packaging redesign: $2,000
Packaging materials: $3,000
Trade and consumer show costs and related marketing materials: $5,000