How did The Town Kitchen get started?
Jefferson, Tara and Sabrina, the three co-founders, wanted to address social justice issues leveraging a for-profit business model. They came together and built The Town Kitchen as a public benefit corporation focused on doing well by doing good. Our main focus is to employ, empower and elevate youth professionally and economically from the foster and reentry communities.
What was your life like before The Town Kitchen?
I was advising small mission-driven food and food technology startups through my consultancy Cloud 9 Fresh. I’ve been focused on purpose-driven organizations for the last 10+ years, so coming to The Town Kitchen was a natural extension of my previous work. Being able to have an opportunity to bring together my passion for growing purpose-driven organizations and my experience in food delivery and building great teams fit nicely into my personal and professional goals.
What was the top lesson or takeaway from your past experience?
My number #1 lesson that has carried over was that you have to plan for the unexpected.
Stuff will happen, it’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.
Whether it’s being challenged to step up your execution or planning for power outages, there are many ups and downs running a company that is operationally and capital intensive.
What’s your relationship with the risk?
I’m personally an investor in the organization, so have put my dollars towards a mission I believe in and my ability to build the right team. There may be risk investing in the company, but I believe I can get it to scale and be profitable.
What have you learned - any unexpected skills?
You have to be relentless in your pursuit of your cause. The journey is full of ups and downs and you have to stay the course, be flexible and keep your head up.
What were some of the hardest things you’ve done in this role?
Finding the right balance of personal stress management. I’ve worked to refine my diet, exercise routine and monthly massage schedule to ensure that I have the right ingredients going in, as well as the right amount of exertion and re-calibration time to stay grounded and focused on what needs to get done. An occasional round of golf and or surfing session thrown in there always helps.
What is your superpower?
Building great teams and helping them grow.
What’s your kryptonite?
Giving too much flexibility to individuals that need more direction.
Early startups need flexibility and individuals that can take initiative. Typically, I’m hiring for individuals that can play this role, but ultimately find out how people behave once they are in high-stress environments on the job. It can be tricky and I've learned that failing to provide an increased amount of oversight to these individuals will result in less than optimal overall team performance.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do?
I love to mountain bike, snowboard & golf.
I also love building companies. It's like solving a puzzle and I truly enjoy helping entrepreneurs achieve the unthinkable.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Make time for personal growth and alignment.