Editor’s note: Startland News picked 10 early-stage firms to spotlight for its annual Under the Radar startups list. The following is one of 2017’s companies. To view the full list, click here.
Trends are fleeting. The ability to easily craft locally sourced meals at home shouldn’t be, Jeff Glasco said.
“Food is a dynamic market,” Glasco, Happy Food Co. CEO and co-founder, said. “Yes, it’s competitive, but there still exists a clear and large gap between customer ambitions to eat fresh, quality, healthy food and the reality of daily life. We say, ‘Healthy is the plan until life happens.’”
Happy Food Co. sells pre-cut, pre-measured, ready-to-cook meal kits loaded with local ingredients. Kits are available seven days a week with no subscription or commitment necessary at such retail locations as select Hen House and Price Chopper stores in Kansas City, as well as Checkers and The Merc Co-Op in Lawrence. The chef-designed meals also can be purchased at Happy Food’s Cedar Creek Shop in Olathe.
“We launched this service as the market for ‘meal kits by mail’ (e.g. Blue Apron, HelloFresh) were on a steep rise, believing that business model was not right for the mass market and our approach uses a holistically different distribution and operating model,” Glasco said. “We offer meal kits on-demand through channel partners and direct to consumers through our retail store.”
The company continues to expand its availability in stores across the metro, he said, with Happy Food Co. officials expecting the kits to be sold in 60 locations by the end of 2017.
“Our growth and customers switching to our service are proving our ‘local, out’ (build at market template and expand from there) is not only viable, but is the only one that can bring meal kits from a niche novelty to an everyday experience,” Glasco said.
Happy Food’s success also hinges on both its food — which Glasco credits to co-founder Kiersten Firquain — and the introduction of technology to the process (an area where Glasco takes the lead, he said).
“We view ourselves as a food tech business … Our method of meal kitting, our supply, and our menu provide true ease and quality to the customer experience,” he said. “I’m excited to introduce some retail and consumer app technology to further enhance the customer experience.”
That technology, among other growth efforts, should help the company scale the business to an even larger group of consumers, Glasco said.
“We will be introducing more Happy Food Co. retail locations and/or pick-up points that allow us to more control and align our service with customer ambitions in a way that is truly unique — not just in KC, but anywhere in the country,” he said.