KC-cooked startup Mommy Meals aims to serve impact — not just dinner — attempting to tackle a growing mental health experience one hot plate at a time, said its co-founders.
“I truly believe if you’re in a tough spot — you’re down on your luck, you’re in a dark spot — I always tell people ‘Go do something for somebody else,’” said Mitch Case, Mommy Meals co-founder.
An idea marinated nearly two years ago when Cases’ wife gave birth to the couple’s son. Mommy Meals was inspired by an easy crockpot meal delivered by a friend, Case recalled. The simple gesture helped his wife, Emma — now an operational leader in the company — gain a sense of control in an otherwise new and unfamiliar situation, as she navigated a postpartum experience.
“We want to make sure that this company is being focused around moms [and meeting their needs.] We want to make sure we have that female touch to a lot of stuff,” Case said of his wife’s help building the company.
A gift of convenience, Mommy Meals enables customers to send meal kits — such as Dr. Pepper pulled pork or cool ranch chicken tacos — straight to the door of a friend or loved one, delivered by Hy-Vee. The process is in the vein of such meal service delivery giants as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron (two companies Case admits inspired him), but Mommy Meals disrupts the space by using fresh, local ingredients — dramatically cutting costs — and adding personal touches, he said.
Another Kansas City meal kit startup, Happy Food Co., also uses locally-sourced ingredients and is available across the metro, but is retail-focused rather than delivery-based.
A Mommy Meals dinner can be sent for $30, two for $50, or three for $70,” Case said.
“What’s cool about this is that we’re coordinating with the people who are receiving the meals, so that these arrive that day and in the rough time window that works for them,” he said.
Click here to place a Mommy Meals order.
Following a 1 Million Cups presentation, Mommy Meals began exploring the limitations of diners with dietary restrictions, which the company plans to take into account on their menu in the coming months, Case said.
In response to the postpartum experience many mothers encounter, Mommy Meals partnered with The Blue Dot Project — a non-profit organization that combats the stigma associated with postpartum experiences while raising awareness and support, Case said. Five percent of the profit made from each meal is donated to the company, which also supports 2020 Mom, a national organization working to close gaps in maternal mental health care through education, advocacy, and collaboration.
Click here for more on The Blue-Dot Project.
“I’ve never been so sure [of something] in my life, that is putting my ability and talents in place,” Case said of the way his faith has inspired him to help others going through the motions of a situation close to his family, while simultaneously watching his entrepreneurial passion emerge.
Mommy Meals Snapshot
Elevator pitch: Our purpose is to allow friends and family to actively be a part of the parenthood journey, by providing meals that are simple and convenient to new parents when life is at its most chaotic.
Year founded: 2018
Funding raised to date: Privately held
Number of employees: Two, in addition to contracted help
A key player in the day-to-day operations of Mommy Meals, Case invited college friend-turned-co-founder Ben Williams to the table as the company began to take shape. Harking back to their days at The University of Missouri, the Columbia-bred relationship has produced results from Mommy Meals, the pair said, acknowledging they each bring different skills to the table.
“I think some of it, too, is just right place right time,” Williams said of his decision to join forces with Case and the success Mommy Meals could achieve with today’s resources. “I mean, we’re kind of emerging — living in a prime age and we can do things with ecommerce chugging along.”
A hurdle that’s forced the duo to buckle down and grind: Williams lives in New York and co-manages the company remotely, he explained.
“I can really dig deep on maybe some technical aspect,” he said. “Or [I also have] the ability to kind of do call introductions. And then from there, if there’s a good opportunity, [I can say] ‘You should check this out or this person, go talk to them because they seem really interested.’”
While Case runs ground game in Kansas City, the duo believes being in two different states could eventually provide a recipe that helps them scale Mommy Meals or identify resources — such as funding and accelerator programs — when the company is ready to enter its next phase in the startup lifecycle, they said.
Plans to scale me be far off, Williams said, but the allure of big partnerships are finding a way onto Mommy Meals’ menu. The company’s meals are currently prepared fresh in Hy-Vee stores across the metro, an unofficial partnership that’s helped the Mommy Meals put quality first, Case said.
Meetings with area hospitals looking to support new moms and organizations hunting for ways to up employee retention and celebrate their teammates, have also positioned the company for potential traction, Case added.
“This Kansas City entrepreneurial community is just absolutely incredible: the advice, the time that people are willing [to give] to sit down, listen to your idea, and give you real feedback,” he said of the start to his entrepreneurial journey. “Never once have I had somebody here in town say, ‘This is bad what you’re trying to do. Don’t put time into it.’ It’s always, ‘That’s interesting. Have you thought of doing this? This will help you scale here. Do this.’ So they’re really problem solving [for us] versus ending it all.”
In his infancy as a startup leader, Case is eager to build Mommy Meals into a people-first social enterprise, he said, noting that his wife’s habitual giving attitude has rubbed off on him.
“We want to know what we can do to help other entrepreneurs here in Kansas City too,” he said. “We don’t know everything and never will claim that we know everything, but we love listening to other people’s ideas and being able to [share with them] anything that we’ve learned in these first few months.”