- March 12, 2020
- March 12, 2020
"I definitely recommend small business owners get to know the ISBDC at Harper College."
- Margot Hechinger, Owner
Planti Meals, Schaumburg, IL
Are you are trying to eat healthier, but find that it’s a challenge because healthy meals can take more time to prepare? Then Planti Meals is for you! Planti Meals offers a delicious menu derived from a plant-based diet. All Planti Meal dishes are vegan and use organic produce, grains, and spices. Plus, they are gluten-free and contain no preservatives or oils. To make it still more appealing, Planti Meals can be delivered to your home or to your office for lunch. You can even order desserts! Planti Meals are also available in the fresh foods section of select Chicago area Fruitful Yield stores.
Why did you choose to start a plant-based meal delivery and catering service?
Growing up, I had always eaten freshly prepared, unprocessed food. McDonald’s was a once a year thing for my family. Once I was introduced to veganism and plant-based foods, the healthy eating lifestyle all came together for me. Professionally, I started out in Sales and spent several years working for a consulting company. However, having been raised in an entrepreneurial family, I never saw myself fitting into that corporate box. I could see that the market was ready for fresh vegan food, so I decided to leave the corporate world in order to create food that promotes health and is accessible to everyone. In July of 2016, I launched Planti Meals.
To what do you attribute your success?
Jokingly, I credit the success of Planti Meals to my stupidity. In reality, it’s more about a willingness to do things a bit differently. I decided I needed to take a “learn as you go” approach. I was just going to make things up and give them a try. So I started to make healthy meals and deliver them to people at a reasonable price. From this I was able to learn which meals did well in different areas of the city. This helped me to determine the best areas to expand. Then, one day while I was shopping at a Fruitful Yield store, I noticed an empty shelf in the refrigerated cooler. I couldn’t help but envision the shelf full of Planti Meals. I leveraged my background in Sales to get an appointment with the store buyer and introduced him to Planti Meals. After providing tasting samples to key decision makers, including the CEO, a month later my vision became a reality.
What does the future look like for Planti Meals?
The next step for Planti Meals is to continue to expand in grocery. I don't plan to halt the delivery business though. While it’s a more challenging cost structure, it is a valuable way to continue learning about what is important to my customers. For me, ultimate success for Planti Meals will be the point when I can give back as much as I get. Eventually, I want to make Planti Meals available to the homeless and poor as I believe being healthy should not be a privilege. Low income communities suffer the most from diseases that are easily prevented through healthy diets. I love the quote from Hippocrates that says, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
Launching Planti Meals has not been without its challenges. Like with many start-ups, creating awareness for Planti Meals in a cost effective manner has been a challenge that won’t go away any time soon. I have learned to target my marketing and focus only on people who want to eat healthy. I’ve also learned how unmanaged growth can lead to issues with product quality. Fortunately, Planti Meals has a great kitchen staff that enables me to push for growth. My general advice to people just starting out is to only risk what you can lose, but start. Don’t be afraid to try things and learn as you go. If you want to start a business, you should. Talk only gets you so far, action is the way to go.
Would you recommend small business owners use the services of the Illinois SBDC at Harper College? Why?
Absolutely! Harper’s ISBDC has a ton of resources for small businesses. The advisors are very good listeners and very good nudgers. They will talk you through things and provide encouragement. However, they will leave it to you to take the lead, and that’s as it should be. I definitely recommend small business owners get to know the ISBDC at Harper and schedule time with its advisors.