I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Glantz, the Founder and CEO of GiftAMeal. GiftAMeal is a mobile app that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo at a partner restaurant. Over 100 restaurants have joined and 133,375 meals have been provided so far. At 23 years old, Andrew was the youngest person named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30 List. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington University in St. Louis in May 2017 and was voted Most Likely to become a Billionaire by the Olin Business School.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?
Prior to becoming a founder, I had focused primarily in the non-profit space. I was Vice President of a charity called Jr. Variety that provided over $300,000 in support for children in Southern California, and I owned a non-profit storefront called the Trading Post that promoted re-use and sustainability for two years. After a venture capital internship in 2014, my eyes were opened to how profits and purpose could work together, and the original idea for GiftAMeal was formed while on a lunch break.
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
GiftAMeal stands out as it creates a unique win-win-win for our users, partner restaurants, and the community. Users find great restaurants that are socially conscious, restaurants have been shown to have increased loyalty and check size result from joining GiftAMeal (see www.giftameal.com/case-study/ for more), and food banks are able to distribute food to help the community with GiftAMeal’s funding. A story I like is one where a restaurant customer could not use GiftAMeal because she did not have a smart phone. She saw a table-tent that said the restaurant was a part of GiftAMeal, and felt so moved that she pulled out her checkbook and wrote a check to the local food bank and gave it to the restaurant to pass along. The restaurant owner called me to share the news and it really made me feel the impact of what we have created.
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
GiftAMeal is my current exciting project! I believe that GiftAMeal will prove that a company can do well while doing good, and our aim is to become a nationwide company providing millions of meals annually to put a dent in our hunger problem.
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Predictably Irrational made a big impact on my style of thinking. It showed me that not all decisions are made by a strict cost-benefit analysis and framing and behavioral science principles are super important to consider. When I create our sales materials or marketing strategies, it is definitely something I keep in mind.
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1) Ask for help — I have reached out to and spoken with founders of multiple Fortune 500 companies and they have been receptive just because I was a young founder and they had been there before.
2) Quantify, quantify, quantify — to make up for your age, gathering data to de-risk your venture is essential to build your credibility. I was able to create a case-study with two partner restaurants where we found GiftAMeal increased check size by 24% on average and increased visit frequency by 45%. People can doubt your experience, but they can’t argue with results.
3) Build a support network — I am a part of the Future Founders Fellowship of young entrepreneurs. The other entrepreneurs support me when I am facing challenges and I do not want to worry my team with them, but I need someone to talk to in order to keep me sane.
4) Set metrics — know what your next milestone and tell someone it so you hold yourself accountable to moving the business forward. Early on, I just played things by ear and a few months went by without getting a new restaurant to join. Once we started sending out monthly updates to advisors, we were held more accountable and accomplished a lot more.
5) Stay happy — engage in fun activities that de-stress you so you do not burn out from your venture. I workout at a parkour gym to stay active and take my mind off daily challenges.
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Ron Shaich, Danny Meyer, Mark Zuckerberg
— Published on July 19, 2018