As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasmine Crowe.
Jasmine Crowe, an HBCU alumna, is working to make the world a better place by reducing food waste and ending hunger. Through her years of work feeding vulnerable populations, she saw a great opportunity for technology to solve a real problem — hunger. In January of 2017 she created Goodr, a tech enabled sustainable food waste management company that enables the safe and efficient delivery of surplus food from businesses that have it, to people that need it. Goodr’s mission is simple- Feed more, waste less. To date Goodr has diverted over 3 million pounds of food from landfills to people in need. In response to COVID-19 Goodr has helped to provide over 1 million meals and counting.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Throughout my career and personal life, my motivation has always stemmed from values of community and dignity. I’ve always wanted to treat people, especially those facing hardship, with the utmost respect because I believe that’s the only way that we can all grow.
This fueled my mission to feed people who are experiencing hunger. My first step toward this was in 2009, when I started volunteering at the Once A Month Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Volunteers would donate clothes, food and time to help Phoenix’s homeless community. This experience really changed my whole perspective. As I served people who looked like and acted like me, I saw how similar we all are. It really became clear that, sadly, homelessness and hunger don’t discriminate.
A couple of years later I moved to Atlanta and, as I drove through downtown, I noticed a great deal of homelessness. I knew I wanted to do more, so I launched my company, Goodr, in 2017. Every year in the United States, we waste over 72 billion pounds of edible food, yet 42 million people are suﬀering from food insecurity. Goodr aims to make food accessible to the most vulnerable populations, operating by the motto ‘Feed more, waste less.’ Our technology gives companies control of their surplus food and allows them to give back by tracking their impact, donating surplus edible food and diverting organic waste from landfill to those who need it the most.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
People tell you a lot of things when you are starting a business. Because Goodr is essentially a technology company, I was told I needed a technical co-founder to be taken seriously, so I hired one and it was not a good fit. It was then that I had to believe in myself as a solo founder — and realize that I can and should lean on partners to help fill the gaps. Because I was lacking in technical experience, I turned to Dell Technologies and Microsoft to help build out a platform that would allow me to connect businesses with surplus food to non-profit organizations and people who needed it. It was like having an extension of my team as they were now my IT team.
The dashboard platform that we’ve built allows customers to get real, tangible insights on the food waste that they’ve never measured before. We help them see what items they’re constantly wasting, so that they can make better decisions on their food production. We can also show them where the food goes, what causes and non-profits that they’re supporting. And we give them all of the tax data donating, so that at the end of the year all they have to do is run a report, give it to the CPA, and write off all of their food donations.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Good to Great by Jim Collins is a great book that gave me the business aspect and showed me how companies really scale. I also love Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know for Sure — it helped me to believe in my own voice and vision, and to block out the noise of everyone else’s opinions.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Though I know it’s a big undertaking, my goal was to end hunger. To do that, I feel my purpose is to be a voice for the voiceless. I want to show the world how people should be treated.
COVID-19 has unveiled many of the realities of struggle and economic disparity in this country. Before, our food system was broken. We were feeding people that were experiencing hunger carelessly and without humanity. We need to put extra thought in to understand how people typically eat and why they might be in their situation. People were simply looking to provide the bare minimum for others, without really helping them better themselves. We have an opportunity now to change this and we strive to at Goodr.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
I live by the thought that what is for me is already on its way. If I don’t get what I want, whether it’s a contract that falls through or a client loss, then it wasn’t meant for me. I’ve come to understand that what’s meant to be will always be.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I’ve been really busy during this time, but we continue to operate by the mission of Goodr — feed more, eat less. Whereas most people have had a chance to work from home and take a bit of a breather, I’m working more than ever before. As I’m working around the clock, I have a constant reminder of why I’m doing this and the value it’s bringing others.
We’ve ramped up our efforts significantly. In the past 60 days, we’re approaching 2 million meals donated, compared to the almost 2 million we did in all of 2019. With the news and business environment changing day to day, we’ve had to adjust to a form of disaster relief. I’m learning to roll with the punches and change course as needed.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
As demand to get food to more people has skyrocketed, our staff has grown quickly. In the past two months, we’ve added 50 team members. In this new environment, we can’t onboard people like we usually would and get to know them over lunch, instead we’re relying on technology to stay connected and achieve great things.
Families simply RSVP for a time slot, drive up, never leave their cars, scan a QR code and head home with free groceries. Goodr is also delivering meals to senior citizens personally.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The work that we’re doing at Goodr has been really inspiring to my family and loved ones. They see firsthand the humanity and purpose-driven actions that we’re trying to encourage in others. We’re also capturing what we’re doing and trying to get out message out to the community to inspire as many people as we can to do good.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
As life is adjusting to the new normal, there are so many opportunities to rethink the way we do things. I think we’ll see the delivery economy continue to boom. Right now, companies like Doordash and Instacart are thriving because they meet people’s needs right where they are. Technology will become even more essential to our everyday lives, as the need to stay connected, no matter where we are, is greater than ever. Companies like Dell Technologies and Microsoft are enabling this connection for people and helping small businesses like Goodr thrive in this environment.
Most importantly, I think the care economy is going to grow. In a time when we can lose over 100,000 people in a matter of two months, we’re going to start to care more about the people that are in our lives. Even the smallest interaction with someone throughout the day makes an impact, and people are realizing not to take it for granted.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
We’re likely going to do things that we always should have been doing. Aside from the obvious of washing our hands more, we’ll be more cognizant of our surroundings and the people in our lives. It’s interesting to think how our interactions may be forever changed. With everyone on high alert about touch, maybe we’ll see the handshake go away. We’ll then need to adjust how we greet people and show our compassion for others.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
We’ve been lucky enough to continue to grow during this time and expand our offerings to reach as many people as possible. However, we will need to evaluate the programs and services that we’ve introduced these past few months to see how they will work in the post-COVID environment. Some may need to be restructured, while others will no longer be relevant. We’ll need to understand who our key partners are moving forward for the new Goodr offerings. One place that we’d love to expand our work is with government, whether local or federal.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I’d encourage people to find a problem and solve it. So often we’re looking for things to solve our problems instead of creating things to help others.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are so many, but one that I’ve carried with me through the years is: “Plan your work, then work your plan.”
So many people have great ideas, but lack execution. Rather than letting something be a goal for forever, you need to put your thoughts in action and work to make it happen.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can visit us online at goodr.co to learn more about what we do and get involved. You can also check us out on social — @TheGoodrCo on Twitter and @goodrco on Instagram — and I’m @JasmineCrowe on everything.
I started documenting my life to show the ups and downs of start-up life and managing through COVID-19. You can check it out at @goodrco IGTV!