Give us a brief recap of your entrepreneurial career since you graduated from Owen:
I knew I wanted to take a non-traditional path coming out of Owen. After graduation, I began helping other entrepreneurs launch their businesses. I did market research and wrote business plans. This work led to helping those same companies size new opportunities and expand into new market segments. After one project, I took a full time job with one of my favorite clients. There I built and ran their marketing team with a focus on marketing operations. It was while at this company, that I met my partner and we came up with the idea for Sifted.
How did you have the idea for Sifted and what does the company do?
My partner and I had the idea for Sifted while working at a Nashville software company. We noticed two things:
1) Attracting great tech talent is highly competitive
2) Talent these days values a work environment that reflects the life they lead outside of the office
We founded Sifted to help brands become destination workplaces. Sifted creates experiential lunch programs for high-growth, tech-centric companies. Brands like Lyft, Eventbrite, Warby Parker and iCitizen use our daily and weekly lunch programs to treat their staff to a lunch experience that inspires meaningful conversations and reflects their brand.
Each day’s menu is designed and prepared by a team of local chefs and delivered by Sifted hosts.
Since you have been running Sifted what were the challenges and what were the big wins?
My partner and I came directly from the tech industry. While this gave us insight into the offices of our future clients, we didn’t have a background in food. So we were challenged to build a team with complementary skillsets in an industry we were largely unfamiliar with. It took time to bring a team together that could deliver on personalization, efficiency, variety and quality. It took us being okay with making mistakes and experimenting with different models.
In our first year, we reached a $1M annual recurring revenue and expanded into our second market. We have been successful in signing some of Nashville and Atlanta’s most disruptive companies and they’ve become brand ambassadors helping us grow.
Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for current Owen students that want to start a company?
Don’t be scared of being bootstrapped. Up until this point, Sifted has not sought funding, and it’s allowed us to focus on evolving our business and building a knock-out client roster. Maintaining equity at the forefront has given us the control we needed to move fast, experiment and make mistakes.