Knowledge Center

Banking on KC – Mitch Case of More than a Meal


Listen Now, or read the transcript below:

 

Mitch Case of More Than a Meal: Delivering Kindness in a Kit

Banking on KC presented by Country Club Bank

Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking on KC. I'm your host, Kelly Scanlon. With us on this episode is Mitch Case, the founder of More Than a Meal. Welcome Mitch.

Mitch Case:

Thank you so much for having me Kelly. Excited to be here.

Kelly Scanlon:

Anybody who was looking at your business model might say on the surface, your company provides meal kits, but your name is More Than a Meal. What makes your company more than a meal?

Mitch Case:

I get this question a lot because we get compared to a lot of the other meal kits that are out there. And in the sense of providing simple ingredients to a door to be cooked, we can definitely kind of fall into that category as just another meal kit business, but through my experience in the last 10 years in sales from my previous career, I was always looking for something different and unique that we could really engage with our clients and employees.

Mitch Case:

So one of the things that really makes us different than your typical meal kit business is really focusing on the personalization and impact that these meals can have. So we focus specifically on making sure that it feels as a gift that is arriving to the door to an individual as well as really serving them a convenience factor where everything is pre-chopped and pre-diced directly to that door. And then we allow personalization through notes inside branded notes, video messaging, all these different details that can truly really drive home the impact of what this is. And that's truly the more than of the meal itself is the impact that we really focus on, the authenticity, the personalization, and just the gift side of things.

Kelly Scanlon:

You started out marketing to or targeting rather individuals to give these as gifts in many cases in extenuating circumstances, which could be happy or which could be fraught with a lot of anxiety and just a lot of hardship, including medical diagnosis and then on the happy side, baby being brought home and the family is really busy. So in these kinds of instances, the little extra factors that you just described can certainly make a big difference.

Mitch Case:

Absolutely. And initially when we got started back in, it was late 2017, early 2018 after my wife and I had had our first son, we experienced a little more challenging birth than what we had kind of expected and we never wanted to take away the impact the meals that people dropped off immediately had on us, but it was truly the impact of the meals that we had sitting in our freezers waiting to be cooked at a different date. And it was two or three months down the road when we had remembered that we actually had these meals in our freezer to throw into a slow cooker and utilize.

Mitch Case:

And I remember at this point, my wife is still recovering from the preeclampsia and the C-section that we experienced as well as I was back at work. And at two and three months, sleep deprivation is in full swing at that point. I remember coming home that day from work and my wife had cooked dinner for us just by simply throwing these simple ingredients into a slow cooker. And her comment was that she really felt like she helped out that day. So through the gifts that my wife and I have been given, we really wanted to figure out how we could serve other people going through these different events. And at the time in my previous career, we had the discretionary income to put something up where we can allow friends and family to send a simple meal to somebody going through these situations, as you mentioned.

Kelly Scanlon:

So walk us through how this works. Obviously you're delivering sustenance in more than just a physical way to your clients. So how does it work? Somebody like me knows someone who has a situation where they could benefit from these meals. How do I go about ensuring that the meal gets there? What's the whole process?

Mitch Case:

Yeah, it looks like a couple different directions that that can potentially go, but for the most part in the general sense is you would come directly to our website and as the buyer, we allow you to just select how many meals you want to send. You don't have to worry about the type of food that they're going to want or coordinating a day or location. We take care of all of that on the back end. As the buyer itself, you just need to select one or two meals that you want to send and put a little bit of information so that we know who we're reaching out to and then we kind of take over from that point.

Mitch Case:

As the recipient side of things, you'll get a message from us that says you have been sent a meal and click here to schedule that. And once you have actually scheduled that, selecting the type of meal that you want, the day that you want it delivered, and then confirming that address, we will go ahead and start working on that. But while we are doing all of that, we're keeping the buyer in the loop from a situation of the meal has been scheduled to be delivered on this date and then eventually we'll let you know after it has been delivered as well. So that's really like the high level simplicity of what it looks like to order that.

Kelly Scanlon:

You mentioned that the recipient actually chooses a meal. What are some of your most popular meals?

Mitch Case:

One of the biggest reasons that we focus on allowing the recipient to select that meal is because you never know exactly what kind of dietary preferences that individual may have. And if you're sending something that could be an allergic trigger to that individual or their family, although the message or the impact that you wanted to provide was there, but truly the personalization of it was missed. So that's why we really focus on that. In regards to some of our favorite meals, we've got 13 different meals to choose from. I like a little bit of spice in my food. So we have a salt severity chicken recipe that has the salt severity with the kick, but it also has a little bit of cream cheese in that as well, which kind of gives you that creaminess. And I'm just a sucker for cheese anyway. So that is one of my favorite meals. But some of our more popular ones are the barbecue pulled pork, some of our chicken tacos, those types of things.

Kelly Scanlon:

What geographic area do you serve? The whole metro or beyond the metro?

Mitch Case:

So we've actually just at the beginning of 2022 here have been able to reach outside the metro. So we service all of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Eastern Nebraska, which is more of just kind of Omaha area, and then we also serve the Oklahoma City, Tulsa region.

Kelly Scanlon:

We've been talking a lot about individuals and certain circumstances where these are sent to certain individuals. Sometimes that one-to-one direct marketing can be really challenging to say the least. And recently, you have changed your business model to a B2B model. You still do the individual gifting, but you now have a B2B component. Tell us about that.

Mitch Case:

Yeah, I recognize that the direct to consumer route, as you mentioned, is just incredibly challenging. And working the two jobs at the time when we were building this, it was not going to be sustainable for us. And that's where we recognized the majority of our meals were actually being purchased for business related meanings. So that's when we really made this huge switch halfway through 2020 to focus all of our energy, time, marketing dollars more B2B. And that for the majority of my network was more of the business community. So being able to focus on that, having a touchpoint with one HR director or one business owner and being able to impact more than one person at that point seemed like a really viable option for us. And as we put together different packages on how we serve through our businesses, it just made a lot of sense for us.

Mitch Case:

So focusing on the engagement packages where you're buying meals up front but sending them on an as needed basis with the personalized messaging, that's been a big key for us, especially on more of the sales professionals that are looking for that edge to reach out to a client where maybe they don't feel comfortable dropping a meal off on their doorstep or otherwise. And then probably our biggest impact right now, which we just released at the beginning of the year as well is our employee benefits where now organizations are offering our meals to their employees as a benefit. We provide our meals at a discount to the companies that we partner with. And then what's really, really neat and what we've been seeing is that some of these organizations will even subsidize the cost of those meals even further.

Mitch Case:

At that point, that employee can choose if they want to opt into this benefit and ultimately what they're able to select at that point is if they want a meal a week delivered or a meal a month delivered. And we leave that up to them. And what we've really focused on is making sure that it's easy for the business owner, HR director in the sense that they're not having to figure out coordinating all these meals and everything. So we work directly with the employees to make sure that we're delivering the meals that they ask for at the time that they ask. On the business side, after these else have been sent out on a weekly or monthly basis, we basically will reach out to that organization, let them know how many meals have been delivered based off of how much they subsidize the cost, and then we'll invoice them for that amount. So making it fairly easy on the business side from a monthly invoice and then working with the employee itself for the remainder of that cost is how we make that simple.

Kelly Scanlon:

Why it makes sense as a benefit is that your employees come home at night and they're busy, they have to get kids off to soccer practice or piano lessons or whatever it might be or there's homework to do, or you just have to work late, whatever it might be. And to know that you just have to throw something in a Crockpot makes their lives simpler, relieves stress. And so it helps the employee that way. And on the company end of it, you have less stressed employees who can be more productive. Am I getting that right?

Mitch Case:

Absolutely. We focus on three different areas that this really truly is a benefit to the employee where one, it is a wellness situation where they can choose a healthier meal for that given time because we all know like three o'clock comes around and the biggest question that's asked every single day is what do you want for dinner? I don't know. So we really want to help these employees not have to choose maybe a fast food option. So really kind of helping from the wellness side of things.

Mitch Case:

The second thing we really focus on gathering people around the dinner table. And it's proven to help reduce stress and anxiety, which can then obviously relate back to the workforce. And if your employee is coming in happier, more positive, that can have a ripple effect within the organization as well, helping them be more efficient and productive as well as potentially others. And then just general appreciation for your employee. But again, we're not just serving the employee, we're serving their entire family. So we really want to help those organizations realize that you're going beyond just the employee, serving their family during those busy seasons that you kind of mentioned of jumping from one practice to the next, or it's just crazy and chaotic.

Kelly Scanlon:

And I imagine that given the age that we live in and the way people have this pension for taking photos of their food, that some of your meals end up on social media. So you get some sharing and some publicity that way. Let's talk about your entrepreneurial journey. It was actually pretty quick in the way you described it earlier. You had a situation, you found that the meals that friends were sending you were valuable and you thought, this is something that we can do. I remember right the sales position that you held was with an engineering firm. So you had a great job. What went into your decision to do that? You have three children. That's not something that people do lightly to say I'm leaving corporate and I'm going to take my chances. Why did it become so strong that you finally left your job?

Mitch Case:

I love this question because it really does come back to I know the cliche thing is like find your purpose, your passion and all that kind of stuff. As an engineer, my background being mechanical engineering and falling into a sales position where I got to utilize my technical degree and communicate and build relationships, I absolutely really did enjoy that. So it wasn't a scenario of I hated the work that I was doing, it was the direct impact that I was having that was really hard for me to really feel like I was making a difference or an impact on individual's lives. And after our experience with our first born, starting at the time MommyMeals, which is now More Than a Meal, I started seeing that the hours that I was putting into that were really filling my cup, but I just had to also go to work the next day to bring in a paycheck.

Mitch Case:

And as those two kind of started intertwining, I started having these moments of is this what I'm going to do for the rest of my life? Is this the impact that I want to leave? And ultimately, it kept leaning more and more and more towards More Than a Meal. The joke in our house was after I get home from work, my wife had always asked, "Did you quit today?" She could see well before I did it was time for me to start putting things in place to be able to go about this. And I remember her asking the question, if you don't do this, would you regret it in 20 years? And it was just so blindingly the question that I needed to be able to answer that for myself and I absolutely would have regretted. I've never been more happy, more clear about the vision that we have and the direct impact that we are having.

Mitch Case:

So once I had figured all of that out and figured out what our finances looked like so that we could say, all right, we can go without a paycheck for a certain amount of months. And what does it look like for us to be able to break even to where we can continue to do this? Once I had a lot of that in place, I was still scared to make that leap, but it was just time for me to part ways and decided that, you know what, there is no better time than the now to go out and try this. But ultimately it came down to the decision of I didn't want to regret this in 20 years and I was ready to believe in myself.

Kelly Scanlon:

That's so important to have that belief and to have a support system for entrepreneurs who have a spouse or significant other that have their buy-in and support is so critical. For others who might be listening that are considering pursuing their entrepreneurial dream but maybe they're having some reservations about it, what would you tell them?

Mitch Case:

The simple advice that I would give to those individuals is have a plan. I had somewhat of a plan and then we ultimately made that leap, but having that plan in place to know when you can't go on, to know where you need to focus your time, that helped me give the confidence to believe in myself that all right, I've got this and I can do it by this time to eventually make that leap. But what I would say is probably the biggest advice is it's going to take a little bit longer than you even think. So make sure you have to add two times or maybe even three times the amount of time that you think it will be before you take a paycheck. Everything just because you've got a good idea does not mean people will flood to what you are doing and just make sure that you have the ability to make it.

Kelly Scanlon:

And the corollary to that is in addition to the time factor, the expenses are always more than you estimated and the revenue is usually less than you estimated at least within a certain time period that you thought it was going to come in. What have you learned about yourself that maybe you didn't know before now that you're a business owner?

Mitch Case:

Biggest thing for me right now is trying to stay focused and not let the self-talk get into your head. I've read the books on what you need to do here and what you need to do there, but truly having a earning focus on this one thing that you need to go and do to help move your company forward. Even though I had a successful career on the engineering side, it felt like I was kind of winging it for the most part where as now running this business and for the most part, being a solopreneur as we're trying to add more individuals to the team has been staying completely focused on what our main goal is and making sure that I can continue to do things that will help move that forward.

Mitch Case:

It's so easy for me to get stuck in the whirlwind of all the things going on. And I would even get to the point where I was paralyzed to sometimes make decisions or I would focus all my energy on something that I thought was really important, but then our customers showed that it necessarily wasn't all that important. So I continuously go back to the thing that I've learned the most from where I'm at today is staying extremely focused on a handful of things to make sure that you can do those things, continue to move forward as you're stuck in this process of all the other things that are kind of going on around you that you can focus your time on and shiny rocks and that kind of stuff, but continually going back and focusing on that one thing that you know will continue to move you forward.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yeah, those bright Chinese, instead of being opportunities, they can be business killers. And so you got to watch out for them and keep that focus as you say. Going back to your reason for being the more part of what you do, do you have any favorite stories to share from your customers over the years?

Mitch Case:

Yeah, there's one that sticks out and this really is kind of that driver that helps me know that the impact that we're having is truly helping people. So prior to the beginning of this year, I always go out and deliver these meals on Tuesdays. The individual would have to be home to receive it. And not an easily scalable situation, but is what we had to do at the time that we were at. Fortunately we're no longer having to do that, but I will tell you because of this story that I'm about to tell, I will always hold back a couple of meals that eventually I can continue to go out and deliver because I don't necessarily know the situation that people are going through.

Mitch Case:

But in this scenario, this woman had lost her husband. And I remember going out, I'm frustrated because I've got to drive an hour to go drop off this meal and an hour back. And there were just a lot of things going on that day and I was just so frustrated with what it was, but when I called the woman to drop off the meal, I even got a little bit more dose in that she had kind of forgotten that her meal was coming and she was about 15, 20 minutes away. So I'm having the conversation saying, "I'll stay out here and then once you get here, I'll drop it off." And we started having a conversation.

Mitch Case:

And I realized in this moment that this woman was really in need of conversation with somebody. She had lost her husband. And in that moment, I ended up staying for an hour talking with this woman because it was what she needed in that moment. The meal is something that is going to help. And again, I go back to the more than. Like that was the more than that we had to provide that day was sitting and talking to this woman just because she needed to talk to somebody. And I'm glad that I was a part of that.

Kelly Scanlon:

You also have a give back component to More Than a Meal. Tell us about your partners in that, how that works.

Mitch Case:

Every meal that comes through our organization, 5% gets donated to four nonprofits here in the Kansas City area. So we support Literacy KC, Exceeds Expectations, Growing Futures, and The Single MOM KC. So each meal that does come through, that 5% is actually held in a give back fund. And then after the end of each quarter, we will provide that in the sense of meals to individuals that they see need to be served. And one of the things that I really love about that is oftentimes the meal is fantastic, but if we see that those individuals they are serving don't have the ability to cook our meals, we have other partners, we have additional funds in that give back fund to actually provide the slow cooker or the pressure cooker to them. So instead of just providing the fish, now we're actually giving them the fishing pole.

Mitch Case:

And that does give me a lot of joy to have the ability to really support those individuals. And then eventually they can use those cooking tools to cook other meals that oftentimes we see those individuals working two, sometimes even three jobs. So it's really important for them. And maybe they don't have the ability to afford the cost of our meals delivered to their home, but if we can give them those tools, they know how to go out and get the right ingredients to be able to provide the meal for themselves. I'm incredibly happy and joyful in that work.

Kelly Scanlon:

Mitch, for anyone who's listening that would be interested in learning more about More Than a Meal, is the best place to go your website?

Mitch Case:

Going directly to our website and then you'll see a tab there that says our story and it'll kind of give a background of how we got started, why we're doing what we're doing and what we want to accomplish with that. And that would be the easiest way to learn more about it.

Kelly Scanlon:

morethanamealco.com. Mitch, thank you so much for what you're doing for bringing joy and that little bit of more to so many people in the metro area.

Mitch Case:

Thank you so much, Kelly.

Joe Close:

This is Joe Close, president of Country Club Bank. Thank you to Mitch Case for being our guest on this episode of Banking on KC. At Country Club Bank, we enjoy working with business owners and learning what inspired their entrepreneurial leap. How heartening it is to hear the origin story of More Than a Meal inspired by the kindness of others during a challenging time for Mitch and his family. What a powerful reminder that you never know where one kind deed will lead. Thanks for tuning in this week. We're banking on you Kansas City. Country Club Bank, Member FDIC.

 

Member FDIC / Equal Housing Lender

Trust, Investment and Insurance products and Services:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency.
  • Are Not deposits of, or guaranteed by, the Bank or any Bank affiliate.
  • May lose value.