How a deliciously healthy, local meal subscription company encourages entrepreneurial spirit through the necessity of eating.
Entering a brand new year often brings about a medley of positive resolutions, dreams and hopes, and so often the roots of these are embodied within improving our health and wellness. Enter Vital Supply Co.—a company focusing on providing fresh, healthy meals right at your fingertips; Meals so delicious, flavourful and enjoyable, you will soon forget all you’ve ever presumed about what can be accessible, healthy, tasty, and clean eating.
Today, we were pleased to meet with Vital Supply Co.’s Co-founder and Director of Culinary, Reuben Major, to chat about what led them to launch their company, some real issues they’ve tackled along the way, and what they are truly bringing to our beautiful city.
Who came up with the initial business idea for Vital Supply Co,?
There are three of us who are the original co-founders of the business. We all separately had a very similar idea, knew of each other, came together somewhat unexpectedly, and realized we had the same thing in mind. Braden and Mack have been good friends since high-school, and I knew Braden through a former employer. The idea was spread out amongst us, but it was when the three of us came together that we were able to really to hone in on the concept.
At what point did you feel that the business could be feasible? How did you know that you wanted to own your own business?
Interestingly enough, I do own a couple of other businesses, and I was concentrating on those at the time. But it was time for something new. I’ve known for a long time that I enjoy being an entrepreneur, and in that segment, I also realized that there was a new opportunity. We knew that this business was feasible because in our research, we found meal delivery to be the fastest growing segment of the food industry. And what’s fascinating is that one of the things we are finding is that we are consistently educating, as a lot of people do not understand that they can subscribe to be fed. When they understand that philosophy, it begins to make a lot sense for life today—especially on the time saving side of things.
Did you have previous experience in this field?
I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 23 years. I own a restaurant called Belgard Kitchen, which is a part of Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery. Before that I worked for Earls Restaurant for 18 and a half years. And for the past 6 years, I was director of culinary and bar development, and was responsible for developing the menu across all 65 locations within the company.
What are the strengths of Vital Supply Co.? And what are some that differentiate you from others in the industry?
Because of our history and experience in the culinary world, we are able to implement knowledge from around the globe on food trends, cooking techniques, traditional cooking styles, and the use of technology into our food to make it super unique, healthy, flavourful and nutrient dense. Most importantly, all of our meals are made dairy-free and gluten-free, with no refined sugar added. Nutrient density is a massive focus for us.
We are also very focused on our environmental stewardship, and in the sense that, we’re very strict on what type of packaging we use. All of our packaging is either compostable or recyclable. We have received feedback that some would prefer sturdier containers so that they can transfer easier, however, we believe it is our responsibility to do our best to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible.
Another aspect of that is our philosophy on sourcing local and organic—but we believe local is more important than organic. For example, when we initially started the company, we sourced organic quinoa from Bolivia. By the time it gets here, that carbon footprint is, in my mind, not very organic. We came across a great company that we work very closely with, called Grain, that sources all of their product from Saskatchewan. So, we’re using a non-organic quinoa that is beautiful, flavourful, and we feel so much better about it because we’re not shipping it from South America. We’re supporting a local Canadian company, and bringing it from the shortest distance possible to the consumer.
How are you using social media outlets to communicate with customers and potential customers?
We are in the midst of our New Year Reset promotion—focusing on giving our customers the opportunity to reset after the holidays, and get back on track after the over indulgence that happens this season. Also, we have a select number of influencers that have given the opportunity to try our service, and see what it feels like to eat clean, real food for an extended period of time. We offer 7 and 14 day resets, and we’re working together with those influencers to help spread the word.
What is the most important things you are working on at the moment? And what is your strategy for making it happen?
We’re working on several things at once. Our main priority at the moment is the development of our website. We’re striving to create a website that is dynamic and allows people to customize their plans to exactly what they want to order. No matter how many different scenarios we come up with, we find that a customer may want something that is even specific to them—and we want to be able to offer them that service. Number two would be variety on our menu. There are an array of preferences, such as: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and paleo. There are so many different preferences, so for us, being able to offer a menu that has a tremendous amount of variety—and to have people not get bored of their food—is important for us. It is our responsibility to continue to consistently think up and create new menu items for our clients.
Is there a trend within the food industry or within the realm of business that excites you at the moment?
By offering the option of eating healthy and conveniently, all in one, is a trend that we’re trying to create—and we’re very excited to be a leader in that. More and more people are coming to understand where their food comes from, what it does for them and to them, and we’d love to be able to be the facilitators of choosing to eat well. We adhere to a very strict philosophy at Vital Supply Co: to source organic whenever possible, that all of proteins are free range, hormone and steroid-free. We cook using real food—no additives, nothing pre-packaged. Everything is made from scratch, which is important to us and on-trend within the current market.
Tell us about your first order, and how has the experience changed since then? Have your systems have altered over the past year?
Our systems have altered dramatically. Our first order was put together between the 3 founders. We were jacks-of-all-trades, and we did every job in the business in the beginning. It was not a big order and it was super chaotic being our first. Luckily, our initial order was cooking for friends and family, so we were able to test the model before we actually launched it to full-paying customers. Since then, we’ve added significantly more staff, and we’ve improved our systems dramatically to ensure we’re making the right amount of food. Even our packaging system has changed, and the actually packaging that we use has changed.
How did you come up with the menu plans and ingredients? And what informed your decisions?
It is important for us to offer balanced meals that span across the macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as a range of calories to ensure what our customers meal is fuelling them to be their best, fuelling them through the next meal, and reducing crashes in blood sugar. The ingredients we choose are specific to allowing those things to happen.
Do you have specific long term goals in mind for the company?
We see ourselves as having the ability to service the entire lower mainland. Because we’re not limited like we might be at a restaurant—with a limited by a number of seats—our only limitation is geography. If we can get our food to the people, they have an opportunity to eat our food. Growing service in all of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland is our goal.
What is the single most important piece of advice that you would offer someone who is considering starting a business of their own?
Fail to plan. Plan To fail. You have to have a great business plan. Be tenacious. Work extremely hard. Nothing will go as planned, I promise you. It never has for me yet. You have to be nimble and be able to adapt to whatever is coming. Be able to take decent feedback. Don’t be set in your ways. Be open.
How are you trying to impact the city of Vancouver?
First of all, I love this city. There are so many cool people doing cool things. The entrepreneurial spirit of this city is on fire right now. I come across people on a daily basis that are trying to do something new and very interesting. I would like our company to be known for fuelling those people to perform their best and reach their highest goals. Good food and proper nourishment is so important to the energy that is required to be sharp on a daily basis and really propel you to that next level. If we were known as a company that helped encourage that entrepreneurial spirit through the necessity of eating. I’d love for Vital Supply Co. to be known for that.