Event: Impact Speaker Series: Doug Rauch, founder of The Daily Table and former president of Trader Joe’s, co-hosted by The Center for Responsible Business
Date: Thursday, February 20th, 2014
Location: Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
Between 30-40% of food produced in the US is wasted. Meanwhile, 49 million Americans struggle regularly with hunger. The Daily Table, a new nonprofit opening in Massachusetts this spring, aims to turn these two wrongs into a right. It will sell fresh-cooked, healthy meals at competitive fast food prices, in a neighborhood where such options are scarce. It will use produce donated by grocery stores due to cosmetic defects or slightly passed expiry dates—produce that is still nutritious and edible but is currently being sent to the landfill by the ton.
Doug Rauch, founder of The Daily Table and former president of Trader Joe’s, shared his experiences and advice from the early days of starting a mission-driven business.
After “graduating” from Trader Joe’s 5 years ago, Doug searched for a way to use his knowledge from his career and apply it to something he was passionate about. He became apart of a Harvard Fellowship that asked successful professionals who were nearing the end of their careers, to tackle a significant social ill at scale. After reflecting on which social issue bothered him the most, it finally dawned on him: “how is it possible that 1 out of 6 Americans is hungry” in one of the richest countries that spends billions of dollars on agriculture and food production?
Doug laid out 6 steps to starting a mission-driven business, based on his own journey of starting The Daily Table.
- “If you’re going to try to tackle a problem, know the problem,” Doug advised. He realized the problem for hunger in America cannot be solved by filling stomachs because they are already filled – but with cheap junk calories. The real problem is bringing affordable nutrition to 50 million Americans.
- Once the problem is understood, you must question why the problem is not being addressed. Doug discovered that there are plenty of food banks, but many people who qualify for food stamps are embarrassed to use these services because it’s a question of dignity.
- “You are either innovating or you’re going to die.” It is easy for any organization to become complacent as time goes on; however, in order to be successful, one must keep innovating to stay ahead of the game.
- Get your story right. Narratives are crucial because they matter to the people the organization is trying to reach. With the story, it’s necessary to address why people should care and what makes the issue urgent.
- Reel in your initial funders (this is mostly applicable to nonprofits): Fundraising is an extremely competitive marketplace in the nonprofit world because the funders get to decide whether the organization has a right to exist. If you’re going to stick to a nonprofit model, “you have to break the nonprofit silos and rise above the competition” to form [strategic] partnerships.”
- Have a business plan and execute it well by engaging the right people.
In addition to Doug Rauch, both of the founders of Feeding Forward, a UC Berkeley-born organization formed to help solve the issue of local hunger, were also present at the event to share how they are approaching the same social issue. The organization uses technology to connect those with excess food to those who need it through the use of a mobile application, thus “streamlining the process of food recovery and donation”. Thus far, the venture has successfully recovered 420,000 pounds of excess edible food donations, which has generated enough meals to feed over 355,000 individuals.
Doug Rauch speaks to the idea of sustainability in the nonprofit world due to the extreme competitiveness in the nonprofit market:
Doug Rauch advises students to “Dare Greatly.”
Below are some photos from the event:
*This was a zero-waste event.