How do you launch a line of ingenious vending machines to dispense delicious salads? Luke Saunders, a former traveling salesman, got the idea for Farmer’s Fridge on business trips when he couldn’t find anything decent to eat. He wanted a kiosk stocked with sustainably sourced salads in environmentally responsible containers, at a reasonable cost. After many trials, in October 2013 Saunders powered up his first machine at Chicago’s Garvey Food Court. As of April 2014, he is up to 20 machines and counting. The salads are made fresh every day. Sold in reusable Mason jars, they start at $7. Additional proteins like canned tuna and organic chicken start at $2. Every day before the machines are restocked, whatever remains unsold goes to Chicago-area food pantries. Here, Saunders shares 10 steps to salad-vending success.
1. Get your spouse’s backing. “In early 2013, my wife was finishing up law school. She knew I’d been wanting to start my own business, and suggested I give it a shot as soon as she graduated that summer.”
2. Learn from experts, part 1: “Part of what planted the seed for me was watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution TV show in the UK, when I was there on business. I identified so much with that idea of making healthy food accessible. On the show he kept going to new places to retrain an entire kitchen. I kept thinking how it could go so much better if they could do all the cooking in one place and ship it out. But I knew nothing about commercial food production.”