One in five children in the United States goes hungry every day. That statistic might be surprising to most, but to Michael Levine, it became a calling – a reason to build an organization whose guiding mission is to reduce that number drastically. 500 food products and seven brands later, Global Food Solutions is continuing their work by partnering with government institutions, all without raising a single dollar of outside capital.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Over the course of a decade, Michael focused on building a business on his terms. In this episode, we uncover how this promising executive chef decided to start a food business after suffering a major injury, preventing him from ever working in the kitchen again.
The early opportunity was initially driven by changing government regulations that forced public schools to look for healthier food providers. Coupled with his dedication to create an impact on kid’s lives, Michael and his team created a proprietary way to make food that was both cost-effective and nutritious.
In this episode, we discuss how he landed his first major client with the New York City public school system, and the two main factors that contributed to his ongoing success – placing incredible importance on building face to face relationships and managing financials with relentless focus.
- 0:40 Michael's origin story, and what lead him to start a company in the first place
- 1:20 Going from washing dishes to becoming an executive chef before going back to school
- 2:00 After learning that 1 in 5 children go hungry in the U.S., Michael decided to do something about it
- 2:48 Taking advantage of a new government regulation to create healthy food for children at volume
- 4:00 Identifying large scale programs like school systems, and deciding to target the NYC school district of 1.2mm children
- 4:35 Building a supply chain to handle high volumes before shipping the product
- 5:10 Becoming best sellers within 30 days of launch
- 6:10 Figuring out how to win a bid to reach 1,800 schools across New York City
- 6:30 Leveraging the fact that he had a young and nimble company to get his foot in the door
- 7:20 The power of in person interactions to get people to see your vision
- 8:25 Distributing to schools across the country, health care systems, and the military
- 9:05 Choosing to be entirely self funded, and funding operations through clever deals with distributors
- 11:37 Why sometimes you just have to ask to get what you need
- 12:28 Your legitimacy as an entrepreneur isn't confirmed by how much money you raise, but by resourceful you are
- 13:54 How Michael setup a full operation to service 1,800 schools within 6 months
- 14:33 Never giving up control to interested investors, eventually servicing 1mm children a day
- 15:05 Saying no to massive distributors like Target and Walmart
- 16:02 Understanding that there's no one formula, and that you can run a business in whatever way you want