Ryan Hansan, Founder of ScratchDC
Founded by foodies whose aim is to create incredible meals at home. ScratchDC takes care of the work by delivering locally sourced organic ingredients with step by step recipes to your door.
Please share how you formed Scratch DC from the ground up. What surprised you about the process? Was there anything that was more difficult or easier than you expected in the process.
It all started with a problem. After college I found it very difficult and wasteful to cook at home. There was the recipe research, and trips to the grocery store where you had to waste money on way more of an ingredient than you needed – why buy a bushel of cilantro when you need a pinch? A jar of garam masala when you need a 1/4 tsp? I figured there had to be a better way so we set out to fix the problem.
In terms of difficulties, there are a lot of things behind the scenes that go into creating a business that I guess I was not totally prepared for. I just wanted to help people make awesome food, but to do this, there are a vast number of hoops to jump through to make it happen – from permits, to insurance to taxes, to HR, to banking – there are just innumerable things to worry about. So while any idea might seem simple, there are a ton of moving parts behind the scenes that an entrepreneur has to deal with.
What were you doing before you launched your company? What prompted you to take the leap and start your own business?
After college I had an opportunity to travel for about a year. I tried and loved so much new food, which of course, was so difficult to replicate at home. When I got back and I was going to the grocery store literally every time I wanted to cook, my frustration in the kitchen grew and the idea kind of evolved into an “okay, let’s do this”.
How have you handled the marketing/PR for Scratch DC since you began? Based on your experience is marketing and PR services something you would advise other entrepreneurs to outsource or keep in-house?
We’ve been incredibly lucky that our customers have been our biggest advocates. We’ve not yet spent really any money on marketing (besides neighborhood days/festivals). Outside of this strong word of mouth, we’ve worked with bloggers and other PR folks – giving them free bundles for them to try and hopefully review. 99% of the time we’ve gotten mentions/write ups and luckily for us, all the reviews have been positive!
How do you continue to come up with new menu ideas?
Up to this point, my fiancé and I have tested all of the new meals. With the exception of some of our Chef featured recipes, all of our recipes are our own creations, made with inspiration from tastes we’ve loved, friends, family (thanks, Mom & Nanny!), cookbooks and even TV shows. We spend a good deal of time researching, tweaking and perfecting new meals. We test each meal 3-4 times in our own small home kitchen to be sure it can be cooked quickly, easily, and above all – be sure it tastes amazing!
What bit of advice would you offer someone just starting out?
Listen to your customers and be ready to work harder than you expect. Each grain of feedback is absolutely crucial and is essential to evolving your business. The last part is self explanatory – running a business of any size is hard – get ready to work!
What would you say are the three main ingredients to a successful business?
1. A solution – you’ve got to have a service or product that people need.
2. LOVE your customers – surprise and delight, treat them like family. Your customers determine your reputation and treating them right is the only way to go.
3. Surround yourself with awesome people – surround yourself with great staff and advisors who are willing to work hard and believe in your goals and share in the success
What can we look for from your company in the coming years?
We’ve got a lot of exciting things in the pipeline! We’ll be building out and moving into our brand new commercial kitchen space that we’ll be sharing with a few other awesome DC food startups. In 2014 we will be rolling out our beer and wine pairings, as well as introducing some other very exciting meal options and add-ons, (breakfast, anyone?). From there we’ll hopefully have the opportunity to bring the scratchDC love to other cities and help more busy foodies efficiently cook amazing meals.
Random fun fact about yourself or what’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Best moments so far have been at the customer appreciation happy hours. The last one we threw, about 100 people showed up and it was such an amazing experience to get to meet and talk to them. Just realizing that there are people out there who support you and love what your doing is a fantastic feeling.