Jasmine Crowe had been hosting formal pop-up dinners for the homeless in Atlanta for about two and a half years when a video about her efforts went viral in January 2016. The most common question among viewers surprised her. “Which restaurants donated the food?” she says they asked. “And the reality was that no restaurants donated the food. I literally was just taking volunteer donations and spending sometimes my last money to make these things happen.”
Crowe decided to change that: In January 2017 she launched Goodr, a food-waste management company that redirects surplus food from businesses to nonprofits that can share it with those who are food insecure.
“Hunger is not a scarcity issue. There’s more than enough food. It’s actually a logistics issue,” she says. After all, many restaurants, catering, and event companies often end up with plenty of leftovers, but don’t want to cost or liability of figuring out how to donate and deliver them to those in need. At the same time, those in need–not just the homeless, but also low-income families and the elderly–may not have the time or transportation to plug into existing free-meal services or food banks in their area.
Goodr solves that through an app that allows its clients to signal that there’s a surplus ready to be collected. The company provides its own packaging (when needed) and transport for each item and logs every part of the transaction via the blockchain, creating an unalterable digital ledger that shows food providers who ultimately received their goods, and where they ended up being consumed. Beneficiaries can also access a shared dashboard to share testimonials with the donors.
Clients include Turner Broadcasting Systems, the Georgia World Congress Center, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. On the service side, Goodr works with the United Way of Greater Atlanta to figure out what areas of the city may have the most need and what community groups can best serve that need. The major recipients include the Atlanta Mission and Gateway Center, both of which battle homelessness, and National Church residences, a nonprofit that manages low-income housing for seniors.
So far, the company claims to have diverted 900,000 pounds food—about 850,000 meals. In some cases, that’s premade sandwiches, but it’s also bulk ingredients, which community groups figure out how to use.
Goodr’s tracks the quantity weight of each delivery in order to estimate each participant’s environmental impact (what’s not going to landfill), and financial bonus (both lower trash-disposal fees, and can be written off as a donation). Goodr charges companies a variable fee based on pickup volume. That can range from $2,500 to $15,000 a month, with a la carte pricing for things like galas and weddings. Crowe estimates for every dollar spent on her services, she can save a company $14 in saved costs and tax deductions.
Crowe, who is a former independent philanthropy consultant, spent years organizing campaigns for many well-known hip-hop artists and professional athletes. Ultimately, she realized that much of celebrity giving is cyclical. It happens during the neediest times of the year, say back to school season, or the holidays, but not generally in ways that provide a sustainable solution. For Crowe, who once struggled with food insecurity herself, and has seen friends battle the same issue, that wasn’t good enough.
So far, she’s used local and national business accelerators and incubation competitions to bootstrap capital. That includes winning the United Way Spark Prize for $15,000 in funding, and Miller Lite Tap the Future contest for another $21,000, among other top finishes. In February 2018, Goodr was accepted into the virtual accelerator Techstars Anywhere and continues to work on how to expand and grow revenue.
The company currently generates about $30,000 a month in revenue (and estimates it has saved clients well over $2.5 million). The goal is to generate $1 million in revenue annually within the next year and then expand to another city. (Washington, D.C., Orlando, Las Vegas, and Chicago make the shortlist.) Goodr is also in the process of converting to a certified B Corp, and testing the next step in quality control: geo-tag beacons currently ride with some deliveries to report any temperature fluctuations and map how quickly the food moves from start to finish.
The more transparent and accountable the process, the more Crowe hopes donors and recipients will be eager to use it.