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Fireside Chats

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Munchery CEO: our first investors were our first customers

Founder Tri Tran did all of the deliveries himself, and was able to connect with angel investors

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
October 17, 2016 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/47a7

During a Fireside at our 6th annual Splash LA conference last Thursday. Munchery founder and CEO Tri Tran told Bambi Francisco, Founder and CEO of Vator, that some of his first investors were his customers he delivered food to as one of the first delivery boys at his startup Munchery. Now that's a tip! 

The company was started in 2010, and came about because Tran was tasked with cooking dinners for his wife and two kids.

"My wife is not a cook, and isn't interested in cooking. So the question of 'What's for dinner?' was always on me. I was working a lot, my wife works too, so we ended up doing a lot of take out from local restaurants. More often than not, we had settled, because of convenience, for poor quality type food. Pizza, Chinese, greasy food, which makes you feel bad after eating it. Then, when we had kids, three and six year old boys at the time, feeding them that stuff, we really felt guilty," he said.

"So I was like, 'I'm on a mission to find out how can I get quality food conveniently?' That was the genesis of the company. It began simply that way. I knew nothing about culinary."

To figure out how to do it, Tran said he not only spoke to different chefs, but he was actually doing all of the deliveries himself in San Francisco for the first few months.

While he got made fun of by his in-laws for being a delivery man who had gone to MIT, he said it was actually a really good experience for learning how to make the company work. 

"This is the best way, as an entrepreneur, to actually meet your customers, and ask them, 'Hey, what is it about the service?' How did they find out about it? Do they enjoy it? What else can we do differently or better to improve the service?"

Ultimately, this kind of hustle on Tran's part paid off, as his a good number of the first investors in Munchery, who put approximately $210,000 in seed funding into the company in November 2011, were those early customers that he had spoken to.

"Half of that money came from the actual people I had delivered the food to. I met Matt Mullenweg, the WordPress founder, I met Sunil Paul, the Sidecar founder. I met a lot of individuals who had this exact problem. They needed quality food conveniently and they liked the solution we have. When I reached out again afterward, and introduced myself, I had met them while doing delivery," he said.

"That's a great way to hustle," Francisco said.

Check out our when they were young series, including our latest one, which covers Munchery's early days


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