I first began working on my business, Munch (eatwithmunch.com), 6 months ago under a business incubator called GATSVI. For months, Munch was a shifting idea that underwent several changes and pivots; previously, it was a project that lacked feasibility and received much criticism from mentors. However, it was after these changes that the business settled on its final format as an SMS texting service for flash promotions. In this format, we send discounts through text to those subscribed to our service.
My cofounder and I pitched to our city’s Chamber of Commerce, to form a partnership with restaurants in need of customers during COVID-19. Using these connections, Munch was able to connect with TJ’s Cafe Restaurant, a local Orange County family-owned establishment impacted in recent circumstances. Through cold calling, calling without any prior introduction, with many restaurants, we were also able to partner with our local Yogurtland and Nekter’s Juice Bar. Beforehand, partnering with larger chains did not seem feasible and was a perceived obstacle for our beginning; however, cold calling and pitching our service opened many new avenues for Munch.
Organizing deals with our partnered restaurants proved to be a varying process as some ,including the agreement with TJ’s Cafe Restaurant, were immediately approved and others ,including the partnership with Nekter’s Juice Bar, required agreement in processes spanning several weeks. Me and my partner often went to the restaurant in person to meet the owners and gauge the promotions to be sent, with aspects such as the approved deal and time of sending the discount being important parts of our discussions. Although we experienced much rejection from other restaurants that found no need for Munch, it was a fulfilling experience to work with those that did want the services. Additionally, such experiences were helpful in refining our process of approaching and pitching to customers.
Prior to launch, preparation was extensive. To gain funding, my co-founder and I participated in several business competitions for the opportunities to gain investment. We also worked on marketing campaigns, which included social media promotions, word-of-mouth advertising, and posting flyers. One significant aspect of our marketing includes our recent referral program, a raffle that gives a $100 prize to a winning customer who refers friends to our service. It was important to find these and other creative ways of advertising that were effective, as social media alone provided lesser engagement rates than hoped.
Munch underwent its launch on Monday, June 22nd, for TJ’s Cafe Restaurant. On that morning, a text advertising the restaurant’s daily special was sent to all subscribers, urging them to come in and redeem the deal. My cofounder and I remained in the restaurant for the majority of the day to see how many customers used our deal, and talked to the owner after closing to reflect on the experience. Similarly, we conducted our deal with Brea’s Yogurtland on June 26th, for 20% off the customer’s order, while observing who would redeem the deal.
After both days, we conducted interviews and used the statistics from each deal to find what was successful and unsuccessful about the experience. Launching a business was an intimidating step after many months of preparation, but it was a necessary and rewarding process that showed the progress Munch has made after much hard work.
Lauren Yu, Grade 10,
Brea Olinda High School