Catherine's App Makes Healthy Eating a Piece of Cake
GreenHopping founder Catherine Cuello talks about how she turned a health scare into a sustainable business model, closely aligned with her personal commitment to health and wellbeing. Her GreenHopping app makes it easier for anyone to buy healthy, plant-based food and beverages by linking them with the best options in cities across the US.
How did you bring your idea for GreenHopping to life? Any advice for entrepreneurs just starting out?
"I recognized there was an unmet market need in 2012 when I suffered a health sacre and lost my left ovary to surgery, (after) being misdiagnosed and over-treated in emergency surgery for a cyst that was benign on the outside but (malignant) on the inside. I opted out of preventative chemotherapy and changed my life and diet from the inside out. The lack of information and access to green foods is what inspired me to pursue the route of entrepreneurship and fill the void of what I saw to be a problem.
For those entrepreneurs that are starting out, all I can say is to find a problem that makes you passionate, and find a solution that you think you can tackle to help fix the problem. Any successful business needs a significant amount of drive, passion and love behind it."
You've decided not to take any funding to date to ensure GreenHopping remains true to your original vision. How have you ensured that your current business model can sustain itself financially and what advice do you have for other sustainability startup founders looking to retain their core values?
"We've kept our costs low, and we did a lot of PR as opposed to paid marketing or advertising. Our team is small but laser-focused.
We're also all based in different parts of the country, so we don't pay for, let's say office space and supplies. It's a very millennial way of working and thinking- being practical and efficient as opposed to traditional.
It's important for us to work with the right investor, so until he/she comes along, we will continue to be self-funded and rely on the transactions that go through the app, and soon, e-commerce platform."
What challenges has GreenHopping faced in getting juice bars and plant-based vendors to participate? How did you overcome them?
"We were covered by the media extensively upon our launch and that pretty much got us the OK with the vendors. They saw us as a credible, rising startup so we didn't have issues of trust.
Having said that, everyone involved is in the business of generating profit, so as long as we keep getting sales in and customers at their door, we're good!
Lastly, a good sales person that understands the ins and outs of your business and of the industry is a must. We're also operating in a very fun and creative industry, so the vendors are always happy to host an event or engage in a speaking opportunity because they value face-to-face time. It's a great space to be in."
What positive impact on sustainability has GreenHopping made (or hopes to make) so far?
"In terms of having a social impact blueprint, I think our work has already started. Every time myself or one of my colleagues is at an event as a speaker or an attendee, we make it a a point to connect (through my health scare) and educate (through the benefits of a plant-based diet).
We are on a mission to inspire health lifestyle changes to alter the chronic disease epidemic we're seeing in this country, and lay down the foundation of better food education for the next generation.
Every time a purchase is made through GreenHopping, we know we're creating change. What you eat is who you are, and every bite counts."
If you could only install one app on your phone (besides GreenHopping!) what would it be?
"Spotify! Because good music inspires me and makes me dream."
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