Maddi Eckert Wants You To Eat Cheaper, Greener, and Smarter
Maddi Eckert is a senior at the University of Southern California and CEO and co-founder of Nom Noms, an affordable and sustainable meal kit service. At just $4.99 per serving, Nom Noms' meal kits are a healthy and affordable option that customers can feel good about eating; the kits reduce food waste at both the food distributor- and individual-levels and use 100% compostable packaging materials.
We got to speak with Eckert about how she started her company, and the resourceful way she got the word out about Nom Noms to other students.
Starting Nom Noms
"At the beginning of [this past] summer, I was home at my mom's house and I noticed that she would often forget about food in her fridge. I started getting really interested in food waste and learning more about the unequal distribution of food throughout our entire country."
"Andrew, my co-founder, cold-called food distributors and asked, 'Do you have "ugly produce" [perfectly usable produce with superficial flaws] and what do you do with them?' One said they did and, at that moment, actually had around 10 tonnes of broccoli florets that were just half an inch too short for their self-imposed standards. And if they couldn't sell them to 3rd party vendors, they often just threw the food away. So [Andrew and I] knew that was absolutely ridiculous and that we could do something there."
"A lot of people in college think that they're busier than they actually are. When it comes down to it, it's all a matter of prioritization. [...] I don't watch television ever."
"I'm now fully invested in the time I'm spending with [friends] because now I might only have 30 minutes with them instead of 2 hours to just hang out."
College Is the Best Time to Start a Company
"My mindset is that, especially for somebody who knows they want to get into entrepreneurship, college is the best time to [start a company] because you're surrounded by an incredible network of really talented people and you might be more financially stable, especially if your parents are still helping support you. You still have a safety net that you won't have after you graduate."
"So many professors at USC have been willing to help. Professor [Adlai] Wertman was able to connect me to a consultant on cold chain [temperature-controlled supply chain] and he was phenomenally helpful and did it pro bono."
$0 Marketing Budget
"We relied 100% on word of mouth, but sent emails [about our launch] to students [...] using the USC Student Directory, which is another perk of still being a student. We were also in the Daily Trojan."