goBeyondProfit CEO Interviews: Jasmine Crowe-Houston, Founder & CEO of Goodr
Friday, September 29th, 2023
Goodr and their founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe-Houston were recently awarded the goBeyondProfit Champion award for developing innovative business solutions that bring countless companies into the fight against hunger and food waste.
Goodr is the story of an Atlanta founder who has reached the admirable goal of being on Fortune’s global list of the top 50 companies changing the world. Yet, in our interview, Jasmine reminds us of her unyielding focus on harnessing the power of business to achieve a singular, audacious goal of ensuring no one ever goes hungry.
From Sunday Soul to For-Profit Solution
When I go back to the beginning of why I started Goodr, it really is rooted in a personal journey of my own. I had been working in the nonprofit space for about seven years, working largely with celebrities as they were starting and running their own nonprofits.
And I was saying to them, the people that are standing in line for Turkey at Thanksgiving are hungry in May as well, that it’s not just a one day a year thing where we need to give and make sure that people have access and that everyone’s going to be able to eat.
One day I went home, and I posted on Facebook that I was starting an initiative called Sunday Soul. It was going to be a pop-up restaurant. We wanted to have tables and chairs and linens and enable people to order off a menu and be treated with dignity as they’re going through this rough patch in their life.
Four years later, a 15-second clip video went viral on Facebook that someone had shared that said — look at what this group did for the homeless community in Atlanta. I woke up the next morning to millions of views and friend requests and thousands of comments. As I was reading through the comments, people kept on saying, this is so amazing, who donated the food? And the truth was no one. I was couponing, price matching, cooking all this food myself. I started to brainstorm how to get food donated and get it to people in need.
A Google search leads me down this deep rabbit hole about food waste. I really was so shocked to learn how much food goes to waste in this country while so many people are going hungry. And I thought, I’m going to solve this. I’m going to create a company to get this perfectly good food to people in need. And that was kind of the early impetus that got us started.
Defining the Problem of Food Insecurity & Waste
The problem of food insecurity and waste is massive. To give you guys a little bit of a scope, we’re wasting about 80 billion pounds of all the food that we produce every single year. And if food waste itself was a country, it would be the third-largest country in the world. There is a lot of perfectly good food that goes to waste.
In the United States alone, the estimate is that we waste about 40% of all the food that we produce. And that’s a problem because in a state like Georgia, one out of nine Georgians go hungry, and those numbers are worse for children and seniors.
This is a big problem. We’re wasting perfectly good food, yet we have people who are going hungry.
Solving Hunger with Logistics and Data Analytics
Early on I said that hunger wasn’t an issue of scarcity, but it was a matter of logistics. I read about how much food was going to waste and saw first-hand all the people that were going hungry. What I realized food waste is a logistical solution for businesses that have trash. Companies put food waste in a bin and a waste company picks it up and puts it in a landfill.
I realized that I needed to solve that logistic problem for companies and help them get perfectly good food to people who need food. The early vision was a business that collects excess food, packages it up, labels it, and delivers it right to a nonprofit who can get it to people in need.
Goodr uses data and analytics. It’s really the core of our technology because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. We track the items our customers are wasting on a constant basis. We roll all of this data up in into a report that shows them how much of the food is getting donated, what may be getting recycled, what’s going to landfill, how much they’re saving, how much CO2 emissions they’re literally keeping out of landfill and out of our air and what their sustainable impact is on this community.
The Secret to Start Up Success
Entrepreneurship is very hard. I think a lot of people champion that you go and be an entrepreneur, start your own business, run your own company, live your dreams, don’t go work for someone else and live their dreams. But it is tough and it’s lonely. You have other people’s livelihood in your hands. Your company’s success is responsible for people paying their mortgage, putting their kids through college, feeding their own families. That can be a lot to bear.
I think the secret to kind of staying power is doing something that’s bigger than yourself. And that’s how I keep going. Every single day we are really doing something that matters. We are helping people in their darkest hours, giving them hope, food and an opportunity to be their best selves.
I always think about that old Snickers commercial that said you’re not yourself when you’re hungry. And I think how many people have never been their full selves because they’re hungry all the time. Then I think about the good we do here at Goodr and that’s ultimately what keeps me going. The emails and letters that remind us that someone received the most food they’ve had in their pantry in months. They share with us the new confidence someone has when they don’t have to worry about food for the next week or two. That is what keeps me going.