For those of you that don’t know, I am the founder and CEO of a startup called GiftAMeal. GiftAMeal helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo at a participating restaurant while providing valuable marketing services to restaurants. We were recently invited to participate in the 2019 Startup of the Year SXSW Competition. Startup of the Year is powered by Established, a consultancy focused on helping organizations with their innovation, startup, and communication strategies. In participating, we joined the ranks of great companies that have passed through their events over the past decade such as GrubHub, ShearShare, Maxwell Health, Groupon and Uber.
Leading up to the competition we were incredibly excited and ready to build on a great year of growth. In the last year we’ve raised an investment round, won an Arch Grant and numerous other awards, and grown the business in a huge way. We are always excited about the opportunity to share our journey and scaling plan.
We fast-pitched in a lightning round on the rooftop of the Startup of the Year House at Maggie Mae’s on March 10. Our CMO, Jacob Mohrmann, said, “This was a great opportunity to get the word out about GiftAMeal to potential partners and customers. We’ve grown so much in the past year, drastically increasing our restaurant base, users, and revenue. We were excited to showcase GiftAMeal in front of this global network of investors and influencers, as well as the global startup community.
Presenting at SXSW was an incredible experience. The conversations with other entrepreneurs were enlightening as we talked about our experiences and traded advice for how we have tackled similar opportunities and challenges. GiftAMeal was received very well and many judges who run accelerator programs across the country came up to me afterwards to tell me about their programs for potential future funding! Though we weren’t selected to be in the Top 5 at Startup of the Year, being in the Top 25 was an honor and seeing the startups in the Top 5 that had raised over $1M and already had amazing traction helped provide me with the vision of our potential. While at SXSW, I also was able to listen to amazing speakers like Guy Kawasaki, a marketing specialist who created a lot of Apple’s early success alongside Steve Jobs. I also attended a panel on The Future of Food to hear what the trends were with agriculture and restaurants and think through how GiftAMeal fits into the bigger picture. After the competition and the speakers, I had some terrific one-on-one meetings with Andy Moore (Senior Manager, Business Operations at Main Street Hub — acquired by GoDaddy in 2018), Stephen Garten (CEO & Founder of Charity Charge), and Laurence Mittelbronn (Member Engagement, Innovation and Membership at the National Restaurant Association). Learning about their experiences was so helpful and they were all very willing to help support me and GiftAMeal. I leave SXSW with ideas bouncing around my brain, new relationships developed, and a boost of inspiration for GiftAMeal to reach its full potential.