Introduction : Lauren McMahon, Founder of Lunch Unpacked
Describe your company, product or service, business location and number of employees.
Lunch Unpacked is a subscription-based meal planning service for kid’s school lunch. We deliver a weekly guide of nutritionist-approved snacks and lunches which include a consolidated shopping list, daily prep guide, nutritional information for each meal, and printable lunch box notes.
We are based in Los Angeles.
I do not have any full-time employees, but I work with a trained nutritionist/chef, a graphic designer, and a social media manager on a freelance basis.
Tell Us About Your Company : Lunch Unpacked
Why did you start this company and when?
I started working on the concept in early 2019 and launched in September 2019.
What kind of corporation is your business? And why?
LLC provides legal protections without the requirements of a corporation.
Did you have an “Aha” moment that made you create your product?
When I was brainstorming ideas for a new business, I wrote down all the challenges I was having as a parent and I kept coming back to the daily question of how to feed my kids well. I’ve always been knowledgeable about nutrition and loved cooking. But even with those tools in my pocket, I still felt like I was failing. Packing lunch for school was a big thorn in my side. There’s a lot of school lunch inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, but I didn’t have the time to browse, choose ideas, and plan out the week. I wanted a school lunch solution. I built Lunch Unpacked to be that solution.
How did you come up with the company/product name?
Lunch Unpacked is a play on the phrases “unpacking the problem” and “packing lunch.” Breaking down a problem into its component parts in order to find a solution perfectly described what I was trying to do. That coupled with its connection to packing lunch seemed like a perfect fit.
What were your initial goals?
My initial goal was really to challenge myself and see if I could make it through all the steps of building a business.
Tell Us About Yourself
Describe yourself and your family.
I am a mom to two children aged 6 and almost 4. I live in Los Angeles with my kids and life partner.
What is your background and how does it relate to your company? What was your past career and did you ever dream of being an entrepreneur? Did you experience an epiphany that changed the direction of your life to where you are now?
I spent fifteen years working in corporate America in various sales planning and strategy roles, but I always felt like I was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. I just hadn’t found my “thing.” After I had my two children, the demands of trying to balance work and family stopped me in my tracks. I decided to quit my job and do some big picture thinking about who I was, what I wanted, and how I could better meet the needs of my family. But life sent me a curveball. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor the day after I resigned. I had already committed to steering my life in a different direction, but the universe sent me a big exclamation point on that commitment. Luckily, my surgery and recovery went well, and I came out of the experience mostly unscathed. With my physical health back in place, I spent the next few months soul searching. I decided that I needed to do something that would push me wayyyy out of my comfort zone, something that would really challenge me. And what better way to challenge yourself than to start your own business?
How did you test out your product so you knew people would buy it? What process did you follow to develop a prototype or service?
I did a national survey before I decided to develop the concept and confirmed that other moms were struggling with putting together healthy lunches every day. As I developed the idea, I received thoughts from a circle of friends who were willing to provide critical feedback. This helped me refine the structure and add even more value to my offering.
Was it more expensive to create than you originally thought?
Yes! I really didn’t have any idea how much a nutritionist would cost or how much time it would take to develop menus, recipe test, and photograph them. It was more than I anticipated.
How did you determine the price?
I looked at competitive meal planning services to understand the range of prices. I chose to go on the higher end so that I had room to promote or move pricing down if needed.
Did you personally finance your company – or did you have an investor?
I personally financed the company from savings.
Did you ever pitch your business to an investor? If so, what was the result?
Were you right on target for your startup costs – or did you exceed your initial financial needs?
I exceeded. Even though I DIY’d most of it, the expenses just kept rolling in!
Through what markets are you selling (retail, wholesale, internet, specialty sales)?
How did you introduce buyers to your product? What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your product? What was the biggest learning curve in terms of marketing your product?
I’m only a month in, so I’m trying all kinds of different marketing tactics to see what works, including organic marketing, social media marketing, Google ads, influencer endorsements, and publicity.
Time Management & Personal Needs
How long did it take to get your product/service from idea to market (conception to product launch)?
What parts of the business did you decide to delegate to employees?
I hired for my gaps in knowledge and experi