I remember looking at my phone at a notification from Facebook saying “Your friends are going to events in your area”. I saw that Jess was going to the kickoff event for the Enactathon: Future of Food Challenge. I had no idea what that meant and would not have found out about the event otherwise. I immediately messaged Jess and we decided to go. The reason this was so important to me is that since 2017 I had been meeting with grocery stores, homeless shelters, and government ministers to try and combat the number of leftovers wasted by restaurants. This event held a lot of promise for me and seemed like it could be an opportunity to act on those interests.
On November 14th, 2019 Jess and I went to the event and learned how the winning team would have their idea become a part of Enactus’ portfolio and be placed in the incubation stage. This was my opportunity to make my dreams come to life. I remember walking out of the event in the snow telling Jess “We need to do this, we will win this”. The only problem was that we had to get a team together in the next 24 hours and as university students, everyone we knew, including ourselves were increasingly busy as this competition took place during midterm season.
We were able to get a team together after asking several people to form a team of 5 people that were all passionate about sustainability and reducing food waste. We got to work and started brainstorming ideas, as we only had a couple of days to hand-in our initial proposal. We found a company called Karma that had a model that offered businesses to sell their food at a discount to reduce food waste. We learned that there was not a solution that existed in Canada and decided to create our own version that could be adapted to the situation in Canada. We scrambled together to get our one-page proposal done and just had to wait to hear if we made it to the final rounds.
A couple of days later we received an email and went to meet with the club presidents about our idea. From the beginning the biggest thing Enactus Laurier was looking for was viability. They wanted the concept to join their platform to not only be a viable business but also contribute its revenues to a related social aspect. We went out and did primary research interviewing managers at fast-food restaurants, traditional restaurants, and cafes. This allowed us to provide evidence of the interest in our idea and its viability. We now had a mad scramble of building a PowerPoint presentation in under a week that could have profound impacts on our future.
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful. We all had midterms, projects, and other events at the time, so it was chaos. Going in I had no idea what the other ideas were and how our team would do, but I know that the passion and effort our team displayed even during chaos would prove valuable. On the day of the presentation chaos surrounded our team once again as two of our team members had food poisoning and at this point, we didn’t know who was going to present, so not only were we trying to memorize our own lines but now trying to learn the parts of those two members.
We entered the room four out of the five of us and we presented the best we could following the last-minute scramble to adapt. At that point our work was done, a sense of relief enveloped us, but the wave of anxiety about how we did hit soon after.
When we came back to the room a couple of hours later, we were told they decided they were taking 4 teams instead of 1 into their portfolio. There were 6 teams total, so our odds increased immensely. 3rd place was announced as a tie and we weren’t either of the two teams, we also weren’t 2nd, so our odds were pretty good to go either 1st or nothing. When the slide changed and said “Food Fight” we were hyped. After all the hard work to be rewarded it was an incredible feeling. For all of us, we had so much invested into this and really wanted to see if we could start the business and a dream come true for sure.
We have been hard at work for the past several months to make Food Fight a reality and can’t wait for people to use the app and reduce food waste one order at a time.