For a girl that started a business with a $300 budget, winning the prize as INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR can be quite mindblowing.
Last weekend, me and my girlfriends attended the LinkT Awards Ball, expecting a nice dinner, meeting nice people, experiencing this ceremony from inside as a nominated business, ... but winning? I'm normally a confident person but I honestly did not think I could actually win... But well, life can be amazingly surprising sometimes, eh?
I would like to share with you my words with the "Tauranga Chambers of Commerce" judge who selected me as a winner. And if you don't know much about 'V on Wheels', here it's our raw story:
1) Tell us why they/you should win this award?
Winning this prize will be one of the many satisfactions that this business has given me in these last two years. When I created ’V on wheels’ there was just one known meal delivery in Tauranga (Pizza Hut). At that time Veganism wasn’t even a thing; not many people knew about it, and it was quite challenging the first year to get people’s acceptance and trust about a fully plant-based meal delivered to their doorstep.
Starting a business from zero and seeing it now how much it has grown, it’s been one of my biggest accomplishments in life. Materialising it in an actual prize would be the most satisfying, encouraging proof that we can do anything in life when we believe in what we do.
2) What type of project are you entering? Programme, Product, Service, Venture, Business.
3) Select an innovation project stage: Research/Commercial/Social
Commercial and Social: Even though the service is profitable, it provides education about nutrition and alternatives to keep, and improve our health and environment. It’s a lifestyle and wellbeing focused project.
4) Where do you see your product/service growth in the next year, 2 years, 5 years
The short term goal is to offer a nation-wide delivery.
5) How have you found local networks and support groups being a part of your growth/startup
As a foreigner who came to this country 6 years ago speaking basic English, I have to say the support in NZ is incredible. The endorsement of the community, promoting, buying, offering help and networking with other businesses owners, it has made a significant positive difference along the way.
6) Is this innovation project an example of disruptive innovation? Please explain
Definitely. Even though my business wasn’t the reason why Veganism became a powerful ‘trend’, V on wheels is a pioneer in this market in New Zealand. Also, the delivery service wasn’t popular before I started offering it. Nowadays, most of the food businesses in Tauranga are offering delivery option even when it is not the main service they provide.
7) Explain the initiative and the execution, and explain what problem it solves
The main purpose of my business was and is to provide a quality lifestyle to people who have no time to cook healthy meals. The customer just needs to go on the website-online store (www.vonwheels.com), choose the meals they like, and pay online. All together can take about 3 minutes. They can choose between two days for delivery: Monday, and get sorted the meals for the week, or Thursday to have meals ready to eat through the weekend inclusive. I offer different meal plans as well, for families, busy mums, busy workers, midwives on the go, and people after a “detox” diet. As the meals are frozen, they can store them in the freezer so they can eat them when they want/need them. Also, people who’re going through an illness can make sure they are following a healthy diet which helps to improve their lifestyle.
8) Tell us how your innovation changes the world
When I started the business I thought a delivery service will make it easier for people to start considering to include more vegetables to improve their diets, so their lifestyle. I didn’t create the concept of delivery or veganism, but I put both together and I started offering a service that it wasn’t available.
Health and wellness mean EVERYTHING. As soon as we lose our health, we do EVERYTHING to get it back. When people we love get sick, we do EVERYTHING to help them to heal. Health is about how we want to live. And having an easy access to homemade meals to follow a healthy diet definitely improves peoples lives, and consequently changes the world in a very good way.
Also, promoting a vegan lifestyle helps the environment, reduces our carbon footprint, and creates a conscious way to see our actions and their consequences on the planet.
9) Name something you’re really proud of
I’m proud of being the first business on bringing the vegan meal delivery to Tauranga, and after 2 satisfactory years of effort and hard work, being able to expand to other cities around the country. People get surprised when they know I’ve been the only person running the whole service, cooking, delivering, and advertising. A huge gratifying learning process.
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