Ask me anything about my startup project, Sample STL, which will feature unique foods and ingredients created by St. Louis companies!

Jennifer Newell
Jan 8, 2018

I just launched a Kickstarter project to help with the startup costs of my new business, Sample St. Louis. The monthly subscription box service will feature foods and ingredients from St. Louis restaurants and companies. Want the ingredients to make your own toasted ravioli, a STL favorite? What about BBQ sauce from the famous Pappy's Smokehouse here in St. Louis? Each month's box will contain several items from local businesses, along with information about those companies and how they fit into the St. Louis landscape, and recipes to make foods that residents here enjoy regularly.

I am a St. Louis native, born and raised here. I left for a few years of Cali and Vegas living, but I'm back and anxious to promote the foods and cultures that make up this city. I am a freelance writer with a focus on poker and gambling.

Please consider supporting my Kickstarter: kck.st/2CHtY4V

You can also follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/WriterJen

Or follow me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/writerjen/ 

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Conversation (44)

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An exciting update to my Kickstarter project. I'm more than 2/3 of the way to my goal of $3K just one week into the fundraising month. I'm so excited! For my very first Kickstarter, I'm pretty giddy about the progress so far. :)

Jan 8, 8:03PM EST0

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for submitting questions. I've provided answers to some already, but here I am... so ask me anything!

Jan 8, 8:01PM EST0

Why St. Louis? Were you born/raised there? What do you most love about it?

Jan 5, 12:26AM EST0

Hi Catherine --

I was born and raised in St. Louis. I did move away for a bit to live in Southern California for a few years, then in Las Vegas, but I returned here 3.5 years ago because my family was still here. 

What do I love most about it? I love that people are generally friendly, waving and saying hi. I also do love the different types of food here. We have an amazing Italian community called the Hill, a big community of Bosnian immigrants, and famous barbecue, of course!

Jan 8, 5:44PM EST0

How far are you with the development of the project? Do you have a website/app ready or planning still?

Jan 4, 11:15PM EST0

Hi Kimberly --

I do not have a website yet, as I need the funds to get started with those types of things. But I know exactly what I want, so I'll be ready to go when the funding process is done!

Jan 8, 5:45PM EST0

What is your main occupation? Is it food related?

Jan 4, 6:13PM EST0

Hi Josienette --

I'm actually a freelance writer. I've been writing about poker and gambling for about 13 years now, usually for various websites, and I'll continue to write, though maybe about politics or something else. Meanwhile, I'm excited to start this business and see where it takes me! I anticipate it will be a part-time project at first, though.

Jan 8, 5:47PM EST0

What is your favourite local dish? Why? Can you prepare it?

Jan 3, 7:44PM EST0

Hi Christian --

My favorite local dish is toasted ravioli, but I'm not good at deep-frying things, so I haven't tried to make it myself. :)

Jan 8, 5:47PM EST0

How did you calculate the budget for what you need? Do you have a business plan? How did you make it?

Jan 3, 5:22PM EST0

Hi Maria --

I developed a business plan by looking up templates on the internet for similar businesses and completing as much of it as pertains to my company. Many business plans are set up for huge companies or small businesses that are looking for big investors in order to expand. So I had to revise the business plan a bit so it fit my needs.

As for the budget, I spent the last few months thinking of every single expense that I will have, separating the ones that will be necessary to get things started. And I researched small home businesses to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything. I wrote down everything from business cards to shipping boxes, from a postal scale to Quickbooks. I priced everything, put it in a spreadsheet, and put things into categories (office supplies, etc.) for the business plan.

It turns out that there are business plan templates on the internet (and tips!) for almost every type of business. And you can edit them to make them work for whatever your specific business might be.

I'm learning a lot!

Jan 8, 6:42PM EST0

Me too (learning a lot!), thanks for sharing!

Jan 9, 2:41PM EST1

Is there some sort of legislation for sending food in the post?

Jan 3, 11:02AM EST0

Hi Tim --

All of the food I'll be sending is non-perishable and sealed, whether it is a bottle of salad dressing or pasta sauce, or a container of seasoning. There is no legislation about sending those types of foods. Though now that you mention it... I'm going to double-check that!

Jan 8, 5:49PM EST0

Have you already discussed the idea with local businesses? How did they take it?

Jan 3, 9:03AM EST0

Hi --

I have talked to some of the local businesses, and they're very excited. The restaurants and small markets are especially excited because they don't have a national presence. This will (hopefully!) expand their customer base. I haven't had official meetings to discuss pricing and details yet, but I'm getting those lined up now!

Jan 8, 6:38PM EST0

What sort of packaging will you offer? Will it be also locally produced?

Jan 3, 8:49AM EST0

Hi Edward --

Everything in the box will be locally produced. All of the foods and ingredients I plan to include are manufactured and stored here, all by local business owners. 

The subscription boxes will look somehting like this photo I'm attaching, but in a size that fits the ingredients I'm sending and one that features my logo and some fun designs. 

Jan 8, 6:36PM EST0

Looks great, good luck.

Jan 9, 3:57PM EST0

Do you have many cooks in the family? Are you a good cook yourself or just like it as an idea?

Jan 3, 8:08AM EST0

Hi Michelle --

There are no cooks in my family! I actually don't know where I got my love for food. I do an Italian grandmother, though, so maybe it's in my blood. I only became more curious about food as an adult, but now I love to try everything! I enjoy cooking, too, but I'm certainly not a professional. :)

Jan 8, 5:51PM EST0

Why did you choose kickstarter over other platforms?

Jan 3, 7:39AM EST0

Hi Catherine --

I researched the options. I had friends who had good experiences with Kickstarter, and I liked the "all or nothing" funding option. If I can't get sell the idea, I'm not sure I can sell the actual products. Know what I mean? I also wanted to use Kickstarter because they cater to small startups, whereas GoFundMe is set up for almost any type of fundraising. There were some other options, but none with as much experience in the business as Kickstarter. 

Jan 8, 5:53PM EST0

Have you approached private investors?

Jan 3, 7:29AM EST0

Hi --

I don't know many people with money to invest in these sorts of projects, and I wasn't very comfortable approaching people I didn't know for large sums of money. (To me, $3K is a large sum!) I do know a couple, both of whom are family friends, and they will be helping with some funding. But the initial $3K is for me to raise first. It's an exciting way to do it because I get so jazzed with every backer that joins!

Jan 8, 5:57PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

Do you plan to expand to national and international level?

Jan 3, 7:21AM EST0

Hi Liz --

This is going to be launched nationally at first. I definitely want people from other cities to taste the unique foods and flavors developed by the people of St. Louis. Since this is my first business of this kind, however, I didn't want to try international shipping from the start. Once I get comfortable with the shipping process and get six months or a year of shipping under my belt, I plan to open it up for international customers.

Jan 8, 5:59PM EST0

What would you say is the best thing that will happen for the community should your project get funding?

Jan 3, 6:26AM EST0

Hi Maricell --

The best thing for my community is recognition for their amazing foods beyond our city limits. If some of the small businesses that we love so much here can grow and expand, that would be amazing! Everyone should know about Pappy's Smokehouse BBQ sauce, the special Italian pasta sauces, Pasta House salad dressing, Red Hot Riplets potato chips, and Volpe flavored sausages. I'd really love for all of the small businesses that participate to grow even more than they already have.

Jan 8, 6:02PM EST0

Will you still go ahead even if you don’t get the kickstarter funding?

Jan 3, 6:01AM EST0

Hi Janine --

I'm quite excited as I'm two-thirds of the way to my funding goal already! If I don't meet my Kickstarter goal, however, I will try to take out a loan and go from there. I really want this business to launch!

Jan 8, 6:34PM EST0

How did you come up with the idea for the subscription box? I’ve heard of some but not really food related!

Jan 3, 4:50AM EST0

Hi Zoran --

I knew that I wanted to do something with the many Italian entrepreneurs in St. Louis because we have such special foods here. Then I thought about the Bosnian community and how their foods could benefit. And when I started listing all of the great products we have here that aren't all known nationally, I tried to figure out how to incorporate them into some type of business.

I looked into subscription boxes because I saw things like Hello Fresh that delivered fresh foods. I knew I couldn't do that because fresh foods is a big undertaking, but packaged foods can be stored and sent much more easily. When I started researching subscription boxes, I saw all of the benefits for customers and how subscribers will be able to try several different products each month. By putting recipes into the boxes, people will find different uses for the products, too.

I hope people in other cities start doing the same thing!

Jan 8, 6:32PM EST0

What if you go for funding from the local businesses themselves since you will be promoting them anyway?

Jan 3, 2:28AM EST0

Hi --

I'd rather not receive funding from the local businesses that I promote because I don't want to favor any one of the businesses that I feature over any other. They can buy advertising on my website, but I'll offer every vendor the same opportunities. I want all of them to have the same chance to benefit from the subscription boxes and any publicity they receive from participating. 

Jan 8, 6:27PM EST0

Do you do your marketing yourself? What has been the most successful approach so far?

Jan 3, 2:15AM EST0

Hi Gorgette --

I plan to do the marketing on my own at first. I will place some ads, but I'm going to start slow. As I make money, I will put profits into more advertising and possibly hire a marketing firm at some point. I'll have to play it by ear and see how fast or slow it grows for the first few months. 

Jan 8, 6:25PM EST0

How are your friends and family taking the idea so far? Are they personally involved?

Jan 3, 1:59AM EST0

Hi --

My friends and family are very supportive! They're very excited for me to get going and build a successful business. They are not involved other than supporting me, though I may be able to get some family members to help me with shipping.  :)

Jan 8, 6:06PM EST0
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