Kristin Groos Richmond
Because during Covid, school kids aren't the only ones without healthy meals
Kristin Groos Richmond came to her passion for solving food insecurity by an unexpected path. After a stint on Wall Street, she helped start a school in Kenya, where “I saw firsthand what a difference good nutrition makes for students in and out of the classroom—how it affected their academic performance and energy and ability to succeed.” Back in the U.S., the company she co-founded in 2006, Revolution Foods, aimed to “completely transform the quality of meals offered to students” by reinventing school lunch.
In the intervening years, that mission has grown to include other vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, seniors, and the homebound, and the company now distributes several million meals per week in 170 cities across the country. This year, with schools closed amid the pandemic, Revolution’s mission became more important than ever, because many families rely on school lunch as one of their primary sources of food. The company pivoted in March to partner with cities to create new distribution models.
In order to serve diverse communities equitably, Revolution designs its meals to cater to different regions and backgrounds—and hires accordingly. “We are 66 percent female and 86 people of color across the company,” Richmond says. “Forty-four percent of management are leaders of color.” She sees that inclusiveness as a key to the company’s success—making sure that we are building in a way that supports the mission of listening to and responding to and designing for the communities we serve.” – Tom Foster
Because cruise ships don't have to be impersonal
Kristin Karst was raised to bootstrap. Her parents took the family on vacations around the world, but required their kids to contribute to the expense, which Karst and her brother earned by recycling paper products or selling vegetables from their garden to the neighbors. Raised in Dresden, Germany, the executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways speaks English, German, Russian and French, and helps lead a company that, pre-pandemic, supplied consumers with 25 ships sailing rivers throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The draw of the Ama experience, which Karst founded with Rudi Schreiner and Jimmy Murphy in 2002, is a high-quality luxury river cruise with healthy food, panoramic river views, and morning yoga lessons on the deck. Ama had to shut operations entirely from March until July. The fleet remains moored until November 30, with the exception of a five-night cruise of the Rhine for locals.
Karst is committed to living up to the optimistic ethos embedded in the name of the company – Ama meaning “love” in Latin—during the pandemic. “It’s our choice to get up in the morning to try and keep it positive--whatever we do today for our customers, they will never forget.” –Gabrielle Bienasz
For making it easier for Millennials to build a credit history
Fresh n' Lean
For bootstrapping -- and winning -- in the overcrowded mealkit space
Laureen Asseo was 18 when her father, who had been sick from a poor diet, recovered after eating organic and clean foods, cooked by Asseo herself. In 2010, Asseo and her brother Thomas co-founded Fresh ‘n Lean, an organic preheat-and-eat meal delivery service. It started as friend and family packing meals in tupperware, but by 2019 it had grown to $30 million in sales. Then the pandemic hit, causing orders to suddenly spike by 250 percent.
Asseo was ready: She’s says she’s been “obsessed” with scalability since starting the company, which is entirely bootstrapped. “When you don’t have a lot of money you have to be creative about the risks, because it might be the last risk you take,” she says. The company now has 400 employees, ran a pilot in 120 Whole Foods this year, and is on track to make $82 million in 2020. –Gabrielle Bienasz
Because superfoods are made, not born
As a PeaceCorp volunteer in Niger, Lisa Curtis often turned to moringa leaves when her diet left her with little energy. Locals wrapped the leaves around a peanut snack and called it kuli kuli. In 2014, energized both by the plant’s nutrients and by the idea of launching the next superfood in the U.S., Curtis created a company that sold moringa bars, sourcing the leaves from the village she had lived in. That proved too expensive, and the company now has moringa farms in 13 different countries and seeks to employ small women farmers. Still, Curtis got her big break when a buyer from Whole Foods saw her stand at a farmer’s market, and paved the way for Kuli Kuli to get into the chain’s Northern California stores. Now the company’s moringa-based bars, energy shots, teas, and powders are available in Albertson’s and Walmart as well. –Gabrielle Bienasz