Jasmine Crowe set out to change how communities eat. Since launching Atlanta-based Goodr in 2017 as a sustainable surplus food management platform, she’s become known for her external work helping connect people with food, creating community food banks, and tackling the logistical challenges that create hunger.
To date, Goodr has helped its external clients divert nearly 5 million pounds of organic material from landfills and has served 30 million meals to those in need.
But the internal team she’s built along the way is a startup success story of its own.
The Goodr team was just five people for most of the company’s history. Today, they have a staff of 22 full-time employees.
Adding headcount at an early stage of a company brings along its own set of challenges. But Crowe has tackled those challenges by intentionally building an office that she wished she had when she was starting her career.
No Blueprint, No Problem
“Company culture” is hard to define in early-stage startups. The race to prove product-market fit and win customers – while working with significant capital constraints – often puts employees’ needs on the back burner.
But Crowe was very intentional when it came to defining Goodr’s company culture early on, which could serve as a case study for those looking to understand what it takes to build a truly sustainable startup.
The team operates in a hybrid work model. But when employees do need to come into the office, they have access to free drop-in childcare at The Goodr Kids Club. The startup also provides wellness benefits, mindfulness days, and a monthly $250 stipend to go towards whatever needs might pop up. There is also a focus on integrating the office team with the field teams in a cohesive manner, which helps build up overall team morale.
Such “perks” are typically seen in larger corporations. Crowe said that while there was no blueprint for early-stage startups like hers, she wanted to add the benefits and incentives she wishes she had when she was an employee.
“I’m really proud of the fact that so many people say this is the best company culture of any place they’ve ever worked at,” Crowe told Hypepotamus.
That focus on culture helped Goodr attract young talent like Ashley Summerall and Grayson Stuart.
“It’s no question that we are extremely hardworking with a relatively small staff. What I love about Goodr’s company culture is that we do our best to avoid burnout,” said Summerall, Crowe’s Executive Assistant. She pointed to a focus on employee mental health and diverse leadership as things that drew her to the startup in 2020.
“I’ve worked at a company where I was the only woman and the only Black person on the team. It was one of the most isolating and toxic experiences in my career. At Goodr, not only am I working with Black women CEO and VP, but I have tons of support from other team members. And the biggest bonus is the work we are doing is so meaningful!,” Summerall added.
Stuart, a Georgia Tech alum who oversees Goodr’s sustainability initiatives, said he joined Goodr after learning about the food waste problem in this country. He’s grown from an intern to a full-time employee quickly and said Goodr’s unique company culture has been a big pull.
“Big picture, I want to make sure we walk the talk,” Stuart told Hypepotamus. “We’re sustainable stakeholders in our community and make sure that’s applied holistically across all of our operations and services.”
Getting To Series A
When Crowe closed a Series A earlier this summer, she joined a small list of female-run founders who have successfully raised venture capital recently.
Only 2% of all U.S. venture capital investment went to female-founded startups last year, the lowest rate since 2013. Women of color in the U.S received only 0.9% of all venture funding.
“It was really hard to raise funding, but I knew we needed to make the jump because we were growing and we had a lot of big customers that we were signing on,” Crowe told Hypepotamus. “We had done so much as a very small team for a very long time.”
Crowe was able to secure $8 million in Series A financing through a mixture of new and previous investors.
Precursor Ventures led the round with participation from Collab Capital, Gratitude Railroad, Emerson Collective, Backstage Capital, Innovations For Impact, Telus Pollinator Fund, Kimbal and Christiana Musk, and several angel investors.
Invest Atlanta also added debt financing to the round that Crowe said will go directly towards hiring additional staff in the Atlanta area.
Crowe said she turned down several investors in this round who were not the right fit for a startup that is ready to scale. “I have been mentored to death. I don’t need any more mentorship. We needed capital,” she said.
The team is focused on its growing list of clients and getting ready to hire 35 new staff members in the near future.