Spoken by the tribe: an interview with Shea's kitchen.

On our second Start Up Tribe weekend, I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak with the brave Shannon McKeon, founder of Shea’s Kitchen.

You were offered to  prepare lunch for the Startup Tribe’s Second Weekend.  How anxious were you  in deciding on what to put on the menu?

That is such a good question because I was so anxious.  It took me so long to figure out what to put on the menu. I’ve been testing recipes for dinner for my husband for a few weeks now.  I have so many recipes that I that I love and want to share, so I had such a hard time narrowing it down.  In the end, my husband, as my co-founder, made the decision. 

How did the Mom Test help you?

One big learning from doing these Rob Fitzpatrick Mom Test conversations is that men want to eat well; they want to eat healthy but they don’t want to feel like they are on a diet. Every time they go into health food stores, they receive these teeny tiny portions, and they feel hungry afterwards (or had to buy two).

That rang true at the Escape Startup lunch, a  couple of guys had to go out and get some sandwiches as I didn’t do man sized portions because it was logistically too difficult.  This news confirmed some suspicions that I had.

What were you thinking and feeling when people were eating?

People were eating in the main room, and I was too scared to even go into the room.  Firstly, I wanted people to feel like they could honestly discuss the food and not be nervous and not feel Mom Tested.  I wanted them to give honest feedback  and not have to be polite because I was standing right there.  It was pretty scary to put myself out there.

What happened after the meal?

Towards the end of the meal, I was talking to someone and said I was too nervous to go in there.  He said, “No, no.  You should definitely go in there – it’s going really well and it’s a good chance to get feedback.”

So I went in and I just had so many people coming up to me saying they enjoyed the meal, and giving me feedback.  It was great, I was able to go in and have a conversation about the food. I had the survey forms, but it is really different to have a conversation about it; to have a live, face to face feedback.

Again, I didn’t want to feel like they had to give me compliments, but when you are talking to someone you can tell on their face, if they are lying, *laughs* – I could tell that they actually liked it.  I was able to talk to them and they could say, “the portions were a bit small,” and I was able to ask, “how much would you normally have for lunch?”  I could interact with that feedback, and learn from it more than just on a survey. 

How was your feedback on the paper survey?  Any surprises?

No big surprises.  It was mostly about the portions sizes which the feedback reflected that.  Overall the feedback was great.  The average score for the dishes was: 4 or 5 out of 5.  There was no dish that scored better than the other.  That was surprising that they were all equally received because There were some dishes that I thought people wouldn’t respond to as well as the others.

The average score for the desserts was  a 3, so definitely  lower for them, mostly because people had never eaten chia seeds or cashew parfait before.  A guy thought he was having a yogurt, and it was the banana cashew parfait.  When he tasted it, he was like “Why is it so grainy?” The texture of it was not what he was expecting.

What was the nicest thing that somebody said to you that was unexpected?

Let’s see, there were a lot of really nice things.  Unexpected?  A couple of people said “I would definitely pay for this.” One person said, “Can you bring some tomorrow?”

What are you taking away from this experience?

In terms of the  logistics and preparation, I would have the formula sorted for bulk quantities for a group. On the food, I would definitely change the desserts. I also would implement an add protein option, where someone could add a chicken or fish. And I would offer a larger portion option.

What would you say to other Tribe members about putting yourself out there?

Start Up Tribe is a safe environment. I would really encourage people to take advantage of this group and put their product out and get feedback because  this group wants you to do well so they will give you honest feedback.  Everyone gets the process that this is  a first product.  They get that you are trying something out for the first time.  So this is a safe environment to do it in. 

This is guest post by Andrea Dismont Trott, from our current Startup Tribe

Shea’s Kitchen focuses on body friendly and planet friendly organic food that is “Naturally Delicious”. Shea’s Kitchen is vegan and vegetarian friendly and most of the dishes are gluten free and dairy free. 

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