An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Get quantitative proof as quickly as possible — whether it’s through surveys or case studies, quantifying your value proposition with your first customers is incredibly helpful for growth.
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Glantz.
Andrew Glantz is the Founder & CEO of GiftAMeal, the nation’s most-awarded charitable marketing platform for restaurants.
An outspoken champion of social entrepreneurship with considerable nonprofit experience, Glantz began his hunger-fighting venture while still a student on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis in 2015.
Now with hundreds of clients across QSR, fast-casual, and casual dining brands, millennial behavior expert Glantz and his creation GiftAMeal have become recognized as major forces for good by hospitality industry and hunger-relief organizations alike. Last year, GiftAMeal received 1st Place at the Global Impact Awards along with the City of St. Louis’ Innovation Award. To date, over 800,000 meals have been provided through the novel “food for photos” customer engagement program.
Glantz lives in St. Louis, MO, where he was named to the Business Journal’s “30 under 30” List and regularly lectures to graduate and undergraduate audiences on topics ranging from restaurant marketing to negotiations. He serves on the Alumni Board of Governors for Washington University and mentors young entrepreneurs through the Future Founders organization.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had been involved in the non-profit world in the past — I was Vice President of a children’s charity and co-owner of a non-profit storefront that promoted re-use and sustainability. After working at a venture capital firm, the managing partner exposed me to the idea of a profits with a purpose company. I loved the idea of both doing well while doing good and aligning those incentives. Using tech for good and creating win-win situations led me to become a social entrepreneur.
Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When meeting with restaurant owners, they often offer me a glass of water when we meet. A few months into starting GiftAMeal, in one day I had three restaurant meetings and knocked over my water glass in 2 and had a near miss on the third. Since then, I have toned down my sometimes erratic hand gestures.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
I live life and run my business with the philosophy to always act with integrity, be transparent internally and externally, and say yes to helping others. Operating with genuine kindness makes life better for you and those around you.
Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
My big idea that might change the world is GiftAMeal! GiftAMeal is a mix of marketing and giving back for restaurants. Each time a guest takes a photo of their food or drink at a partner restaurant on the free GiftAMeal app, we make a donation to a food bank to give a meal to someone in need locally. Restaurants earn promotion and boost guest satisfaction and loyalty, while also making an impact in their communities. Over 290 restaurants currently participate and over 800,000 meals have been provided to those in need so far.
How do you think this will change the world?
We aim to provide millions of meals to those in need! And we’re nearing our first million.
People should make sure to understand that more action is needed to solve hunger. We support local food banks not only in providing food to the hungry, but addressing root causes that cause people to be put in difficult situations. 1 in 3 people that are helped by GiftAMeal are children — we aim to put a dent in childhood hunger through our program and encourage others to help as well.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
I founded GiftAMeal while dining out at an Italian restaurant. The conversation turned to how people discover restaurants and how millennials especially look to make purchases based on their values. In the restaurant industry, there are a lot of financial incentives like coupons and discounts, but nothing that truly engages a guest in an easy, free, socially conscious experience. With so many people sharing food photos on social media, I pulled inspiration from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, TOMS Shoes, and others and combined them to create GiftAMeal: an app where guests can take a photo of their food or drink from a partner restaurant to give a meal to a neighbor in need.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
We need more restaurants to join our effort to heal hunger! Restaurants interested in learning more can do so at giftameal.com/join.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Ask for help — people are willing to help and you can learn a lot from others.
2. Build fast, iterate often — don’t spend months preparing an initial model, test it out and continually improve.
3. Get quantitative proof as quickly as possible — whether it’s through surveys or case studies, quantifying your value proposition with your first customers is incredibly helpful for growth.
4. Act with integrity — people return kindness with kindness.
5. Put in the work — you have to hold yourself accountable in a startup and you set the pace, so do the work.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
Don’t let the highs get you too excited or the lows get you too down, keep the mindset that with anything that happens you are constantly evaluating where to go from here to attain your goals.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
We’ve built a startup that’s provided almost a million meals to the hungry while growing revenue 65% over the last year. We’ve built our company in a sustainable way that’s primed for scaling nationally.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Andrew Glantz’s Big Idea That Might Change The World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.