With the dozens of workshops we facilitated, we've found that achieving the highest possible learning outcome is all about having the right kind of problem to solve. So for our workshops we use made up businesses that mimic real business challenges. And, using the innovation tools at our disposal we attempt the unpack these problems and find innovative ways to solve them.
We’ve gone ahead and created a few artifacts that will give you a deeper level of understanding of how our fictitious company operates. We’ve prepared proto-personas, a business model canvas and finally a value proposition canvas. While this is by no means an exhaustive set of business plans, it should be enough to frame the current state of the business and give you the space for uncovering new ideas and opportunities.
In 2010 James Kirkland a nutritionist and physical therapist founded a catering company Mega Meals with his wife Belinda a professional chef. James and Belinda wanted to differentiate themselves by latching on to the emerging meal prepping trend. They knew first hand how difficult eating healthy portioned meals were. The dramatic benefits of meal prepping combined with how challenging the act of meal prepping actually is, gave them the idea for their business.
James and Belinda opened they first retail store in Mississauga and offered a menu of prepared meals to walk in customers. Prepped meals are freshly made the day of but served cold. Most meals are designed to be reheated for a minute or two before eating. Customers usually bought 5-7 meals at a time for between $7-$10 per meal, cost competitive with fast food and still made plenty of margin. This bulk buy, high quality, high nutrition and low cost alternative to fast food caught on quickly with young professionals and working parents with no time to feed themselves well and meet their fitness goals.
Their business boomed and in 2014 Mega Meals opened two new locations in the east and west end of Toronto. They marketed their services at farmers markets, cross fit gyms, rock climbing gyms and other local fitness centers with great success. They ran a weekly blog featuring their newest recipes and grew their Instagram following to 250,000. All this activity drew traffic to their website that featured menus of their various meals that customers could purchase in-store. They also offered a basic order form for customers with special dietary needs. These would be used to convert standard meals to gluten free, vegetarian, vegan etc.
In 2017 they saw how door to door delivery was becoming available to virtually every restaurant and fast food chain. They explored partnering with food delivery services but the percentage per order model didn’t align with how they business worked which was more of a bulk order delivered at the start of the week. They would need to find another way to achieve this.
In 2018, James and Belinda won the lottery. Literally a million dollars fell into her lap playing Lotto MAX. It wasn’t enough to retire on, but they paid down a big chunk of their mortgage and wanted to invest 600K into their business. While they did a lot on social media to bring new customers to their retail store, online ordering wasn’t really available, the phone in mechanism did not align with the digital sophistication of their customer base. With their investment, they decided to invest in online ordering, and home delivery. It promised cost savings, new opportunities and reduced capital expenses.
To give you some context around who Mega Meals' customers are, we put together some simple proto-personas. What's a proto-persona you ask? Proto-personas low fidelity, ad-hoc characteristics of a target audience that are not driven by exhaustive research. The proto-personas below were created by us by simply reflecting on how real customers might behave. They offer a means for you see the business through the lens of a customer and gain a deeper level of empathy towards their needs.