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Many founders know how nerve-wracking it can be to pitch their start-up to a room of potential investors. Imagine the additional stress of doing so while millions of TV viewers watch from home.
Easy Platter, a platform to book an affordable personal chef to do your weekly, in-home meal prep, and its founder, Mandhir (Manny) Singh, have been riding high after a successful appearance on CBC’s Dragon’s Den last month.
“My wife and I watch Dragon’s Den obsessively, so when an ad came on inviting people onto the show, we applied totally on a whim,” Manny said. “After a couple rounds of interviews, we got in front of the dragons.”
Manny’s initial offer to sell six per cent of his company for $150,000 was rejected. When two of the dragons, Wes Hall and Manjit Minhas, then offered $150,000 for 20 per cent, Manny accepted the deal.
“Before going on, we did a lot of planning and rigorous exercises to understand company valuations and I did have some numbers in mind,” Manny said.
One thing Manny is most proud of is that the dragons were able to understand the business within the first 30 seconds of his pitch.
“Their questions revolved around the valuation or if we were too early but all of them were very interested in what we are doing,” Manny said. “The dragons don’t just bring investment dollars, they also bring their experience, their mentorship and their network, which is an added bonus.”
Easy Platter works like this – they share a suggested menu with ingredients per your preferences (or you can choose the recipes you want to eat), you pick up your own ingredients (or they can pick them up for a fee), then a chef comes to your home to prepare delicious meals and cleans up before leaving.
The company was born out of the pandemic’s unprecedented shut down of the restaurant industry. Manny and his wife were looking for someone to help with their weekly meal prep because of how much of a chore it was, but when they talked to chefs, they realized it would be way too expensive.
“We interviewed roughly a dozen chefs all across the nation, culinary schools and friends in our area that might be interested in a service like this and everyone said yes – and this was at the peak of COVID-19,” Manny said. “Even during the second wave of COVID last year, we had to pivot briefly to food delivery because customers were asking for it. We were proud because we were still able to sustainably grow even during that time.”
Having taken part in two Innovacorp Accelerate cohorts, Manny believes he’s built an incredible support system here in Nova Scotia.
“When I was a student at SMU, I always aspired to connect and make relationships with Innovacorp,” Manny said. “It took a decade to build a formalized relationship and I’m so happy because I’m more prepared now than I was 10 years ago. I trust Innovacorp and they trust me.”
For Manny, the vision was always to build a holistic wellness brand while ensuring the service piece was at the heart of it. Through customer feedback and lots of brainstorming with advisors, he’s been able to better understand his customers’ needs.
“Food waste directly relates to your grocery costs and with inflation and prices going up, we want to make sure you’re not spending more money,” Manny said. “Our chefs are skilled and trained to use what you’ve got in your kitchen before you buy new stuff. The goal is for the customer to use and reuse what they have and make delicious meals with whatever they’ve got in their pantry and fridge.”
With Easy Platter’s unwavering customer focus, busy households and the need to stretch every dollar as far as possible, it’s not just the dragons who anticipate success for this Nova Scotia start-up.
November 2, 2022, Halifax, Nova Scotia