Meet – Julie Nguyen Founder of Food Delivery Startup
Julie grew up in Santa Ana, California. She studied economics at Stanford, went on to work at JPMorgan, and then was one of the earliest employees at Lumosity, helping the business grow to nearly 200 employees and 60 million members worldwide.
Growing up she struggled with bouts of asthma, eczema, and weight gain. Julie theorized that perhaps her diet was the true cause of many of her illnesses. Julie spent six years researching nutrition science, testing numerous diets, and working with nutritionists and personal trainers to get a better understanding of how food affected her body. In the process, she cured all of the health problems that she had suffered from for years.
The experience led Julie to found Methodology, a premium food delivery service that uses only nutrient dense, whole foods. All ingredients are sustainable, local and organic. There’s no refined sugar, gluten, dairy, canola oil, chemicals or preservatives.
Why did you decide to found Methodology?
I started Methodology because I was able to totally turn my life around by eating better. I realized the real difficulty for people isn’t knowing what to eat, it is how to eat well consistently. We all know we should be eating more vegetables and less processed food. The problem is we don’t have time to find or cook this food on a regular basis. So I created Methodology to solve this problem. Methodology provides tasty, real food for busy people who don’t have time to cook.
What is Methodology? What makes you different from other healthy food delivery companies?
We are a premium food concierge for busy people who care about wellness. What makes us different is we are personalized and programmatic, meaning we’re able to tailor your food to your preferences and goals. For example, each of our meals comes in four portion sizes so you can eat exactly the right amount of food for your body. We think this is important because no two bodies are the same and eating the right amount of food is really important to optimizing your energy and weight. Also, we are totally seamless: clients spend zero seconds a week on meal planning or ordering with us. Once they get their profiles set up, they just set it and forget it. Because of this immense time savings benefit, we’ve attracted a lot of incredibly busy clients including pro athletes, doctors, CEOs and founders.
Can you describe a typical day?
Gladly, there is no typical day! It’s what makes this job so fun.
What part of your work brings you the most joy?
Hearing from our customers about how their quality of life has totally changed after eating Methodology. They’re sleeping better, feeling more energetic, losing weight, feeling less stressed and having more time to do things they love. One client even showed us her before-and-after medical test results and was astonished to see how much her health markers improved when the only change she made was swapping in a handful of Methodology meals each week.
How do you deliver meals to so many areas and, potentially, all at the same time?
A lot of drivers! We’re constantly hiring and training new delivery drivers and working hard to treat them well so that they stick with us. We have had to become very good at it.
Do you have a favorite food? What is it? What is the most popular item on your menu?
My favorite food is my mom’s homemade pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). Every time she visits me she’s sweet enough to make a huge pot and freezes it for me so I can eat it for months and months after she leaves. The most popular item on our menu is our grass-fed beef bolognese with sweet potato noodles. With that meal our clients really learn that whole real foods can be just as satisfying as processed foods they get from restaurants.
How much food waste do you generate on a daily basis and what do you do with it? How do you minimize it?
We keep food waste really low-3 to 5%. We do this by strictly enforcing our rule that customers must pre-order food and then we only cook what is ordered. Very few food businesses operate this way. On-demand businesses are the exact opposite. They have drivers driving around with food all day and have to throw out whatever goes unsold. Our ordering system gives customers less flexibility, as they can’t just wait until the last minute to decide to get our food, but we think it’s better overall for the food economy because waste is so low. Did you know that most food waste in America actually comes from consumers? 85% of all food waste in America is wasted in households by consumers, not businesses. To really make a dent in reducing food waste we need to find solutions that make shopping less wasteful for consumers.
What is the funniest moment you remember while working for Methodology?
There are so many. I laugh until I cry almost every day! The funniest thing that happened recently was getting an email from a customer who saw our delivery driver peeing in her bushes during an overnight delivery. We were mortified to hear this! You think you set up thorough training for your team, but everyday something you could have never anticipated pops up. Did I think I’d need to write a rule to only urinate in restrooms? Never!
Any words of advice for kids curious about how to start a food delivery company of their own?
Only do it if you feel like it’s your calling. It’s the toughest business to start and succeed in. If you want to thrive, you have to love what you are doing so much that overcoming all the nonstop obstacles doesn’t feel like work, but like a game. One of my friends described this industry perfectly when he said, “it feels like you spend your life hurdling from one disaster to the next.” That sounds about right.