Sam Polk, Co-Founder of Everytable, left the Wall Street trading floor to start a nonprofit focused on providing low income families with healthy, affordable food. Upon discovering that many communities lack access to healthy food, Sam made it his mission to change that fact. Based out of Los Angeles, Everytable opened five locations in just a year. Sam tells us more about his plans to make healthy options the norm for fast food.
What is your business, and what problem you are solving?
Everytable is reinventing fast food to make healthy food affordable for all.
Demand for healthy food is exploding. However, when salads cost $13 and green juices $9, the reality is that healthy food is a luxury product that few can afford on a regular basis.
Everytable is a healthy grab-and-go restaurant concept that uses a central kitchen and small-footprint stores to keep costs low. All of our food is made from scratch using fresh, whole food ingredients. At our stores in middle class or upper income neighborhoods, meals are between $7-8.
We also open stores in “food desert” communities, neighborhoods with limited access to fresh, healthy food. In these neighborhoods, we price our meals around $5 to ensure they are affordable for the surrounding community.
What inspired you to start your company?
While everyone wants to eat healthy food, most people simply cannot afford to pay typical prices for a healthy lunch. I previously started a food justice nonprofit called Groceryships, which provides healthy, affordable food to parents living in food deserts. Although there is a huge need for healthy, convenient, affordable food, very few companies deliver a solution that is accessible to lower income families.
Our mission is to reshape the food system the same way McDonald’s did 50 years ago. However, instead of making processed junk ubiquitous, we plan to have Everytable’s on every corner selling delicious, healthy, real food at a great price. Our aim is to create a massive chain that ensures everyone has access to healthy food, no matter what neighborhood you live in.
Who is in your core team? How did your team come together?
Everytable was founded by myself and David Foster. I’m a former hedge fund trader that left Wall Street to pursue a more purposeful career. David is a former private equity Vice President who also left finance in search of more meaningful work. We met through Groceryships, a nonprofit I started after leaving Wall Street. I’d written a few articles about how my experience on Wall Street was both unfulfilling and unhealthy. After reading one my articles, David began volunteering for Groceryships.
Please explain your edge (or differentiation) over your competition?
First, we’ve designed our company from the beginning to create high-quality, chef-crafted meals at unbelievable prices. While our food is on par or better than standard fast-casual options, we are significantly less expensive. Second, we are the only option selling healthy, affordable, delicious food within food desert communities.
We aren’t just building a company, we’re building a movement of people who believe in food justice.
Why Republic? Why equity crowdfunding?
We aren’t just building a company, we’re building a movement of people who believe in food justice, that healthy food is a human right, and there shouldn’t be anyone in our world who can’t afford or access healthy food. In that vein, we wanted to offer an option to folks who believe in our mission and actually want to own a piece of this company.
If in unfamiliar territory, what do you do to learn and thrive?
I’m a lifelong learner. I have entire sections of my bookshelf devoted to learning finance, how to write a book, how to start a nonprofit. I love to freshen my perspective by learning about new worlds and industries.
Shoutouts or plugs for tools, people or anything else?
Shout outs to some of our incredible investors, advisors, and supporters who’ve been on this journey with us include Acumen America, Lerer Hipppeau, M13 Capital, Dom Capital, Kimbal Musk, Gwenyth Paltrow, Michael Meyer, Ken Lombard, and all the industry professionals like Erik Oberholtzer of Tender Greens, Hayden Slater of Pressed Juicery, and Karim Webb of Buffalo Wild Wings who’ve taken the time to share their experience and guidance.
If you could swap lives with a CEO/Founder for a week, who would it be and why?
Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries. The community and organization he’s created are beautiful beyond words.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
The moment my daughter was born. She was our first child, and completely changed our lives.
Do you follow any unusual routines, including any that you share with your team?
I often get up around 4 or 4:30 in the morning (it’s 4:15 as I’m writing this) so that I can work when it’s peaceful and quiet. I also block out 5-7pm every day to be with my family. I’m available after that, but not during.
What’s your top fundraising tips for founders?
Leverage your connections, and put your heart on your sleeve.
Favorite childhood memory?
My twin brother and I executing a trick play to win a basketball game when we were 7.