In this Q&A, we hear from Nicole Centeno, founder & co-CEO of Splendid Spoon, a plant-based ready-made meal company. Nicole discusses using its smoothies and bowls as preventative care for diet-related illnesses, as well as meeting the evolving needs of consumers.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at Splendid Spoon?
Nicole Centeno: Splendid Spoon is in the business of preventative care through food. We believe diet-related illnesses can be healed through the power of Mother Nature’s medicine: plant-based eats!
Our superfood smoothies, noodles, grain bowls, and soups make plant-based health easier, more satisfying, and more delightful.
Unlike other brands in our space, our meals are designed to fit seamlessly into busy lives. Every sip and bite is filled with nutrient-dense whole ingredients, brimming with global-inspired flavor, and ready in five minutes or less.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
NC: My best ideas are always triggered by emotional events. This particular idea was triggered by the urgent need to establish balance as a working mom. I wanted to pursue my ambitions to be a great parent and to build a business, and I knew that nourishment was likely to take a back seat.
Fearful of seeing my health and energy decline without some kind of helping hand for mealtimes, I created Splendid Spoon.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
NC: The earliest major milestone for me was pitching a company called FreshDirect to carry Splendid Spoon. My first purchase order was slated for delivery a few weeks after my due date, and I was determined to get it over the line.
I actually went into the kitchen the day after I gave birth, and I think this really galvanized for me the most important element of entrepreneurship — treating my mission with as much passion and dedication as I do with my own family.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
NC: We consider ourselves in the business of preventative care, a $60–80B market. We keep ourselves grounded by focusing on what we know best: creating craveable food that is the foundation for long-lasting habits.
That our food is also crafted with careful nutrition guardrails set with the help of registered dietitians means that those habits will ultimately fortify the health of our customers.
It’s about wrapping our mission into an experience that makes life simpler and more enjoyable.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
NC: Our core customer is someone who lives a full life and has high standards for their food! We have been acquiring those customers through word of mouth as well as a number of digital acquisition strategies (ambassador programs, performance media, etc.).
Moving forward, we’re excited to start building out partnerships and other opportunities to win customers through taste experiences.
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
NC: What excites us most is getting to know our customer’s needs.
How can we create products to satisfy other parts of their day? How can we improve product recommendations to ensure they are only getting meals they will love? How can we make our digital platform and delivery experience easier?
We are really excited to ramp up our innovation cycle and chart a path to more product diversity in the coming year.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
NC: Fun fact: I’m not a vegan; I just veg a lot! I love bringing more folks into a plant-forward diet because more is more — and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
If you’re interested in having your company featured in our Startup Q&A series, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.