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Vanessa Ferragut, CMP is the Founder of – a mobile app dedicated to promoting restaurants, cafes and grocers that work with local farms and provide sustainable food options. She is also the founder of Ferragut Event Group – a DC-based event planning consultancy. Vanessa chairs the FuckUp Night’s Washington, DC chapter and is supporting DC Startup Week on event logistics.
Greenease is a groundbreaking app that allows consumers to search for restaurants, cafes and food retailers that source directly from local and/or sustainable farms. They may also search by unique criteria such as free-range or grass-fed meats, organic food, sustainable seafood and more!
How is your company different?
There are many apps out there that help you find a place to eat, but Greenease takes this one step further. They help you find restaurants, cafes and retailers that buy from local and/or sustainable farms. This may mean a farm local (or regional) to that area, or perhaps from a farm in another state that abides by fair and sustainable farming practices. The subsequent software (Greenease Business) allows chefs to log in and update and track their farms and purveyors, making this visible to consumers on the app. Greenease also hyperlinks the farms to educate consumers on where their food comes from when they dine out!
Today’s savvy, sustainable consumers care about their food source and how it was raised/grown. Almost 59% prefer to purchase locally-grown food, and 72% prefer to buy from sustainable businesses!
What’s your dream with your company?
Our farmers are the backbone of our country, and part of a greater economy. Their market share is dwindling due to competition from argibusiness giants. There are businesses today – such as restaurants, cafes and retailers – supporting our country’s small farmers, the unsung heroes of our food system.
My dream is to create a platform where consumers looking to support our farmers can dine out, knowing they’re doing just that. And where chefs can not only login and update their farms, but also search for seasonal food and those local purveyors supply this. Meanwhile, farmers will soon be able to log in (coming May 2018!) to add their products for search and verify that restaurants are buying from them.
We’re entering an era of fake news and farm-washing (when restaurants claim they buy local, but don’t) and Greenease wants to be the trusted source of where our food comes from when we dine out.
How do you creatively advertise?
A lot of our advertising comes from word of mouth. We also table at sustainable expos (Green Festivals, etc) to showcase the app to a larger audience. We have participated at Tech Demo events throughout the city, too. Great way to showcase your product to a large group at one time.
What is your core competency?
There are many apps on the market that also help restaurant find a place to eat healthily. Aura Rating (NY), FoodWaze (VA), Grubbable (Detroit), and Trust and Trace (California & New England) are just a few. The most popular that people use for general search is Yelp. But when searching “local” on resources like Yelp, the types of results that came up searched only reviews that contained “Great local dive bar,” or “Great place to meet the locals,” or “Great local beer on tap,” but said nothing about the restaurant’s food source, never referencing origin of the food.
There is no app that not only provides an all-in-one – nationwide information, allows consumers to suggest/recommend farm-to-table favorites, provides a platform for chefs & farmers to share their products and lists the farms and purveyors that businesses buy from!
What was your biggest failure and biggest success? What did you learn from them?
Our biggest failure was starting off with freelance developers from the beginning….many of them. It’s hard to keep the code clean and un-buggy when you have a number of different developers coding differently. In Dec 2017 we hired a company – Experiencia Social – to come in as our CTO and full development team. Having a dedicated individual (and a team behind him/her) is crucial to building a product you want (and one that works)!
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Don’t go at this alone. It’s hard, I know from experience! You need a good team behind you to build something great. You cannot be CEO, CTO, CFO, and head of Marketing!
Teach us something about networking:
My full-time job is an event planner in the meetings and hospitality industry. One of the biggest lessons I learned in networking is to NOT overload your calendar with event planning networking events. Instead, head to events in other industries – health, technology, etc. At event-planning networking, I’d meet a dozen other event planners. At gatherings in different verticals, I’d meet businesses and individuals who didn’t have event planners and who needed an event planner!
What’s something new you’ve learned in the past month?
That a good technology team is crucial to the health and happiness of a business. Because while we think about ourselves just needing to be healthy and happy, well….so does our business. Having a good foundation and team supporting the cause of the business is important.
What do you think you do better than most people?
I think that I am more comfortable failing better than anyone I know. I am the Chair of Fuckup Nights Washington, DC and getting entrepreneurs to share their failures is like pulling teeth. No one wants to admit when they’re wrong, or have f*cked up.
Also, being a good leader means you need to have two phrases in your arsenal – knowing when to say “thank you” and also when to say “I’m sorry.” Life is too short to be hard on yourself or the people around you. Make sure they always know how much their hard work means to you. This goes far when you have a small team.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
An entrepreneur should focus on the failures. Failures tell us a story – what went wrong, what needs to be changed to go right (pivoting). Focusing too much on successes does not allow us to learn and grow. It only serves as a constant pat on the back. A good entrepreneur takes chances, knowing that 99.9% of them may fail, but they still aren’t afraid to take those chances because they’re embracing failure…and potential successes later.
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber and Foodopoly by Wenonah Hauter. Both of these were a game-changer on how I used to see food. I once met Wenonah Hauter (she’s from VA!) and hugged her so tight telling her “THANK YOU for writing this book. It’s changed my life….and my career.”
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
We want to see our app on every food-lovers cell phone and the software (Greenease Business) as the restaurateur/chef’s best friend when it comes to finding food, sharing where this food came from and ultimately using the app to push specials out to savvy, sustainable consumers. We want restaurants (who are not on the app) to start buying local just so that they can be on the app. We want to be the catalyst for restaurants buying local and consumers spending more time and money on these responsible businesses!!!