Meet the Founder: Jane Kou
Updated: Jan 9
With food waste being a major global issue and 1 in 3 meals going to waste, there is no doubt innovative actions need to be taken. In Australia, Bring Me Home has arisen to combat this issue, led by Founder Jane Kou. In this short blog, I interview Jane to get a better picture of her startup journey with Bring Me Home, and get behind the scenes.
Q. Who is Jane and how did you become an entrepreneur?
‘I’m founder and CEO of Bring Me Home, an online platform that connects customers with discounted surplus food. When I was doing my masters degree I started working with a very similar venture in Europe. When I graduated I knew I wanted to do something similar. So I started a social enterprise, and that is Bring Me Home today.’
And Bring Me Home has indeed arrived on the scene in style. Within the first few months, over 1000 meals have been saved from going to waste, and the presence around Melbourne has been growing.
Q. How was Bring Me Home founded and what were your motivations to start the company?
‘I founded Bring Me Home after I graduated my Master’s degree in Commerce. My previous job was with Too Good To Go, a European waste reduction company, so I’m familiar with the food waste problem. In Australia, I saw there was no food waste reducing service like this, and really wanted do do something about that. It’s such a great problem. I’ve worked in hospitality in the past so it’s especially important for me. I’ve seen exactly how much food gets thrown out in these environments.’
The problem in Australia is in fact so bad that all the annual food waste could be put in a line of 450,000 garbage trucks stretching from Melbourne to New Zealand and back!
Q. What is Bring Me Home and what happens when someone utilizes your platform?
‘Bring Me Home is an app that connects people with cafes, restaurants, and food outlets that have discounted surplus food, often at the end of business hours. When someone utilises our app they get to save money, eat well, and make a positive impact by rescuing food and reducing unnecessary food waste.’
That positive impact reaches further than one may think. A kilogram of food rescued offsets almost two kilograms of greenhouse emissions. One burger rescued can even save enough water two have a 90-minute shower!
Q. What have been the biggest milestones so far?
‘Seeing Bring Me Home expanding to new areas gradually has been amazing to see. Every new partner is a milestone and we make sure to celebrate each little milestone. Being listed as a top ten startup to watch in 2019 was also very motivating.’
The Top 10 Startups to Watch article can be accessed here.
Q. How do you handle competition?
‘I actually don’t see them as competition in the first place…
If someone is doing very well, I tend reflect on myself… maybe they’re working 24 hours a day and I’ve chosen to put in the other hours of my day on other aspect of my life. So they deserve the success! I don’t see them as competition. We don’t need to constantly compare ourselves to others. We have our own goals.’
That’s interesting. Many successful entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, have said focus is the most important attribute in success. Staying focused on making your offering great.
Q. How do you keep yourself motivated?
‘We make sure to celebrate each little milestone.’
‘I’m a very positive and optimistic person in general , so find reasons to motivate myself easily. Being a startup, things are always moving fast and there is always something to be happy or excited about. Motivation is important, and can keep one going when times are a bit tougher. And when good times come, the positivity is only reinforced. We celebrate each milestone.’
Q. What’s been the absolute highlight of this journey?
‘Building a team and being able to work so well with my team members. Having people join at different stages of the journey. Finding my backers and supporters along these stages. The experience is nothing if you can’t share it with someone.’
‘The experience is nothing if you can’t share it with someone.’
The early teams startups have are very important. This Forbes article outlines why early teams are so crucial. Often they share the entrepreneurial flair of the founder, and the most motivated and well-fitting teams can succeed more often.
Q. What’s been the biggest learning curve?
‘To always prioritise the health, physical and mental wellness of myself and my team members. It’s so easy in the startup world to get caught up in what you do, so health and other aspects of life can be neglected.’
Q. What’s next for Bring Me Home?
‘We want to expand throughout Melbourne and also to Sydney. The goal is to be all around Australia and have a large number of retailers actively trying to save their surplus food, and having customers rescuing the meals everywhere.’
And Bring Me Home is on track to do that. There are now over 60 outlet partners and growing every day. The customers have been very positive, and I have sensed a very good sentiment around the app and idea.
Q. Lastly, do you have any quick tips for people to reduce food waste?
‘Freeze your food if you think you won’t eat it! Also use the Bring Me Home app of course!’
Tristan Pokornyi is a sustainability-minded aspiring writer and startup marketer with a passion for photography and travel.