An Alloy 26 Fellowship team – MIX Salad Concept is capitalizing on the growing food scene and putting their own spin on convenient healthy eating options. We sat down with Lia Vaccaro, Co-Founder and CEO of MIX Salad Concept and Rachael Bane, Co-Founder, to learn why it’s such a good time to be a foodie in the ‘Burgh.
Q: Tell me about your startup journey – how did you get to where you are today?
A: It all started way back in early 2013, when we were just students with big ideas, graduating from Chatham University’s graduate and undergraduate Business programs. We quickly became friends through our involvement in the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and realized a common, lifelong background in using plant-based foods to fuel us through work and school, and keep us feeling great! After hearing about a local business competition, and seeing a need in the local market for better access to this style of eating, we followed our guts and went to work putting together the first outline of what is MIX Salad Concept, Inc. today. We went through the early stage incubator process at Thrill Mill, took additional bootcamp style classes on entrepreneurship, and began testing out our initial service: a lunch-time meal delivery service to office teams throughout the East End and Downtown neighborhoods. After testing, testing, and more testing, we’ve learned so much about the food business, the Pittsburgh market, and business ownership in general. It’s been a true privilege to build relationships with so many wonderful vendors in Western PA, support the local food system, and provide people with convenient access to plant-based eating!
Q: Tell us about your product/business?
A: MIX exists to support the growth and continued interest in plant-based diets and local food systems, as well as to instill a sense of inspiration in every customer to explore colorful and diverse varieties of food. Our organization’s products and services provide a sense of fulfillment, happiness and enjoyment for consumers seeking to nourish their busy lives in a meaningful way. By offering ready-made and packaged food, as well as easy to access and consume, we grow our operations from a convenient local lunchtime option to a national product which will purposefully influence the Future of Food by being a change-maker and thought leader on the subject of improving the health of the American consumer.
Q: Tell us about yourself, your background, and team (if applicable)?
A: Currently, I’m working on a certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and am happy to see that what I’ve known intuitively about eating well for a better life has sound scientific backing. I always had a desire to launch my own business, so after graduating with a degree in SLP, I completed my MBA at Chatham University, with a focus on Strategy and Entrepreneurship. I’m a self-proclaimed Foodie, after I overcame digestive issues at a young age, I began to not only look at food as medicine, but realized I really enjoy developing recipes that work for not only myself, but everyone around me.
Rachael shares my passion for spreading the plant-based love, and has experience working throughout the food industry within a Digital Marketing capacity, with a degree in Management from Chatham University. Creative direction, branding and dabbling in web design are her favorite roles. Our collective love for lots of veggies and good food likely stems from our shared experience growing up around gardens, where we learned that there’s really nothing like the taste of locally grown food. We bring that understanding of the importance of good food to everything we do at MIX.
Q: What’s next for your company, and what are you most excited for?
A: Right now we are testing out an awesome new product line, which will be available for order online very soon, and we hope to expand to national shipping shortly after our launch. Expect to see convenient items that make it easier to fit plant-based eating into a busy schedule. We’re really excited about this! There’s definitely some exciting things coming from MIX before 2016 comes to an end, so stay tuned!
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Pittsburgh?
A: Our city is beautiful and ever evolving. Just take the flourishing food scene as a prime example. Pittsburgh is a place to start something, and we’re very grateful to be a part of this city’s entrepreneurial Renaissance.
Alloy 26 Fellowships
Are you interested in free work space? The Alloy 26 Fellowship Program is a unique opportunity for startups, entrepreneurs, makers, non-profits, or other great organizations, headquartered in Pittsburgh with 5 members or less, to be a part of the Alloy 26 community. Applications are NOW OPEN and key benefits of the program include:
-Free 6 months of dedicated desk space at Alloy 26
-Your logo featured on the Alloy 26 website
-Opportunities for tickets to events, conferences and other opportunities
-No strings attached (no equity required, no obligation to stay beyond 6 months)
The application deadline is November 20th, 2016 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. One application per organization. We expect notifications to begin in December.