I’m here ready to launch my business after almost a year away. Where have I been you may ask? In no particular order: Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania and for the most part I visited all these countries on bicycle.
It all started over a year ago when I started AWO Produce-a mobile grocery store- with my brother…but all that history is for another post.
For now I want to focus your attention on NeuBite, and how it came to be.
It all started when I moved to Nigeria in November 2015 in search of my roots. My family is originally from Nigeria and while I had visited the beautiful country many times since I was young, growing into manhood, I felt it important to actually go to Nigeria and stay for a while to learn the culture and people better, I wanted to live like a local. So that’s what I did. I learned to speak a little igbo, and the local pidgin by immersing myself with my people. I thought I was keeping a low profile but unbeknownst to me I became the Rasta on his bicycle, racing through Ajegunle in search of some plantain and rice.
While living in Nigeria, I began to notice the overabundance of sugary beverages on the shelves of stores. I can vividly remember my little cousin going from calm and content to a handful after consuming one of these “juices”. With my maverick brain I, began crafting a business plan to open a juice bar in Lagos selling the freshest cold pressed beverages to the over 20million people who call Lagos,Nigeria home. I called the company Fresh Press. (Only to later find out someone had already registered the name) While discussing the business with my sister Nneji, she told me I should apply to The Do School– a social innovation incubator in Berlin,Germany. She had previously attended the program in Hamburg,Germany and she talked about how the program changed her outlook on life and the world. I listened to her and applied.
Months went by and I didn’t hear anything from Berlin so I casted that out and eventually forgot about it, until one lucky day when I got back from my morning bike ride I read the email saying I had been accepted in the program and would be heading to Berlin for the summer. There were no words to describe my feeling at the time, the general thought in my head was “why me?” I mean, there are hundreds of people around the world who have higher credentials than me and a stronger business plan. But that’s not what The Do School is looking for, they’re looking for DOers!
So boom, I transitioned from bustling Lagos,Nigeria to bustling Berlin,Germany! It was a little strange going from Africa to Europe. I had just started getting used to the sun and the energetic people only to be thrown into the cold Berlin spring.
But, how could I complain I was in a new country with 17 fellows from around the world! Here I was in Berlin learning and building with fellows from India,Sri Lanka, Colombia,Costa Rica, Ecuador, Philippines, Pakistan, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mongolia, Belgium/Morocco/London,Mexico.
The experience was unique for sure.
Although I came to Berlin to work on a business for Nigeria,after many conversations with my sister Nneji she convinced me to start first in Chicago. Now in Berlin with my mind towards helping Chicago I began to think up creative ways to solve the issue of food deserts.
For those of you who don’t already know what a Food desert is, a food desert is defined by the USDA as a geographic area where fresh fruits and vegetables are unavailable.
I used my time to meet with people working on food startups in Berlin and I gained a valuable wealth of information. After months of work I finally came up with the idea of NeuBite. The initial idea was to have a cargo bicycle ride around the city of Chicago offering people prepackaged cooked meals. But due to feasibility and the rough Chicago winters it became unlikely to implement such an idea. I was stuck, and needed a new way to implement my business but my mind was cloudy from all the experiences I had gained over the course of the summer. In an attempt to defuse all the clutter and find balance within myself before returning to Chicago I embarked on a 15day bike trip across Europe with Alifiya- A fellow DoSchool entrepreneur from Sri Lanka. We called it The Distant Relatives Bike Tour. The premise of the trip was to shoot a documentary capturing the diverse human stories throughout Europe. On the trip we experienced a handful of great moments and adventure…But once again that’s for another post
As my time in Berlin came to a close I still had the void of figuring out what to do with NeuBite when winter comes around. It was on a trip to the corner to pick up some zigzags and water that I had my eureka moment. “Instead of having people come to a bicycle-kiosk, why not a fridge-kiosk”? So with that I got back to work, it almost felt like I developed a totally new business but it all felt natural.
Upon returning to Chicago I gained two roommates who have been crucial in the development of Neu Bite. On days when I’m slacking off and not giving my project the care it deserves I am sure to get scolded by my roommates in an attempt to keep me focused and determined. Starting a company may have the glitter to those on the outside but internally it’s a test of strength and character. “It’s all worth it”, is what I would tell myself to keep motivated when I would check my bank account and try to figure out how to make $20 last a whole week.
NeuBite now is a meal-kit food delivery service focused on Chicago’s south side. We offer on-demand delivery as well as in-store pick up of our specially prepared meal-kits.
I’m still struggling but the days look brighter every morning and now after months of hard work. I’m happy to introduce NeuBite to the world! We’re starting operations in Chicago’s Hyde Park and Bronzeville neighborhoods.