Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Jake Aronskind, the CEO and co-founder of Pepper working on UN SDG 2: Zero Hunger.
Spiffy: Howdy, Jake! What is the challenge that Pepper is addressing?
Jake: Hey, Spiffy, thanks for having me! Pepper’s mission is to be the premier social media platform for cooking by empowering chefs of all backgrounds and skill sets to create, share, and discover food with family and friends around the world. Our philanthropic mission is to utilize our power and reach to support communities in need of sustainability or facing any forms of persecution through direct civic engagement, charitable contributions, and employee activism. We have donated nearly 50,000 meals in the last several months and plan to be donating many more in the future!
Spiffy: Wow! What motivated you to do it?
Jake: Everyone likes sharing food on social media, but there was no true application to support the diverse range of voices and cultures that food represents. We wanted to give a platform to all those behind the dishes we see on social media everyday while giving back to our community. Food is something we all have a relationship with, and we at Pepper want to make sure we are respecting each and every one!
Spiffy: Can you elaborate on how you and Pepper are working towards a more equitable world?
Jake: We are working towards a world of zero waste and hunger. Our search function and our community of homemade recipes help you make the most of all your leftovers and ingredients to help combat any unnecessary waste. We are also working towards donating one meal for every download of Pepper!
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent company milestone or initiative and how that impacts your community.
Jake: We broke through 200,000 downloads the first week of May 2022! The larger our audience, the more content we have for our community, the more we are able to give back. Our platform is a cycle between the community supporting and us supporting the community back. And every new user helps to keep it going!
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Jake: The day our app was set to be released to the public, the entire platform crashed. We had prepared for months for this day, and yet we were facing our greatest technical issue to date. We worked all day and into the early afternoon and finally sent a new version hoping for the best. Fortunately, it worked! We learned that no matter how much prep we had done, nothing mattered as we had to figure out how to get the job done. In startups, YOU are the safety net; nobody is going to do your job for you. So pick yourself up, look at the issue at hand, and do your best to get it done. No matter if it's the right solution or not, you'll be heading in the right direction if you at least try.
Spiffy: Try is the key word, indeed! So, Jake, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Jake: I recently heard the quote: "things tend to happen slowly until they happen all at once." Fewer words have resonated with me more as a startup founder. We went from 10k users in three months, to 100k in the next three months, and 200k in the one month after that. Successful businesses aren't built in a day. Don't be turned off by small numbers. Just keep building, the big numbers will follow!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Jake—it’s been an honor!
A half-Israeli, half-Italian living in NYC, Jake Aronskind went from trading companies to building one after graduating from Vanderbilt. He loves to cook homemade chicken parm and spicy tuna crispy rice and is working to empower the next generation of great chefs. (First published on the Ladderworks website on May 16, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.