Written by: Chloe Hoy
It’s 11pm, and I’m craving snacks… Nestle Drumstick and a Coke, anyone? I’m too lazy to go on a trek to the nearest 24 hour gas station or grocer, but its all ok, because SnackEasy has my back.
Coined as a “snack delivery system” operating between the hours of 6pm to 2am, the East Vancouver-based company has met increasing demand since its launch in December 2014. I had the opportunity to chat with founder Patrick Kelly about the low-cost start-up, menu selection, and their pending expansion.
ON THE CONCEPT:
“I’ve always known that I’d be an entrepreneur, but hadn’t come up with an idea that really stuck with me,” Kelly shares. After quitting his job, he thought of an unfulfilled need amongst Vancouver and its surrounding areas – a snack delivery system. “I was pretty confident that SnackEasy would be received well because it’s such a simple concept, and no one seemed to be doing it,” he says, noting that it was easier to build a customer base as a company with few to no well-established competitors.
ON HIS BACKGROUND:
“Business is just psychology.” An individual who never attended post-secondary school, Kelly’s mindset lies with “truly understanding what motivates people to spend their hard earned money, and using that to build a business with realistic expectations.” His experience with app development and web design helped create a simplified, custom ordering and payment system for the website. No fear for those doubting their programming skills however – “All the programming I know is from free online tutorials, so that should not be a limiting factor to anyone who is truly motivated,” he says.
After programming the website himself, Kelly’s remaining costs included a delivery vehicle, initial stock, business license and marketing. The power of social media took hold once Lower Mainland online hub Vancity Buzz posted an article about SnackEasy. “This allowed thousands of people to hear about [the business] right away, and without that, I’m not sure if I would have been able to last financially while waiting to build a customer base,” he admits, adding that finding customers can be expensive without a concept that people want to tell their friends about. While being a low-cost start up had its perks, it did come with its risks. “I only had about one or two months that I could afford to live without income, [so] I’d suggest having a bit more money available if possible – but you probably have less to lose than you think!”
While Kelly continues to be a one-man team, he is in no immediate hurry to look for additional help. “The longer I do it myself the better, since I’m still learning a ton about running the business efficiently,” he says. SnackEasy’s current delivery zone includes much of Burnaby and Vancouver, and while Richmond, Surrey and even the UBC campus are on the radar, those areas will have to wait a tad longer for its services: “Getting deliveries out within 30 to 45 minutes is very important to me, [so] I need to make sure things are set up properly with enough drivers to keep things consistent for the customers.” If all goes well within the next few months, Kelly hopes to hire another driver to help in his current zone, before expanding to new neighbourhoods come summertime.
ON MENU SELECTION:
SnackEasy’s current offerings include a variety of popular chips, cookies, candies, ice cream, and drinks. While suggestions are encouraged, decisions are ultimately made using the criteria of how much space a new product would take up, and how cheaply it can be obtained. “I strive to keep the prices similar to what you’d find at a convenience store, but sometimes that’s just not possible if I can’t get it cheap enough.” While Kelly’s current supply comes from wholesalers like Superstore, he is in talks to partner with local food businesses in the future.
A slow weekday to a busy weekend has SnackEasy doing as few as two and as many as twelve deliveries a night. “The profit is pretty much just enough to scrape by and continue to reinvest in products and marketing. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle, but I feel lucky enough to be able to be my own boss and hopefully in the future, I’ll be earning enough profit to hire some employees and maybe take a day off!”
ON ADVICE TO FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS:
“Every successful entrepreneur has taken significant risks in their life to get to where they are. Many people have told me they had the idea for a business like SnackEasy, but none of them
actually started it. SnackEasy could still fail, but I’ve learned so much already from actually running it, and it’s more than just financial. When you’re an employee and something goes
wrong, you can ask your boss for help. When you’re a business owner, you have to learn how to find a solution by yourself, and I think that’s a very important skill set because it applies to life in general.”
Find SnackEasy on Twitter @SnackEasyCanada and get your snack fix by ordering online at www.snackeasy.ca.