Lessons Learned in San Francisco

In November 2014, I traveled to San Francisco and spent 5 days (Thursday–Monday) skating the streets to introduce FoodCircles to different startups, engineers, and connectors. I received some of the best technical, managerial, and fundraising advice of my life and wrote the following as a response to the question, “So, how did it go?”

Guidepost to Reading — There are two general ways of reading this post:

The “Lessons” Route: skim down the post, looking for the bold or yellow-highlighted sections. When you find something you like, feel free to read the context.

The “Narrative” Route: read the full perspective of an entrepreneur—and many times wantrapreneur—trying to find his way through the city and his first startup.

Late Wednesday Night

The journey started on a late, rainy night finding my way into the hills of Chinatown to get to my Couchsurfing host’s apartment. I once slipped on my longboard and watched it almost get crunched by traffic. Thinking back, losing my board would have greatly limited my trip and experience. But thankfully, that didn’t happen. I got to Ken’s place and he was already asleep, leaving a note for me on the table. I hit the strange bed in the strange city in the heart of Chinatown and tried to get ready for the day that was to come.

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Operation: Turkey Delivery

Op. Turkey Delivery

We don’t have to be thankful for all things. We can, however, be thankful in all things.

Imagine the conversation: “Hey. Don’t worry about preparing ANY food for Thanksgiving this year. We’ve got you covered..”

On Saturday, I contacted the five families that were chosen for a complimentary, gourmet Thanksgiving meal provided by the Gilmore Collection.

Having the experience of giving these families the news felt surreal. The responses were a mix of shock and gratitude, followed by a tremendous sense of happiness and relief about not having to worry about the big meal this Thursday. Here are the redacted versions of the stories:

First Family

[Mom] and [Dad] have two young children. [Oldest daughter] has been battling brain cancer since she was a couple months old. They have to live in their mother’s basement because finances are tight.  [Dad] lost his job this past year because of absenteeism to be with her during treatments.

Second Family

Mom and Dad have adopted >6 kids out of foster care in the past three years. While they do have food in the fridge, it is always an ordeal to cook for a big family. I know that this would bless them substantially, in order to just BE together for a meal, no stress about prepping. Mom suffers from fibromyalgia and it flares up in the winter. They just have a ton on their plate, and are so worth blessing the heck out of.
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Grand Rapids Brewing Co., Welcome Aboard.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co. on FoodCircles

Grand Rapids Brewing Co. is now a “Buy One, Feed One” establishment.

“..One of the friendliest staffs you’ll meet,”

..in one of the coolest spaces downtown, on the cornerstone of the city of Grand Rapids. The gang at 1 Ionia originally collaborated before your parents were born with six other breweries to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Company in 1892. It was oddly similar to hobbits, men, elves and dwarves coming together in Lord of the Rings. With GRBC’s decision to become a “Buy One, Feed One” establishment, the results are just as spectacular.

GRBC now enables anyone, any day to put dinner on the table for a child in need just by coming in to the brewery. You can try an order of Street Tacos for just $1 or more (order = 3 tacos), and 100% of your purchase goes to providing square meals. We’re stoked to let you know about GRBC’s decision to enable us to give today. Click below to buy a 30-day voucher for just $1, or hit up GRBC on the app. There are just 5 left this week.


Buy Dish at GRBC


To practice what we preach, in perhaps the strangest Happy Hour invite ever, we asked a few friends to try GRBC last week and confirmed that the chorizo inside the Street Tacos is the bomb. My bud Stephen also had high praise for the Fried PB&J (that strawberry jam….) and Katie was all about their Scotch Egg (that sausage….). That’s not even to mention the brews, which local snob Stan Samuels gives two thumbs up. In all these experimentations, they were able to provide dinner to 3 children here, via Kids Food Basket.



Sometimes we get bored on Fridays..


Coming Soon

Many restaurants are “going #BOFO” this fall. Can’t wait to show you who.




– Jon and the FoodCircles team