"Senior year I was pretty obsessed with Louis' Lunch... It was my happy place."
Jessie Gould (PC '04) is the founder of Ox Verte, a plant-forward food company working to reinvent office lunch. We asked her to share her view on the future of the food industry, and to tell us how she became a part of it all.
Tell us about Ox Verte.
At Ox Verte, we want to make seasonally-fresh, locally-sourced food an everyday occurrence, and offer wholesome meals that can nourish our bodies and nurture our communities.
Ox Verte was founded in February 2015 and serves groups sizes 10 - 500 in Manhattan. Ox Verte is also a Certified B Corporation, a leader in the global movement to use business as a force for good. Read about us in Food+Tech Connect or Edible Manhattan or check out our Instagram.
What makes your idea unique?
In the food business, I think it's far more about execution than ideas (although there are some pretty radical ideas floating around in food). That said, Ox is unique because unlike restaurants which offer catering as a side business, Ox only caters to offices which means we can devote all of our resources to making the customer experience perfect.
Tell us about the journey from concept to execution.
There are a few ideas about execution I believe in strongly. One of those ideas is that launching a startup will often take as long as you let it take. If you give yourself a year it will take a year, but if you give yourself 2 months, the outcome won't be too much different. Thus, it's always better to just get on with it, because the real learnings don't happen until you've started.
I left my job in August 2014 and we piloted our first meals less than 8 weeks later. We launched officially in February 2015.
Who was a notable mentor?
While at Organic Avenue I worked with several colleagues that taught me invaluable lessons about being an operator.
What experience at Yale most impacted where you are today?
Not to be cliched, but Yale in its entirety impacted who am I today. From a very practical perspective, the Yale network is one that I continue to draw upon at every professional and personal twist and turn.
What’s your favorite food, aside from what you can get at your own place?
I will always love really good sushi, and even mediocre sushi.
How did you get started in the food industry?
I was working for an investment firm that acquired cold-pressed juice chain Organic Avenue. After the acquisition, I joined Organic Avenue as VP of Operations.
What was your favorite eatery in New Haven?
Senior year I was pretty obsessed with Louis' Lunch. When I was interviewing for jobs, I used it as a reward for getting through interviews. I remember that like it was yesterday. It was my happy place. The potato salad was so good.
What about the food/drink industry is exciting to you right now?
Food is an extremely exciting place to be right now. Before, the industry was dominated by chefs and big food companies. Now there are so many more and different players. Specifically, I am energized by all the momentum around food as medicine and the desire to make our country healthier. I'm really interested in plant-based eating and technology that sits at the crossroads between health and eating.