That set in motion a series of conversations that left Polk "frankly blown away." Dohmen is a 165-year-old family business that mostly focused on pharmaceuticals but five years ago decided to get behind preventative medicine and the idea that food and nutrition can prevent disease. So it decided to sell its operating businesses in the healthcare space and use those proceeds to fund companies that are making healthy food accessible to everyone.
"And so for me, it's the most deep mission alignment between our organizations," Polk says. "And then on top of that, they're great entrepreneurs that know how to scale businesses and have that experience over time, which is really a great addition to our team and our board."
Everytable plans to use the capital injection to expand its footprint in Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego to name a few), Northern California, and New York City. The chain recently signed a deal with New York Health + Hospitals to place its meals in four hospitals throughout the Big Apple. The funds will also help with revenue-driving marketing strategies that will help the brand achieve the profitability it's looking for.
The intention is to implement a fortressing strategy in these markets, similar to Domino's. Stores have small footprints and low capex and opex models, meaning they can be profitable at much lower sales volumes.
"We're really trying to drive density within these markets that we're currently in," Polk says. "And then the other part of that is that we're really looking for where the need is. Everytable is a concept that works really well in a lot of different environments, but we prefer to be in low-income neighborhoods or also what might be considered sort of like middle-income neighborhoods, but that also don't have great access to healthy food. Like for example, in Southern California, one of our great stores is a store in Bellflower, which is a great neighborhood, not super low income, but not high income either. Just very strong demand for healthy food and very little supply."
The company doesn't want to keep operations to itself either. Everytable has a social equity franchise model powered by $16 million from philanthropic capital sources. The brand will use this money to sell franchises to talented store managers from Black and Brown communities who want to operate their own business, but don't have traditional access to capital or meet the liquid net worth requirement of many franchises.
Everytable will convert one of its first stores into a franchise in the next couple of months. The hope is that the chain has enough capital to franchise 50-plus locations and that a majority of it footprint will be owned by social equity franchise candidates.
Polk believes Everytable is a brand conditioned to do "incredibly well" in a recessionary environment, so he's not nervous about the economy. However, he says the company has to be cognizant of how funding capital markets have changed for high-growth startups. So the immediate focus is growing the business—not just through retail, but other programs like feeding the elderly.
"Our immediate focus is really getting to profitability to really control our own fate in the world and not have the mission at risk in any way from the vicissitudes of the capital market," Polk says.