Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Flori Pate, co-founder of Food Connection & Dig Local, located in Asheville, NC, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Food Connection is the 501(c)3 nonprofit I co-founded in 2015 as a way to reduce food waste and ease hunger in the Asheville, NC, area. Did you know that over 35% of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted and ends up in landfills? Meanwhile, it is estimated that nearly 50 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they don't always know where their next meal will come from. Food Connection connects the dots between restaurants, caterers, and institutions that have too much food to our neighbors who don't have enough. We rescue unserved prepared meals and redistribute them to nonprofit partners directly to individuals and working families needing them.

Tell us about yourself

My background is in art direction. My husband and I created an app called Dig Local that promotes all of the unique Asheville area businesses showing folks where to go and what to do for a very authentic experience. We were meeting with one of our business members, and she complained to us about how much food goes in the trash after events. In catering, you cannot run out of food, so you make more than enough and almost always have lots of leftovers. We developed Food Connection as a solution and used local taxis, staff, and volunteers to move the surplus meals from food donors to recipient partners as a way to reduce food waste and ease hunger.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as co-creator of Food Connection is the disruption we have caused. Being "disruptive" is not always a bad thing. Our team disrupted the wasteful practices that have been happening in Asheville and beyond by creating a solution and changing the culture in the food industry. We often heard folks in the service industry say it pained them to toss perfectly good food in the trash after events. Now they can know for certain when they call Food Connection that we will get this food to working families, veterans, seniors, and more who need it the most.

As a team, Food Connection has just purchased our very first Mobile Meals truck, where we can rescue unserved food, repack it into individual heat, serve meals and distribute them through a free food truck experience. ALL are welcome. No questions asked. This has been such a delightful project and, hands down, the most fun and rewarding design project of my career. I loved doing the graphics for the vehicle wrap, and my goal was for it to be fun, friendly, and welcoming.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things that comes as a business owner/founder is never feeling like you're ever done. When you're not actually working, there's a good chance that you're thinking or dreaming about work. Finding work/life balance is always challenging.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Think outside the box and dream big!
  2. Trust your gut instincts.
  3. Celebrate the wins. Learn from the mistakes. Stay positive.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

In addition to Food Connection, my husband and I are the founders of Dig Local and own the awesome proprietary software for the website and mobile app. We level the playing field for small businesses. In 2023 we plan to scale the Dig Local platform to other cities.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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