A Vegan Food Truck Launches Two Student Entrepreneurs’ Careers
When most high school graduates move out of their parents' house and into a college dorm, healthy eating habits go out the window, laundry doesn't get done and life can lack structure. But Randon Moore, 24, and Gwyenth Yvonne, 22, aren't ordinary college students. They started cooking vegan chicken in a college kitchen and selling meals to friends. Now they've launched a food truck called The Beet Box, which is so popular that they are hoping to appear on Shark Tank and seeking a commercial kitchen to grow from one truck in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to nationwide distribution.
How did two college students launch a successful vegan food truck business? It was part luck, part perseverance. They never gave up, even when one of them ended up getting transferred. The way it happened was something of a miracle since they weren't raised near each other, and they weren't even in the same year at college. Randon was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he played high school football for four years. He headed to the University of Nebraska, Kearney on a scholarship to study business administration with a minor in marketing. Gwyneth, one year behind Randon, was raised in Omaha and decided to go to college closer to home.
The two UNK students who were in a class together and found themselves in deep conversation over the topic of both being vegan. They hit it off instantly and became closer over another topic: they both wanted to start their own business. "Randon has an entrepreneurial mindset," said Gwyneth, while she has a passion for cooking and often made vegan meals for her family. They came up with the idea of launching a vegan food business, and they quickly moved ahead with the plan.
After a year of working on the business model, Randon received an offer from Northwestern Oklahoma College to play football there and transferred his junior year. Gwyneth decided to transfer to pursue her education in health and nutrition, but it was really so they could continue their business plan. They moved to Stillwater Oklahoma and launched their vegan business as a beta, out of their kitchen at first.
They got an apartment off campus and Gwyneth cooked vegan soul food and served up what soon became their top seller, a 'chicken' patty made with wheat and seasoned to perfection. When Randon raved about her comfort food, the entire football team lined up outside their door to get a taste of the sandwich, without even knowing the 'chicken' was made from plants.
News about the plant-based chicken that tasted just like the real thing spread quickly. The tiny apartment once stocked with textbooks soon turned into a restaurant-style kitchen. Demand quickly exceeded space so they bought a food truck, refurbished it to their specs, and called it The Beet Box. While the truck was being rebuilt, they spent time creating recipes for vegan pork, lobster, shrimp, and secret condiments like a vegan big mac sauce.
When the truck was finished and the logo painted on the side, they parked it on campus and sold out of the chicken within minutes. They knew that they had created something special. Randon and Gwyenth built the company to produce top-notch vegan fare and word spread. Soon customers told them they had driven two hours to sample the dishes. The lines were epic, and sometimes people waited an hour to taste the famous "chicken" sandwich. "We took Stillwater by storm," said Randon. They then drove the truck an hour and 8 minutes to Tusla, Oklahoma, where sales doubled. Nothing could stop them now.
We spoke to the entrepreneurs, now one year into their operation, and they shared where they hope the business is heading (it's big). Find out what's in store and when you can be likely to head over to a Beetbox truck near you. Until then, feel inspired by their passion and determination to create something unique that all started as a friendly conversation in a classroom. Or as Radon says; "There's no growth in the confinement of your comfortability."
The Beet: How did you guys meet?
Gwyenth: Randon and I met when we were in college at Nebrarakasa Kearney. I was a freshman and Randon was a sophomore and we were in the same class together working on a school project. He mentioned that he was vegan and so was I so the conversation started with the usual, why, when, how, and Randon told me about his football experience and how a vegan diet improved his game and I told him that I like to cook vegan cuisine. After a brief conversation, we could tell that we would make great friends, and maybe even business partners so we started to hang out and collaborate on ideas. That's when we decided to put my cooking skills to the test and optimize Randon's entrepreneurial mindset.
A year later, Randon transferred to Northwestern Oklahoma to play on the football team. I decided that it would be smart to pursue a nutrition and health degree at the same school so we could continue our business project. We both transferred two years ago and the business took off running. I made the prosperous chicken in our apartment kitchen and the entire football team would line up outside our door, paying for a vegan meal. The best part is that they didn't even know it was vegan. Usually, when you eat fake meat, you can tell, but that doesn't happen with our product. Word spread around campus faster than ever and we sold out of our vegan meat within days. We knew we had a business here and decided to expand.
The Beet: How did you grow? What were the next steps?
Randon: We decided to build a food truck and we called it The Beet Box. Just a year ago, the final product was finished and we started our business in Stillwater OK, a small college town. But, the surrounding cities heard about us and people would drive two hours to come to eat our famous 'chicken patty. Actually, yesterday was one of our best days, the line to place an order was an hour-long It's like we're turning Oklahoma into a vegan state.
The Beet: What's your chicken made from?
Gwenyth: We make it with wheat and have a strict recipe process. The chicken has an incredible seasoning and the flavor and texture are just like the real thing. The chicken patty was our most popular item but now we offer vegan pork, lobster, shrimp, and we even make a homemade vegan big mac sauce. We make the lobster with hearts of palm.
The Beet: What's next in store for you guys? Will we see The Beet Box chicken in grocery stores soon?
Randon: Right now, dispensaries and a lot of breweries are hosting our truck and every time we're open, it's a crazy turnout. We're looking into getting a commercial kitchen so we can start our direct to consumers and ship our patties nationwide.
We're working with OSU and Pepsi to find a co-packer and commercial kitchen so we can take this mainstream. We pitched to Shark Tank a few weeks ago, now we're waiting to hear back. We want to feed every home in America.
The Beet: What made you guys go vegan in the first place?
Randon: I had to get stomach surgery when I was playing football and I eased the pain by eating vegan. Before I went vegan, whenever I would eat something or drink something, my stomach exploded like a balloon. I was in so much pain. I went to so many doctors and they didn't know what was going on. They finally figured out that I had median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS). I ended up having surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and then a doctor recommended I watch Forks Over Knives and after that, I changed my diet and saw a difference in my body and performance. Now, I'm a huge advocate for the vegan lifestyle and healthy eating. I want to help others be healthier.
Gwyneth: I love to cook, I've always been the one in the kitchen. I made the switch to a vegan diet when I was in high school and watched Cowspiracy. I was super interested in helping the environment and trying to eat healthily. I love animals so it wouldn't make sense if I didn't go vegan. Cooking is a lot more challenging when you're vegan, and I love a challenge.