NextGenChef is a membership-based food and beverage group founded by Justine Reichman. Reichman believes that eating right is a human right. Her vision is for NextGenChef to be the number one resource for food and beverage professionals to connect with each other, gather and exchange information and resources, and collaborate on innovative ways to create healthy food systems as well as build their businesses. Find out how they leveraged a mobile app to become the number one resource for the food and beverage community.
“ALL people should have access to nutritious food,” says Reichman who founded NextGenChef (NGC) to be a community of food and beverage entrepreneurs who want to make “better for you” food accessible to all.
“The only way I know how to do that is to create a trusted community and provide information,” says Reichman. The NGC community consists of small business owners, founders, thought leaders, researchers, and consumers all interested in building a better-for-you food system. She emphasizes it’s not just about being organic, but also about “building regenerative, local, accessible and healthy practices.”
The need to pivot quickly to save an association
Reichman was well on her way to building and engaging this community when the pandemic hit. At that point, the weekly in-person networking events she was hosting came to a screeching halt, and she needed to pivot quickly to an online platform to seamlessly continue the same level of connection and interaction among NextGenChef members.
The NextGenChef mobile app
Using enCappture, Reichman launched the NextGenChef mobile app on March 20, 2020. Through the app, NextGenChef community members could now quickly and easily connect with each other and exchange information. “Entrepreneurs were now connected with mentors, resources and research,” Reichman said. “The app puts all the things they want at their fingertips.”
Reichman also recognized that for the NextGenChef platform to be successful, it needed to be specific for the food and beverage community.
“Because LinkedIn is for everything, Facebook is for everything, in fact most platforms are for everything,” says Reichman. “I wanted a place just for people in food and beverage. A place to support people who were not getting PPP, or where they could post jobs or search for one, a community that could help build their businesses or just help people better understand the food choices they were making.”
Turning events into mobile app events
Like most businesses, when the pandemic hit, NextGenChef was faced with challenges but, through her new NGC app, Reichman says she was able to pivot quickly, especially with respect to events. “We went from doing 100% in-person events to doing events digitally and now we are doing online events 4-5 days a week every single week.”
Using the mobile app, Reichman announces events and sends out event information and reminders.
Her app also hosts videos, Lunch and Learns, and Table Talks so that new users can get a taste of what the NGC membership can offer them.
On the NGC app, members can access newsletters, ask questions, start conversations and continue conversations. Members can also access proprietary and partner content such as Essential Ingredients podcasts (here’s an example: https://link.chtbl.com/Oeu9o_yx) and food expert interviews. Because she can customize her app by feature, Reichman added a virtual bulletin board.
One of the reasons Reichman was immediately attracted to the app was that it was very user-friendly. CALLOUT- She says,
“enCappture takes something that is technical and makes it accessible and easy to use,” says Reichman.
She also appreciates that the app is not template-y, not a “one size fits all” proposition. She found it simple to customize, which allowed her to produce and group content in the most important fields in food and beverage. This includes alternative proteins, up-cycling and better-for-you foods.
The benefits of enCappture
Reichman also found enCappture’s tech support team extremely helpful and highly responsive. Whenever she had questions, she said the team “walked me through everything until I was secure.”
Future app plans call for creating special content for the NextGenChef community including members only tips, videos and insights from leading mentors.
Reichman also mentioned that NGC is kicking off a special mentorship program.
The intensive 8-week program for food and beverage entrepreneurs will help them understand if their ideas are viable.
Since launching the NGC app, feedback from users has been extremely positive. Reichman said she gets comments, like “‘This is awesome!’ ‘So much better, well done,’ or ‘How much did you pay for that?’” She says, “People think that I hit the big time!”
Reichman’s goal is to create ecosystems in every city so that healthy food is accessible to literally everyone. Today, the NextGenChef app is used by hundreds of food and beverage professionals and those numbers are growing every day. Says Reichman, “The key for NextGenChef is building a global community… and the app really facilitates that. I’m excited about how the app will play a role in the future of food.”
Since its launch, the enCappture platform has benefitted member-based organizations and associations by allowing them to target and amplify their messaging.
Additionally, the app provides member-only perks and content. It also directs important communications about safety and other subjects, relevant as stakeholders look for guidance during the pandemic.