After AU: Alumnus Ryan Hansan, founder of ScratchDC
Hansan talks about the inspiration behind the healthy meal delivery system, his company's part in food delivery and his journey to success in the D.C. food industry
Ryan Hansan, the founder of the dinner kit delivery service ScratchDC, graduated from AU’s Kogod School of Business in 2008. Hansan found himself drawn to the city of D.C. for college -- and he hasn’t left since. He took his Business Management degree and used it to create three local food companies in the District geared toward more accessible ways to eat healthy, something that Hansan says fits the needs of a busy D.C. resident.
ScratchDC is a local food company that specializes in bringing fully prepped healthy food kits directly to a customer’s door. Marinated proteins, mixed seasonings, prepped vegetables, all ready for easy creation at home. With tons of different recipes to choose from on the ScratchDC website and more being released each week, the company truly does serve to any and every type of foodie in the area.
When was ScratchDC founded?
August 2012. We started small and have grown over the years in the D.C. area. I’ve launched two new companies as well. One of them is called Taste Lab, a commercial kitchen [and] culinary incubator that includes food operations and two dozen other food companies. The other company is called Tiny Grocery. There we make fresh food such as salads, soups, sandwiches, and we stock them in new age vending machines.
How did you decide on working in the food business?
Entering into the real world after college, I found it very difficult to make good food night to night. It was very time consuming, expensive and always resulted in so much waste. I knew there had to be a better way. I learned to cook from my mother. She was a great cook, always keeping the fridge fully stocked with fresh ingredients, which is not a reality for young professionals. I also found a huge challenge in variety of food, whether you want to cook Italian on Monday or Indian on Tuesday, they’re completely different flavor profiles and [have] costly ingredients. Our company addresses all these things. I started with my friends and family [by] collecting recipes and making food kits based on them. Four years after I graduated college, I was able to get Scratch D.C. up and running.
What did you learn during your time at AU that contributed most to your success?
I was a Kogod student, so I was very business focused. If I could pick one thing, it was the overall notion of learning the backbone of running a business. Finance, tax laws, real estate, economies of scale, negotiation, it all helped. I did start as Pre-Med, but if I hadn’t switched, I wouldn’t have had that basis of skills. Also, the professors [had] built and grown large companies themselves. Eric Adolphe was inspiring in particular; to learn from someone who’s been there and done it, instilled it and teaches you to be passionate about your business.
What advice do you have for those hoping to have their own business someday?
Do something you are passionate about. I get to come into work everyday and eat and make really good food, work with chefs to come up with recipes, work with food producers - that’s my passion. It’s eating really well and creating a job that allows me to do that every single day that keeps me motivated. I worked a 9 to 5 job out of college, and it was no fun. There’s a huge difference between how you feel when you come home after a fulfilling day of work than coming home from a job. Starting a business will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Be passionate, and be willing to work as hard as you can to ensure your success.
What are your hopes for the future of ScratchDC?
For ScratchDC, we want to continue to help people efficiently make amazing meals in the D.C. area. With Taste Lab, we want to build on our presence in the D.C. food community and help entrepreneurs make amazing businesses. I think Tiny Grocery has the largest potential to scale nationwide in how we’re working it to change the vending game, change how people eat in their office and make all the food more convenient.