SoupCycle is a locally owned and operated business that delivers organic soups to homes and offices by bicycle.
The concept of SoupCycle began as an assignment while the founders, Jed Lazar and Shawna Lambert, were in their final year of a Masters in Sustainable Business Administration program. Jed and Shauna had heard of a soup bicycle delivery business in Texas that had recently ditched the bikes for the petroleum-fueled option. Jed saw the fate of the Texas soup business as a challenge and thought if bicycle delivery could work anywhere, it could work in Portland. Two weeks after the duo graduated from college in 2008, the business was launched.
“SoupCycle was about influencing the business and other businesses to start delivering by bicycle and to show that bicycle delivery and lower carbon delivery is feasible. We also wanted to support local and organic farmers. Soup on a bike, it is a simple idea but it does all of that!”
Jed Lazar came to MercyCorps Northwest and enrolled in the IDA program as they began starting their business. He received business advice and guidance from a business planning course and the Individual Development Account (IDA) matched savings plan was essential to their success. Lazar appreciated the support he got through the program, ”The classes were great not only because of the instruction but you get to meet all these other great business owners and you get to support each other.”
“The matched savings allowed us to build efficiencies into our business.” Upgrading from an electric to a gas stove, purchasing more soup delivery trailers, and investing in marketing material and web payment programming were all made possible through the IDA program. Lazar says that because of the IDA Initiative, SoupCycle “became a “real” business.”
Since the business was launched, SoupCycle has made 25,000 deliveries by bicycle and is in the process of hiring additional employees as the business and customer base continues to grow. Jed Lazar still attends ongoing MCNW business classes and seminars taught by professional volunteers. SoupCycle has also become a strong member of the bicycle-based business community in Portland.
From running the business, Lazar says “I get a sense of contribution, which is a wonderful privilege. I get a sense of purpose. I get to interact with people in the city in a way that I didn’t know was possible.” The Oregon IDA Initiative and MercyCorps Northwest has “opened so many doors and I have got meet so many other small business owners and connect with them. The IDA program helped my small business to flourish despite the recession.” SoupCycle is now shifting from being a small two to three person business to a seven or eight person business.