Featured Vancouverite: Todd Lajeunesse

Todd Lajeunesse

Hometown: Surrey, British Columbia

How long have been a Vancouverite?
I moved to Vancouver my first year at UBC. After that, for 4 years, I lived in both in Seattle and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I’ve been back in Vancouver since December last year and am so grateful to call this city home.

Occupation:
I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of DinnrTime, a social venture that connects home cooks who are preparing dinner with neighbours who’d love to buy an extra portion. DinnrTime is an online platform that provides access to convenient and affordable home-cooked meals for all food lovers here in the city. This venture also creates a means for interaction between neighbours, a way for home chefs to gain income from their cooking efforts, while offering food lovers healthy, affordable alternatives to fast food and other processed meal options.

To learn more information about DinnrTime, please visit our website at DinnrTime.com, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

How did the idea for your business come about and what have been the biggest challenges and successes?
After graduating from UBC in 2004, I was hired by a consulting firm in Seattle. I soon found myself in a new city, working long hours and with no friends close by, and I found that cooking dinner for myself was a hassle as it was time consuming, I had a limited repertoire, and I was stuck with leftovers for days (or worse, I threw them in the garbage).

Most nights, I’d trudge home after work contemplating my most convenient dinner options, which was usually fast food or frozen dinner. I lived in an apartment building, and knew I had neighbours with the same quandary. We needed a way to coordinate ourselves, so the idea behind DinnrTime was born.

Our biggest challenge is that we’re bringing a completely new concept within the sharing economy to Vancouver. It’s going to take time for people to feel comfortable with the idea of purchasing dinner from their neighbour, but we’re confident they’ll love it when they do.

The best surprise has been how many amazing resources there are for entrepreneurs in Vancouver. We’ve had the privilege to go through the entrepreneurship@UBC Accelerator Program and be associate members of Launch Academy. Vancouver is becoming a hotbed of startups in the sharing economy with young companies such as go2gether, Share Shed and Daily Delivery just beginning to make their mark.

Are there particular demographics that tend to use your program more than others?
We’ve definitely seen a strong demand on the eating side from young professionals. However, our home cooks range from stay-at-home moms to professional chefs, and really don’t fit any one demographic. We believe that if you have even one recipe your friends or family love, you can share it on DinnrTime.

If you found $100 by surprise in your pocket, what local products, places or events would you support with it?
There are two organizations that DinnrTime loves to support: Sole Food Farms and Breakfast for Learning.

Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms and provides jobs and agricultural training to individuals with limited resources. I’d spend some of the $100 at one of their Vancouver Farmers Market stands.

Breakfast for Learning is a national charity that raises awareness about child hunger in Canada and provides nutrition programs in schools to improve learning. At DinnrTime, we align ourselves with the view that healthy food is a vital element to healthy communities – something we feel is at the core of both of these organizations.

If you were new to Vancouver, what is the one insider secret that you feel would be the most beneficial to know?
One of my favorite events in Vancouver is Hawkers Market. There are so many talented individuals in the food scene in Vancouver and not all of them have the resources to start a brick and mortar restaurant. The market has a delicious array of local food businesses that will make you want to eat all day.

Do you know someone who would be a great featured Vancouverite? Let us know in the comment box below!

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