"My dad sold donuts and rubber bands out of his car at one point in his life...always a salesperson," Leah explains. GroupOut founders, Leah Smith and Leanna Wilson, hopped on the entrepreneurship wave before it was a news beat, trend or sought-after way of life. Hailing from Jamaica, the business partners, and cousins, were taught from their parents early on about the value of having jobs with flexibility and earning their own loot.
While working in the luxury retail and finance industries respectively, Leah and Leanna would constantly brainstorm to talk about problems they could solve, and the business ideas that would back those effective solutions. Of the many ideas that were tossed around, one seemed the most legit: GroupOut, a group dining concierge service that handles the details of gatherings ranging from large-format meet ups to private corporate events. Looking for an open bar, casual vibe and a space that can accommodate 30 people and a gluten-free vegetarian? GroupOut will curate a bespoke list of limited options for the user, making the dining decision as simple and easy as possible. Did I mention it includes collection of payment so the "splitting-the-check scenario" never crosses the table? New Yorkers, consider this a God-send.
So, what do two former corporate ladies enjoy most about their entrepreneurial venture? "People really do connect over food," Leanna states. "You bond with the people you're at these events with, and we have the privilege of facilitating that experience." Both Leah and Leanna share this sentiment thanks to their Jamaican roots.
"We're biased, but I think Jamaican food is some of the best in the world because of the influences of different cultures. You don't find that in many places." Leanna mentions. "That diversity influences our standard for food." A few favorite NYC spots that meet their standard include Contra for their tasting menu, Mountain Bird--in their neighborhood of Harlem--for what they call "the best food in Harlem", and Spur Tree because it feels like home.
I couldn't close our conversation without asking for some gems of knowledge for aspiring self-made folk. "Talk to everybody and be adaptable. Every conversation adds value and has helped us make changes to our approach and our business practices."
Leanna adds, "Find the cheap way to vet your idea without investing thousands of dollars into something that folks don't actually need."