Join us for our very first interview! It was a privilege to interview our boss, the owner and founder of Plan to Eat, Clint Bounds. We travel back in time with him to learn about what he did before Plan to Eat, why he created the program, and how it has grown since! He shares some great advice for entrepreneurs and those looking to find the "magic" in their work.
I'm Riley Whitson and I'm Roni Vayre. And this is the plan to eat podcast where we, I have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.
Roni: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Plan to Eat podcast! Today, Riley and I are really excited to share our very first interview with you. It is with Clint Bounds, who is the owner and founder of Plan to Eat.
Riley: In this interview, we get to hear more about how Clint built plan to eat his values and vision for the product. And there's some really awesome advice in there for entrepreneurs. We can't wait for you to hear it.
Roni: Yeah. We loved getting to do this interview with Clint and we hope you enjoy it.
Thanks for joining us on the podcast.
Clint: Thanks for having me.
Roni: So today we just want to give our audience a little bit of your background story. We want to talk about how you started Plan to Eat and why you started Plan to eat. So we kind of want to go way back starting, and we want to talk kind of about like what you did before you started Plan to Eat. So did you [00:01:00] go to college? What did you do for like a first job? Were you always a developer?
Clint: Well, those are three questions. That's right. Yeah. So I would say I started working when I was 15. I really like work in general. And I also kind of had a background in art and I was a pretty creative person early on. So that's kinda where I got started. And development coding is something that kind of organically happened over time in my career. And so, so I started with design and illustration and animation and kind of moved into coding. And I, I still kind of do both, but I mostly do coding at this point.
Roni: Sure, but you don't actually have like a formal education and coding you're self-taught.
Clint: I'm self-taught in most things, I went to college to community college for a couple of years. And I [00:02:00] mostly, I couldn't afford it. And at the time I was kind of moving through my career into a place where I felt pretty good about. What I was doing, how much money I was making. And so I kind of kind of made the decision at that point that I, that I didn't need a college degree in order to do the things that I love.
I think even now there are definitely coding schools at this point that I, I would recommend people going to but when I was getting started, there were there wasn't really an option like that. It was more of a traditional education. Which I in general did not Excel at school. I um,
I'm probably dyslexic. My daughter was taking a test and when I was looking at the results I realized, oh, oh yeah. I, I fail. I fail this test as well. And so I think I, you know, in school I struggled because I was always thinking about the next thing or something completely [00:03:00] different. And that's just kinda how my brain works.
It's, it's much more big picture, much more how all the dots connect and a lot of school for me was very linear and you know, fit in this box. You know, stand in this line and for whatever reason, my brain doesn't really work that way. And it was, it was really difficult for me. So most of what I've learned is on my own not necessarily because I wanted to do it that way, but it was just, it felt like the only option for me personally.
Riley: Probably for young entrepreneurs, that's incredibly encouraging because they, if they are driven and they have passion, it doesn't really matter if the norm works for them or not, because they can make their own norm. That's what I see from your story is just that you got to make your own choice. You chose to start making your own choices outside of the, like go in this direction. You have to do these things in this order to be successful or whatnot.
So did you ever see yourself as an entrepreneur?
Clint: No, [00:04:00] not at all. I was, I saw myself as a kind of insecure kid, to be honest I I certainly had passions and things that I enjoyed doing, but in general I was pretty afraid to share anything that I did or myself with the world early on.
Roni: So we know you have this background in development and you taught yourself how to do all these things. So then what kind of jobs did you have that led you up to having the skills to be able to build Plan to Eat?
Clint: Yeah. So it was pretty organic. It kind of started because I was an artist and I wanted to get my art on the internet. And so I taught myself how to build a website. Um, and back in the day it was, it was pretty difficult when I started. Um, but I managed to build a website and that's kinda how I started getting into building websites. And then I started working for churches, building a bunch of different websites for different churches. And then I got a [00:05:00] job doing that for companies. And that was kind of like the magic moment in my life, when I felt like I was doing something I really enjoyed. And then actually getting paid to do it at the same time. Um,
And then, and then the next job was kind of more animation and that's where I started to learn programming. And then the next job was I was a webmaster for a home builder and it just kind of progressed.
And so by the time I was even thinking about plan to eat, I was just. I had just enough confidence to imagine myself doing something like this. Just for my own family.
Roni: There's I feel like there's a question in there that I want to ask. That's like about. Being in that magic spot of finding something that you're good at, that you're getting paid for. And that something that you enjoy, like all of those things coming together, it seems pretty important. Like overall, because I don't, I think there's a lot of people who don't even get to that point in their lives, where they find something that they're good at and they like, and they can get paid for it.
Clint: Yeah, I [00:06:00] think I think magic is the right word. But also I think the reality is that it does take it does take courage, does take bravery, because even if you love the thing, you ultimately, you're going to be doing something you don't know how to do, and you're going to be pushing into that constantly.
And so for me, the natural thing was always to follow my passion and to follow the things that I love to do. And so I guess ultimately the magic was when someone thought that that was worthwhile enough to pay me. And, and so that kind of felt like that magic moment where I got to do a thing I loved and also someone valued.
Riley: It takes a lot of hard work to get there also could you kinda have to push into some places where it's uncomfortable or outside of your even if it's your passion and you're trying to pursue your dream, it's sometimes you're still working outside of things you're good at, or you don't, you're not good at them yet. Sometimes. Do you have advice for people who are trying to find the magic?
Clint: Wow.[00:07:00] I would say slow down and stop and breathe and yeah, listen, listen more and do less because if you, if you don't ever pause, you're just going to be, you know, that mouse running in that wheel all the time. and you won't even know that you can get off. Some people I think have pauses because they choose them. And sometimes it happens because something happens in their life that forces them to stop. So I think ultimately we all get there. Hmm, but in that moment, in that moment, in that pause really take advantage of it is what I would say.
Roni: That's great advice. I like it. Yeah. So let's get back on track a little bit to plan to eat. You had all these jobs and you were a webmaster and everything. What was the thing that made you decide to start Plan to Eat specifically.
Clint: uh, we [00:08:00] had our first child and my wife, Lisa was just learning how to feed more than, you know, herself and me essentially. And that's kind of when the idea of meal planning first showed up for her. And, you know, my response was kind of the nerd. The nerd answer is I'm sure there's some website or or app out there that will make this meal planning process easier. And so I spent. You know, I spent like a day a week. I can't remember. I, I spent a while trying to find something. I didn't find anything. Oh.
Roni: That was like over 10 years ago. Right? Like that was before there's like a plethora of things in the app store.
Clint: So, no. Yeah. So no phones, no smartphones no, no app store, but there were a surprising amount of websites that were solving lots of random problems. And so my assumption was, oh, this is going to be [00:09:00] a no big deal. I'm going to go out there and find a thing and make it someone else's responsibility solving the problem. Yeah, and there, and there wasn't really a solution.
Roni: So, So Lisa was a new meal planner and it was just that it took her a long time or it was, it was it, she didn't know how to get started. What were kind of her main struggles with meal planning.
Clint: So I think one of the one of the harder parts of meal planning was compiling the shopping list. So if you had multiple recipes that you wanted to cook you know, even if it was five recipes for a week getting all of those ingredients in a list in a way that was efficient and allowed you to only get what you needed. Um, was part of a challenging process, but also finding the recipes. It was not that easy because they weren't in one place. It was just kind of taking all of these different things and putting them in one in one place. And one process that was pretty [00:10:00] straight forward.
Riley: So what happens next? Lisa asks you to make this thing to solve all her problems and you just do it. And it's amazing what a, like fill in some of those pieces of building
Clint: a week later, we had solved a problem. Um, so it was about a month of me. Questioning my own abilities to do anything related to software development. And then slowly like putting one foot in front of the other. Uh, and the first thing I built was the recipe book. Hmm. Pretty bad. And then, then the next thing I built was the shopping list. And I was pretty happy at that point because it was actually doing the thing, the main thing I wanted, which was compiling ingredients.
and then I built a planner after that and that's kind of been the main three components of plan to eat since. They've just evolved over time and become more intelligent in how they [00:11:00] essentially communicate with each other. But no, I, I definitely started out pretty insecure about, about building anything for anyone. And and then slowly over time gaining the confidence that I needed to like put it out there on the web for real people.
Riley: Was this something that you and Lisa used as a family for several months or years before you started sharing it with friends, or what were the evolution, you know, evolutionary steps here that happened? Like you guys use it as a family. What happened after that? Did you immediately go to the internet or did you have like a test group first?
Clint: uh, we started using it as a family for a couple of months then. And then I kind of went through the process of figuring out how to get it on the internet.
Um, and that took a little while. And so we started with a beta program where people could try it out for free. And we did that for, I think it was like three or four months. And that seemed to really successful. We had about 150 [00:12:00] people using it, and I was getting a lot of good feedback and creating new features.
And that was kind of that beginning of that sort of satisfying process of solving problems for. Listening to their problems, solving them and just kind of repeating. And and then I, at some point in that process decided I'm going to kind of like jump out off this cliff and ask people to pay me for this product.
And that, that felt really scary, but I knew that if I didn't do that it wouldn't, I wouldn't be able to keep, continue to work on it and improve it. I wouldn't have the time I wouldn't have I wouldn't be able to do that. And my full-time job at the same time.
Riley: all this time you're working your full-time job. When did you transition out of that? To the plan to eat full-time?
Clint: I worked at my full-time job for a year after I'm asking people to pay for plan to eat. And it was really hard work. It was pretty hard to do both. It was [00:13:00] hard physically, emotionally. It was, it was, it was hard to love two things at one time. And, um, I've always kind of put everything into my job. And so having these two jobs, it was difficult. But as plan to eat the became more and more successful, I continued to tell my current employer, you know, you have less work for me.
Can you please fire me? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know um, why I needed them fire me, but it was a pretty scary thing to transition from someone else being in charge of my life, essentially to me being in charge of my life,
Riley: Like we were just talking about that magic, like waiting and breathing and taking those breaks to like find the magic. You're kind of looking for somebody to give you that, Hey, you've got to do this and kind of give you that kick in the pants that you needed to like, have that extra boost of confidence to just go for it. Cause sometimes. Have tos, you know, like, okay, I have to put all my effort into [00:14:00] this now because I don't have that full-time gig anymore. It can kind of get the ball rolling in a really sweet direction.
Clint: yeah, that's really insightful. That's actually happened quite a bit in my life. These kind of really hard experiences that were a gift. And so. I, but I wanted someone else to do it for me. And so yeah, when so I was laid off from my full-time job and I, at that moment I was terrified and exhilarated, I was so excited because I loved Plan to Eat. I loved Working on it. And and now it had to work. I didn't have a choice. It just, it, it had to provide for my family. So that gave me kind of the natural incentive To a really good job and work really hard on it.
Roni: So were there other programs, not meal planning programs cause you already said that those were really hard to find at that point in time, but were there other either websites or softwares [00:15:00] out there that were kind of inspiring you to do this sort of a thing? Like did they inspire you to help put it on the internet and. Let me get that idea out there.
Clint: Yeah. I think one of my sort of favorite companies was 37 signals. I really liked them because they were pretty heavily focused on design and interface UI. That was something that was really important to me. And they also kind of they weren't the first, but they were one of the more popular companies that started this software as a service idea where you paid monthly or yearly to use software and the software wasn't updated once a year, it was updated like maybe daily. And so. That was kind of where I got the idea to have a monthly or yearly subscription for plan to eat and I still follow them. I feel like they're pretty, courageous in their desire to maybe do things differently um, and [00:16:00] not just do the normal thing that everyone else is doing. That was pretty inspiring for me.
Riley: Okay. So you've, you've started plan toeat. Now you've been fired from your full-time gig, you're focusing all your attention on plan to eat. How long after this point, did you hire your first employee?
Clint: um, the first like few months of doing plan to eat full time were really, really exciting and, and scary, like I mentioned, that was the first year we did our black Friday sale, which I at th at the time, I think I called it like giving thanks or something like that, because I was so thankful that I had my own business and that people are willing to you know, people were willing to pay, pay us for the service.
And so we offered a 50% off sale during Thanksgiving, and that was the first time that We had quite a bit of income coming in at one time. And that gave me the, you know, the, the hope that, Hey, this might [00:17:00] actually work. So that was kind of the beginning of our yearly black Friday sale, which I I really enjoy uh, because it's, it's this really strong emphasis on this one part of the year.
And I love seeing all all of these customers like appreciating it kind of all at the same time. And essentially saying thanks is kind of how I feel. During that time.
Roni: I like that you look at it that way. we all have so much energy that we put into the sale because it is a really busy time of the year for us. And as I know, it is for a lot of businesses, but I like looking at it that way, that it's it's not just about the sale. It's about the fact that, you know, It's a time when we appreciate our customers and they appreciate us back.
Clint: Yeah. And I would say I've kind of always felt that way about money in general is that it's kind of a transfer of energy transfer of appreciation. And I I'd like to think [00:18:00] that I, that I don't don't do plan to eat for money. I don't really feel like I ever had. But I definitely do it for for that kind of community feeling of helping, helping people.
And I think money is kind of our way of telling people that we appreciate for their service or their product or for whatever it is. That was the other thing that happened during the first sale is I felt a lot of gratitude, but I also felt a lot of anxiety because these people are trusting me to, you know, provide a product that, that helps them.
Roni: So going back a little to Riley's question, you had this first sale, was it after that first sale that you hired somebody or you felt like you were in a place to hire somebody or did it take awhile longer still?
Clint: I think it was a year before I hired my first employee. And. I I hired a marketing guy initially, because for me how you present yourself [00:19:00] is pretty important. I'm very interested in interfaces. I'm interested in design, but I'm also interested in branding and marketing and not in a You know, check a box situation, but in a, like, I want someone to be able to actually communicate well, what it is that we do and how that we can, how we can actually help people.
Um, I'm, I'm pretty big fan of Seth Godin. And I had read a couple of his books and to me, his overall Concept is basically being empathetic and authentic. So for me, it was pretty natural to hire a branding person that as the first person and, you know, at that time I was spending quite a bit of time doing support.
I was wearing every single hat by myself. And so he also helped with support and he kind of, he kind of took on like two or three hats other than branding and marketing. So yeah, it was, it was a really nice, it was a nice experience to be able to take some of those hats [00:20:00] off for the first time.
Riley: As you've begun to share the load, cause over the years of Plan to Eat you've hired other developers, you've hired other people who handle customer support, you've hired marketing, all sorts of things that you've hired out for.
Um, has that been a difficult transition? Do you feel like in some ways It's hard to not be as connected to every aspect of the business. Just from an entrepreneurial aspect, like you built this thing, how does it feel to begin to share it?
Clint: I would say in general, every step of the process has felt pretty good and felt pretty organic. I don't feel like I was pushing necessarily to do the next thing. I was just kind of waiting for it to happen. So, yeah, I would say at this point we just have like the perfect team because of, because of that kind of organic growth.
Roni: So all along this process, as so far, we've heard, we haven't heard about anything about you going to investors or looking for money outside of Plan to Eat. It kind of sounds like you've made it [00:21:00] all work. Just like you said, organically and, you know, starting basically from that very first sale, right?
Clint: um, we've we've had investors contact us and. I've, I've had to think pretty hard about that possibility because it's pretty enticing. But in general, my whole life has been really focused on hard work and you know, spending money. That you have, but, but not trying not to borrow in general. And so at this point we, we have never we haven't borrowed money and we haven't taken money from other people.
There are definitely disadvantages to borrowing and, and I wanted to avoid those. I wanted to be able to have autonomy. I want him to be able to do things that our customers actually wanted instead of what you know, the money people want. Right. And there, there really have genuinely, there have been times where I have been focused on money and I feel like I've made the wrong decisions and those [00:22:00] times um, and so I'm I really, I try hard to continue to focus on what people actually want and real people and not think about the financial aspects because I think it's distracting and unhelpful,
Riley: So when you hired me, you hired me to do customer support. And my perspective on Plan to Eat has always been that your desire is to make features that are for our customers, make something better for our customers. I personally appreciate hearing the journey with the investors because that's true to what I've seen from Plan to Eat also. And so those kinds of you know, staying true to your values, kinds of things runs through the company, which I really appreciate. So so I'm going to kind of transition here to maybe a little bit more of a lighter question.
How did you come up with the name plan to eat? And did you ever think of calling it something else?
Clint: Yes. I did think about calling it something else. It's not an easy decision and it was such a bad idea that [00:23:00] I can't even remember remember, but none of the domain names were available for all my bad ideas, happy accident.
Right. And so I think you know, it, it felt a little bit like. Okay. I'll do plan to eat because I can, you know, nobody has taken a domain name. And at the time I felt like I was kind of a conceding tilt or I was kind of picking the one. I didn't like the most, but at this point, I think it works really well because it is exactly what I want people to do. And it's exactly the solution to the problem of what's for dinner. So I I think it was kind of a happy accident.
Riley: So Plan to eat is very food centric, right? It's all about planning your meals and what you're having for dinner and how you're feeding your family. What's your vision for your customers? What are your hopes for them in using our product?
Clint: Well, I think I think there's anxiety [00:24:00] around food in general. And my desire is that that people can love food and they can love the experience of eating because it's so important for your health. It's important for your emotional health, your physical health.
So, I mean, I think that's the main priority is to remove some of the anxiety around around eating together and meal planning. Obviously helps because you're, you're not having to think about it. You know, 30 minutes before your our 30 minutes after you're hungry, you know what you're going to do? You've already, you already have the ingredients. And you're ready to go.
yeah, I mean, there's a lot of things. But I think in general, for me and my family, I want to be around my family as much as I can. And I want it to be a enjoyable experience. And I think planning in general kind of uh, sets you up for success in that way.
Roni: Do you view yourself overall as like a planner or like a planning [00:25:00] personality or is that something you had to get better at over time?
Clint: Well, so I mentioned that I probably am dyslexic. I don't know if that's official, but that my brain in general is often all over the place. I th I think you know, the reason I drink caffeine for example, is probably just to stay focused sometimes, but planning definitely helps me a lot. And I use lists all the time, calendar, email, all of those different. Techniques allow me to kind of stay focused and do the things that I need to do. I read getting things done. I don't know. It was probably 10 years ago. And I just liked the general idea of you want to get something you want to get, whatever that is in your mind into a place that you trust. And it's sort of a detox. And for me, if I don't get it out of my mind into a system that I trust. It just spins around. And so I'm thinking about this thing maybe a thousand times over and over and over, and it's it's not only [00:26:00] stressful. It's completely unproductive. I do think that I'm probably a planner.
Roni: Kinda like forced planner though, right?
Clint: It's a, it's a survival mechanism for me. Yeah. It's a coping mechanism. It's a way to like allow myself to like survive this whole experience, this whole human experience, you know,
Riley: What would you say is the hardest thing about running a business?
Roni: Because you didn't, Your jobs were never in any sort of like a business sector. So he had to learn a lot of business things all on your own. Like through the process of just owning a business.
Clint: Exactly. I didn't go to business school. I didn't even like the idea of having a business. Honestly. I just liked making things. I liked being connected to people and solving problems that was kind of, that's kind of always been my goal. So the business is sort of a means to an end. For me, it's not really it's not really the end goal. [00:27:00] And so the hardest part about running a business is running a business, to be honest.
There's a lot of moving parts and there's a lot of hoops you have to jump through that. You know, sometimes are really annoying and they feel really illogical, but sometimes you just have to like do those things to get to the end goal, which like I said, is, is like happy people. Basically. That's what I want. I want happy people.
Riley: What advice would you give to someone who is kind of on the cusp, but they've, they've recognized the magic and they're trying to get started with either a new company or a new venture of some kind. What kind of advice do you have for those people?
Clint: I would say you take those, all those big things in, in the feel like are in your way, those really hard things. And you break them into really small pieces and you kind of put one foot in front of the other idea. Even if you break it into smaller pieces and you're kind of banging your head against that thing, use your own intuition [00:28:00] and, you know And, and like I said, pause, sometimes take a break, think about it, maybe wait until the next day, maybe sleep on it.
Um, but, but just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I kind of think about we built our house. It's been about five years and we did all the landscaping and we have a couple of acres and we had a Mason.put stone on our house and I helped him and kind of slowly learned how how to build a stone wall.
and when he left, I, we had a lot of places where we need to retain dirt and I I'm gonna try and build a dry stack wall with these stones and see what happens. so I built the first wall and it was. I don't know, 10 feet long by three feet tall. and it was kind of that sort of process. It was one rock on top of the next rock and top of the next rock.
And I, I feel like every single stone was important to [00:29:00] me. It was important that it fit properly and that it looked good, but it was just one at a time. And now I have. Oh, it's probably 20 tons of stone walls around my property.
Uh, and I did not, if someone told me I was going to do that, I would tell them they're crazy, but I didn't build, you know, 20 tons of stonewalls. I built one stone at a time. So I think in general that's kind of how I see all things at this point. Just one stone at a time.
Riley: I love that. Um, We do wrap up the podcast with a couple of different questions. The first one is I'd love to hear and I'm sure our audience would love to hear. What is your favorite thing about plan to eat?
Clint: Well, so since I'm kind of a nerd, I would say the shopping list, because that's where a lot of the, a lot of my personal effort has gone into making an incredibly efficient and fast and accurate. I think uh, I think the recipe clipper is probably the next thing. I've spent [00:30:00] many, many hours you know, making that work properly.
Well, everything about Plan to Eat honestly, is an ongoing process. It's just an every day we're always, fixing something or improving something it's the list is never ending. So but yeah, as a personal like satisfaction, I did a good job, I would say. I'm very satisfied with how the shopping list works.
Riley: Awesome. Um, the other thing we ask all of our guests is what's their favorite recipe that they've been enjoying lately?
Our family eats actually pretty simple, pretty simple diet or if I had to pick a diet, it'd probably be like nourishing traditions or maybe Keto or kind of, kind of a low carb sort of thing. But I really, I really love this time of year because you can kind of heat up the kitchen with, you know, stews and soups um, broths and well, it's, it's just a nice time to heat up the kitchen cause it's cold outside.
Roni: Okay. Thanks Clint. And for our [00:31:00] listeners, if you guys need to contact us, please email email@example.com and we will see on the next episode.