Like a quarter of the city’s residents, Fatima Dicko was in a food desert when she moved to Baltimore several years ago. To get access to healthy food and wellness products, she made seven-mile trips to Whole Foods in Mount Washington. She also started putting together packages for people she lived with.
With mybestbox, Dicko is now making packages available to everyone, and looking to use data in the process of assembling the boxes.
The startup, which is a member of this year’s AccelerateBaltimore cohort and a finalist in the Kevin Plank-backed Cupid’s Cup entrepreneurship competition, offers subscription boxes with supplies aimed at healthy living. They’re offered in categories such as kitchen, body (complete with jump rope) and even sleep. For every box sold a dollar is donated to charity: water and Paul’s Place in Baltimore.
Since launching in June, Dicko said there has been early traction in D.C. and Baltimore, as well as larger metros like New York and Los Angeles. The startup has also looked to spread the word through a pilot with UberRUSH that offered supplies for students in New York, and handing out samples of breakfast bars at metro stops. For now, Dicko says, the focus is on growing sales.
In the crowded subscription box market, however, Dicko believes data will help mybestbox stand apart.
The company is developing data analytics that will enable the platform to assemble boxes based on customer preferences. Using a five-question survey asked every month, the company can gather feedback about the product, as well as apply that data to assembling future subscriptions. As mybestbox gains more customers, that will bring more data.
Ultimately, Dicko said the company is working on the question of, “How do we personalize products without asking a person any questions?” she said.
As the company looks to grow, Dicko is also looking to move operations out of her apartment. The $25,000 from AccelerateBaltimore (and potential follow-on money that one participant will receive), as well as potential money from Cupid’s Cup, would help in that regard. But it’s not only about the money.
In AccelerateBaltimore, she pointed to the chance to talk with other entrepreneurs and drilling down on three specific goals for the company during the three-month program.
Cupid’s Cup required refining the startup’s pitch, as the application video was limited to a mere 60 seconds. “A minute does fly by,” she said.
At the Cupid’s Cup semifinals at Under Armour headquarters in February, she said she gained a lot of insight from Plank’s entrepreneur story, whether it was the part about the $17,000 from his initial rose business that later seeded Under Armour, or the $25,000 ad he took out in ESPN The Magazine against everyone’s advice.
Dicko said it was “really interesting and helpful to know that this multibillion-dollar company had to face similar decisions that we’re facing right now.”
At the Cupid’s Cup final on April 7 at the University of Maryland, she will face a panel that includes Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and local author Wes Moore.