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Crafting Community Through Cuisine | Alyssa Mason

We explore the intersection of food, business, and community engagement with Alyssa Mason of RMNG, an experiential marketing agency that has been creating brand activations for over a decade. RMNG is a division of Roaming Hunger. Alyssa shares her journey from the tech industry to the culinary streets, illustrating how RMNG’s magical mobile experiences create community connections and amplify brands. Through stories of innovative campaigns and personal insights, she embodies the spirit of making a meaningful impact in the fast-paced world of mobile food marketing.

Roaming Hunger is a software and services platform partnering with food trucks, catering companies, and mobile pop ups to provide foodservice solutions and experiential marketing activations to customers nationwide. The Company is headquartered in West Hollywood, CA.

Transcript

Introduction

Alyssa Mason: It's okay to not have it all figured out. As someone who was, is competitive, someone who really has high hopes for themselves and wants to really just go after life, it's sometimes hard to recognize you don't have all the pieces, right? And that's okay. And what do you have? What can you control? What can you learn more about to really move the needle for yourself is all a part of the process.

And it's the more you learn, the more you know, and the more that you can really put yourself and set yourself up for success.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, the podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight.

With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows. We want to hear their stories. We want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.

In this episode, I talk with Alyssa Mason, the Head of Accounts at RMNG, a division of Roaming Hunger.

Alyssa Mason: My name is Alyssa Mason. I am born and raised here in LA. Very small, wonderful family, all within the California area. I grew up with a single mom and an only child, so with that, really, you know, my friends are my family. I have two wonderful dogs, they're my current fur babies. And life is good. I love food, I love my job, and I try to stay happy and healthy and, and all the things.

Anderson Williams: So, what do you do with all of that to stay happy and healthy in a fast-growing business with a lot of demands on you? What do you do to take care of yourself?

Alyssa Mason: I do a lot of hot yoga. That's kind of my meditation zone I try to get it in early in the morning because work gets crazy, you know, and I don't want it to be an excuse of I'm working late or I'm tired So I really try to get it in in the morning.

The Birth of RMNG

Anderson Williams: Will you just tell us a little bit about Roaming Hunger and what it does and then give us a little bit of context for how RMNG fits into that or came from Roaming Hunger?

Alyssa Mason: So Roaming Hunger started in 2009 and Ross Resnick, our founder, he was a really big foodie and had been abroad a lot, loving the street food culture, kind of while traveling. And as the food truck scene was really coming to the forefront here in LA as a result of the recession, Chefs of all kinds kind of had the opportunity to create a mobile restaurant business.

So, as he continued to go and eat at food trucks, he noticed there wasn't one centralized place to kind of aggregate where food trucks would be located. You just kind of had to show up, hope that they were there from the last place that they were at, right? And it was just kind of a really interesting time, and the world of restaurants was really changing, and that was really intriguing to us.

So, he really took it upon himself to provide accessibility, I suppose would be the great word, to this new kind of emerging scene and kind of said, hey, you know, let's see if we can make something happen and bring this all together. And with that kind of came really people approaching him asking, can you help me organize like a food truck for my party or a wedding?

And honestly, right there, I think is when he really knew he had a business and really the rest is history. And then from that, RMNG was birthed and born, and that was created by our agency director, Ryan Van De Griendt, who, mind you, was a great longtime coworker of Ross's. So, there was already some synergy there for sure.

And he really evolved kind of the concept of RMNG with brands getting interested in partnering with food trucks and wondering how they could capitalize on kind of what the industry was doing at that time. And really like, bam, right there, that's kind of the bread and butter of our business. RMNG was born and really kind of the mobile experience aspect was created.

Anderson Williams: And when you say brands having interest in partnering with food trucks, give me a sense of what that means for someone who doesn't know the mechanics of how that works. What is a brand looking for if they're partnering with a food truck? Besides food.

Alyssa Mason: Great question, yeah. Besides food, besides the catering aspect.

Yeah, so on the Roaming Hunger, which is kind of the catering side of the business. Brands of all kinds, right? They are having a conference, let's call it, right? And they say, hey, we want to supply some food, right? That's kind of a straightforward answer from the catering perspective. But on the RMNG side, it's a bit different.

They want to really utilize our mobile vehicles and our mobile partners. We have about 20,000 plus across the country, Canada. We've now expanded to Europe, UK. So, we're going international, which is super great, but it's really wanting to have an experience anywhere at any time. And the mobile aspect of it all allows brands to connect with their communities on the ground in a very unique way.

And of course we're all foodies over here. So, kind of the bread and butter of it all is offering food. So, a lot of our client partners are CPG brands, right? Brands that want to really get their food in mouths. And the best way to do that, in our opinion, is through a mobile activation of all kinds.

Case Study Spotlight: Doritos

Anderson Williams: In just these first couple of minutes, Alyssa had already blown up any sense of what I thought I knew about mobile trucks and the possibilities of marketing and branding and deploying them at scale.

It all sounded really exciting, but I still wasn't 100 percent sure what it is. So, I asked Alyssa to provide an example to make it a little more clear. And yes, that made it all sound even more exciting.

And so, you're building those experiences on site for an event, or is there a sort of a standard example just to put some color behind that would make sense for the layperson?

Alyssa Mason: Yeah, I think a fun example is we've worked with Doritos in the past, right? Everyone knows Doritos. Wonderful chip brand. And they were launching a new flavor. And they came to us and said, we want to get as many chips as we can out into the streets of LA, in a fun and engaging way. And we said, great. And they wanted to specifically go mobile with it to have some fun.

And we said, all right, let's do it. So, we had the task of getting out thousands and thousands of Dorito chips out into the LA market and the streets. We created a experiential truck, we'll call it, that was a lounge truck with a DJ booth inside. Really retrofitted it with all the branding that one can imagine.

You know, putting Doritos at the forefront. Created this huge 3D Dorito chip bag topper on the top of this 25-foot truck. And hit the ground running. Literally, we went to every neighborhood in LA with, you know, wonderful brand ambassadors all dressed up in Doritos gear. Fun music. We had some performances live.

And really popped this up in different areas around LA as a really fun experience and didn't tell anyone that they were coming. So, a lot of what we do is that kind of guerrilla tactic marketing, where we just show up on the streets and say, we're here who wants in, right? And so that's a good example, I would say.

Yeah, kind of from the mobile aspect. Yeah.

Alyssa’s Path to RMNG

Anderson Williams: That's amazing. And how did you come to RMNG? Your background isn't in food necessarily, right? How did you find RMNG and why was it a fit?

Alyssa Mason: I guess it kind of goes back to how I started as a woman in business, I suppose. And post college, I managed a co working space in Santa Monica during the big tech boom here in LA.

And it was really my first introduction to the tech scene and really entrepreneurship within the workplace, I would say. From there I was poached by an app that made me the director of operations and I really got to get my hand in kind of all the different aspects of business and really realized where my skill set is and it's with people and it's really being able to understand the need, really have empathy in what the output looks like and really have ownership in what the end result is.

And I had a company of my own prior to 2020 when, you know, the world, the world ended essentially. Yeah, that thing happened, called Table & Cloth and it was a corporate event planning company. And I loved it very much. It was all the things that I do in a way here at RMNG. And when I had the opportunity to come and meet the team here to join forces, I was instantly blown away.

As someone who doesn't have background in food, I love food more than anything. And to be able to work in a company that number one, really encourages and support small businesses of all kinds, all backgrounds really creates an opportunity for many different people in this country, I think is amazing. It pulls at the heartstrings of my wanting to be a social worker in a past life and really help the world.

This is, to me, a small part of how we do that is really giving opportunities to folks that would necessarily not be able to, you know, open a restaurant or have a big catering business. We really have fostered that on the catering side. And then, truthfully, the people. Everyone here is a really good human, and that's extremely refreshing.

Anderson Williams: Hearing Alyssa's reflections on the company and its people and its culture, I wanted to also hear directly from Ross Resnick, the founder of Roaming Hunger, about his thoughts on Alyssa and why she's an everyday hero there.

Ross Resnick: At RMNG, Alyssa is our head of accounts, but we call her our client whisperer. And what that means is that she's in charge of everything that our clients need from RMNG as it relates to their relationship to their projects and to their brand goals.

And so, Alyssa is constantly thinking about currently when we have a project for a client, what does that client need to see, hear, think in order to better understand not just what's happening with their project, but what's happening with their relationship with RMNG. And she's also helping that client look toward the future and think about what our relationship looks like together as we create a path to be able to help them in building their brand.

Anderson Williams: And why did you nominate Alyssa as an everyday hero for her work?

Ross Resnick: Alyssa to me is the embodiment of one of our core values, which is the idea of togetherness. And at Roaming Hunger and RMNG, we think about ourselves as a community serving other communities. And Alyssa has over and over again demonstrated that we can affect change not only for our clients, but for ourselves.

And when I think about Alyssa in the context of our community internally, I think about her as a infinite source of energy. An infinite source of positivity that lifts everybody up. And when she does that, and when she brings that with her every single day, when she comes to work, what happens is that gets translated outwards.

And that's how our clients perceive us. That's what our relationships with our clients feel like. And we truly then become a community who's able to serve other communities. And that is what attracts those clients, those brands, those agencies, not just want to work with us the first time, but to want to come back, to want to refer us to others.

And she just over and over again, every day you see her, she's got a smile on her face. She's lifting her team up. She's lifting others up. And that's Alyssa all the time.

Blending Passions

Anderson Williams: Listening to Ross describe the positive impact Alyssa has on the people around her, and her ability to build powerful and lasting relationships, to build community with her clients, I wanted to come back to something Alyssa said earlier about her one-time aspiration to become a social worker.

Say more about that, how you connect that story and that idea, that vision you had at one point of being a social worker to the way that you interact now, because I think people see that as a big leap and my background is years ago in the nonprofit and in the social sector, and I just find that when you're talking about people stuff, it's not that big a leap.

And I'd just love to hear you talk about the connection you see between that social worker self and this person who is still a people person, but in the world of food and business and so forth.

Alyssa Mason: Well, that was eloquently put, and I, I truthfully haven't really thought of that connection before and that it's making me feel all the things.

So, thank you for kind of bringing that to light, but I guess I'd have to say my ability to just really deeply listen and kind of read the between the lines is a really important tool that I have an ability that I have to, you know, have really genuine empathy in that as well. And really, I seek to understand.

And with that, I'm able to help guide our clients to what's the best for them and their brand experience, on a human and people level, first and foremost. And really, my clients are my friends. And that's important to really know that you are, you know, we're working hard, right? Days in and days out, long hours, really creating and building experiences for brands that are important for them.

And, you know, the people behind them, running them. You know, our clients, we get to make them look good. Like that feels so good to me to really make a client, a friend look great within their organization and the way that we do that is to really create impactful experiences.

Anderson Williams: And how did your experience as an entrepreneur yourself sort of play into that, right?

And being, starting your own business and knowing what its like be that person who's starting from scratch and needing a team around you? Just curious if that influenced how you think or is a heightened your awareness to the experience of your clients?

Alyssa Mason: Probably, yeah. I've always been quite entrepreneurial, I think, uh, maybe to an annoying fault, to my mother when I was growing up and younger. But I've really been that way always. My mom kind of noticed it, I think, when I was young, along with a lot of the teachers that taught me when I was young, and she really tried to foster an environment so I could continuously learn and really try new things, like whether it was sports, dance, music, art, and I think just kind of taking that viewpoint of the way that I see life of really wanting to always learn has really helped in my path, I think of where I'm at.

Because at the end of the day, that's all we do here. We technically always are learning new industries, new ways of creating and producing, concepting, ideating, all that good stuff. And you have to be of that like mind to be able to one, do it and lead a team to do it, but also bring it out in some of the clients that need our support.

You know, not everyone's coming to us, for instance, for saying, hey, here's exactly what I want. Can you produce it? There's a lot of it that we are really ideating and concepting for them of what is really going to be impactful. What is moving the needle for their brand? What does that look like? You know, is it mobile?

Is it a pop up? Is it a QR code in the sky? Right? Like, what does it look like? And I think we need to have an imagination and a capacity and thrill for learning to be able to do that.

Community Impact

Anderson Williams: There's no doubting Alyssa's positive spirit and imagination and creativity. But Ross wanted to make sure we saw just how important those attributes were, not just for their business or when things are going well, but when times were the hardest for their business and really for their entire community.

Here again is Ross Resnick.

Ross Resnick: In the easy times. It's easy. And in the hard times to be that source of energy, it's hard. And when our company navigated through Covid and as events-based company, it was especially challenging. But Alyssa really took the baton during that time and helped us craft programs during the protest.

She created the Conversation Truck and took that out into the streets. And really led the charge on not just getting that program live, but also building a bridge with the community to do it in a real way. And to also working with pizza to the polls and putting together with them a fantastic relationship to help them accomplish their mission of feeding voters.

And so, Alyssa to me, when I think about these examples, it's easy to think about when we have a big win or we have a big client and, you know, working with some of our top names. She's constantly the reason that they cite that they love working with us. It's always, we love working with RMNG and we love working with Alyssa.

But when I think back to 2020 and 2021, when we were navigating a truly difficult situation, she stayed positive and she rallied the team internally, and she helped us forge a path forward that got us through.

Anderson Williams: One of the things that Ross mentioned when we talked to him was something that you created during the COVID period that was called the Conversation Truck, do you mind just.

Alyssa Mason: I remember it fondly, yep.

Anderson Williams: Just as in the spirit of the conversation about imagination and people, will you just describe what the Conversation Truck was or is and how that came to be?

Alyssa Mason: Absolutely. So, the Conversation Truck was a mobile space for conversation. The goal was to help amplify Black voices and create a safe space for community leaders at that time to have conversations that everyone can hear and in support specifically of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Myself and Ryan, our agency director, really were deeply, deeply upset by what was going on in the world and to the point where we wanted to self-fund a project to do something. It was really important to us on our personal level from the company standpoint, but also to help our community. And so, our team really wanted to act and do something and show up in the ways that we know how really in a time of distress.

And so, we quickly, honestly, in two days, we all worked together to utilize, I would say, probably our core capabilities, right? To do something to help. And the ways that we knew how to do that was utilizing a mobile asset that we had. And working with our current clients, some of our CPG brand partners to donate product when we're out there kind of helping with peaceful protesters.

So, water, snacks, you know, all of that good stuff. So, it was a great way to get our company ecosystem a part of it for those who wanted to. And it was honestly a really, really, really special, extremely emotional experience, as I'm sure you can imagine, that provided a real place for even like celebrities.

We had some of our brand partners in some of the music world come to us and say, hey, this rapper is really moved by what you're doing. The singer is really moved by what you're doing. And we in RMNG fashion, we got them on a truck and took them out and really created an experience for all of these people that were really struggling, you know, including ourselves.

It was a really rough time and we were able to provide a safe space and a platform for those conversations and also some fun. We brought some entertainment, we brought some sustenance, we brought a new way of kind of just feeling for those days that we were out. And it was extremely, extremely impactful.

Challenges and Triumphs

Anderson Williams: So, one of the things Ross also shared was that you never back down from a challenge. He said, a lot of people, when faced with a challenge, they shut down and Alyssa is the type of person that when she's given a puzzle or a challenge, she will not stop until it's solved. Tell me about that.

Alyssa Mason: He's not wrong, I suppose.

I think that is a very sweet thing for him to say. So, I'm a little at loss for words. I'm just kind of internalizing it for a moment. But yes, if there is a challenge, I will seek to solve it. And I think, you know, coming from a single mother, right? And kind of hardships there. Being the one that needs to create my own destiny and my vision, being an only child, all that good stuff, has certainly helped shape the way that I view the world and how I tackle it.

And that doesn't take away from what I do in business as well. And life is filled with challenges. That is life. Life is hard. It's wonderful. It's beautiful. But at the end of the day, it's solving puzzles all day long, which is exhausting when you say it out loud. But I truly believe that's what it is. And so, to keep that mind frame of knowing again that it's solving a puzzle, it's a challenge, but it's also you're learning and you're going to grow from it.

And you know, what comes next is anyone's guess, but just continuously moving forward and solving all the puzzles, I think is the key to life.

Anderson Williams: I love it. I'm fascinated though, given the creative nature of your work and your description earlier of what you created for Doritos with a big bag on the roof of a truck and all of these kinds of things, what's the biggest or maybe funnest or hardest to solve, you choose, puzzle a client has come to you with that you've needed to figure out that you are able to figure out and sort of celebrate with and for that client.

Alyssa Mason: Ooh, we've had some interesting ones.

Anderson Williams: I had a feeling.

Alyssa Mason: This is a good, this is a good question. I think for me, the impactfulness of the social good that we do is where my heart lies. I love all the fun stuff that we get to create. Don't get me wrong. There's much to choose from in that regard, but I think for me personally, the brands that we work with that are really helping social justice aspects is really heartwarming and really special for myself and our team, right?

They all really feel that way as well. So, I think the biggest thing that we have done in that regard would be the conversation truck one, but also in the same timeframe, which was really a tricky one for all, we had a few partnerships with nonprofit Pizza To The Polls and Vote.org, and they were very pivotal in helping democracy.

And so, we had a huge hill ahead of us to assist in that in working with many food truck partners, Uber Eats, lots of brand partners and for many days pre-election, post-election, we were out there in a mobile fashion, giving out food, waters, swag, all the things to countless Americans across the country.

We had, to kind of give a reference of scale, we had 96 trucks around the country at one time operating. Really in the efforts to feed democracy. Which is a kitschy fun way we like to think about it, but also really we made some change that was, I would say, probably the biggest and coolest and hardest thing we've done to date.

Anderson Williams: I would say that qualifies for all of those descriptions and then some. If you had to nail down or describe or reflect on where that social justice and social engagement thread or driver comes from for you. What is that rooted in for you?

Alyssa Mason: I think, I mean, truthfully, my mom, that is how she lives her life. She's always wanting to help people. So, I grew up around my whole family. They're always there to help someone out. And, you know, as a young person growing up in that, that is what you think you should be doing.

And furthermore, what I agree I should be doing, but you lead by example. And I had some good examples to do that.

Anderson Williams: Alyssa Mason is an everyday hero whose superpower is her positivity. As Ross told me, everyone who meets Alyssa just wants to be around her more. Her positivity is infectious. More importantly, Alyssa's positivity is also impactful.

Impactful to her clients, her coworkers, her community, and seemingly anyone who has the fortune to interact with her.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our other Everyday Heroes at www.shorecp.university/podcasts or anywhere you get your podcasts. There you will also find our Microcap Moments series that highlights the people and stories of success and failure that make the microcap space unique.

This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing, and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.

Special thanks to Alyssa Mason and Ross Resnick.

This podcast is the property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice, an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the Terms of Use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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