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Tyler Kalin - Roaming Hunger

Tyler Kalin is the Senior Marketplace Manager at Roaming Hunger where he specializes in helping entrepreneurs, franchisees, and brands succeed in the food truck business. While his early career wasn’t in the mobile or culinary categories, his adventurous spirit and entrepreneurial attitude have fueled him to become an expert in this field. His story highlights the connection between his personal growth and the growth and evolution of Roaming Hunger.

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

Tyler Kalin: I have deep admiration for our leadership and the innovative products that we continue to offer and the different services that we offer. And it really provides a sense of purpose and potential that I think permeates throughout Roaming Hunger. And it's exciting to just be a part of the company and continually pushing the boundaries.

Whether it's through strategic internal changes or product innovations or just expanding into new business channels. And what fuels my passion is really the opportunity to empower all these entrepreneurs and get these entrepreneurs off their feet, helping them realize their dreams really brings a sense of joy and fulfillment.

And it's hard to put that into words, but it's not just about business growth at the end of the day. It's also about personal growth for me.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a 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 Tyler Kalin, the Senior Manager of the Marketplace at Roaming Hunger. To start, I asked Tyler just to tell me a little bit about himself.

Tyler Kalin: Hi, my name is Tyler Kalin, and I just wanted to thank Anderson and Shore Capital just for having me on the podcast. It's an honor.

I'm happily married. Me and my wife, we share a home with our mini golden doodle Nova. She's definitely our baby. We're in a very exciting phase right now. We're trying to start a family, which is a journey in itself. And my wife and I, we love to spend time outdoors. We're big adventurers. We love national parks. It's our go to spot. We love exploring the great outdoors. We're avid hikers. We're big campers, and I personally enjoy fishing and archery.

Off roading is also just another big passion of mine. And family also means the world to me, whether it's a game of golf with my wife, my brothers, my dad. All those moments, they're really priceless for me, and I enjoy them a lot. Traveling also is another big part of my life. Exploring new places, soaking in different cultures, and you can guess with my work with Roaming Hunger, I'm a huge foodie.

Anderson Williams: That's a lot. And what's your favorite national park?

Tyler Kalin: It's going to be a tough one. It's either Zion or Yellowstone, so kind of both different parks, but very interesting for both of them. I mean, with Yellowstone, you have the animals, which is really cool to see, and Zion is just an amazing, magical place to visit, to go hiking in, so, love them both.

Anderson Williams: And what's, in terms of all of your adventures you've been on, what's your best adventure story?

Tyler Kalin: I got to say, probably going to Yellowstone, and getting engaged with my wife there. So, that was, that was the best, right? Getting to surprise her and going on a horse ride out into the National Park and then pulling out the ring for her.

The Catering Marketplace

Anderson Williams: It's clear that Tyler likes exploring and adventure and has a lot of interest from hiking to archery to food and so on. So, I wanted to understand how that spirit plays out in his work at Roaming Hunger.

So, tell me a little bit about what Roaming Hunger does and what you do at Roaming Hunger.

Tyler Kalin: Roaming Hunger is really where mobility the culinary world. So, we particularly focus on the realm of food trucks, obviously, and our core mission, it really revolves around empowering all sorts of diverse groups of individuals and brands. That includes entrepreneurs, immigrants, creatives, free spirits, anybody who really finds in a unique kind of creative expression through mobile food ventures.

Our operations are split into a few key different areas. First, we have our catering marketplace. And the Catering Marketplace is really the platform and it's all about connections, linking vendors with opportunities to sell and cater to groups of people, whether it's feeding a wedding or corporate clients that need a food truck to feed their employees or simply just a birthday that wants to book a food truck for their guests.

Then there's RMNG. RMNG is really our in-house agency, which takes the basic concept of the catering department, but it adds an extra layer of branding. This service is tailored for businesses looking to create a full, custom, creative food truck experience.

Anderson Williams: And what do you do specifically, Tyler?

Tyler Kalin: My department, which is the marketplace, we're all about helping entrepreneurs get in and out of the industry, finding creative solutions for brands or businesses that want to start mobile food operations.

And we're really helping these clients from A to Z, from getting equipment for the actual mobile food truck itself to getting the food truck. To finding the right commissary, to figuring out complex compliance issues, whether it be with local, state, or federal authorities. And I really see the marketplace as the backbone of Roaming Hunger.

We support not only the infrastructure of the mobile food industry, but our role is important because we feed into all the other departments in our company. So, whether it's expanding our vendor pool for catering, or its assisting RMNG with customized solutions for their clients. I see us as a vital part of the Roaming Hunger ecosystem. And really in a nutshell, Roaming Hunger in general is all about bringing food experiences on wheels to people and supporting those who drive the industry as a whole.

Previous Experience

Anderson Williams: It makes sense that Tyler, in leading the marketplace, is right in the heart of Roaming Hunger's work. Where else would someone with his sense of adventure be in a company? But looking at his career prior, running a marketplace around food trucks wasn't necessarily the obvious place for him to end up.

So, your background wasn't in the food business or anything like this prior to Roaming Hunger. Can you just talk a little bit about how you got to Roaming Hunger and how what you've done before relates or maybe doesn't to what you do these days?

Tyler Kalin: Yeah, I mean, my journey's been definitely a ride just getting to Roaming Hunger, but it all started out at a company called Honest Tea Beverages. That was really where I stepped into the corporate world through field marketing.

I was on the field marketing team. It was a really exciting time to be a part of that company. We were navigating through significant growth and going through a big transition being purchased by Coca Cola at the time. The experience brought me a lot of insights into how large corporations operate.

Seeing how an acquisition could change the business for growth for the better. And, you know, it was really cool because it was also where I worked with Ross, who became our founder and our CEO of Roaming Hunger. And also, where I worked directly for Ryan, who is now the director of RMNG. So, working with them both, who are definitely both impressive leaders back then, it became a pivotal role in my career trajectory.

But after some time at Honest Tea, I joined another beverage brand and it was also in the field marketing realm, but then my career really took a big pivotal turn. And that's when I started as the music marketing manager for Skullcandy Headphones. And this role was really a big whirlwind of growth and learning for myself.

I worked directly with a lot of music artists such like Snoop Dogg, Questlove. Created and managed music tours like the Skullcandy Identity Festival, co-sponsoring the Warped Tour, and was involved in launching a lot of new headphone products. I even had the thrill of being part of our digital hub and helped co-create what we call Skullcandy TV and was the face of a lot of the digital content there.

But the definite highlight for me at Skullcandy was we actually IPO'd and went public on my birthday. So that was, that was a fun one to be a part of. And then, you know, after I left Skullcandy, I had a stint as a marketing manager for Sound United, specifically for their Boom brand, very similar to Skullcandy, but I took on a larger role there as marketing manager.

I honed in different skills, such as running ad campaigns, reporting analytics to our C suite, our board members. I also built out an influencer team, which I'm very proud of with the likes of Little John, ex Games gold medalist Pierre Luc Gagnon and Elliot Sloan, and contribute significantly to the launch of a new Bluetooth speaker that found its way nationwide to Apple and Best Buy stores.

In parallel to all of this, I explored entrepreneurship. I helped co found a lifestyle marketing consulting agency with another former Skullcandy employee, which was really fun. The venture was successful, but ultimately my full-time commitment shifted over to Roaming Hunger where I'm at now, and I really felt like I was in the right place at the right time.

I started at the company as a contractor. I quickly immersed myself into kind of all aspects of the business. My transition into a full-time role was with RM& G at first. It was pretty quick. I gained a lot of hands-on experience in the field, directly working with clients, understanding the intricacies of food truck operations, which really set the foundation for where I'm at today in the marketplace department.

Anderson Williams: So, I'm fascinated, Tyler, Ross referred to you in your nomination as an expert. And you've just described your experience at Honest Tea and Skullcandy and all of these other things that had nothing to do with the food truck industry or the things that you're doing today.

How have you become an expert? And tell me a little bit about that, because obviously this was a whole new world, a whole new industry, a whole new set of terms, new business models. Can you just talk a little bit about that growth and developing in that way?

Tyler Kalin: Yeah. I mean, for me, it was really sinking my teeth in and learning from the ground up.

So, it was stepping into this industry and getting on a food truck. That was really the first part of this whole experience. It was learning day to day operations, meeting commissary owners. Talking to vendors, having tons of conversations with people, dealing with brands, dealing with these clients. And from there, I think the adaptability and kind of honing in on some of the skills that I brought from my other career path really brought me to where I am today.

Anderson Williams: Is it fair to say without reading too much into it, that moving from those previous career experiences and then joining this team at seven to nine people in this whole new industry, maybe, also scratched that adventure itch that you mentioned.

Tyler Kalin: Oh, 100%. I mean, for me, it's always about going off the unbeaten path, right?

And learning something new and being open. You have to be open to learn something new. I mean, it's an industry that takes years of experience to kind of get a grasp on everything that's going on. So most definitely.

The Cutting Edge

Anderson Williams: Ross Resnick, the founder, and CEO of Roaming Hunger explains Tyler's journey to expertise in his own way.

Ross Resnick: Tyler was not an expert and I'm going to start with that because I think that's really important. Tyler doesn't have a mechanical background in food trucks. He doesn't have a background in running a mobile food business. Everything that's led up to the moment of today of Tyler being an expert in our world of mobility, Tyler has had to learn from the ground up through experience and through conversations.

And so, as Tyler's built that level of experience and expertise by talking to thousands of entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the space, he has become the go to person if you have a question about mobile food equipment and the infrastructure that supports the 20,000 plus mobile food entrepreneurs in our country that are starting and running mobile food businesses.

And so, as Tyler has developed that expertise, it's led him to the cutting edge of what's next. Because mobile foods been around for a long time, and there's nothing particularly new about the technology of a kitchen on wheels. It goes all the way back to the chuck wagon. But Tyler is thinking about things like robotics and efficiency and how to build a better mobile food service vehicle.

So, in order to be on the innovative edge of an industry, you have to be willing to learn and you have to be willing to adapt. There's so many businesses that shut down, that turn their brains off when they hear about new technology or a new way of doing things because it's potentially very disruptive.

And Tyler's taking the exact opposite approach, which is to constantly be on the lookout for better ways of doing things and leaning into all of the new robotics technology that's come out and better understanding and really bridging the gap for us as a business on what that could mean for the future of our industry.

Anderson Williams: The world of food trucks and the innovation in this sector is really fascinating. And reaches far beyond what I might have ever imagined before talking to Ross and Tyler. So, I asked Tyler for a specific example of a project that he's working on that's really focused not only on the business but pushing the entire industry forward.

So, Tyler, will you just give an example? I know you're working on some really innovative products and projects. Do you mind just giving us an example, so we have a concrete sense of what you're doing?

Tyler Kalin: Absolutely. This is one of the most exciting things for me right now. I'm working with a company called Shin Starr Robotics.

They're based out of Korea, and they're coming here into the United States to launch a brand-new concept. This concept has been two years in the making. I've overseen the project for the last two years as their lead consultant, head project manager, working with their whole engineer team, their product side, really everybody within the company to develop this concept and get it to market.

And what we've done is we've created a fully automated robotics food truck system. So, what will happen is you'll make an order through the app and what will happen is the food truck will then head over to your house or your place of business or wherever you ordered the food, and it has an algorithm that ties into GPS.

And what happens is this food truck is actually cooking the food robotically while it's in transport to your house, and it's timed to actually make the food very fresh and have it for when it arrives at your place of business or your house. And what's cool about this is this hasn't been done yet on a food truck.

There is robotics in the food industry. We're seeing it kind of play out right now. It's kind of the forefront of the food industry, but to put it into a food truck is kind of revolutionary in itself. And to be a part of this project is just pushing the industry forward as a whole and really where we want to see the industry land in a few years.

I mean, this industry has gone through not many iterations since it started. It started, you know, in the eighties and nineties as catering route trucks, where you would see them at your construction sites, kind of just serving to construction workers. And then it kind of shifted in the early 2000s to gourmet food trucks.

And the robotics really can help not only with product quality, but it's going to provide an experience for the consumer that we've really never seen and also provide a lower cost of food for the consumer at the end of the day.

Anderson Williams: I'm fascinated, Tyler, just in that project alone, you sort of address project management, addressing hardware and software development.

You're talking about robotics, you're talking about engineering, you're talking about physics, you're talking about transportation, you're talking about food. What is it that makes you able to take on and knowledgeably and successfully engage in a project with that kind of breadth? What is it about you that enables that?

Tyler Kalin: Well, for me, it's probably the most exciting project I've ever got put on. So right when I heard about this, boom, just a light bulb in the top of my head, like, hey, this is the future. We need to be involved in this as a company. And I also want to be involved with this as myself for personal growth. But just diving right into it and not being scared.

And it's been so much learning on my side, like you said, with software engineers, product engineers, dealing with them and working with them and understanding how do we even put this into a food truck and then taking my level of experience, taking all the knowledge I have within the food truck industry and really giving them all that knowledge has been probably one of the most rewarding things I've done so far for the company.

And this project will probably have launched by the time this episode has released. So, anything we could do to ever push the industry forward is going to be a huge rewarding experience for everybody.

An Unlimited Person

Anderson Williams: Where does that come from for you, Tyler, in terms of this combination of your sense of adventure, but also your drive.

Not just have a great job or to work on a great team, which you do, but to be thinking and working in terms of moving an industry forward. Where does that come from for you?

Tyler Kalin: For me, ultimately, it always goes back to what the reward is. And the reward for me is just helping people. You know, in my line of work, it's all about having conversations and talking to people.

So, for me, it’s seeing the reward at the end of the day and then pushing the industry forward. I mean for me, yes, it's super adventurous. It's a lot of learning but it's been so cool to kind of dive into the tech side of food and now we're really seeing it at play everywhere within the food industry. And to be on the front lines within the mobile food industry for myself, it's really a driving factor in where I want to be in my career path, and I want to see more of food tech kind of enter the whole entire food scene in general.

Anderson Williams: Here again is Ross Resnick.

Ross Resnick: When I close my eyes and I think about Tyler, the word that comes to my mind is passionate. He's a passionate person and when he decides that he's going to do something he goes all in, and he doesn't need the formal training on something. He's going to do the research. He's going to have the conversations and he's going to figure it out because he is passionate. And he's not going to give up until he does. And so, Tyler, to me, he's so good at just sinking his teeth into a really complex project like this.

And he just knows that he's going to be able to deliver the best possible result better than anybody else. The other thing that I would just say about Tyler is no job is too big, no job is too small. And for many people, they draw lines on both sides. Either consciously or subconsciously, they decide at some point that they're going to have limits.

And Tyler truly is an unlimited person in that regard. He will do whatever it takes to get something done. And he will also shoot as high as he needs to shoot to learn something and to forge a new path for the company. And that's a very rare quality.

Anderson Williams: I was really struck from my own experience as an entrepreneur by Ross's description that no job is too big, and no job is too small for Tyler.

This is the type of mindset every entrepreneur hopes to surround himself with, but it's actually really hard to find. So, from passion to adventure to big ideas and little details, from food to technology to robotics, I asked Tyler what really motivates him.

Tyler Kalin: I think it's empowering entrepreneurs, right? It's supporting and guiding entrepreneurs, especially in the mobile food industry.

 

But that also ties into innovation and change. We've always want to make an impact. And then for me, it just ties back to continuously learning and growth. So, it really is helping people and having those great conversations and really seeing people succeed, right? Whether it's an entrepreneur that's starting a food truck and seeing them grow throughout their journey, starting a brick and mortar, maybe creating a product that gets into retail from there and becoming a national brand.

It's really all those things that kind of tie into one that really pushes me forward and really motivates me to keep going and learning more in this industry.

Anderson Williams: And I got to believe that when you look at the entrepreneurs that you're enabling, you see that kindred spirit because you don't get into entrepreneurship without that sense of adventure and risk taking and all of those things, right?

Tyler Kalin: 100%. I mean, without taking giant risks and without doing any of that, you're not going to get anywhere in life.

Spirit Of Adventure

Anderson Williams: Tyler mentioned something about starting a family in his introduction, and I wanted to come back and see how this spirit of adventure and risk plays out in his mind with the prospect of becoming a dad.

So, Tyler, as you think about starting a family, and you project out to your child, say, as a 10-year-old, what is it about your experience, what you've learned so far? What is it about who you are, your sense of adventure that you want to make sure that kid in the future knows and understands about you?

Tyler Kalin: Tough question, but I think just kind of thinking about it right now, I would definitely want them to explore what they want to do. And whatever they want to do I'd be happy to support, but the advice I give them is, go for the adventure route, be adventurous, explore different opportunities, dive your feet into the water, places where you don't think you'll succeed, try new things, don't be scared of giving something a go that you may fail at.

If you fail, it's okay, you just try again and you learn from those mistakes. If you can learn from your mistakes, then you're constantly learning and growing. And that's kind of been the story throughout my career. Tried so many different things. Moved in so many different directions, but throughout the whole experience, I've just been learning and growing and trying to push things forward more.

Anderson Williams: Tyler Kalin is an everyday hero whose superpower is his spirit of adventure.

Throughout his career, he has constantly pushed new boundaries and new partnerships and new ways of approaching new and old problems alike. He has pushed himself to take risks and to learn what needs to be learned. He just figures things out.

And he clearly approaches his personal and future family life with this same spirit.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our other Everyday Heroes at www.shorecp.university/podcasts. There you will also find episodes from our Microcap Moments as well as Bigger. Stronger. Faster. series, each highlighting the leaders and resources that drive success in the microcap space.

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 Tyler Kalin 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 related to any security. See the Terms of Use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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