Mesa: A 2020 Startup Story

Writing a blog post about our startup seems, at this moment in history, so trivial that it should be laughable. Or, perhaps, cry-able. Yet, we believe it is the responsible thing to do in order to reflect and, we hope, influence. Founding a business during these tumultuous times has both challenged us and given us endless opportunities for growth and learning. While venture capital is down and more established startups are struggling, it seems there may be no better people than early stage entrepreneurs to survive and thrive in a pandemic and economic downturn. Like early mammals during the age of the end of the dinosaurs, we will survive, adapt, and reinvent the world. We will glean learnings from COVID and build inclusion and diversity into our businesses and our hearts. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and that is what we intend to do.

In September 2019, we envisioned Mesa as a backpacking meal for thru-hikers struggling to find appropriate nutrition on the trail. We also envisioned typical startup woes. In March 2020, we realized our Spring Break product testers were not able to get out onto trails to taste test. By April, we realized we had to delay product development and embrace remote work. By June, we struggled to focus on work as we wanted to focus on learning about and conquering racial inequities in our home country.

Today, we see an opportunity: equity and inclusion. While we always hoped to build a company and culture of diverse opinions and diverse people, today we recognize that we simply cannot not create this company. We recognize that inclusion within our company walls is a small portion of an inclusive food system and a diverse outdoors. This must be at our core.

Mesa is a company, but it’s also just two people, Tony and Caroline, and you, our supporters. At Mesa, we do not want to just be another company in the backpacking food space. We do not want to be an excuse for backcountry trash or lazy trip preparations. We want to exist to do good. We know that if you don’t pick Mesa, you will pick someone else — we all need to eat. Therefore, we need to be better than any other option you might pick. We need to do better.

As a startup, we have limited resources for… everything. That is to say, right now, it may not appear that we have put our money where our mouth is. We have no revenue, so we cannot join 1% for the Planet. We are barely a company, so we are only in the early stages of trying to become a certified B Corp. We have little money but high costs, so truly sustainable ingredients and energy will be challenging to obtain before we scale. We are only two people, so being truly diverse is difficult. So, this is a promise to you that we are in business to do better and to be better. To do good and to be good. Because we would not want to exist if we were just doing more bad. As an early startup, we will take the time to build our business in a way that does good.

We will take this opportunity and this time to reflect and to improve. We will start local and grow our efforts as we grow our company. We will build equity for people and the planet into our business. We will support getting disadvantaged groups outdoors. We will support protecting wildlands and wildlife. We will support people of color.

We see anger. We see fear. We see hope. We see change. We will be part of the change.

We will hold ourselves accountable in everything that we do. We encourage you to hold us accountable, too.


With love and support,

Caroline & Tony


Originally posted on Juneteenth 2020 in recognition of the systemic oppression of black people in this country.

1 comment

  • I really enjoyed this blog and I love your enthusiasm and dedication.
    I wish you much success.
    Looking forward to May 10 to order some Trail Spice.

    Susan Daniels

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