Women want to be the best at everything in their lives and that is a hard balance. Women take on so many different roles in the family and want to be successful business people as well. Also, women have guilt about not doing everything 100%. But I believe, we have to make sure we understand our individual priorities and honor those, not anybody else’s. And lose the guilt!
Asa part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Katz
Amy Katz is the Founder and CEO of Curbside Kitchen, a technology company that creates custom food truck solutions for commercial and residential properties. As one of the few female leaders in the Proptech sector, Amy oversees all aspects of the company’s operational, sales, marketing of the business.
In 2018, Amy identified the increasing demands of tenants for food amenities with the need for commercial and residential property owners and managers to provide food trucks into urban and suburban markets. She brought her expertise in sales, digital and marketing to the commercial real estate sector and launched Curbside Kitchen. Curbside Kitchen believes that eating is a shared experience and that every person should be able to enjoy delicious, diverse and accessible cuisine outside their workplace doors. With a small team, Amy developed an easy-to-use technology platform that connects building owners, leasing agents and property managers with food trucks and other mobile lunch options. Curbside Kitchen also provides wrap around services to support the tenant experience, such as marketing, flyers, promotional emails, and weekly reminders and menus to tenants. Since launching in 2018, Curbside Kitchen has expanded to work with universities, corporations and cultural events that want to curate culinary experiences for their communities.
Since its founding, a core tenet of their mission is community outreach and charitable initiatives. With Curbside Cares, the company partners with organizations to support corporate social responsibility efforts and works with national and local non-profits including, Nourish Now, March of Dimes, and Crystal City.
The company is headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia and works with partners and food truck owners in the Washington, D.C metro area, Philadelphia, and Raleigh, N.C.
Amy’s previous experience includes positions in sales, marketing and advertising at leading companies including WashingtonPost.com, Paper and Varsitybooks.com.
Katz graduated from the University of Maryland, with a degree in Marketing.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
In2018, in discussions with commercial real estate executives and tenants, I kept hearing about the lack of food options at urban and suburban properties; almost food deserts devoid of delicious, healthy and affordable food. I identified the increasing demands of tenants for food amenities and started brainstorming this whitespace in the market. I have a background in sales, digital and marketing and applied it to the commercial real estate sector. The concept of Curbside Kitchen was born. What is interesting about Curbside Kitchen is that it is a proprietary software solutions platform. Proptech is a huge space within the real estate industry and there aren’t many women leading proptech businesses.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
There are two:
First off, I am a foodie. Let’s put that out there. I love food. With that said, I don’t think I fully realized the importance that food has taken on in people’s daily work lives. People, tenants want lunch options and they are obsessed with diverse food options. Food trucks really bring people together and our customers get very excited by the food trucks, the chefs and the community that exists in the food truck culture. Tenants want to try different cuisines at affordable prices and share stories on instagram, social or just with their friends and colleagues.
Secondly for me, my passion for the food truck owners and their incredible entrepreneurial spirit, the personality that they bring to their cooking, and the incredible mobile food operations. I am not sure that they realize the impact that their culinary creations are having on the way people eat and the food industry overall. It is a perfect fusion of passion, food and culture.
Initially we were worried if there were lines that people would complain. The reality is, these are mobile kitchens and for the most part, things are cooked to order. This experience builds community and this is 100% part of the food truck culture. We were bringing corporate sensibilities to the customer experience. But in reality, the authenticity and experiential nature of lining up to wait for your Fava Pot meal, is what makes these trucks and chefs the real deal. Let the light shine through. See if for what it is …
(Try to put uniformity around them. Shine in a way that they need to be successful. Control the systems and standards. )
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Ithink each project we work on is special. I love when clients come to me with their challenges. One in particular, we are exploring a relationship with the National Arboretum. They have no food options except for vending machines. They want to enhance the experience for patrons and provide diverse food trucks and pop ups on weekends . They are looking to create social space, community and opportunities for families to enjoy time exploring the Arboretum and increase participation to their events including a 5K, an upcoming concert. There is no better way than to increase participation and make guests happy than with food options.
We are exploring integrating mobile pay and mobile ordering into the food truck experience. Digitizing the entire eating experience! Picture sitting at your desk and being able to order your favorite food in advance. Thus avoiding lines, variable weather conditions etc. We are revolutionizing an industry and providing convenience and options to individuals not wanting to leave their office. This avoids high delivery fees from food delivery services and keeps tenants happy and satisfied! Not to mention food trucks will see increased sales!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The thing that differentiates us is the team. They are dedicated, thoughtful, and creative. They look at every building that we work with as a unique relationship and that makes us special.
It is what I call the “Under the hood stuff” that no one sees. We don’t talk about it, we just roll up our sleeves and do it. We are a very dynamic business and we are constantly evolving. We have to play so many different roles. At the heart of what we are doing is customer service, communication with our partners and delivering the best quality service we can.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Myhusband, Brian Katz. He inspired me to start this business. He is my mentor and guided me through so many aspects of the business. He is a commercial real estate executive and brings a great perspective from his side of the business. I am able to bounce things off of him and he thinks in a very different way than I do so it works really well!
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women-dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
Ithink the business was traditionally male but I really see that changing in the DC Metropolitan area. It is an exciting time to be in the CRE business and see the organizations like CREW and so many others dedicated to supporting women in Commercial Real Estate.
What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
Bea mentor. Recruit and support women. Get involved in organizations that support your same goals.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
That women want to be the best at everything in their lives and that is a hard balance.
Women take on so many different roles in the family and want to be successful business people as well. Also, women have guilt about not doing everything 100%. But I believe, we have to make sure we understand our individual priorities and honor those, not anybody else’s.
And lose the guilt!
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
Welive and work in an accelerated world and we want as many resources as we can to be part of our workplace environment. It is now about the whole person and what they need from an amenity perspective. To that end, there are few things that I see that excited me —
- Proptech — I love how quickly technology is evolving and being in this space is changing on a daily basis.
- Seeing how the workplace is becoming an extension of the home. People want to work out, get groceries delivered, go to the dry cleaner.
- How property owners and managers are meeting the tenant needs through wellness apps and other resources to provide the best experience they can.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Iam going to relate this to food truck industry:
Building out Mobile Pay
More parking for food trucks
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Try to have patience with yourself, your business and your team.
Find people who believe what you believe.
Find people who you support and help you and you do the same for them.
Encourage and enable people to take initiative
Be a good listener
Find people with different skills.
I have a mantra at work that I say to the team — “Take one long shot every day” –
This means — give someone an idea that they haven’t thought of and provide value where they didn’t know it existed. Thinking about business in a creative way. Don’t be afraid of rejection. This will show your partners that you are just as committed to the success of the relationship as they are.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
Iprovided six. I am always learning and like to share.
- Be who you really are — accept who you are and play to your strengths
- Be surprising — play on the unexpected — don’t expect things back
- Don’t overthink the process too much
- Do the right things and treat people with honesty
- Don’t cut corners — think through things in a thoughtful manner
- Connecting people through networking — put good people together. Always thinking about the next deal. Instead, you have to want to help other people.
Example — I met a chef who wanted a food truck. She is an entrepreneur and is really talented. It was my goal to help connect her with someone who could help her buy a food truck. It happened! I found someone who wanted to sell a truck and now she is making a deal with them!
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?
You never know what your idea can trigger.
Give back, Be kind, Take Time to Listen, Be Helpful and EAT WELL!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!