An Informational Interview with Food-tech Company Co-Founder Stefan Catoiu (’07)
My name is Edward Yousif. I am a Business Economics and Anthropology double major, and I am interested in entrepreneurship. This semester (FA20) in Business Management (ECON 285), a course taught by Professor Laura Grube, we were given an assignment to conduct an informational interview with Beloit College alumni. At first, I was a bit skeptical about the process because I thought it was just another assignment. I was partnered with Desire Mukucha, a Business Economics and International Relations double major, also interested in entrepreneurship. Together, we interviewed Stefan Catoiu, class of 2007. Stefan also graduated from Beloit with two similar degrees to Desire and I. He co-founded his own company, Vita Mojo. Vita Mojo is both a restaurant and food-technology company.
Stefan was gracious with his time and gave me the opportunity to interview him on pretty short notice. He works and lives in London, so finding a time that worked for both of us was the only “obstacle.”
I asked Stefan what inspired him to create Vita Mojo. He told me that he always felt that everyone should be able to eat the food that they want when they want it, “When you look in your fridge at home to cook, you can customize your meal to include whatever you’d like, and that’s the main idea behind Vita Mojo.” When they began in 2014, they had three locations and their concept was customers being able to select fully customizable meals from an electronic menu. These three locations were quite successful.
Following the success of their three locations, Vita Mojo began licensing its menu technology to other restaurants. I was amazed by this because it meant that Stefan and his team were able to capitalize on an opportunity to enter a completely different market. He likened what the restaurants use the technology for to UberEats or DoorDash.
Then, I asked him if this technology had the capability to record customer information. He informed me that most restaurants lack the infrastructure to implement that level of in-depth data analysis. However, Vita Mojo has been able to analyze the data of their own customers, and they use it to offer flexibility and transparency. People are happy to pay to get more of exactly what they want. I reflected on our discussion of information goods in class and asked if his next business move would be to sell that information to these restaurants when this type of technology is more widely implemented. He said, “That’s actually a really good idea, we haven’t thought about that yet.”
He also said that COVID-19 allowed them to capitalize on their technological prowess. All in all, I felt that the interview went really well.
My conversation with Stefan definitely gave me a sense of ease with regard to my future. I always believed that acquiring widely applicable knowledge and skills will best serve me in my professional career by allowing my area focus to evolve with what I’m interested in and passionate about. Of course, I always had some sense of fear regarding whether or not that is the “right” mindset to have. Stefan helped me realize that as long as you’re passionate about something and can apply your relevant knowledge and skillset to it, there is limitless potential.