In 2018, Neakyn Boroujerdi threw herself a birthday party. She lived in a small Buckhead apartment, so her dad bought her a huge chopping board and suggested she maximize counter space by arranging all her party refreshments there.
The board ended up being the star of the evening. “I realized everybody was Instagramming it,” Boroujerdi said.
But the lightbulb moment didn’t really happen until later, when Audi of North Atlanta saw the pictures and reached out to Boroujerdi on Instagram, asking if she’d cater their holiday party of 200 people. She went for it, and her charcuterie and cheese platter shop, Cheese Me, was born.
Cheese Me started as a side hustle, but Boroujerdi gradually increased her volumes until she realized she could take it full time, which she did in May 2019. She now has a team of four.
In retrospect, Boroujerdi realizes this business is in her blood. Her grandmother is a cookbook author and cooking show host, and instilled a love of all things culinary in her granddaughter at an early age. Boroujerdi grew up attending her grandmother’s cooking classes.
“The great thing about cheese is that you can achieve so many different flavor combinations by pairing different varieties with other flavors,” she said. “It’s an exciting culinary experience you don’t have to cook to achieve.”
At first, she mostly catered events for corporate customers, and business was brisk. Her custom boards graced the tables of company holiday parties, meetings and gatherings. She’d load them into her car and carefully hand-deliver her fragile works of edible art to the waiting hands of event planners or meeting hosts to rave reviews.
But then came 2020.
First, there was COVID. Meetings and parties were canceled outright, and her demand started to dry up rapidly. Boroujerdi realized that if her small business was going to survive, she’d need to pivot quickly.
Cheese Me started making smaller boxes in lieu of the big boards, “for date nights and stuff like that,” she explained. She was floored by the way Atlantans rallied around her and others like her.
“Everyone really took supporting small business seriously,” she said. That support helped Cheese Me navigate the choppy waters of the early pandemic. Now, she’s starting to see the trend reverse and more B2B business coming back her way. Not only did Cheese Me survive, it weathered the worst days of the pandemic and continued to grow.
Growth comes with its own challenges, though: after four or five months of making her own deliveries in her own vehicle, she realized it was rapidly becoming unfeasible to do it herself. Delivery is a key component of any catering business, and it had become physically impossible for Boroujerdi to deliver all her orders herself. It was time to look for a delivery partner.
“Besides,” Boroujerdi added, “Road rage was getting the best of me.”
She was familiar with the food delivery couriers like Postmates and DoorDash, so she started her search there, but none of them were quite right for a small business like hers.
Then, another small business owner suggested an Atlanta-based company to her: Roadie.
Roadie is an on-demand, crowdsourced delivery company that makes it easy and cost-effective for businesses to offer same-day and scheduled delivery. Roadie’s platform matches consumers, small businesses and big global brands with local drivers in passenger vehicles to enable same-day, local deliveries nationwide. Basically, rideshare for stuff.
By tapping into Roadie’s network of delivery drivers, Roadie’s customers have increased sales volumes, expanded their reach and created above-and-beyond experiences for their customers. And they do it while keeping staff at work, focusing on the mission-critical tasks that make a business what it is.
Boroujerdi was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. The app’s features were a perfect fit for a small business like hers.
“I liked that Roadie drivers take a picture of the delivery at pickup and dropoff,” she said. “You can also require a signature if you want to, which is great. And there’s a real-time tracker, so you can watch your delivery’s progress. It opens up your schedule so much. It’s just saved us so much time.”
Roadie offers 24/7 customer support, so in the rare event of a mishap, it was always solved quickly and easily.
Now, Boroujerdi relies on Roadie for other errands, like getting the flowers she uses to garnish her cheese boards from Chelsea Florals on Cheshire Bridge.
She’s recommended Roadie to other local small business owners. Even her dad, who sells antique rugs, sends them with Roadie now.
Since Roadie drivers tend to select deliveries that are convenient for them, she’s starting to recognize some drivers’ faces. That’s sometimes really helpful. “They’ll do things like recommend I get my flower orders in sooner rather than later before busy holidays for florists,” she said.
In a regular week, she’ll send between 25-60 deliveries, but Roadie doesn’t require any minimums or fees. She only pays for what she needs. And although most of her deliveries are within a 5-mile radius of her Buckhead location, she offers delivery through Roadie within 30 miles.