From Employee To Entrepreneur

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Ellen Ades

Annie Sidaoui walked into a school recently and asked the administrators, “What if we take the administrative burden of running the lunch program off your shoulders, reduce your costs, and deliver the additional perk of achieving a productive but painless fundraising campaign while supporting your current vendors?”

The most impressive thing about Annie is that, after she poses the question, if the school takes her up on the offer, she delivers.

Annie and three partners co-own FoodDays.

FoodDays is an innovation in the school lunch ordering system. It essentially takes the burden out of the administrative office by handling all aspects of the process from creating menus, sourcing local vendors, and delivering high quality meals to the school. Additionally, it can be used as a fundraising tool. It’s a premium service that costs the school nothing, while providing much needed solutions.

Although Annie always wanted to be an entrepreneur, she took her time realizing her dream. After earning a degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business, she married her husband Isaac, and raised a family. However, it was not until sixteen years ago, when her children were already in high school, that Annie began working as a bookkeeper at a community yeshiva. She eventually advanced to become the office manager, then inherited the running of what was at the time a small lunch program. Her creativity kicked in and she ended up bringing in new options, a new platform, and a better distribution system. She developed a fundraising perk for the school, too.

Annie states, “When I spoke with PROPEL eighteen months ago, it gave me the chance to hash out my ideas. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I wasn’t ready.” That changed during the summer of 2022. Annie further explains, “Although I always wanted to become a business owner, I didn’t know how to get started. PROPEL helped me take the leap from employee to entrepreneur by giving me confidence. When the opportunity presented itself, I was ready to take the plunge because I made a plan with my coach. I had more confidence because I knew I could always return to PROPEL, and they would continue to help me on my journey.”

It’s not where you start but where you finish. Annie says she prepared for the future by refining her idea over the years. Therefore, she was ready for the opportunity when it arrived.

There are so many talented women in our community. Even if you are not sure about what, when, and how you will start a business, my advice is to prepare yourself. Become a lifelong learner. Continually challenge yourself. Hone your skills. And remember, a humble first job can lead to a very rewarding professional opportunity.

Annie’s mandate as the Director of Food Management at FoodDays.com is to manage relationships between the school and vendors as well as to manage customer service with the parents. Her education and experience working with schools prepared her to be a business owner today.

As an entrepreneur, Annie understands that she carries a bigger load on her shoulders in exchange for potentially greater rewards. She explains, “I feel an enormous responsibility to deliver top quality meals, for the children to enjoy the meals, for parents to be pleased, and for the vendors to be prompt. And the list goes on.”

Annie inspired her grown daughters, Aimee and Natalie, who note, “Our mother always had this fire within her and this drive to accomplish something great. She instilled in us a strong work ethic with the belief that we have to put one hundred percent into everything we do.”

Her husband, Isaac, shares, “My advice for other spouses who want to support their wives is that ‘support’ means so many different things. Support is listening, gently guiding, understanding the day-to-day struggles, and always asking, ‘How was your day?’” Isaac adds, “PROPEL helped my wife gather courage to begin her journey, and I am very grateful to them for that. The support and encouragement is something that cannot be measured.”

One thing is certain. Annie Sidaoui is a force for good in this world and her business, Fooddays.com, is her delivery system.

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