July 24, 2014 Riana

How she’s applying lessons from her role with CNBC’s ‘The Profit’

Food and health technology entrepreneur Riana Lynn learned that sometimes a strategic detour is a better path to a destination. The founder of Rivive Group technology consulting earlier this year took a behind-the-scenes role with turnaround investor Marcus Lemonis for his CNBC television show “The Profit.” Lynn shares how she’s applying lessons from that experience to her FoodTrace startup to help food and health-industry clients support and promote sustainable sourcing and healthier products.Q. How did you get involved with “The Profit?”A. They came into one of my client’s stores, called Love that Spice in Highland Park, and wanted to invest in the company, and they found out about Rivive Group. They said, “We need you to come and do the same things you’re doing for your clients for this show.” It happened really fast. But sometimes as an entrepreneur you have to take a risk and try and learn from other great entrepreneurs.

Q. What was your role?

A. The main areas were Web development and strategy and enhancing the e-commerce sites of these companies and others that had been purchased the prior year or had been in contact with Marcus and his team. The Web development was very heavy during the show’s season because we had to get the e-commerce ramped up for when a show (was televised) about a company. Their traffic would increase almost 2,000 or 3,000 percent. Post-season, the work turned into strategy and development for products and making these companies more competitive and increasing their market reach and growth potential by offering healthier items.

Q. What did you learn about improving business growth?

A. You have to analyze the strengths of the team and know the numbers. Once (you’re) able to question some of the numbers and look at the gaps and inefficiencies, you can save a lot of money and put it toward growth, whether in marketing, increasing staff or increasing the products you’re able to offer. Knowing your margins and profit margins weekly can lead to so much growth. There are lots of technologies and apps to make all these processes more efficient or decrease losses, whether in shipping or credit processing, or making sure you understand how much it costs to make a product. Also, founders have to be open-minded on getting feedback and letting someone come in and help them improve.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I saw, starting with Peeled and some clients through Rivive Group, a large customer demand for food sourcing and transparency. I developed FoodTrace to help clients show they’re sustainably minded and care about purchasing quality items. As an app, this platform can do a lot more to help consumers choose food venues based on their food purchasing pathways and ultimately trace their dollars back to that artisan or that small and medium farmer.

I’m working on launching a mobile app and next version of the Web application for thefoodtrace.com. We’re opening the site for people to post events like a prix-fixe dinner that might feature three local farms, for example. We’re still in beta right now. We’re working on an e-commerce component.