Appetite for entrepreneurship leads alum to launch successful meal-prep business

Economics alumnus Andy Sartori, a Sacramento Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree, helps people eat with purpose

Andy Sartori (College Nine ’13, economics) leads online meal-prep delivery service MealPro
Andy Sartori (College Nine ’13, economics) leads online meal-prep delivery service MealPro, part of a rapidly accelerating $5 billion industry.

Andy Sartori (College Nine ’13, economics) is on a mission to help people improve their lives. A weightlifting enthusiast, he is flexing his business muscle—formed in the Economics Department at UC Santa Cruz—leading an online meal-prep delivery service that helps people eat with purpose. 

MealPro is part of a rapidly accelerating $5 billion industry that is making meal planning and preparation convenient for people of all ages. The knowledge he gained as an economics major at UC Santa Cruz has enabled Sartori to succeed as a CEO and compete in an industry that benefited significantly during the pandemic as restaurant sales plummeted and grocery- and food-delivery service profits soared.   

According to Sartori, his company’s unique value proposition is its ability to customize each already-cooked meal to a person’s objectives or caloric intake goals. The website includes real-time measurement tools, like a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculator, which help customers identify daily calorie goals that inform their meal choices. 

“Every person is unique,” Sartori said. “One portion size doesn’t fit all. One person may need more protein or vegetables; one may want low sodium or high carbs. We can create meals specific to an individual’s caloric needs, meal plan, or dietary restrictions.” 

At just 29, Sartori’s entrepreneurial spirit has already garnered attention in the local business scene; he was named a 2021 Sacramento Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree. 

“It takes passion to be successful, but following your passion also means sacrifice,” said Sartori, who left a lucrative cybersecurity job to start his own company. “The likelihood of MealPro succeeding was somewhere between improbable and impossible, but I followed my passion in a trending market segment where consumer behavior was heading in a positive direction.” 

He describes his management style as one in which he demands quality, precision, and productivity, from the food that is sourced for meals to the people who prepare it. Sartori has chosen his operations team carefully, relying on technology experts across the globe to ensure his e-commerce operation runs efficiently and his online storefront provides an excellent user experience. 

Having a good balance of business and technology skills is key, he says, to competing in the e-commerce ecosphere, which was nearly nonexistent when he started college. In fact, Sartori says, it was the economic duress of the Great Recession in 2008 that prompted him to choose economics as a major—he wanted to be part of the solution. He credits experiences in and out of the UCSC classrooms for preparing him for the business world. “I learned a lot about the buyer’s journey in my marketing courses—Game Theory in particular," Sartori said. "I learned negotiating skills that have helped me with real estate leases and in my work with vendors. During the [2011] NBA Lock Out, the Game Theory course taught us how to predict how a situation would unravel. When I was a teaching assistant, a lot of information was reinforced when I had to teach it to others. In one class we had to present ideas to company executives. That was a great experience.”

Sartori said it was an entrepreneurship competition at UC Santa Cruz that planted the seed for MealPro, which operates its distribution center out of Citrus Heights, Calif., and delivers to customers across the nation.

Though he is early in his career as a business leader, Sartori is putting his mission to serve others into action by mentoring enterprising self-starters through his entrepreneur partnering program for startups. He advises them to build their technology acumen by taking courses in JavaScript, computer programming, and website development. These skills, he says, complement the soft skills, like negotiating, that have helped him achieve success.