“Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.” – Tom Freston, Co-founder of MTV.

Connor Cagno, a sophomore studying Materials Science and Engineering as a part of Barrett the Honors College, had the opportunity to practice innovating, combining his hobbies with his studies in a unique way. As a part of ENT 360/FSE 301, Connor collaborated with both students and faculty in business programs to take his lifelong passion for cooking and sustainability and combine it with the business practices he learned from Professor Brent Sebold into his venture, Meal Bloc, a zero-waste educational cooking app that eliminates food waste from unused ingredients.

During his market research, Connor met with Matthew, a fellow ASU student discouraged from making his own meals as he recently began learning to cook independently. During one of their interviews, Matthew stated, “If I knew how to cook without much waste, I would feel better about the money I spend on cooking.” Matthew wanted to learn to make nutritious meals independently but felt intimidated by leftover ingredients he did not know what to do with and would ultimately throw out. He tried using a meal prep service that would send him portioned ingredients weekly but was unhappy with the amount of single-use plastics and steep pricing of this service. Through discussion with others like Matthew, who faced similar issues, Connor and his team created Meal Bloc.

Their solution was a convenient app that streamlined the discovery of recipes, the purchasing of ingredients, and the elimination of waste through calculated recipes that use all ingredients when purchased in their typical store quantities. As part of the Meal Bloc development, Connor created and tested the first Bloc, which contained two recipes with similar ingredients, ensuring no money or food was wasted.

“Through this course, I expanded my entrepreneurial skill set beyond what I could normally do with my engineering degree. I learned the customer-focused steps in creating a venture that solves the pain points in the lives of those I care about. I was pushed to take my venture beyond a simple idea on a pitch deck, creating a minimal viable prototype that gained interest from potential customers. Even if I don’t pursue this specific venture,” he added, “I can use these skills to continue to create value for wherever I end up in my professional life.” – Connor Cagno

Watch Meal Bloc’s pitch here