Nashville-based Taco Bike is the brainchild of 24-year-old Cayla Mackey. The business serves up freshly made organic breakfast tacos along with a socially conscious message that amplifies the health benefits of eating locally grown organic food and biking.
A successful Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2014 helped to give wheels to Mackey's vision -- literally. She and her boyfriend built the bike from scratch and launched the business together last year.
Mackey spoke with Name.Kitchen about becoming an entrepreneur, how she named her business and the meaning behind its motto: "Changing the world, one taco at a time."
Where did your business idea come from?
I went on a sabbatical, took a couple of months off, to reconnect with myself and see where my interests were. I remember sitting on the porch with my boyfriend and we were talking about what to do with our time, trying to figure out what we want to do next. I loved biking. I loved breakfast tacos. I loved food and learning about food and growing food. What could I do that would combine all of these? So I thought together why not at this point in life do something that’s kind of weird? What did I have to loose?
I eat mostly vegan, definitely vegetarian, and I try to eat only organic food that I cook for myself. I was very frustrated that I couldn’t go to any restaurant in Nashville and get he same high-quality good that I was cooking at home. So I decided to do something to prove that it was possible to serve healthy fast food that’s all organic and sourced locally.
Why breakfast tacos?
I had gone to Austin Texas and sort of fell in love with the breakfast taco culture in Austin, which I feel represents the creativity of the city very well. When I returned to Nashville, I couldn’t find any type of breakfast taco anywhere. So I started to get homesick for Austin breakfast tacos.
It's such a quirky and niche business -- like a super scaled-down version of a food truck.
When I called the Health Department that I was going to be selling food from a bicycle, the person on the other end laughed. I could hear him on the other end of the line saying, “Hey, Cheryl, there’s a girl on the phone who’s going to sell food from a bike.” I’m the first as far as I know only bicycle-based food vendor in Nashville. I’m in the same category as a hot dog cart, so I can go wherever a public sidewalk permits, which is way more flexible than the food trucks have it.
How'd you land on the name, 'Taco Bike'?
We were calling it the Taco Bike while we were planning it. But when we went to buy the URL we had a cloud of names that we could possibly go with. We were just looking for what was available.
Wait, you didn't have a business name before choosing the domain name?
We stumbled upon Taco.Bike. We were looking for URLs and it stood out as the name we wanted to use. It made sense for our branding. It was short. It wasn’t a really complicated name. Especially in the food truck business, being simple to the point of irony is kind of a trend right now. When we saw that Taco.Bike was available, it was immediately the name we knew we wanted to go with.
Did you intend to be so straightforward with the name?
I’m a big believer in you don’t need to trick people into paying attention to things. So I couldn’t call it “Organic Breakfast Taco Bike Changing the World” -- that's an unapproachable name. Otherwise we were thinking of “Taco Bueno,” “The Good Taco,” “Bueno Taco." It was just kind of Spanglish and, in my mind, those were inauthentic-feeling names. Taco Bike plainly said it: It’s taco’s from a bike. It couldn’t have been simpler.
Why did you ultimately go with a 'dot-bike' [.BIKE] versus a 'dot-com' [.COM]?
We did look at 'dot-com' [.COM] but immediately realized that those domains we wanted were really expensive.
When you tell people that the website is Taco.Bike, it’s interesting, it’s funny, it’s quirky, it makes people remember the business more. When they actually visit the website and see that 'dot-bike' [.BIKE] actually exists, it makes them think more deeply about biking, too.
I also think it makes us look a little more “with it.” That we got such a new domain and that we’re onboard with such a fun thing early on. It’s part of the shortening trend of URLs becoming really popular, like 'dot-l-y' [.LY] or 'dot-i-s' [.IS]. Those new domains become embraced by the more entrepreneurial communities for sure.
How has the website elevated your business and its mission?
I’ve had a lot of people find my number or email address from all over the world. I had one guy in Amsterdam who wants to sell tacos from a bike, and I told him what type of bike I was using and how to keep the tacos warm. Another guy in Oklahoma wanted to sell Korean tacos from a bicycles. It’s a cool thing that’s kind of happening. I’m happy to be supporting entrepreneurs in the food bike movement. That’s the Internet for you!
Your motto is "Changing the world, one breakfast taco at a time." What change do you hope to inspire?
My passion from the business comes from a more socially-oriented mission. Nashville is becoming a more bike-friendly city, but we’re still consistently rank as one of the top cities in the country for waiting in traffic. I wanted to do a bike to show that it wasn’t as difficult as people thought to get around the city by bike.
So people see me, a little 120-pound girl pulling a 200-pound bike trailer going up a hill, maybe they say to themselves, “Wow, it’s not that hard to bike. Maybe I could bike to work a couple of days a week.”
To learn more about this business, visit the taco.bike website.