"We in this room ... we're the dreamer of dreams. We can all be our own Willy Wonka ... we have to sometimes think ahead, and understand what is it a consumer doesn't know they need yet, which is sometimes a great idea and sometimes an utter failure. But unless you put it out there, you're never going to know."
—Justin Gold, Justin's Nut Butter
Part 1: Meet the makers
- Chris Campbell, Chameleon Cold Brew: Timing was very serendipitous.
- Justin Gold, Justin's Nut Butter: A sense of urgency to grow the brand.
- Siggi Hilmarsson, Siggi's: There was too much sugar in American yogurt.
- Katie Forrest, Epic Provisions: The entire product line now fits a whole-animal approach.
- Lizzi Ackerman, Birch Benders: Now we're the No. 1 natural pancake mix.
Part 2: Filtering advice, making critical decisions
- Trust your gut, even if it doesn't seem logical.
- If the market's efficient, somebody's already done it. The reason you exist as an entrepreneur is because it's not in the data, Hilmarsson said.
- Our company wouldn't have existed if we went solely off the feedback we received about launching a meat bar, Forrest said. Some people thought it was the worst idea ever.
- Learning price pack architecture the hard way.
Part 3: Knowing how to hire, adapting the founder role
- Sometimes you have to make decisions based on your culture, not their skill sets.
- Find someone who can grow with your business.
- Having the founder there and being involved makes all the difference. I don't want them to mess up my brand, and that's not going to happen on my watch, Gold said.
Part 4: Finding investors, strategies for distribution
- Approaching investors and how the founders went about raising money.
- How Epic Provisions went an unconventional route and found the perfect Angel investor.
- The importance of eliminating the most risk you can before finding investors.
- Advice for entrepreneurs about distribution channel strategies and approaching retail stores.
Part 5: Mantras and margins
- The founder's mantras and general philosophies for leadership.
- How have margins changed from infancy to now?
- Campbell speaks to the importance of making sure you have the best deal structure with the very first investor.
- How to approach budgeting for marketing when you are first starting out.
This session—From Infancy to Category Leaders: Founders Share Secrets for Success—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.