Small Business Success Stories: Part 4
Onto another section with more great small business success stories to keep you motivated and working hard to grow your small business just like these determined individuals and teams.
This fun looking nut butter company was started by a couple girls in college who loved peanut butter and wanted to experiment with their own variations and flavors, without the unhealthy ingredients in most snack foods. One thing leads to another, and halfway through their college careers ended up on Shark Tank.
Shark Tank gave the brand a lot of publicity and momentum. One of the Sharks offered a deal, and when it ended up not working out, they turned to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter where they managed to raise about $10,000 which they used to make 10,000 jars of nut butter and sold them out of their parent’s garages.
The idea took off and they were expected to make $7 million in sales last year and with the help of their salesman, the father of one of the girls, they secured contracts with stores like Whole Foods, Costco, and more.
To get into a store like Costco, they attended a local vendor fair and did road shows – taking the product on consignment to test it out and listening to the customers.
After a few more rounds of increasingly successful crowdfunding, the owner of Annie’s became an investor, and ultimately a mentor.
Merrilee Kick, after being turned down multiple times by many vendors, had to re-mortgage her home to launch her company. The product is single-serve cocktails in colorful spherical containers and now sells in 40 states, Bermuda, Spirit Airlines, with orders pending in China, Thailand, and more.
Starting in college as a computer engineer, she and her husband moved out of the country due to her husband’s job. Merrilee pursued different avenues in each place, starting a nonprofit in South Africa, and becoming a magazine editor in Stockholm. When they moved back she got a job as a news anchor for seven years and then became a teacher.
One day she had the idea for the product and started looking into it. She gathered a lot of information while completing her MBA, did a lot of online research, picked up the phone and talked to people (though it was hard to find anyone that would give her the time of day). Once she found someone willing to give insight and some contacts, one link lead to the next.
Once she had all the right regulations, the right plastic to use for the container, rented a warehouse, and a completed product, she went to 20 stores a day talking to managers and presenting the prototype. She sent a letter to 17,000 convenience stores with pictures of the product. And eventually, sales started to go crazy.
Her husband would not even get close to supporting this idea. He wouldn’t fund even a penny since they were both in their 50’s and he wasn’t ready to risk their retirement funds. She was forced to come up with all the funding with whatever savings she had aside, and anything she could take out of her home, backed by a business loan.
The first year showed a loss of $100k, but year two created $100k profit, and then year by year it continued doubling until now they’re over $20 million in revenue.
Hard work pays off, but it’s a matter of being confident in your product or service, and not giving up no matter how much tension you go through, or how many people reject you and your ideas.