MINI CASE STUDY – PROCAKES MIX
- In what year did your company begin operation?
We launched in April 2014.
- How do you define success? Are you “there” yet?
My personal definition of success is the number of days in a year I’m welcome to wear flip flops. That was a measure I created for myself over 20 years ago, and it’s a metaphor for living a life where I chose when and where I work. So to that extent, I’m successful. In terms of ProCakes, I have a monthly volume goal that I’m trying to reach in 3 years, so I’m about 40% there.
- How long did it take to be successful? What challenges did your face in establishing your company?
Well, by my own measure, I’m still on the road to success, but in terms of the success I’ve enjoyed so far, the challenge has been to stay true to my own vision of where I want ProCakes to go, and not be influenced by competitor or market activity. To that end, I try to chart a course that works for me, my product and my end consumer rather than simply reverting to the way things have always been done in the industry. Those are two very different things.
- How long did your initial roll-out for the above product line take (months or years?) and how much did it cost? ($5,000? $20,000?) What kind of funding was available to you?
It took me about 6 months from the time I had the idea of launching my first product. I did everything myself, from the first iteration of the website to the formations, ingredient sourcing and packing and shipping. The only thing I outsourced was the manufacturing of the product, and the actual design work for the packaging, which were two things I knew would not be a good use of my time or skills.
I’m completely self funded and I have no desire to take on funding at this time. It all rolls back to my greater vision of success (remember the flip flops?). I’m very self-determined, so answering to investors wouldn’t be a smart move for me. At least, not at this point.
It took me about $15 – $20K to launch the product in the market. I was told once by one of the founders of Wildwood Foods that it’s pointless to launch a product without at least 100K in funding, and while I can understand his point of view, I feel like that’s not the case at all.
- Please share your insights and advice for new to industry companies. Don’t hold back!
Know what you’re getting into and your target audience!! The food business is not easy to break into, the margins are small and the competition for shelf space is intense. It’s also important to bring something new to the market. “Me too” products are going to have a much harder time fighting for shelf space than something that’s a more unique and interesting; however, this also applies to knowing your market. My audience is very invested in fitness and health, so I know that my product is not going to be suitable for mainstream grocers. I invest my time in the appropriate channels and it saves a great deal of time, energy and resources.
- How would you define your long-range “vision”? Where do you want to see your company positioned in the next 5 years? 10 years?
My long term vision for the company is to continue to bring to market gluten free, high protein innovative healthy foods with no added sugars. I am committed to quality over volume and serving my health and fitness conscious customer first. How that evolves in the market is still TBD. I’m seeing a rapid change in the way people consume functional foods. They’re not going to their friendly neighborhood supplement shop to buy my product. They’re buying it online, mostly via Amazon. So to that end, I’ll continue to serve my audience the way they want to be served.
- How would you describe your participation in the 2015 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco? Was it successful? What was your total investment? What support did you receive from the Association? Was it helpful to be located with other Member Candidates? Share your Show experience.
I really enjoyed my experience at the show. I got the chance to talk with several retailers that are a perfect fit, and I also gained a better understanding of who is NOT a good fit. That learning process was invaluable. I also had a chance to connect with suppliers and build relationships with other food entrepreneurs. I’m local to San Francisco, so overall the event was less than $2000 for me to participate in. Fortunately, I wasn’t required to purchase any further health depart licenses (which can add up) and I didn’t need to buy a lead machine since it was included in the price. I think it’s the best investment any new food entrepreneur can make in their new business, especially if you want to do the traditional retail route. Keeping in mind, that the end consumer is not your only customer (you also have to sell to distributors, retailers and often brokers), this show puts you right in front of them at one time.
Plus I just thought it was really well organized and supported over all, so I highly recommend it.
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