What It's About
Two friends create a healthy and nutritious food bar, minus all the added sugar that other bars contain.
Words of Wisdom
When they were starting out, Michael and Anthony decided that instead of choosing the flavors they'd offer, they'd put that power in the hands of their customers. As Mike explains, “This is a process that I think very few food startups actually go through, because they just assume that people will like what they make. We didn't assume anything, we tested it until we knew we had a winning hand.” And as it turns out, their target market preferred bars with less sugar and more real food.
Knowing what your customers will like the most is not always intuitive, so test your product before you make a big commitment! The results may surprise you.
One particularly late night session, Michael and Anthony had just finished making 500 bars. It was about 11 pm and they were cleaning up for the night. As they headed to the car, with boxes of neatly packaged bars and one last tray of unwrapped (but covered) bars, Anthony tripped on the curb and every single unwrapped bar went flying into the street. After a second of shock, they both burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the moment.
Notes from Chris
Episode 219Michael Winchell and Anthony Ostland weren’t trying to start a food business—they were just hungry. Michael works full-time as a financial analyst and Anthony works full-time as a Crossfit Instructor. Since they’re both mostly Paleo, they wanted a bar that was made out of real food, didn’t have any added sugar or weird stuff, and still tasted good. But they couldn’t find that in stores. They started prototyping bars in their kitchen at home, from organic ingredients they bought at the store, like sprouted nuts, coconut, dates and egg white protein. Their friends and family loved what they were making so much that they had to borrow more and more Cuisinart mixers. By the time they got to five Cuisinarts in their home kitchen, they realized that maybe they had enough demand to consider a larger scale kitchen. So they rented some space in a shared commercial kitchen so they could produce the bars more easily and keep up with the demand from friends and family. But before they started selling the bars to strangers, they set up a blind taste test with their target market. Based on feedback from their blind taste testers, they went through close to 100 iterations across their four different flavors, until they got the flavor profile dialed in, and in mid-2014 they introduced the Mammoth Bars in a clear wrapper and a simple white wrap around label. They kept this packaging for over two years as they continued to grow their demand. As their demand grew, they decided to improve upon their original packaging. So they started approaching investors, seeking a $50k investment so that they could afford a packaging and website redesign and have some money leftover. They found that $50k in the form of an investment from a friend. They used that to get started on their re-design and launch their product to a larger audience via Kickstarter in September of 2016. Beyond just running a successful Kickstarter campaign, it also boosted their monthly revenue up to an average of $10k. And, even more significantly, they were approached by Peet’s Coffee about carrying their bars in store. More recently their monthly revenue is hovering around $25k, split roughly evenly between Peet’s Coffee sales, direct online sales, and sales at all other independent retailers. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Mammoth Bars: Check out all of the Mammoth Bar flavors on their website!
- Kickstarter | Mammoth Bars: The Kickstarter campaign that helped Michael and Anthony get updated branding for Mammoth Bars
- Peet's Coffee: The coffee chain that picked up Michael and Anthony's bars and drastically increased their profits
- Full-Time Mom Ships $35,000/Month in Frozen Bread on Amazon: The busy mother of a child on a specialized diet decides to take action and ‘liberate’ parents like her with her allergen-free food side hustle
- Corn Syrup Allergy Leads to Booming Baked Goods Biz: After a doctor diagnoses her husband with a corn syrup allergy, a healthcare analyst mixes up a line of healthy, sweet baked goods that turns into a stable second income
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