606
9 min 5 sec

One Man’s Trashed Mash is Another Man’s Cash

What starts as a collegiate adventure in getting around the legal drinking age requirements leads to a mission that turns trash into cash.
Food High Income Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure...or side hustle.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Research & Experimentation
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

As Dan said, if you’re persistent, it’s easy to get in touch with the buyers, and a lot of them were really eager to give a chance to sustainable companies like ReGrained.

But of course, that means that they’re also giving a ton of other new bar companies a chance as well, so their bar aisles end up looking a lot like the “Great Wall of Bars.” So, they let you in, but that means that you’re likely one of a thousand different products on the shelf. You really have to sell it yourself—so they did demos and hustled getting people to try it. They felt that if they could get people to try it, the product would speak for itself.

Fun Fact

When they started working with breweries for the first time, they ran into some big issues. The first brewery that they were scheduled to get the grain from had it in a dumpster in the back. They were really counting on that supply at the time, but the spent grain was completely useless for their purposes in its current state.

Another time they were working with an inventive local brewery, and they ended up with another grain they couldn’t use for different reasons. Unbeknownst to Dan and Jordan, the brewery had just finished up what they called an oyster stout which meant that they added oysters in with the grain during their brewing process. This showed them that they needed to dial in a gold standard process for creating a food-grade ingredient and food-grade handling throughout this process.

Notes from Chris

Episode 606

When UCLA Freshmen Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz started brewing beer in the comfort of their frat house, they weren’t planning on it leading to a side hustle. At all of 19, these two were really just trying to find a loophole to the legal drinking age! But like the great foamy head of a freshly tapped keg, a side hustle began to rise to the surface.

Although both were on the fast track to earning their degrees in economics, they had a keen interest in sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices. Which meant that the brewing process posed a moral dilemma that had nothing to do with their underage drinking. Each 5-gallon batch of beer that they brewed was generating roughly 15-20 pounds of grain waste.

The technical term for this byproduct was “spent grain” because it was no longer capable of producing beer.

With a little digging, Dan and Jordan learned just how nutritious this “spent grain” really was. All of the sugar had gone into their favorite drink leaving behind an abundance of protein, fiber, and micronutrients. That’s when something else started to brew—an idea.

They began brainstorming different ways of using this grain so that they weren’t ditching it in the dumpster. Since beer is essentially bread in liquid form, it seemed only natural that they try and use it to bake bread. If it wasn’t a totally botched experiment, maybe they could find a way to sell it to their peers and fund even more brewing.

With a little experimentation, they landed on a recipe, and within a couple weeks, they were selling roughly 20 loaves a week. More than enough to keep them swimming in the brew that started it all! But although bread seemed like a natural application for this “spent grain,” Dan and Jordan quickly realized that they definitely didn’t want to be a bread company. It was far too labor intensive for their busy school schedules, and it wasn’t really something they could easily scale.

Since bread wasn’t going to be their plan long-term, Dan and Jordan had been experimenting with a granola bar recipe. And since nobody else seemed eager to get their hands dirty, Dan and Jordan decided to glove up.

But first, they needed a name. Since they were essentially giving this grain new life, they decided that ReGrained seemed like an appropriate name for their unique operation.

Dan and Jordan didn’t end up spending a dime on advertising and marketing. Instead, their story and lofty, waste-minimizing goals were so novel and contagious that it did the work for them. This unique and innovative concept that they were creating opened them up to a multitude of opportunities including being featured by The Washington Post, Forbes, and Fast Company among countless others.

Due to high volume requests, they ended up having to upgrade their operations to a commercial kitchen in 2014, and both Dan and Jordan officially hung up their aprons by 2016 after a successful crowdfunding campaign through Barnraiser—a food and healthy living specific crowdfunding platform—that allowed them to bring on some hired hands. The $30,670 they raised also helped them upgrade their recipes and compostable packaging!

What started as an operation pumping out hundreds of granola bars in 2012, quickly started churning out thousands by 2013, and then tens of thousands of bars by 2016. These days, the duo are selling hundreds of thousands of bars a year and are close to having their products in a thousand stores all over the U.S.

Although they’re quite a substantial business now, ReGrained comes from humble beginnings. Since their base product of “spent grain” was essentially free, all they really had to spend money on in the beginning was the pantry essentials to help them make their bars (like honey, cinnamon, and puffed quinoa) along with some baking necessities like sheet pans, mixing bowls, spatulas, and a whole mess of parchment paper.

At this point, both Dan and Jordan have left their full-time jobs in order to build ReGrained, and they say that if you’re looking to break into the food industry, a side hustle is the absolute best way to do it.

That’s the path they followed. They didn’t set out to change the world or the way we look at food waste. They were just two college friends looking for a loophole and who decided to take action when faced with an idea. Or as Dan puts it, “when life gave them beer, they made bread.”



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • ReGrained: Interested in seeing what it is like to eat your beer? Head on over to Dan and Jordan's website to snag yourself a couple bars and learn more about their process!
  • Shopify: Dan and Jordan switched over to Shopify after originally setting up their site for ReGrained using Wix, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • Barnraiser | ReGrained: The crowdfunding platform that Dan and Jordan used that specializes in healthy food products
  • Man Crates: The subscription box that carried ReGrained bars in the early days and helped them really get things off the ground

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

cg-sig-newsletter


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Resources

CREATE YOUR ONLINE STORE

Create your online store with Shopify using an exclusive discount for Side Hustle School listeners. For a limited time, get a free 21-day trial and a 10% discount for a whole year.

Many Side Hustle School listeners are building sites using Shopify's easy-to-learn platform. Try it free today!

Learn More

GET YOUR FIRST 1,000 EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS

Social media is nice, but building an email list is still the single best way to get customers and clients for your hustle. It's not hard to get started—sign up for a 30-day trial and join the list-building challenge! You’ll be up and running in no time.


Learn More

Quote of the Day
"It’s important to understand that there are a lot of times that you are going to take one step back for every two steps forward—that you have to celebrate all of the wins, whether little or small, because there is always going to be stuff that doesn’t exactly pan out."
—Dan Kurzrock #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau