I don’t do well with risk and uncertainty. That alone is enough to make me admire any entrepreneur. But, I have a special place reserved for those that choose to enter Food and Beverage. I’ve spent a quarter century in this crowded, competitive and crazy industry. Now more than at any other point in its history, the industry is a hotbed of innovation, evolution, and energy. Which is odd, because there are some strong competing forces working against all that creativity.
Now more than at any other point in its history, the industry is a hotbed of innovation, evolution, and energy.
Consolidation continues to change the landscape. More and more retail outlets are being controlled by just a few companies. Big food and beverage keep getting bigger. Massive organizations like Nestle, Unilever, Kroger, Walmart, PepsiCo, and others have a huge say in what we actually get to put into our stomachs. The regulatory and compliance environment continues to tighten, and consumers expect much more from the products they buy. Today’s buyers want products that have some special functional property, have a great story, and support some important social mission. I guess what I am saying is that it’s a hard place to set up shop, and that’s what fascinates me.
Today’s buyers want products that have some special functional property, have a great story, and support some important social mission.
Knowing this, it’s difficult for me to fathom the chutzpah it must take for an entrepreneur to decide to step off the 100-foot pole and go all in. Seriously, who just decides that they can take on the industry behemoths, get on the shelf with as many as 30,000 other items, and have their product find its way into our shopping carts?
Yet, people are doing this very thing. Supermarket shelves see new products arrive every day, and not all of them are from big food or beverage. Some will make it to the shelf and linger while others create a buzz and a rabid following. Regardless of the outcome, all those products share a belief held by their founder. That their product is better, different, or needed in the market, and they are willing to bet the house on their belief. That’s chutzpah!
Regardless of the outcome, all those products share a belief held by their founder.
I write about and work with emerging food and beverage brands and their leaders. So, I had the opportunity to ask them, why. Why entrepreneurship and why food and beverage. I recently had the chance to do just that with Kara Goldin, Founder, and CEO of hint. She said, “Starting hint was really about solving a problem that no one else was working on.” She went on to add, “We believe that we are really doing something to change health for the better, change America for the better.”
I asked Neal Gottlieb, Founder and CEO of Three Twins Ice Cream a similar question. He said, “I really wanted to combine my inner do-gooder and my dirty capitalist and start something. I wanted to start something that if I did well I’d feel really good about. I wanted to start a company that would be celebrated.”
There are hundreds of other entrepreneurs out there just like the ones above, and I am going to pursue their stories. I am going to find out what sparked the idea or fed the passion. I’m going to learn about where the confidence was found. I want to hear about the biggest obstacles faced and the important lessons learned. I invite you to join me. I will share what I discover, and if you have a story to share, please reach out.