Liane Weintraub, the CEO of Tasty Brand, says starting a business is no piece of cake.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Founded by two moms on a self-proclaimed "tasty mission," Tasty Brand has since evolved into a small company selling organic snack brands in fun, upbeat packaging.
Co-founder and CEO Liane Weintraub, a former broadcast journalist, is now committed to creating better snacking options for kids and adults. She recently spoke to Steven Greenberg, CBS radio expert for jobs and host of the nationally syndicated radio program, "Your Next Job."
Baby food and snacks is a very competitive industry. How has Tasty Brand managed to capture so much of the market from more established companies?
These are definitely competitive categories, but we feel that our brand stands out from the crowd. As far as getting people's attention and capturing market share, it takes a lot of creativity. Since we are not in a position to purchase TV or magazine ads, we need to think of other ways to make "noise" through social media, etc.
Describe how you made your first two sales.
Our first two accounts were local stores that are still very important retailers for us. When we first showed our products to Whole Foods () in Southern California, everything about what we stood for resonated with their own values and priorities, so it was the perfect fit. Next came Bristol Farms, an upscale chain, also in Southern California. That one took a little more convincing, but the buyer was moved by our conviction and passion for our mission!
How do you get new product ideas?
We definitely rely a lot on consumer feedback in terms of product development, package design, etc. Usually moms are very willing to share their thoughts and ideas, so we are never without a wealth of advice coming from all directions.
There is a danger in that, however. A brand can't be all things to all people, so we are very clear on what Tasty Brand stands for and constantly ask ourselves whether things we are considering are "on-brand" or "off-brand."
Tell us about an entrepreneurial failure, and how it helped you succeed today.
When we first launched our business, we were counseled to stock up on inventory. We took that advice to heart and way over-ordered ingredients and packaging materials. It was a serious problem, since we had significant costs associated with printing and storing so much stock.
Also, we were locked into our package designs boxes. We learned the hard way that having enough -- but not too much -- inventory is critical. These mistakes dragged down our balance sheet.
What turned out to be much easier for you to accomplish than you thought it would be?
Towards the end of last year, we realized that our sales of snack items far out-weighed our sales of baby food. Press became almost entirely focused on our top-selling fruit snacks, and the public was getting confused about what Tasty was all about, asking whether we are a "baby" company or a "snack" brand.
We realized that we could not keep on making products in both categories without confusing people, and we ultimately decided to drop our baby line. It was gut-wrenching, and we expected a lot of angry emails. But in the end, it turned out to be a pretty easy, seamless transition.
And what was much harder?
We were faced with several massive orders that were tied to tight deadlines, and although we executed everything on our part on time, several other parties did not. And we were dangerously close to missing a critical cutoff date which would have cost us a valuable account. We wound up driving the shipment to the depot ourselves in a U-Haul truck!
What advice would you give a new mom who has an idea for a great new baby product, or a college student who wants to start his or her own side business while at school?
Passion for an idea is so important, and I would definitely encourage anyone to follow their dreams. That said, passion is one ingredient that will help fuel a business, but it is far from the only element.
I would definitely suggest that anyone looking to launch a business should start in a small, contained way. Some advice: Work from home if possible; don't quit your day job if you rely on that income to live; invest as little as possible upfront; seek advice, but stay true to your own vision; manage your expectations; be patient -- it all takes a lot longer than you think!
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