David vs. Goliath: 3 small companies take on the big boys

Better temps. Friendly PDFs. Yummy baby food. How three small businesses are going head to head with corporate contenders.

Ella's kitchen vs. Gerber
Ella's kitchen vs. Gerber
The challenge: In a world full of baby food brands, how do you separate yourself from the pack?

What they did: After trying day after day to encourage their baby daughter to eat fruits and veggies, Nickelodeon general manager Paul Lindley, 45, and his wife, Alison, 44, came up with the idea for baby-food marketer Ella's Kitchen. (Yup, Ella is their kid.) The idea: great tasting organic foods in packaging that turns kids on, such as fruit smoothies in squeezable pouches. How'd they pull it off? In 2006 the couple took out a $300,000 second mortgage and hired a posse of nutritionists and a manufacturing expert. They kick-started sales by giving Nickelodeon a share of revenue in exchange for commercial time. The result? Last year sales doubled to $50 million. Ella's Kitchen makes 70 products now and can be found in retailers like Target and Whole Foods.

By Elaine Pofeldt, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 22 2012: 7:06 AM ET
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