Nik Ingersoll is a tech/food entrepreneur, designer, co-founder and CMO at Barnana. Nik was born and raised out in the rural farmland of Western Nebraska. He didn't grow up with a silver spoon in mouth. He grew up blue collar, working class in the country across from fields of sheep, cattle, horses and straw.
Nik co-founded Barnana with the mission of ending food waste at banana farms and with the vision to create the brand synonymous with banana. He was recently featured on Forbes's 30 Under 30, Food & Drink category.
In this interview with Startup Savant, Nik shares his entrepreneurial story growing up in the rural farmland and how his mission to end banana food waste became his greatest career move. Nik's biggest piece of advice to first time entrepreneurs - stop making excuses and start already. Be sure to follow this guy on Twitter.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur? When did you first get bit by the entrepreneurial bug?
I grew up in the country on the farmlands of Western Nebraska where we didn’t have much. Creating things has always been a passion of mine. I started by selling my acrylic and oil paintings at local galleries and shows. From there, it was off to the entrepreneurial races.
What does Barnana do that makes it better than the rest? In other words, what is your competitive advantage and how did you find it?
We are the brand synonymous with banana based products. The first and only of it’s kind to brand the curved yellow fruit that we all know and love. We are on a mission to eliminate food waste at banana farms in Latin America by upcycling bananas that would normally go to waste.
What does a typical day look like for you? Is there something you make a point to do each day?
My day is definitely structured chaos. I plan everything on Sunday night for the week, assign different important tasks between each day as necessary and break them into 3 categories – high, medium and lower priority for each day. If I don’t get something done, I roll it over into the next day. Usually, I leave Friday open to tie up loose ends.
What is the biggest business mistake that taught you a powerful lesson? Would you mind sharing how it made you the person you are today?
The biggest mistake that I have learned from is making sure that you be very careful who you let in and around your business. People will deceive you. They will subvert your goals and intentions to better their own path to success. It’s the Machiavellian characteristics that you learn in upper division management class, however, systematically ensuring that you vet every person that you let into or around your business is a learning process.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
Growing up, times were always tough so that isn’t anything new to me. In fact, that is one of the primary pressures that has motivated me my entire life. I never want to struggle like we used to. I have an existential angst that presses me forward knowing the hardships my family went through growing up. Generally, my motivation comes from inside my head; to never be poor again, to achieve impossible things and to live a life of prosperity and happiness.
What trait would you consider made you the best person and professional you are today?
What are the top 3 success tips that you would give anyone starting a business in California?
- Start in your apartment. Kind of kidding, but office space isn’t cheap just starting out.
- Look to the internet first, find out how to leverage digital marketing to your advantage.
- Find a good co-founder.
Are you using any apps that help you stay on track from day-to day?
iCal, Evernote, Wunderlist – without those 3 systems, my organization would go off the rails.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
To grow Barnana to it’s fullest.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in California today? Where should they start?
Just start already. Too often people are hesitant to start, they’ve thought about it forever. My number one piece of advise, is to just do it already and stop making excuses.
Find time between 7PM and 2AM to work on it if you have a full time job – in the end it will be worthwhile. Start by truly flushing out the market fit of whatever idea you have. All too often I see passion projects turn into businesses where the founder never really thought it through in terms of the greater market at hand and what it ultimately entails to make the idea successful.