What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
“In my opinion, experience is the best teacher. You absorb information faster, and the lessons mean more when you learn them for yourself. Go out and meet with store owners. Talk to your customers. Get roasted. Revise your formula. Tweak your packaging and taglines. Stay hungry, stay practical, and keep moving forward.”
What is your advice for entrepreneurs in your industry specifically?
“A common mistake I see in food and beverage startups is an insistence on idealistic assets from day one. People want to get everything exactly right from the jump, even before they’ve tested their product out. If you’re Mark Anthony Brands of Anheuser-Busch, you can afford to spend tons of money on fancy focus groups and killer marketing campaigns, even for a brand-new product. But this approach is bound to fail if you started like me with a very limited budget and unproven track record.”
What is your advice for coming up with a unique startup idea?
“If you see a problem that can be fixed, or something that can be improved on, go down that rabbit hole. Think about not just how to fix the problem, but also how to make that fix marketable.”
What is your advice for overcoming challenges and failure?
“It's best to fail small [rather] than fail big. If you accept that there will be challenges and failures along the way, then you'll automatically build gradually and be risk-averse until you're unwaveringly confident in your personnel, product, and ability to persevere. Still, things will come up. There are always new challenges for a business. I think it's best to keep them in mind but not take them to heart. The greatest challenges, if overcome, can often yield the biggest rewards.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned and what can aspiring entrepreneurs take from it?
“Scrappiness and ruthless self-criticism can take you a long way. Even during our pandemic-launch difficulties, we stayed afloat because we found ways to adapt. You can create the most detailed business plans, but life rarely shakes out how you predict it. Maintain optimism and agility in the face of dynamic circumstances because the start-up world is nothing if not dynamic.”