Food Startup Friends
When we started Quinn Popcorn we had no food industry knowledge. It was just the two of us, newborn Quinn, and an idea. Our lack of experience didn’t really worry us because we assumed that we would just learn as we went. That’s not exactly how it happened.
The food industry is full of complexities and pitfalls. The industry is run by giants. Little fish like us need to be so careful. One egregious term in a distributor’s contract could cost a fortune. The food industry, however, has one incredible balancing force. The people are amazing. We receive priceless advice just about every day. Without our food friends we would be long gone by now.
The teams at Little Duck Organics, Evol Burritos, Justin’s Nut Butter, Taza Chocolate, and other’s have helped us with everything from long term growth strategy to the name of a good box supplier. We reach out to these guys almost every day. We have that many questions. Seriously.
I see two reasons that food companies are so willing to work together. First, people who work in this industry are just generally nice people. That sounds oversimplified, but it’s just true.
The other reason there is so much openness is that very few food companies are actually in direct competition. The only time your success results in another companies decline is if their product is within 5 feet of yours on the shelf. That’s pretty rare. Although very few companies are direct competitors, we all share the same challenges. We all have relevant advice.
We were asking all the questions for a long time, but now we are finally at a point where we can help too. Through this blog, industry events, and word of mouth, our food friends network keeps building. Some companies are just starting out and others are way past us.
So, my first piece of advice to those starting out; make friends. There is no formula here. Just get out there. Give when you can, ask nicely when you need help, and be persistent without being pushy. If you can do that then you will quickly find yourself surrounded by food friends.