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Behind the Scenes - Starting a Small Food Company

Small Food Company

Starting a food company from scratch is super tough!  We started our adventure at the end of October of 2019 and dove in headfirst. Yes, it's a lot of work but totally worth it. I don't want to spend time writing about why we started the company or where we plan on it going. Instead, I want to shine some light on what we've done to get to where we are and let our customers and fans know us from behind the scenes.  

Idaho small foodFirst, we needed a product that was compelling and different enough for people to spend their hard-earned money on it. I don't know about you but when I present something to the world and they decide to buy it, I instantly feel a little worried it won't live up to their standard. This mentality, whether right or wrong, caused us to develop, test, throw away, start over, develop, test throw away, and start over again. Ugh! Over 70 variations later we finally felt confident enough to release something to the public and hope for the best. To be fair to us we are not food snobs at all. Most of our throw-away versions had to do with the product being too expensive to produce or not being shelf-stable enough and molding too quickly. There are soooooo many variables to watch out for when it comes to baking for the public. We have a whole new level of respect for food manufacturers! Now we know why most of them take the easy way out and just add a chemical here and a chemical there to solve problems. However, our core principles didn't allow us to compromise. So, we persevered and pressed forward.

Oliver Friendly Foods logoNext, we needed a brand and an image of how we wanted to present ourselves.  This is much harder than it seems. The possibilities for this task were unlimited.  We had no idea where to begin. We are not artists. We are not graphic designers.  We are not marketers. We are Idahoans who basically understand potatoes and gluten-free & low carb bread. Anyway, we used Google for this and asked questions like, "what colors are appetizing?". Luckily, you can google anything and learn all sorts of helpful information. I'm not saying we found the perfect branding or look but we are very happy with what we've created. We also did not create it all by ourselves. We hired a graphic designer to digitalize a description of what we had in mind and she did a fantastic job!

Third, we needed exposure to people (future customers) which meant we needed to take a crash course on the entire internet. Ok, ok, ok this is a little extreme but it felt like it. Our family is not into social media or website building and yet we needed both of these things and fast. Out of our core, 10 family members about 2 or 3 might be active with their Facebook or Instagram accounts. This was an issue. So, we had to find some help and we totally scored!  We have been using our close friends and a few hired individuals to help us take pictures, upload blogs like this one, build web stores, create emails, learn online payments, etc.  This list could go on and on but you get the picture. Who knew connecting a food product to customers would be this complicated? We didn't. 

gluten-free toastFourth, we entered the rabbit hole of packaging, sourcing ingredients, finding a kitchen, and all the other non-internet things that go into our company. No wonder small companies struggle to compete and get something to market. Economies of scale are a very real thing and it pays to learn this from the start. Shipping boxes, for example, are very tough to get at a reasonable price for just a few bundles of 25. Nope! The best prices start at a quantity of 2,000 or more. What are we going to do with that many boxes while we're just getting started?  You clearly get the picture. We have learned that we NEED to be extremely resourceful. It's not about being cheap or anything like that. We just cannot compete with the Nestle's or Kellogg's of the world if we try to keep up with them. This forced us to find alternative methods and ask for volunteers instead of racking up a huge payroll and credit card debt. We have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams with people that put faith in us and our mission. This is one of the reasons we cannot stop and will not stop. In the first paragraph, I said this is an adventure and that's exactly what it is. If success was certain then it wouldn't be very adventurous.

Lastly, we have a saying in our company...start with ugly. We have not been perfect in our execution by any means. However, we are alive and well and excited to offer more variations and flavors of our low carb and gluten-free products. We want our customers and those who read this to know we are trying very hard to do what we can to cater to the people with dietary restrictions. We need all the help we can get through. If you know someone who is a celiac, diabetic, keto dieter, Hashimoto's, or any other type of individuals then please let them know about us. We'll do what it takes to get them a dang good slice of bread!