Peas of mind, launched September 2005 in San Francisco, sells healthy and innovative frozen food for growing kids in grocery stores nationwide.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching the business: I watched a co-worker feed her son canned green beans for dinner –often.
Ideal customer: Kids from 2 to teenagers and their parents who want to feed them better food.
Landing first customer: I made appointments with the independent grocery stores here in the Bay Area, brought in samples, and gave my pitch. My first account was Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley Calif.
Measuring Success: Parents write into peasofmind.com daily and share their experiences with our products. I love hearing their positive stories and affirmations because it makes me feel like I am doing something right. I feel successful when we gain more distribution with our products. I like to earn my shelf space and prove we deserve it.
Biggest Struggle: Production. We make innovative products with custom machinery, so finding a production facility that can make for example, a French Fry out of a broccoli floret, was a challenge.
Surprise!: How much I enjoy making deals.
Getting Sales: We exhibit at industry trade shows to show our products and introduce anything new to the industry and grocery buyers. We reach out to the blogging community to help us get the word out. We stay active in social media and promote any new stores we are in, promotions we are having, through those outlets. We sponsor events and put the products on sale in stores.
What I wish I would’ve known: 1) In the beginning I often felt like I was spinning my wheels. I would work hard on a project and then have to wait for something to come of it. I know now that the feeling of “spinning my wheels” is all a part of the process, today I even welcome it and call it “downtime.” 2) Always have a ‘Plan B’ for everything and hope you don’t have to use it.
What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: My answer changes every month depending on what is happening in the business. I probably have at least 3-4 sleepless nights per month, down from past years, so I am making progress.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: I have pondered what I would do if I didn’t own Peas of Mind. The thought of getting a job and having one role doesn’t sit well with me now that I juggle so much at once. I picture myself telling the CEO how I think he or she should run the business better. The visual makes me laugh.
Biggest Goal: To launch a new product and get it into distribution.
Pricing: It’s important to go forwards and backwards before you get it right. First, do your research. What do similar products/services cost? Decide where you would like to fall in comparison to your competitors prices. Then look at your cost-of-goods and mark-up your product. Does your marked-up price match your competitor research pricing? I am sure in most cases it does not, especially with a product business. Next, take an in-depth look at your cost of good sold to see where there could be a cost savings. In the past, I have been able to lower my COGS by switching ingredient vendors or purchasing packaging in a higher volume.
Funding: I started with convertible loans from friends and family. This is a great option for start-ups who are looking to raise a round of financing but don’t want to place a value of their company yet. I converted these loans into equity when I raised a round of angel investment in 2008.
A few good tips: Always print a low volume of packaging for a new product. I have ALWAYS had to edit the copy on the packaging after the first round of printing. I have ‘just in time’ packaging, so I don’t have to pay for my full inventory all at once. Support your products in stores. Be prepared to put your products on sale at least four times a year. Understand what that means for your margins and bottom line.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: the daily stimulation of having my hands in every part of my business.
If I had to start over again, I would have: grown faster.
I never imagined: the first two years would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: “What one woman can do, another can do!”