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RECAP: Start-Ups are Hard Work

March 2 Speaker Series w/ Greg Vetter in case you missed it!

  1. The idea
    1. 25 years old, playing professional lacrosse and selling health care benefits in Annapolis, Maryland 
    2. Comes home one day to find that his mother's homemade salad dressing was stolen by a friend 
    3. Decides there must be an appeal if someone goes through the trouble to steal the dressing, so he sets up a meeting with a local Whole Foods' for a tasting. 
  2. The brand 
    1. Lies about having an established company, and brings the store's supervisor a Tupperware container with lettuce doused in his mother's dressing. 
    2. Supervisor is confused but likes the taste and sets up a meeting with Annapolis Wholefood's directors for Vetter. 
    3. Vetter tries the same Tupperware idea again to avoid admitting he has no packaging, and bluffs his way through serious questions about manufacturing and logistics. 
    4. Meeting goes well and they ask him to send his legal documentation, and he bluffs his way through all the requirements because he doesn't understand half of them (He gets his HACCP from a Google Search on HACCP plans for dressing companies). 
    5. Gets the contract anyway 
  3. Sales and Marketing
    1. Sells 4 cases of a dozen bottles at a Wholefoods demo in just 30 minutes.
    2. Ends up breaking a national record by selling 650 bottles in less than five days just at demos. 
    3. Made the dressing with his two brothers in the middle of the night at a ribs restaurant by hand for two years. 
  4. Expansion
    1. Demoed across the country in various Whole Foods stores
    2. Expanded to Costco and Safeway and had to expand product options to adapt
    3. expanded product line to all condiments. 
    4. Expanded to 150 employees in 7 years 
  5. Struggles and Lessons
    1. "Never give up" 
      1. spent 2 and a half years manufacturing everything by hand in the middle of the night, but he never let that put him down
    2. "Knock down 7 times, get up 8"
      1. Got a small business loan for a piece of manufacturing equipment that went to waste because they didn't have the rest of the equipment to make it work. 
    3. Be practical
      1. His car was repossessed because he didn't pay himself, and couldn't make his car payments.  
    4. "When it rains, it pours"
      1. After two and a half years of struggling, every time something good happened, it ended up being a huge blessing (Safeway contract happened the week after the car was repossessed).
    5. Prepare for the journey and appreciate it
      1. 86% of consumer packaged brands fail, so it's worth being humble about success that can be so volatile
    6. Be Authentic
      1. The ability to sell an emotion will knock them down every time. Tessemae's is a homemade family recipe that's made by three brother's by hand out of all natural ingredients. It's one of the very last few condiment companies that make condiments that actually need to be refrigerated like real food. It's something that makes them stand out and be remembered. 
    7. "Master the minute"
      1. Being able to not waste time during the day by organizing, planning and acting and half of the struggle. Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, and people that are successful are those who make the most of them. 

Posted: March 4, 2016, 10:49 PM