11/14/12

Wild Wednesday: Alex

POSTED BY: ERIKA


























This week’s Wild Wednesday is someone who I immediately bonded with when we were at a trade show in Baltimore.  He is similar in age to Keeley and I and much like ourselves, he realized that his true passion did not lie in school.  So he decided to turn what he loves, talking and cooking, into a business!  He started a food demonstration company that specializes in demoing natural and organic products!


After spending a number of hours and seeing how other companies sample products, I now have a very good idea of the “ideal” sampler.  That is someone who I would want to be handing out samples of our products. It was refreshing to meet Alex, who is young and genuinely passionate about educating and marketing awesome products to the public!

Name, age and where you live:

My name is Alex Robinson, I’m 23 year-old and I’m from Annapolis, MD.

Please explain what it is you do!

I am the owner of a regional vendor demonstration, marketing, and consulting company. I specialize in natural and organic products.

Why did you decide to pursue this full time?

I decided back in May 2012 that I needed a change. I was a Senior at Towson University in Maryland, and it just was not stimulating me enough to pay to sit in class anymore, nor did I have passion for my major anymore. I was working at a great dog boutique in Baltimore called dogma-life full-time, but I also quit there to move back home and reassess myself and my goals. Small Fact: I had been demoing very part-time for a national demo company on the weekends to earn more money. I got an email from a demo liaison at Whole Foods where I used to work asking me to contact this vendor, she said that I was the best demo person she knew. We scheduled an appointment where they flew down from Canada to meet with me. They hired me on the spot, the rest is history. 

I wanted something different, I loved natural and organic food, worked for Whole Foods Market prior, and had demoing experience. I am very thankful that with my independent contractors and my hard-work we have grown my business. 

Being young and involved in the food business is something that makes us both “outliers” if you will.  But Keeley and I have realized that this is our greatest asset!  How do you feel that your age has benefited your company and will continue to moving forward.

When I started demoing I thought I saw that everyone else who was demoing had “years of experience” and were much older than me!  As time went by more and more companies were coming to me to demo for them. I didn’t realize that being so young would become one of my greatest assets. I feel since I am younger I have the energy to both demo nearly 7 days a week and run my company. I also feel like the veteran demo specialists are set in their ways, and do not go above and beyond because they lost their passion. So my age, I guess, is the biggest factor that sets me apart and makes me the outlier in this industry of veteran demo specialists and marketing brokers.

5)  What I remember most from meeting you is your energy and commitment to being an awesome sampler! From your perspective, why is sampling so important for food companies?  

Sampling is the best way to market, especially natural/organic products. Many people, especially my age, have a stigma that healthy food tastes gross. Why would they buy one product over another? The difference is that high quality products taste better!

Sure, they may not be as sweet and full of high fructose corn syrup, full of artificial dyes, artificial flavors, and super weird chemicals I cannot pronounce but they taste healthy, all natural, and delicious!

I feel like the most demographics and factions benefit from samples, many people tell me they would never had even bought or tried the product. If people like it they will buy and then spread the word. Also from a business standpoint, the store will sometimes give you better shelf space if you can commit to demos.

6) How do you orchestrate your demos and what makes you different from other sampling companies?

I find it is a personality thing. I love to talk. I love to educate. I love to cook. These are the main tools I use while I demo. I love making delicious creations that are easy to make at home with the product that I’m sampling and educating people why this product is different from other similar products.

Some people just look at this job as a paycheck, my team and I look at it as healthy revolution that we are taking a part in. My team and I have FUN while demoing. Some demo people need the whole store to drop what they are doing and set them up for the demo…that is not acceptable for me. Also I have notice many demo people are cranky and snooty.


7) What is your favorite part of your job?  What has the been the hardest part of starting your business?

Favorite: Spending nothing on marketing. Every company that I have demoed for has approached me either at a store level or recommended to me by a Whole Foods Market Team Member or another company.

Hardest Part of starting my own business: The Cost! Hiring a legal team, CPA, Insurance brokers, purchasing demo materials, office supplies, quickbooks, then hiring contractors and making sure companies pay on time so I can pay them. Making sure that my cash flow is positive is the hardest part of owning a business. I also had no business experience before starting this venture.

8) What are your goals for your company?

To have at least 4 full-time contractors next year. I also want to get busy enough I can demo a little less, and focus on marketing. 
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Thanks Alex for taking the time to share some information about your company!  As a fellow young entrepreneur in the food space, I think the approach you have taken to sampling is refreshing and exciting.  I wish you the best of luck and hopefully we can work together in the future!

That’s all for now,

Erika

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