Podcast #17: How to Launch Your Food Company

This week on the podcast, we're giving advice about how YOU can start your own food company too! It's really not as crazy as it sounds. It's totally fun, and easy to do on a small scale.

Download and listen to the podcast fo' free, on iTunes, by clicking here!

Below are the tips we offered on the podcast... only more informational and less tangential... If you're into that sort of thing.

1) Experiment & create your recipe(s)

What is the food product you want to sell? Maybe it's a cookie, a trail mix, a BBQ sauce... whatever it is, chances are your friends and family already love it. Make sure you have your recipe developed and throughly tested by your friends and family first before you start selling it to the public.

Guaranteed, if its a good product, your friends and family will not mind testing it over and over!

2) Pinpoint a venue where you want to sell your product + find out their safety guidelines

Before you get all concerned about commercial kitchens, the myriad of safety regulations and requirements, ordering ingredients/packaging, nutrition facts, etc, find a place you want to sell your product first.

For us, that was a street faire on University of Oregon campus, but most people have access to a local farmers market or craft faire. Talk to the person in charge of vendors at that market, and ask what their safety guidelines are. Chances are they've guided several vendors through this process before and can really simplify it for you.

Our original jars... the good old days of inkjet labels and mason jars!

4) Find a place to safely make your product + get all kinds of certified

Commercial kitchens can be hard to find, depending on where you live. We ended up cold-calling local caterers until we found one that would rent space during her off hours. This is also when the farmers market you discovered can come in handy -- they'll hopefully be able to point you in the direction of a good commercial kitchen in your geography.

Once you find your kitchen, you'll need to get certified in that space -- we were certified by the county we lived in, but it will depend on the state (or country!) you are producing in.

You can learn more about your specific certification agency by going to Small Business of America or googling "food company certification in (insert your State here)"

Our original little squirrel logo, which we came up with the first night of making peanut butter!

5) Get official: Trademark your brand name + open a bank account

Naming your company is important! Google that name and make sure NOBODY else has it -- even if the business doesn't make the same thing you do, if its anything to do with food it's a no go. Be creative -- making up a word is ideal for trademark protection.

Then, spend a little bit of money on getting a lawyer to file your trademark. This stuff is important! You have no idea what might happen to your little company -- you might become wildly successful! You need a name that will be protected from the strange world of trademark law. Lawyers are expensive, but make sure you get a lawyer with experience in trademark law and it will be worth it.

Our families being awesome and supportive, even in the early days!

 6) Start selling and getting feedback -- customer feedback is gold!

Don't worry about having the perfect packaging, most beautiful farmers market set up, fancy nutritional labeling, etc -- if you are making a yummy product in a safe, clean, certified environment, you're golden! Start getting that customer feedback. Peoples palates are all different, and it's important to listen to people.

If you keep getting the same critique from a variety of people on a certain flavor, maybe you should think about changing it! Or, if everyone tells you how awesome your product is, and they keep coming back, that's a sign you have a super great product! Keep up the good work.

Other fun extras/our little tips:

1) It would be great to have a website! Websites are where curious people go to find out more about your product. We suggest weebly.com and shopify.com as easy sites to use to set everything up.

Or, hire your neighborhood teenager to do it while you tell them what to type over their shoulder! Teens are cheap labor and they are really good with computers.

2) Pursue local press! If you have a local company, chances are it's probably a story already. Just send an email to the editor of your department! Our first news story was the cover of our college paper, and that story got us more business than a feature in Oprah! Local press is the bomb.

Thanks for reading/listening! We bet your future food company is awesome.

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