Exeleon Magazine

Are Food Entrepreneurs the Lifeblood of our Economy?

Tosla CEO on Food Entrepreneurs_Exeleon Magazine

“It sounds weird. I had to rehearse and repeat above question a couple of time in my head to get used to it.”

After all, everyone must eat. However, along with the fact that many food startups nosedive after an initial period of success, there is a lot of opportunity for forward-thinking food entrepreneurs who want to give it a try.

To make it clear, for a food entrepreneur you need passion and dedication and lots of it.

This passion and dedication need to be very practical and be combined with great marketing as well as product and sales strategy. These qualities and core strengths are needed to be successful in any new food-related product or venture.

Most food entrepreneurs I know have an unbelievable level of dedication and passion for their products, sometimes too high. And thus, many businesses don’t make it past the first five years.

Before I continue: As a matter of fact, Tosla is celebrating its 5th birthday! Something I am very proud of. I have seen and been approached by many food entrepreneurs. There have been many inquiries and offers, but the ones I cannot stand anymore are wanna-be entrepreneurs.

I don’t want to step on any toes here, but self-proclaimed entrepreneurs practically grow on trees these days. It drives me crazy, and their ingenuity surpasses my ability to process all the bullshit they share with us.

Before I continue 2: Sometimes I feel like I have exhausted all ideas on how to drive new business to my company.

Almost a year ago, one “patient” got me tricked into a situation that could easily lead us to not celebrating our 5th birthday.

Early in my career, I recognized that credibility has become everything, regardless of what industry you work in. That includes my credibility, the credibility of my brand, my business, my products and everything else I do. No amount of money can buy credibility, at least not in the long term. Credibility is hard to establish and even harder to maintain but be sure that your business depends upon it.

This guy was all over me for a year or so before the actual situation happened. He was visiting our booth on a fair. He would be introducing his business partners. He would be visiting me at our facility. He had a fancy car and even fancier story to tell. Sales across his portfolio were strengthening and he needed new ideas for new products to include in his range. He tasted our products and found them incredible. He wanted to buy a custom formulation or get it as a white label product, but what struck me was his high-end presence on most of the globally recognized industry fairs and exhibitions.

He had some demands that were foggy, but nothing that we could not meet. After all, our credibility was at stake. He wanted special treatment. He got it. After all, we were dealing with an entrepreneur superstar, just ask him.

I was intimidated. Many times! I wanted to impress him. Many times! Although sometimes going above and beyond what was reasonably possible, I wanted to show we could do it.

The first order came and it was paid in due time. The second-order came and he disappeared. Vanished in thin air! Leaving us with a full order on the stock and no way to recoup our losses.

Nothing dramatic if you are a big company, but a very big problem for a small company that had forwarded the money to produce a range with his company’s brand name all over them.

I had called him, begged him, pleaded with him and nothing helped. He was just some rich guy’s kid who didn’t understand or worse, care about the impact his choices could have on my businesses. Fancy cars, fancy shows, and many products in stock just for fun of it. He never considered that his son’s farcical act was ruining somebody else’s business.

Did he worry about a preconception about his son’s business?

I doubt it.

Published Originally on Medium

About the Writer:

Primož Artač is the CEO of Tosla, a food-based startup that claims to re-invent sweet. The company aims to revolutionize the sweeteners industry with its innovative solutions. Recognized as one of the award-winning food entrepreneurs from Slovenia, Primož is a skiing enthusiast writes insightful stories to help food startups across the globe.

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