Name: Denise Woodard
Business/Location: Partake Foods/Jersey City, NJ
Specialty: Delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly snacks
Please provide an update on your business since you last were featured on the Table Talk Blog: Since we last checked in back in early 2017, I'm proud to report our products can now be found in 350 stores including Whole Foods across Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Illinois, as well as in Wegmans in the Northeast. And we'll be launching at MOM's Organic Market next month. We'll also be releasing two new flavors of cookies next month. And we won $50,000 in marketing investments from SheKnows media in the #BlogHer18 Creators Summit and we are 1 of 6 companies selected to participate in the Fall 2018 Chobani Incubator program.
What was the moment when you knew your food business was connecting with customers?: Initially, it was the success of our Kickstarter campaign. And since then, it's the velocity on store shelves, which indicates customers are purchasing our products — and then coming back and purchasing again!
What’s next on the horizon for your business?: We're really focused on ensuring the Wegmans and Whole Foods launches go well, and I would love to bring on an additional regional retail partner this year. We also might consider a strategic test with a national partner.
If you were to start your business today, what (if anything) would you do differently?: There's definitely been small hiccups along the way, but in general, I think growing slowly and deliberately was the right answer for us.
Have you hired a team? If so, who was your first hire, and why this person/position?: Lots of “to do” lists! We work with several great freelancers, but haven't brought on a full-time hire yet. That person will most likely be a jack/jill of all trades, with a operations background, to complement my sales/marketing background.
Financial challenges are often the hardest to overcome for up-and-coming food entrepreneurs; how have you addressed this challenge?: This was one of the reasons we've had to grow slowly and deliberately - to avoid raising a large amount of outside capital. We have raised a small friends and family round of funding to support the working capital needs for our retail expansion, but we deliberately plan our growth so that we don’t have to raise additional capital. We make a profit on each unit that we sell, but we aren’t making profit overall because we invest heavily in demos to get trials of our product. So I’m not opposed to having to do more fundraising, but I think it shouldn’t always be a celebrated milestone the way it often seems to be.
How do you recharge and stay reinvigorated outside of your food business?: I try to pull away from the business 1 day a week, and that time is usually spent with friends and family.
What are your go-to resources to continue to grow your business (aside from Hudson Kitchen, of course!)?: Networking with other food entrepreneurs has been immensely helpful. People in this industry are so willing to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
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