Individuals become entrepreneurs at all ages and start businesses from a limitless number of unlikely ideas. Justin Gold started an especially successful business but the process began more as accident than by design.
As an underemployed young man in his twenties living in Boulder, Colorado, Gold concocted a homemade almond butter to increase his protein consumption for long bike rides. His roommates kept pilfering the nut-butter even after Gold wrote his name on the containers.
The attraction of his roommates to the product led Gold to investigate starting a natural food business. He devised a business plan in 2002 and was soon underway with his new venture. Gold was initially driving to Denver late at night to borrow a commercial kitchen facility. Keeping his day job at outdoor gear retailer REI, Gold delivered his natural peanut butter and almond butter products on the weekends.
His commercial packaging was jars with his name imprinted on them just like the original homemade version his roommates were taking from him. Ultimately, Gold got the idea of using squeezable packs after seeing these containers for energy boosts sold at REI. More versatile packages meant easier ways for people to try the product. Gold raised money from friends and family and purchased squeeze-pack equipment.
The result allowed consumers to purchase squeezable single-serve packs of Gold’s nut-butter. Individuals who never tried almond butter can obtain a sampling for 99 cents. When they like it, they purchase a $10 jar. The entire process creates better pricing power for Gold’s company to penetrate the market.
Building the company has not been without setbacks. But Gold persisted by gaining space at Whole Foods Market, where he handled his own restocking process and conducted in-store sampling initiatives to connect with customers.
Gold’s new company attained profitability in 2008. The next year REI began stocking his nut-butter packs but he left employment there to focus full-time on his business. He subsequently raised $1 million from angel investors to create a natural variety of peanut butter cup. The organic product line was successfully launched in 2011.
For 2011, Gold’s company generated annual sales of $11 million. Its products are now sold in a variety of retail locations, including airports. With a plan for national distribution and expansion of its customer base, Gold hopes to reach $20 million in sales for 2012.