Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ray Schmidt, Founder of Farm Story Meats, located in Ames, IA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Have you ever been to a grocery store and gone to the meat counter and saw a pork chop or steak and thought: "I wonder where that came from? Who was the farmer that raised that animal?" Oftentimes, it is impossible to tell. Even online subscription meat boxes do not describe where their meat comes from. It may not even come from the United States. Consumers want to:
• Know where their food comes from
• How the animals were raised
• Support family farms
• Shop Local
• Have the ease of ordering online
• Enjoy the convenience of delivery
Furthermore, farmers also receive a very small percentage of the final retail price (less than $0.14/dollar). The people that raise the animal, care for it, and help it grow must forfeit a large percentage of income to other segments of the supply chain. Also, market prices fluctuate drastically, leaving the farmer at the mercy of the financial unknown. In poor market years, some farmers lose money. Farmers are also very underappreciated as the public does not know how their food is raised. However, now more than ever, the public has the desire to learn.
Introducing Farm Story Meats. My 'Farm to Fork' business accomplishes all these customer and farmer issues by bringing customers transparency to the locations, farms, and people that supply their food. I share the stories of the farmers that raise the animals, and I strive to make the supply chain of farms to the customer as short as possible. Customers will know where their cut of meat comes from on the animal, the farmer that raised it, how the animal was raised, and where the Farm is located in Iowa. The meat is ordered online and shipped weekly, and delivered right to the customer's doorstep. The products include Certified Chester White pork and heritage breed lamb, grass-finished beef, Angus beef, and pasture-raised poultry. All animals are humanely raised on small family farms in Iowa and are free of antibiotics or added hormones. My customers are anyone that cares about where their food comes from and values high-quality locally-raised meat.
Tell us about yourself
I tripled majored in marketing, management, and graphic design at Iowa State University and educated myself on the tools to build up my brand from scratch. Our name, logo, and slogan, "Because Where Matters," are all trademarked and represent our mission to offer food origin transparency. Growing up on a farm, I learned hard work and responsibility at an early age. I watched as my parents worked really hard to perfect our animals' meat quality, only to have them go to the local commodity market and be at the mercy of whatever the market dictates. Sometimes they would work all year and lose money. I want to ensure that all farmers' hard work is valued, understood, and appreciated.
Additionally, customers want to learn more about where their food comes from. Farm Story Meats is the connection between supporting local small family farms and educating the consumer. Seeing Farmers receive the credit they deserve, happy, healthy animals, and customers enjoying high-quality food is what keeps me going.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I have set several goals as a business owner, but my proudest accomplishment comes in earning my independence and keeping it. Through the rapid growth of my company, I have been afforded the opportunity to earn a living with my side hustle. What makes it even better is turning down potential buyouts or would-be investors to maintain my independence.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The flip side is that the entire company's burdens are on my shoulders. One poor decision can take it all away. I am facing personal and financial risk for the business and the added pressure that my decisions affect other people's livelihoods.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
You will never be 100% ready to start a business, and issues will come up that you won't be able to anticipate, so the best way to start a business is to just jump in. While running the business, always be open-minded and adaptable to change. Owning a business allows for quick pivots and flexibility without the constraints of hierarchy or office politics. When growing a business, don't forget where you came from, the humble beginnings, and all those that helped you along the way. No success story is every one person doing it all alone.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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