Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrew Hollar, Co-Founder of Fig - Food Is Good, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
60% of the world lives with dietary restrictions. These restrictions range from food allergies and sensitivities to complex medical diets for conditions like Celiac Disease, Histamine Intolerance, Alpha Gal Syndrome, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). When you live with dietary restrictions, eating is a real challenge. Sometimes, families have to limit or avoid upwards of 500 ingredients. Meal planning and shopping for groceries can take hours. Going out to restaurants feels impossible. Social events with friends and family are a source of tremendous stress.
Fig aims to be your digital companion that helps you find food options, no matter how restrictive your dietary needs are. Right now, Fig's app helps you find food at grocery stores and restaurants. Soon, Fig will also let you share your dietary needs with friends and family, so they can better love and support you through food too.
Tell us about yourself
My life changed suddenly in 2014 after a trip to Cancun, Mexico. I didn't know it at the time, but I had developed post-infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), likely from food poisoning. My GI symptoms were severe, and I was exhausted. Life as I knew it literally came to a stop. In 2017, I started a Low FODMAP, low sugar, and low preservatives diet. For the first time in three years, I finally felt like myself again. The problem? Finding food when there are literally hundreds of ingredients to limit or avoid. I'd spend hours in the grocery store and often come home empty-handed. I knew there had to be a better way. Thus, Fig was born. The idea behind Fig is simple: Tell Fig how you personally eat, and Fig points you to the food that matches your unique needs: first at grocery stores and restaurants and eventually everywhere.
Each day, I'm motivated to continue building Fig based on the stories I hear from our Fig users. They are struggling day-to-day to find food that works for them and to feel their best. I know their struggle because I've been there myself. Discovering my restrictions and adhering to my diet gave me my life back, and I'm honored to be able to help others with their own food journeys through Fig.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm proud to have built a company that genuinely helps people. I often call dietary restrictions the silent epidemic. They affect hundreds of millions of people, yet you have to shoulder the burden of them on your own. In the past year, more than 250,000 people have used Fig to find food. We have millions more to go, and we won't stop until everyone can find food that helps them feel their best.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
You have to get used to the constant ups and downs of owning a business. There are incredible days when you feel like you're on top of the world. It's exciting to be creative, build something new and help others. Then, there are days where the challenges feel insurmountable, the work is piling up, and an e-mail from an angry Fig member brings you down.
You have to grow a thick skin and remember why you started the business in the first place. In the case of Fig, that's easy. Figuring out my own dietary restrictions gave me my life back after I got sick in 2014. It's my goal to help everyone else find the relief I did through food. That mission makes all the hard days worthwhile.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you care about the business you're building; otherwise, you won't commit the hours and years required to build it.
- Have a plan for monetization from the start. It's OK if this hypothesis changes over time, but don't start without a business plan.
- Build and iterate quickly. I've learned it's possible to recover from the vast majority of mistakes. The far bigger risk is that you move too slowly. Avoid reinventing the wheel. Spend your energy building your competitive differentiators instead.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'd like to thank each and every one of our Fig members. We are all on this dietary restriction journey together, and we couldn't build toward a better future without you. THANK YOU!
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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