Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Morgan Lerner, Co-Founder of GoNanas, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
GoNanas is a better-for-you bakery brand using bananas to make lower sugar, vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-friendly baking mixes, otherwise known as #notyournanas banana bread. If you want a homemade baked good, the mixes on the market give you a dry and artificial result. Alternatively, buying a bunch of specialty ingredients is a pain. We like to think we've cracked the code to making baked goods taste homemade from a mix by having you add real bananas to replace the egg as a vegan and allergen-friendly binder, but to also add net positive: moisture, sweetness, and less food waste for homemade indulgence made easy.
Tell us about yourself
Annie (my best friend and the other co-founder) and I met at the University of Michigan, where we started GoNanas. GoNanas was really born out of our sweet tooth and the lack of healthy options on campus, so we decided to change that and "healthify" the banana bread we both grew up eating with our families. I've always been passionate about people and food. What motivates me every day is seeing the joy our products bring to people every day and the gap it fills as the only truly inclusive (being vegan and allergen friendly) and super indulgent baked good option out there. I'm motivated to keep growing our community, make healthy living more easier and more fun, and just truly to make the best baked good products out there.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I helped grow the company from $30,000 in sales during my time at the University of Michigan to hitting $1.2M in revenue and 2,000 retail locations in our first year of committing to GoNanas full-time. I spearhead our digital marketing and community building, which is my absolute passion. I grew our micro and macro influencer ambassador program to 2,000 people, with over 15M online monthly reach, in under 2 years. GoNanas has quickly become the "fastest growing baking brand" with 5X the velocities of our competitors. Watching us grow, both from a sales and community perspective has been SO incredibly fun and rewarding.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The many hats and responsibilities. As one of the owners, when sh** hits the fan, that's all on us owners at the end of the day. I think that can be a challenge when trying to find work-life balance, but at the same time, I always same, "with more responsibility comes more gratification." I wouldn't change a thing because the purpose and fulfillment I get from this job are unparalleled. The joy of truly building something and being able to see the direct fruits of your labor is so worth it!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Surround yourself with a continuously evolving group of smart, experienced, and kind friends/mentors.
- Just start, and don't be afraid of failure. Don't strive for perfection because, in entrepreneurship, you are always testing and learning. The thing you first launch, for example, will evolve and sometimes completely change based on market feedback, etc., so the important thing is getting something up without trying to make it perfect. You will learn as you go, but you have to start somewhere.
- Product is #1. Before trying to build your brand, test, test, and test again. I've seen so many amazing brands come short on their product, which is the true key to longevity for a business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We release NEW monthly, limited edition flavors of our banana bread mixes, so follow us on Instagram at @Go_Nanas to find out what's coming next :) And if you're interested in repping our brand, you can join our 2000+ influencer ambassador community here: https://eatgonanas.com/pages/rep-gonanas.
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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