Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ian Szalinski, CCO and Founder of GUUD, located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
GUUD is a modern nutrition brand focusing on high-quality, real food ingredients. We launched with a line of muesli breakfast cereals- a mix of whole grains, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. We're doing everything in our power not just to make our cereals right but to be GUUD and make the world GUUD one bag at a time, so the new name seemed like the obvious choice for all that we do. Our products are now sold nationwide in retailers like Whole Foods, Wegmans, Safeway, Erewhon, and more!
From the health of our customers to supporting our community and environment, we seek to make a positive impact with each bowl of muesli served. We support local community organizations and want to help improve the environment with every decision we make.
Tell us about yourself
As a competitive athlete in rugby, snowboarding, and hockey, I have always been conscious about nutrition. But I am not a morning person. I need my breakfast to be quick and healthy. I discovered muesli when I was at a snowboarding competition in Switzerland in high school. It was quick, delicious, and healthy. A small bowl helps keep me full and energized throughout the day. It became a staple of my breakfast, and I have been eating it every morning since (well over a decade!) I would soak it overnight and just grab it on my way out the door.
But the products on the market were boring- a few large milling companies and international brands all making the same low-cost commoditized products. As I wanted to eat healthier and eat more organic, I started making it myself in college and had friends try it and love it. I started selling at farmers markets, and the brand was quickly picked up by some regional retailers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I started my company to promote healthy eating. We regularly get messages from customers about how our products have improved their energy, weight, health, and more. I save these messages and return to them in challenging times- they keep me motivated and remind me why I started!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Remaining quick, adaptable, and agile as the company grows can be challenging. The different ways to reach customers- including for products and communication- are rapidly and constantly changing. Being able to change and adapt quickly is what makes startups thrive against large companies. It is important to have that flexibility as part of the company culture, so we do not get too stuck in our ways.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get community support - family, friends, industry leaders, and service providers are all very supportive of entrepreneurs. You can't build a big company alone, and hiring help in the beginning is difficult, so rely on those around you!
- Try to talk yourself out of it. If you can find reasons not to do it, your idea probably still needs some tweaking. You're ready to go when your passion and desire to launch strongly outweigh your desire not to.
- Stay curious; keep learning. New ideas are important for a business to change and grow, and those ideas can come from many sources. Stay updated not only on your industry but on anything else that you find interesting. Read wide and deep; lessons and ideas can transcend companies and industries.
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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