Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Manuel Villarreal, founder, and CEO of I Eat My Greens, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I Eat My Greens will make you fall in love with veggies! We are a San Diego-based company that makes refrigerated superfood soups that can also be used as a sauce or base on top of your favorite meals to make it easy for you and your family to get your daily veggie intake in just 90 seconds.
People are aware of the importance of healthy eating. However, they struggle to find practical, healthy food that actually tastes amazing for their everyday life. That's why we work directly with farmers and talented chefs to create the ultimate healthy comfort food, made with clean whole veggies and flavorful herbs (no fillers, starches, powders, or added sugars) while offering unique mouthwatering flavors never seen in the market before.
Say goodbye to boring salads and overly processed foods, and welcome your new favorite food!
Tell us about yourself
It all started with a dream. Making healthy food available to everyone. During my time competing in the Olympics, I realized the importance of healthy eating. Later, when I scaled and successfully sold a juice brand in Mexico, I saw the impact it could have on the life of consumers and all the people involved. However, I also learned that even though people are aware of the importance of healthy eating, they struggle to find healthy meals that not only taste amazing but are easy to incorporate into their everyday lives. I knew there was a void in the market that needed to be filled.
So I decided to create a line of refrigerated plant-based soups that would make people and families fall in love with veggies. It was also important to me that I was running an honest and fair business where all parts would benefit, and it took into account the impact it had on people and the planet. I have made sure our team is diverse and am very proud of what we have accomplished together, as well as the relationships I have built with the farmers who supply the vegetables and the people in the production line, who are now my friends. I know that when food is done right, it has the power to change lives. I want to redefine the mass industrialized food system as one that is clean, honest, kind, and nourishing towards the health of people, communities, and the planet, where people and the land are respected, and we can give back more than we take. Hearing my products have a positive impact on someone's life is what drives me forward every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We've lowered our environmental footprint. Working closely and directly with our farmers, we've increased the number of organic vegetables in our soups. We continue to develop regenerative agriculture practices and the use of upcycled produce in our soups.
Expanded Our Presence - We've been working on expanding regionally and were recently approved at Mother's Market 11 locations in Southern California.
New Products - We've grown our soup line with the launch of 2 new unique soup flavors, including one Keto-friendly option, which further expands our reach and connection to different food lifestyle groups like vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, keto, and plant-based.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Work-life balance - Operating a fast-evolving brand while having time to spend with family and pursue personal interests can be quite a challenge. I've been working on balancing both aspects by following an organized and thoughtful agenda while partnering with key people that help me grow the business in specific areas.
Being pioneers of a new product category - People tend to go for products or concepts they are familiar with, so launching a new product that is a category disruptor needs a lot of clear communication, education, and appealing messaging, so people get familiar with the product.
If you had to sail across a sea of one of your soup flavors, which one would it be and why? Haha. Definitely, the first time I've ever been asked this question. I'm between our Carrot-Sweet Potato-Turmeric soup and our Zucchini-Cilantro. I can't decide if I want to sail in a bright orange ocean or a bright green one. I think a unique one would be the bright orange. That would be surreal. All I would need to bring with me are some croutons to pair up with my daily soup, and I could sail around the world =).
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your customers - Knowing what pains, desires, and solutions they are looking for, whether they are functional or emotional desires, will make you understand them better and be able to offer more assertive solutions that they actually care about.
- Test your ideas in places like Farmer's Markets to make sure people (especially not only your friends and family) will pay and repurchase your products or services over and over again.
- Think outside the box - We tend to follow what other people are doing. That will make you very similar to others. Success happens when you step out of your comfort zone and revolutionize the way things are done. People love authenticity.
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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