Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matthew Dykema, owner of ERG fOODS, LLC and ERB HOLDINGS, LLC, located in Traverse City, MI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am Matt Dykema and I make ERG! Bars. An energy bar made from real food! All of our bars are made with dehydrated fruit, nuts, and honey. We currently sell to Home Goods, Whole Foods, and many smaller stores around the country.

Tell us about yourself

Well, I spent over 20 years in the culinary field, working for some of the best chefs in the area and beyond. Right before the pandemic, I changed directions and started working at a very popular CO-OP in the Traverse City area. A friend of mine told me that ERG! was up for sale and wanted to see if I was interested in giving it a go. In my mind, it had to do with food and not being in the kitchen, so I agreed to give it a shot. What motivates me to do this? If I don't, who will? I have always had the drive to work hard no matter what is in front of me. Small steps or big ones, you just have to keep moving forward. Plus, I put everything I had into the business, so there was no going back!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is what I am doing right now. We are in talks with a lot of major retailers here in the US and internationally. We are projected to do 5.4 million dollars in sales this year! Compared to only doing 100,000 in sales this year. Personally, it is how I have dealt with the ups and downs of running my own business. I just try not to get to over excited or disappointed about things that happen on a daily basis. It's a roller-coaster ride. Enjoy!

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Making sure you have the organizational skills to take on everything every day. Sometimes it feels like nothing is going your way. Certainly, if you don't have anyone supporting you, it can get overwhelming.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Make sure that you believe in your product and yourself. There are a lot of people out there that are going to say that you can't do it. They don't like this or that. Filter out all of the negative and focus on the constructive.
  2. No one wants to invest in your idea/company. You have to find ways to make them want to be a part of your business, either through your sheer determination and hard work or through the amazing product that you are presenting to them. Make them see the future of your partnership.
  3. Get Lucky. People think that this is the easiest one. It's not! Hard work and dedication are what lead to getting lucky. You would be surprised by how many accounts I have gotten from just doing a little extra work.

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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