Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Niran Avni, COO of smoodi, Inc., located in Des Moines, IA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am currently the COO of smoodi, a food tech company that makes a robotic smoothie machine. At smoodi, we create a world where you don't have to choose between convenience and well-being.
Tell us about yourself
Born and raised in Israel, I have always been driven by a sense of duty and a desire to make a difference. At the age of 18, I joined the military and served as a lieutenant in the elite unit 8200, where I was responsible for leading 60 soldiers. After my service, I was selected by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to serve as its representative to universities in San Diego, California, where I worked to represent Israel at the academic level.
While living in San Diego, I missed a beloved coffee drink that was popular in Israel but unavailable in the United States. With the help of a childhood friend, I decided to bring this product to the US and adapt the formula to suit American tastes. With the added touch of making it vegan and receiving FDA approval, we started selling the drink at festivals and events, attracting a growing number of customers. Encouraged by our success, we left our jobs and officially launched Froffee. Over the next six years, we grew the company and our product to the point where it was sold in over 500 stores across the West Coast.
We eventually sold the company to an investment firm based in Los Angeles. After the acquisition, I decided to take a break from the corporate world to travel and seek new opportunities to make a positive impact. This led me to smoodi, a company that creates automatic smoothie machines and is dedicated to bringing healthy all-natural drinks to people of all backgrounds. Today, I am motivated each day by the opportunity to make a difference and help others by promoting healthy habits.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the positive impact that the products I helped develop have had on people's lives. Seeing someone walk out of a store with one of our cups, knowing that they are a little bit healthier and happier because of us, is what gets me going. Over the years, through the brands I worked on, we have sold over 5 million cups, and this fact is a testament to our impact and success. This is the biggest achievement of my professional life.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being a business owner, one of the toughest things I've faced is balancing work and personal life. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and hustle of growing your business, but it's important to make time for family, friends, and self-care. There have been times when I've had to sacrifice personal time for work, but it's all about finding that balance and making sure you don't burn out. It can definitely be a challenge, but it's all worth it when you see your vision come to life and impact people's lives.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
As someone who's been through the ups and downs of starting, running, and selling a business, and now with a new venture that recently raised over 5 million dollars, my top three tips would be:
- Network, network, network: Make connections with other business owners and entrepreneurs. Attend events, join organizations, and reach out to successful people in your industry. Building a strong network can help you find opportunities, make connections and get advice when you need it.
- Embrace failure: Don't be afraid to take risks and experiment. Every failure is a learning opportunity and can bring you closer to success. View each misstep as a stepping stone toward your ultimate goal.
- Keep learning: Stay on top of industry trends, new technologies, and innovative ideas. Read books, attend workshops and conferences, and seek out mentors who can help guide you. The more you learn, the better equipped you'll be to grow your business and stay ahead of the curve.
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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