Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deed Ziegler, Founder of RecPak, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
RecPak is a complete meal for outdoor adventurers when they're on the move that saves space, weight, and time. Whether you're a mountaineer or a skier, military or an ultramarathoner, you often only have two nutritional options in the outdoors - hiker's meals which are bulkier and take time and fuel to prepare, or snacks like trail mix and bars, which are convenient, but you wouldn't have three energy bars and consider it a meal.
RecPak combines the nutrition of a meal with the convenience of a snack. We worked with top endurance sports nutritionists to design the powder mix. Each pouch is durable, flexible, and contains 700 calories of complete, well-balanced nutrition. The user just adds water and can drink their RecPak on the move. It comes in three tasty flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla Chai, and Coffee (contains caffeine).
Tell us about yourself
The original idea for the product came from my time in the military. I was an officer in the Marine Corps, responsible for leading a team deploying to Afghanistan. We spent a lot of time in extreme, remote environments, carrying all of our gear often for days on end. I realized that the product that would become RecPak would be so helpful not just for my team and me but for anyone doing demanding activities in outdoor environments. When I got out of the military, I went to business school and then into tech, but my passion has always been to build something of my own. I founded RecPak to have a strong social mission. We're a member of 1% for the Planet, support veteran events, and most of all, for each pack we sell on our website, one is sent to support humanitarian and frontline efforts in Ukraine. There are two things that keep me motivated - when I hear about how RecPak has helped someone on their outdoor journey and our commitment to the social causes we care most about.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We are still a very young company (we launched in October 2022), but already we've donated thousands of packs to efforts in Ukraine, with many more on the way. Seeing RecPak in the hands of a young soldier heading to the frontlines or an ambulance crew working long shifts makes it all worth it, even if RecPak were to close down tomorrow.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I've worked in large and small organizations, and when you're an employee somewhere, you're always a specialist. As a business owner, it's just you. All of the decisions that need to be made, all of the tasks that come from those decisions, it's all on your shoulders. Even when you have employees and can pass on those tasks, at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. That's an enormous responsibility; it can often feel lonely and confusing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Set a vision for yourself: why are you on this endeavor? What do you, insert name, want to get out of this experience? Having a guiding light is crucial because starting and owning a business is very hard, and in those most challenging moments when you are shaken to your core and thinking about giving up, you need that vision, that answer of why you're doing all of it, to return to.
- Cultivate a group of peers and mentors that you can commiserate with and get guidance from. As I mentioned before, it can feel very lonely at times, and with so many possible actions you could take, it can be overwhelming. Talking it out with people who have been there before or are going through it is enormously valuable.
- Deeply understand your customers problems. I didn't know much about nutrition when I first started, but I knew the folks that I wanted to create RecPak for. At every phase, from product development to launch, I put the product in the user's hands and constantly sought feedback. My core belief is that if you've got a great product, everything else - marketing, supply chain - will fall into place if you work hard at execution.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.