Like most college students, Candace Vanice loved french fries, but she worried about the fat content. Remembering how her mother would put an egg-white coating on bread to make it crispy, Vanice tried the same technique with french fries. After a series of experiments with seasonings, she hit upon a winning formula she thought tasted just as good as the french fries at McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants.
Vanice received her patent in 1994. In 1998, she sold $250,000 worth of 8th Wonder Fat Free Fries. This year, the 27-year-old entrepreneur's Kansas City, Missouri, company, Marvel LLC, expects $1 million in sales through major Midwestern supermarket chains such as Kroeger, HiVee and Albertson's.
What makes Vanice's achievement so extraordinary is that the food market is extremely tough to break into, yet she did it without any advertising. Her innovative product, which offers a tremendous benefit--no fat--is part of the reason for her success, but she upped her chances by carefully following a five-step process that can work for any food inventor:
1.Conduct a market test.
2. Line up a food broker.
3.Get a manufacturer.
4.Establish your product in a small market through the use of sampling and publicity.
5. Expand to a larger market.
Don Debelak (email@example.com) is a new-business marketing consultant who has introduced new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945).