Matthew Pawlik likes a challenge. After working on Wall Street, he wanted to break the restraints of the corporate world and start fresh. So in 2008, Pawlik stepped way out of his comfort zone, teamed up with Andreas Bergmann and Raoul Duggal, and launched the customizable granola company MixMyGranola.
By going online, customers can create and name a granola mixture of their very own--just the way they like it. First you choose one of the organic, all-natural or low-fat granola bases (I'd go with French vanilla if I were you). Then you get to choose from more than 50 add-ins including dried fruits, nuts, seeds and even organic gummy bears.
While creating your mix, a nutrition facts calculator on the side of the page updates as you add ingredients. Once you've checked out, your crunchy masterpiece will arrive at your doorstep in a few days in a sleek recyclable tube complete with a personalized label--pretty cool, huh?
We recently caught up with Pawlik to discuss niche marketing, the recession and wearing shorts to work.
How do you market your niche business?
We are on all the social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Digg. Blogs are also great venues to spread the word about your company. Bloggers have a very loyal following and get your message across effectively to potential customers. In fact, we sent out free samples to specific bloggers and saw about an 8 percent conversion rate.
We also use Google Small Business Apps, which is an excellent free resource for collaboration on projects, Word docs, and Excel spreadsheets.
And we also use the online space to improve customer service. We constantly answer e-mails about our product and communicate with our customers through e-mail. Our turnaround in answering e-mails is less than 30 minutes and we usually answer immediately because everything ties into our Blackberry and iPhone.
How has the recession affected your business?
Operating in a recession is the only thing we know. Our business was launched at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 when every investment bank was collapsing before our eyes.
You've already received some serious press attention. How have you achieved that?
We really "press the flesh" and contact any and everyone we know. It is a lot of hard work but we saved a ton of money by not hiring a P.R. firm. Plus, when the business owners themselves contact editors and influential people, they find it more genuine than when it is coming from a third party P.R. firm.
What's the best part about owning your own business?
We live in sunny south Florida so I love coming to work in shorts and a tee-shirt.
What single piece of advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always watch your costs and spending. You might have the best business idea in the world, but if you burn through your funds too quickly, your idea will die before it has time to take off. Sometimes the road less traveled is the most rewarding when you reach the destination.
What does the future hold for MixMyGranola?
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