|Name and age: Collin Madden, 28|
Company name and description: Cold Fusion Foods, a creator of herbally active, protein enriched frozen juice bars in Culver City, California, and Seattle
Starting point: March 2000 with $600,000 in savings and family investment
2000 sales projections: $1 million
On the starting blocks: Madden got the idea for the product after a workout, and it led to the creation of the juice bars. He'd grown up in the family's ice cream business and worked as an investor. After two years of doing research and development, he got his company up and running.
Going national: The frozen juice bar line-three of them herbal and four of them protein enhanced-are distributed in natural food stores and health clubs as well as the health section of large chain stores on the West Coast and in Arizona. By next summer, Cold Fusion will have penetrated markets in the Northeast and Southeast, as well as Chicago.
How they made the leap: Cold Fusion created partnerships with distributors that serve national food stores; it also developed a broker network that carries its products directly to stores, where customers are offered free samples and receive point-of-sale information. A broad-based ad campaign, which generated articles in national fitness and holistic health magazines as well as sponsorships of athletic events, has raised awareness of the products. The company's Web site, in addition to links on other sites, generate additional exposure.
Greatest challenge: Educating consumers about a product that's the first of its kind. "People think this is just a really expensive popsicle," Madden says of the frozen power bars, which retail for approximately $2.50 to $3. "We tell them it's a power bar in frozen form."
Best advice for nationally minded start-ups: "Realize that everything will take three times as long and cost three times as much as you anticipated. Have your funding sources in line early. Give more equity in your company to outside investors in order to maintain your sanity."
Pamela Rohland writes about the joys and tribulations of entrepreneurship for a variety of regional and national business publications.
- Cold Fusion Foods, (800) 447-9998, www.coldfusionfoods.com