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Business Spotlight: MixMyGranola

By Kara Ohngren Prior

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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 ofthe page updates as you add ingredients. Once you've checked out, yourcrunchy masterpiece will arrive at your doorstep in a few days in asleek 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 aboutyour company. Bloggers have a very loyal following and get your messageacross effectively to potential customers. In fact, we sent out freesamples to specific bloggers and saw about an 8 percent conversion rate.

We also use Google Small Business Apps, which is an excellent freeresource for collaboration on projects, Word docs, and Excelspreadsheets.

And we also use the online space to improve customer service. Weconstantly answer e-mails about our product and communicate with ourcustomers through e-mail. Our turnaround in answering e-mails is lessthan 30 minutes and we usually answer immediately because everythingties into our Blackberry and iPhone.

How has the recession affected your business?
Operating in a recession is the only thing we know. Our business waslaunched at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 when everyinvestment 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 isa 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 andinfluential people, they find it more genuine than when it is comingfrom 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 businessidea in the world, but if you burn through your funds too quickly, youridea will die before it has time to take off. Sometimes the road lesstraveled is the most rewarding when you reach the destination.

What does the future hold for MixMyGranola?
Sign up for our newsletter and find out!

Kara Ohngren is a freelance writer and part-time editor at YoungEntrepreneur. Her work has appeared in publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Huffington Post and Business Insider.

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