March 21st, 2012
Caroline Freedman is the CEO and co-founder of NurturMe Organic Baby Food, based in Austin, Texas. Here is her story about how she started something that matters!
If you want to start something that matters, at some point early on you need to figure out where to begin. It was with the below-listed items that I took the idea for creating baby food in a new & different way and turned it into a reality.
1 Thing you care passionately about (in this case, organic foods and healthy babies!)
1 Hardworking and trustworthy partner
4 Advisory board members
3 Reputable suppliers
1 “Yes” from a buyer(s)
180k in startup funds
Countless hours on the road, at the computer, in meetings, on the phone, etc.
An open mind to the opportunities that await
A will to make a difference and give back
After I gathered and made use of the first seven ingredients, things began to happen. Last March, my partner Lauren and I were setting up a booth to debut our product at an annual, all-natural foods expo – the Mardi Gras of all things organic, eco, and basically, cool. Seriously – even Fabio was there. It was late, we were tired, my two-year-old was overdue for bedtime, and we still had several green carpet tiles needing to be installed. We’d been traveling since 6:00 in the morning and had spent a good portion of the sparse funds we had to attend the show – we were hopeful that our investment would pay off. The morning of the show, we arrived early to our partially assembled, cheerily green-floored booth, completed the installation, and waited.
Suddenly, it started to rain. Passersby nodded enthusiastically when tasting the foods. Bloggers smiled heartily when listening to the story of how we got our start. Distributors and brokers filled their pockets with samples and sell sheets. Investors pressed business cards into our palms. Most importantly – especially at that early stage – the buyers came. A team of three sales execs from a baby superstore chatted up Lauren while a broker interrupted his sales pitch to me by saying, through clenched teeth, that’s our biggest competitor, before he turned around to address the threesome with polite flourish.
Over the course of the three-day expo, we landed several new accounts, including one 400-plus store chain that would take our brand to a national level. As thrilling as it was, it wasn’t unexpected; it felt as if what we’d been working towards was beginning to unfold before us.
Then other things started to happen. An opportunity to blog for Forbes.com. A trip to the Hamptons to present our product to a nationally televised audience. A blurb in In Touch Weekly – a favorite guilty pleasure of mine – that mentioned Ivanka Trump’s preference for our baby food. Could all this really be happening?
Needless to say, all of the hype was exciting. But, in the twenty months since our product launched on retail shelves, another more meaningful opportunity has also emerged among the noise. Quietly and consistently, throughout the entire time our product has been on the market, people have suggested to us that we get involved in some sort of charitable effort. I’d love to see you feed a million babies in Africa!, said one enthusiast. When disaster struck the Midwest last year, why don’t you send NurturMe to families in Joplin?, asked one of our Facebook followers. Our product is lightweight to ship, it’s got a long shelf life. It’s uniquely perfect for humanitarian & disaster relief efforts in ways that other products are not.
Here was yet another opportunity presenting itself, almost effortlessly. All we’d set out to do was start a cool new baby food business, and here we were with the chance to really do something that mattered. A byproduct of pursuing your dreams, it turns out, is having what you set out to do evolve into something much bigger & more meaningful than you could have imagined.
After months of considering our options, then weeks doing due diligence on an appropriate partner, we decided we wanted to feed needy children in the US. Through a partnership with Feed The Children, we’ve launched a buy one donate one campaign with the goal of feeding 100,000 meals to children across the country over the next six months. (You can join us in these efforts by clicking here.) We are privileged to sell our product on shelves at places like Whole Foods and Babies R Us; but having the chance to feed healthy, organic fruits & veggies to families who would not be able to buy it for themselves is an honor. Not to mention tremendously humbling: the experience at the expo left us high-fiving and patting ourselves on the back. In reality, there’s so much more we can do to give back. What really matters – it’s now clear – is that we help others, and pay forward the many blessings we’ve enjoyed since launching our product. It’s a commitment we’ll carry with us as we continue on this journey.