Heard of mean vegan products? Cofounder Stephanie Shelton shared how she made financial decisions on growing her company. For starters, Shelton saw an opportunity to serve plant-based food to those searching for healthier eating styles. To see where her market fit she attended outdoor events and held popup stands to gain interests. According to Shelton, people loved her product, and she wanted to expand with a food truck. Unfortunately, the cost did not justify for Stephanie and Shawn to acquire a food truck.  By 2012 she gained her first retail customer and after her first retail, other groceries reached out to her. To generate even more interest, she tried Kickstarter. Kickstarter sounded like an easy success. However, due to lack of marketing investment the Kickstarter did not succeed. Over her successes and failures, Shelton realized that she was growing organically, but it was expensive to scale.

 

Shelton and Mock looked into working with investors, but could not see a way it would work. She realized that having a lean model and learning cash flow could keep them afloat.” Although we never approached an investor, we were sought out by a VC firm. We were open to working with them, but had too many unknowns for it to make sense on their end. However, the research we did on their behalf is how we made the acquaintance of our manufacturing partner.” Stephanie Shelton

 

Mean Vegan Products are Jack Tamales. They fill tamales with jackfruit instead of what you normally see such as pork or chicken. You can find Jack Tamales in Baconated Coconut, and Funguy Jerky.

 

After substantial feedback from customers and talks with grocers, Shelton is finding where her product fits. “Whole Foods referred us to a major natural foods distributor with a program for smaller food producers that might be a good fit for us. We shipped samples last week and the first exploratory phone interview went well.” Shelton with Mean Vegan Products
“The most important factor of developing a food product is the same as any other entrepreneurial venture  – what problem are you solving? If there are other similar products on the market that are inexpensive, your chance of success is extremely low. It is essential that what you are bringing to market be unique, as it is unlikely that you will be able to compete in terms of price.
Secondly, can you produce your product AND make a profit? If you sell directly, you will need to account for the hours of time you will be physically working to sell your product in addition to the time and materials you spent to make it. If you sell retail, know that the store will mark your price up by 30-40%. Do you believe people will be pay that price for your product?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People in the industry are willing to help.

Aspiring food producers need to assess what it is about this business they hope to participate in someday. They will also need to come to terms with the fact they will be doing ALL aspects of this business for be a longer span of time then they would hope. It is mentally as demanding as any new venture, but will also be physically demanding in terms of manufacturing products. There are also lots of rules and regulations that one will need to learn in order to avoid legal pitfalls. IF the concept catches on, there will be options to offload the undesirable aspects of the business.” Shelton with Mean Vegan Products