Your capacity to innovate sufficiently to maintain your firm will be put to the test at various points as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, the solution isn’t always obvious.
Entrepreneurship is known for its unpredictable nature, often requiring years of trial and error before a successful venture emerges. However, for us, our entrepreneurial journey was born out of a passion for creativity and innovation.
Our venture, OMilk, took flight just after our honeymoon as newlyweds. Initially, it was a hobby we introduced at a local flea market in Brooklyn. The venture started gaining traction when our dairy-free and preservative-free nut milk piqued the interest of customers. That’s when we decided to dive into entrepreneurship, even though we had limited foresight of the challenges that awaited us.
Crucial Moments in a Startup’s Journey
Every startup reaches a pivotal moment that determines its fate – whether it will fizzle out (as many do within the first 18 months) or evolve into a thriving business. In our case, this turning point came into clear focus about two years after our launch.
Five months post-launch, Greg made the bold decision to leave his full-time job and dedicate the next 18 months to establishing OMilk as a recognized brand in New York City. Yet, we knew that our growth couldn’t continue without the support of a distributor since our highly perishable nut milks had a mere eight-day shelf life.
To facilitate OMilk’s next phase of development, we had to address the issue of product shelf life. From the outset, we were intrigued by the potential of High Pressure Processing (HPP) to extend shelf life without compromising the taste of our milks. While our tests did succeed in tripling the shelf life, they also caused our products to separate in an unattractive way when stored in clear bottles. The search for a stock, white bottle proved fruitless, and custom-made bottles seemed financially unattainable with minimum orders hovering around 100,000 units.
We found ourselves at an apparent dead-end, feeling that all our efforts were in vain. Without the right bottles, we couldn’t implement HPP, and without HPP, we couldn’t engage a distributor. This, in turn, hindered our ability to grow.
We had never faced such despondency regarding the future of OMilk. The prospect of failure loomed, creating immense anxiety for two entrepreneurs who had never encountered such a daunting challenge.
As if guided by destiny, a former colleague recommended we explore Powerlinx, a digital matchmaking platform, in search of a solution. Miraculously, in a matter of days, Powerlinx connected us with Salbro, a Canadian bottle supplier that could provide custom bottles with manageable minimum orders.
Our partnership with Salbro paved the way for us to implement HPP and expand our reach from New York City to the broader Tri-State area. This collaboration has been the linchpin in OMilk’s recent growth and future prospects. Without it, we would have remained confined to Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Lessons in Problem-Solving
In overcoming our most pressing business challenge, we’ve gained invaluable insights that will shape OMilk’s trajectory moving forward. We’ve learned that as entrepreneurs, we must be willing to step out of our comfort zones – whether that means addressing gaps in our skill set or reaching customers beyond our immediate local markets – to propel our business forward.
We hope that our story of surmounting a critical obstacle inspires other entrepreneurs to explore uncharted territories in their pursuit of growth.
For entrepreneurs, pivotal moments will test their ability to innovate and adapt to ensure their business’s survival. The solutions might not always be readily apparent; sometimes, they reside in unfamiliar territories outside our comfort zones, even when the prospect of globalization can appear daunting to a startup aiming to expand beyond its local roots.