Why I Passed on the Opportunity to Sell My Protein Bars at Whole Foods

When I turned down the opportunity to sell my protein bars at Whole Foods last summer, a lot of people didn’t understand my reasoning. “Huh? You did waaa? Are you crazy? Why would you do that?”

My reason is simple. Because it’s 2018.

Technology Is Here

Whether you like it or not, we’re living in the technology era. Through voice command, we can order a box of paper clips from our phone and have someone drop it off at our front door within the hour.

In 2017 $1 trillion tech giant, Amazon, bought Whole Foods for almost $14 billion – pocket change! That’s crazy. What’s even crazier is that, of that $14 billion, only 30% was paid in exchange for the real, current value of Whole Foods, including all of its assets. The remaining 70%, or nearly $9 billion, was paid based solely on future growth.

That means Amazon has so much strength through its online infrastructure that anything they buy just automatically increases in value by 70%.

If that’s not a good enough indicator that technology and the internet is the place to be, for any business, I don’t know what is…

Traditionally, for someone in my shoes, it probably would have made sense, like 15 years ago, to jump for joy, grab onto a deal with Whole Foods, and run like hell. Like Justin’s, it would’ve represented a certain level of security and growth. But in a digital world that’s constantly evolving, getting into Whole Foods doesn’t really promise anything.

Jeff Bezos, a guy with a rocket ship, doesn’t care about my line of protein bars and he isn’t losing any sleep over the future of my business. Nor do I expect him to.

Transparency and Support

People want to know where the fuck their food is coming from. There’s an increasing demand for transparency in the supply chain for all products, and I don’t blame them. To be quite honest, I don’t really trust any brands or prepackaged foods on the shelf. Not because I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist or activist or anything. I’m just skeptical.

I try my best to eat as simple and basic as possible because every mass production industry is fucked. I don’t care how good any company’s intentions are, when billions of people need to eat, things start getting screwed up and weird somewhere along the line.

I don’t necessarily think that makes them bad or evil either. I just think we’re living in a really unusual time and that we should all be asking more questions about the world we live in, while assuming less. Assuming less about our foods, our political systems, our planet, fucking everything. Have you looked around lately? For god sake, it’s a shit storm of madness out there!

That being said, I have no interest in being at the grocery store or competing against the endless sea of random brands and products that I know nothing about, and quite frankly, don’t care about. It’s not my place right now. I don’t want people buying my protein bars just because the colorful bird caught their eye at the store so they picked up one of mine instead of the one sitting beside it on the same damn shelf.

I want people to buy my protein bars with intention. Because they understand me, what I’m about, where their food is coming from, and why the fuck this product they’re consuming even exists. I want people to make the conscious decision to buy my protein bars, versus another product, because they’re actually excited to support me and my mission. Because they’re curious to see where “this thing” I’m doing, leads to.

Taking Control of Trajectory

I started making protein bars just to get my feet back on the ground. I was in financial distress from the failure of my last venture, and needed desperately to make something happen. Leading up to Whole Foods, the direction and growth of the business wasn’t really a conscious decision. It just happened. I worked my ass off, made a ton of protein bars, developed the business, the brand, the products and got my feet back on the ground. I did what had to be done. But then what?

Love this illustration. I saw it hanging on a wall at the UPS store I go to here in Orlando.

I didn’t put all this work into creating a business to then just allow myself to get pulled in whatever direction seemed easiest and most appealing on the surface. Taking a lot of factors, values, and goals into consideration, I needed to make a thoughtful decision about the definitive direction of my business, and my life. Great, I developed a line of protein bars, but what do I want the next 5, 10, 15 years of my life to look like? Where do I want this to go?

Putting Together the Pieces

So taking all of that into account, it simply came down to one question, “Where is the most effective place to channel my time, energy, and focus?” Not just some of it. All of it.

The “Whole Foods Method” would force me to focus on everything I don’t have. I don’t have the luxury of having millions of dollars and I don’t have a team of people who can help me with marketing, sales, distribution, PR, operations, etc..

Instead, I had to be completely realistic and honest with myself about what I do have. It’s literally just me, Jesse (my one operations employee), a colorful little bird, and a production line of equipment, that I spent over a year building and figuring out, that’s capable of producing 10’s of thousands of protein bars per day. Not just any protein bars either. Really fucking good ones that I literally spent years developing and refining.

Using what I do have, am I likely to see a better return by investing every ounce of my time, energy, and focus into the “Whole Foods Method”, or investing in something online that I’m able to build with my own two hands, and truly passionate about. With or without the protein bars. If you’re reading this now, it’s because I believe in, and obviously chose, the latter.

Sure, it would’ve been easier to take the offer from Whole Foods and sink all my time into growing that one channel of sales, which is what I would’ve done, but for the long term health and growth of not only the business, but also myself, taking matters into my own hands seemed like a better option. So here we are…

Spread Your Wings. Be Wild!

Through my lifelong passion for entrepreneurship (Spread Your Wings.) and adventure (Be Wild!), my goal is to figure out how to drive enough targeted traffic to my website to sell 600 boxes of my protein bars per month. As of writing this, I only made the website officially “live” about two weeks ago. No sales yet.

That would equate to $19,794 of revenue per month. At those figures, operational burden and impact on profit margins would be minimal. There’s no 60 day waiting period to receive payments from wholesale customers (grocery stores), I don’t have to pay a distributor, a broker, or “shelving fees”. I would use the money to hire a second full-time employee to help with basic office management and another part-time employee to help Jesse with production.

This way I could finally remove myself entirely from the day to day operations and be free to channel all of my time and energy into the development of creative content and growing Spread Your Wings. Be Wild!. Videos, writing, traveling, exploration, adventure, pilot’s license, etc.. In other words, finally able to do the things that I really want to do. That I’m passionate about.

And that’s why I’ve always loved entrepreneurship. There’s no rules and you don’t have to accept things the way they are. As long as you’re willing to fail, then you can attempt to do fucking anything.

2 thoughts on “Why I Passed on the Opportunity to Sell My Protein Bars at Whole Foods

  1. justin says:

    Hey man, my name is Justin and im 22 years old.

    Thank you for sharing your progress as I am planning to start making my own protein bar.

    I love protein bar so much and this is the only business i think i can do, since it’s my passion.
    You have gone through so much and i am preparing myself mentally on what im about to go through. You inspire me so much.

    God bless u man

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