Why a Kickstarter Project?

Crowdfunding is a way for small businesses to raise money that is growing in popularity. We have been considering this for Savory Harvest and have debated it extensively. As partners, neither of us are good at asking for help. Heck, in my family my husband and I never even ask friends to support our sons various school fund raising projects, preferring to just write the check ourselves (we just finally cleared out the last of 4-H Little Caesar pizzas out of our freezer).

However, Kickstarter projects not only help raise start-up funding, it also brings its own marketing and PR benefits and can help us get attention in the food industry. It’s a chance to introduce Savory Harvest to a wide social audience and create some buzz around our launch. And, using this pre-selling platform will be a huge help with start-up funding.

Expo West Logo

We are officially launching Savory Harvest in March at the Natural Product Expo West. The expense for just the bar packaging is approximately $5,000 for each SKU and this is just a small fraction of our launch expenses. Our timing is intended to use the pre-ordering of our product to fund this and help generate PR.

Hundreds of members of the press, as well as buyers, brokers and distributers all attend Expo West. Announcing a successfully funded Kickstarter project is another chance to try and get their attention and demonstrate broad audience appeal.

We have a great network of friends and family that have been so encouraging of our venture. “Just let me know when and where I can buy it” is the common expression of support. Launching this Kickstarter allows us to say “here and now.” So, we humbly ask for your support with the following:

  • Consider supporting us, at any level. Wide-spread support and the number of contributors matters. We have tried to structure our reward tiers to return the value of your contribution back to you in the form of snack bars.
  • Share our project with your friends & network and ask them to support us. We can’t accomplish this through our connections alone, we need your help.

Thanks, fingers crossed, one more interesting step in our journey.

Support us here!  Savory Harvest Kickstarter

Savory Roast Chicken

Easy home cooking with farm fresh herbs

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Hubby and I have always enjoyed cooking together. In our previous city life it was recreational. We would plan an involved meal for the weekend, visit Whole Foods, then open a bottle of wine, put on the music and cook together – often in prep for a dinner party. Sharing a great meal with friends is one of life’s greatest joys.

Now, cooking is nightly and simple easy meals are king.

Here is one of my favorite recipes, simple and quick, but still very delicious! This is adapted from familystyle food, a wonderful site with great recipes.

 

Ingredients 2

We have enjoyed growing and drying our own herbs this year and created our “Savory Seasoning” with home grown herbs. However, McCormicks Montreal Chicken and Rosemary are very good.

savory roast chicken recipe

 

Rosemary

Rosemary from the garden, bundled up to dry.

Drying garden herbs

We used this method to dry our garden herbs.

Now, how do we make this thing?

 

 You might think that manufacturing would be the easy part – we did.

We have been working on Savory Harvest for a couple of years now. We have the company, the brand, just got the name trademarked (Yay! Big milestone), have our recipes, sampled with the public and gotten GREAT feedback.

Now we just need to scale production. CRASH! (my sound effect for hitting a brick wall).

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An example of an extruded snack bar.

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Savory Harvest features whole recognizable ingredients.

1st obstacle – Savory Harvest features whole, recognizable ingredients and the forming and cutting of this kind of product is more difficult than a snack bar that can be extruded.

The manufacturing equipment for this is not something that is found in generalized commercial kitchens for rent.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image250365992nd obstacle – our product is gluten-free and needs to be made in gluten-free kitchen which eliminates many options. Also, the gluten-free category is exploding so competition for that space is crazy.

There are co-packers that have this equipment, but in order to be considered we need to commit to significant production numbers and in some cases pledge our 1st born children to get slotted into their facilities.

We are too small to be considered by scalable production facilities but we can’t confidently go forward and work on sales and distribution until we know we have manufacturing that can handle large orders. Even scarier, we can’t really nail down the cost of producing our bar until we scale our manufacturing.

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Our modest but functional test kitchen.

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Used restaurant equipment and unused space in our home = the test kitchen at our “world headquarters” on the farm.

We can make and package our snack bars manually and we have actually started down a path of installing our test/commercial kitchen in my home – we have a lot a space out here on the farm.

It is a place to start, but long term, without automation, we will have effectively worked ourselves into a very labor intensive minimum wage job. I’m passionate about Savory Harvest, but not that passionate.

We could buy the equipment ourselves and automate our commercial kitchen. As a friend and successful entrepreneur showed me, you can buy anything on Alibaba. He and my hubby gladly volunteered to go on a fact finding trip to China (they both embrace any excuse for international travel). But it sure would be great to get some experience and sales first before investing that kind of capital.

We are meeting with a promising new lead and really smart food manufacturer in the next few weeks. So at this point I am not yet ready to ask Santa for a “slab line bar extruder” under the tree this year.

The journey continues…

Start with chicks…

Chicks, Wiley coyote and the joy of chickens

Big Mama

Big Mama

Helping ensure our son engaged in our new farm life was a priority. Even before we moved we researched chickens and decided this would be our “toe in the water” with farm animals. As bizarre as it sounds, we discovered that you can order live chicks through the mail.

After hours of debate and research we picked our assortment of breeds based on temperament, looks and egg color and placed our order at Mypetchicken.com .

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Picking up the live chicks at the post office.

Baby chicks are adorable and my son did a great job with their care..  Everything was progressing wonderfully, chicks were named, healthy and growing.

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Rex would occasionally lick the top of the chicks heads, but apparently his years in Denver as a couch dog had effectively stifled any bird-dog tendencies to hunt them.

My son was not thrilled with the idea of moving his babies out of the brooder in the basement to their coop, so we decided the weekend he went camping with his cousins was good timing. He would come home, find the chicks perfectly adjusted outside, no drama.

Hubby fortified the coop with a 6 ft. chain link gate, great for keeping Wiley coyote and his predator friends out. We didn’t know that we had to worry just as much about keeping the chicks in. Apparently the links were big enough for them to squeeze out and they did — I’m guessing right into the waiting mouth of Wiley. All I know is the next morning there was not a single chick or feather in sight.

Imagine that homecoming! This is something that we will have to live down for a very long time. In fact, later that year my son’s 4H presentation on how to raise chicks ended with this advice -“Do not to leave your parents in charge unsupervised.”

A week later we fast tracked the process and bought pullets (which I learned are young chickens, older than a chicks and too big to get out, but not yet laying eggs) from a 4H family and these are the first 5 of our girls that are still thriving a year later.

1st chickens

3 of our 1st girls, Ruby, Star and MJ.

While this was intended to be a project for my son and despite of our rough start, it turns out I LOVE raising chickens. They really are very entertaining and the farm fresh eggs are a bonus!

 

 

 

Social Media Marketing gets personal

Fear of failure and longing for my corporate IT guy.

Boot-strapping the startup of our new company has given me a whole new level of appreciation for all the various professionals who made my corporate life seamless. For example, I am the IT support for Savory Harvest. I am a terrible IT person. One of the 1st things we agree we will do when we can afford it is hire IT!

I am “a senior professional with 15 years consumer marketing experience” (from my LinkedIn profile) and I would describe myself as social media marketing (SMM) savvy. I have worked with outstanding agencies and have directed many multimedia campaigns with great results.

I have quickly learned that developing a corporate SMM strategy and relying on experts in this area is not the same as doing it yourself for your own company when a big part of the story is you – eek! Oh how I wish I had access to those  strategists and web developers I worked with over the years.

And if I fail? Well, that will sting. There are so many ways it can go wrong. Check out  “19 horrific social media fails from the first half of a 2014”

On the bright side, this experience, good and bad, is valuable to my overall professional marketing growth. So, while I am concerned that I won’t have the time to invest to make this a true success (all those other start-up hats I wear are demanding) and I worry about the missteps, I’m diving in anyways and embracing the journey and learnings along the way.

Unlike my IT journey, which I hope to completely abandon the moment I can afford a real IT pro!

I planned to live in another country and ended up in the country.

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A Healthier Lifestyle in the Country

I’ve never dreamed of living on a farm. I wanted to live in another country and after reading Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind , I was convinced that this would be a great family adventure and invaluable experience for my son. So while I networked and spoke at conferences in S. America trying to make this happen, an opportunity to head up my own marketing department for a small company in rural Colorado presented itself. Initially I discounted the job once I learned that relocation to a town 90 miles outside Denver was required.

For the previous 8 years my husband and son adjusted to the demands of my job and the travel it required and we agreed that this next career move would be more family friendly. While I had discounted the rural job and was actively pursuing an opportunity in Puerto Rico, they were on Zillow checking out farms. The stars aligned and here we are.

While I wasn’t seeking out a healthier family lifestyle – I didn’t think we were unhealthy, I found one.  Just a few changes to our new country life include:`

Walking with an assortment of farm animals.

2 dogs, 2 goats, & up to 6 cats join us daily on our walk.

Getting physical. I used to struggle to get my 10,000 steps in. Farm chores are physical and simply walking to the barn and feeding the animals is a light workout.  We have very needy goats, dogs and cats. They all expect to go for walk around farm, every day. Really, you should see our entourage as we “do a loop” every evening.

 

Dinner time. We are 8 miles from a town. I no longer have a folder in my kitchen with take-out menus from 22 nearby great restaurants (I do miss Jerusalem. BEST lamb shanks!)  Now we can’t even get Dominoes to deliver. We plan weekly meals, cook at home and eat dinner together.

Family. Denver is a great city! I didn’t think we were disconnected as a family before, however, we were on the go constantly.  Work travel, sports, book club, career networking, girl’s nights, dinner parties, friends, new restaurants and all of the great events that a city like Denver offers had us often going separate directions. Now, we spend time together. Our son just turned 13 and I am lucky, he is a good kid. It is a great time of his life to be more available and involved with his friends and activities, you only have them for so long.

Living removed from the opportunities and demands of a city and becoming more connected with each other, the land and the animals that share our farm has delivered a healthier, happier lifestyle in so many ways. I thought we would live in a foreign country but it turns out the right family adventure for us now is in the country.

 

New Adventures in Business

 

We have enjoyed meeting customers in person and getting 1st hand feedback.

We have enjoyed meeting customers in person and getting 1st hand feedback.

Putting it all out there.

We are starting a new company, Savory Harvest. We began this journey about 3 years ago. At that time, Tom, my coworker and now business partner, and I traveled for work and ate a lot of snack bars on airplanes and felt something was missing.

Work began on this new idea, business plans were written, the legal forms were filed and best of all, sampling and tinkering in the kitchen ensued. Yet I found myself being reserved about sharing the news that we were working on this business. For one reason, we both had demanding corporate jobs. While this was absolutely no conflict of interest or time, it still isn’t wise to tell your employer that you are actively developing your Plan B. But nurturing the development of our fledgling business also felt personal and I was protective of it. I wasn’t worried someone would steal our idea. I just wanted to grow it to a more sustainable level and evaluate it from all sides quietly before opening it up to wider evaluation.

The Satisfyingly UnSweet Snack Bar

The Zesty Parmesan, Tomato & Herb bar, or the “pizza bar” as my son refers to it. Photo by Rich Mackey Photography. http://richmackeyphoto.com/

Living in Colorado, home to the start-up success story of LaraBars  I embraced the inspiration but also didn’t want this to be viewed as just a “me to” idea. The snack bar category is well developed…but with only sweet bars.

Of course, any business startup is wrought with risk and pitfalls. To be successful you have to be willing to pour your heart and soul into it, as well as time, money and every other resource at your fingertips. It isn’t something that you can dabble in and succeed. So, once you really commit, there is no turning back. And then, at that point, if you are really serious you have to be willing to share your news, your hopes and the belief that you will succeed. So….

We are starting a new company, Savory Harvest. I hope you will follow our journey and soon – buy our UnSweet Snack bars.

Savory Harvest Logo

Now you have a choice in healthy snack bars.