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13 Jan

Ep. 86 – Viki Sater – Founder of Viki’s Foods

“It was very difficult in the beginning. All I ever heard was, ‘No, no, no.’, ‘Oh, another granola, another granola on the shelf. There’s so many.’, ‘We’re flooded.”, “We don’t need it.’

Viki Sater – Founder of Viki’s Foods; Starting with Viki’s Granola; Learning as you go along; Building brand recognition; Launching new products.

Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Viki Sater and her journey as an entrepreneur; Starting Viki’s Food and Viki’s Granola; Hustling into stores

Viki’s finer points:

“I rented the commercial kitchen in 2010, but we really started in 2011, January of 2011. When I signed the lease I started sweating and thinking to myself, “Oh boy, I got myself …”, over my head at this point.”

Yes, it was not supposed to be a granola company. It truly was an accident.

“It’s across the whole country. It’s in many other parts of the world. It is the fastest growing granola company. It’s made with wholesome ingredients. Everything’s natural, so people really love that at this point.”

“So when I rented the space that I was in originally there was no loading dock, there was no overhead store, there was none of that. I honestly had no clue that I needed any of those things.”

“I just figured, ‘Oh, I make a great product. I’ll sell it. No big deal.’ Obviously, as I was learning, it all became a big deal because as our orders got larger I needed palates to stack hundreds of cases on.”

“How I got it onto the store shelves, I went to local stores in the beginning that knew me, that I shopped in, and asked if they would carry it. They did. It was selling and it was doing great. That obviously was not enough.”

“A handful of local stores, you’re never going to make any money off of that. Then we started presenting. I started presenting to Whole Foods. Whole Foods was not interested whatsoever. At some point I acquired a broker and somebody left the actual bags of granola on the buyer’s desk. She’s not sure where they came from.”

She called the 1-800 number on the back and said, 'This is the best product I have ever tasted.' That is how I got into Whole Foods Northeast.

“It really is the product that is amazing. I’ve definitely worked seven days a week. I baked it in the beginning five days a week, and then on Saturdays and Sundays I was in some grocery store demoing it. From very small stores to very large stores, it made no difference. That was the beginning.”

“Every speed bump that came along I thought to myself, ‘Boy, I got myself in a mess. I’m over my head. I can’t do this anymore.’ The minute I was discouraged then I started thinking maybe this is not for me, something great would happen.”

Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Viki Sater; Building brand recognition; Learning as you go along.

Viki’s finer points:

“The granola itself is fabulous, but it was really I always kept my word. I demoed, promoted. I really did everything I possibly could for every individual retailer, and I kept my promise to promote the brand in their stores.”

“It just grew from that because I always kept my word. I did what I promised them. That’s how it really became what it is today.”

“It all taught me not to give up. I have three daughters also. Like I said before, another granola. I went into this not knowing anything, not knowing how to get on a shelf. Not knowing how to price it, just nothing.”

We made many changes along the way as we learned. I have three daughters and I'm such an inspiration to them. I think that's, to me, is the best thing that I have done, is being such an inspiration to my daughters.

“I figured it out, but my heart palpitates. I definitely have sleepless nights. I have a lot of anxiety, but you know what? The payoff is so wonderful that it’s worth it. It’s definitely worth it.”

“I’ve built a great team at work, amazing team. Daycare. It’s not just a job to them. I care about them. They care about me. They care about the company. Everybody’s really amazing.”

“I also have an amazing three daughters that have been very supportive. That definitely helps out. It does. One person can’t do it. In the beginning it was just me and my brother, that actually works with me. He came on board as a temporary job until he was going to relocate back to a car dealership. Needless to say, he’s still there and it’s been amazing.”

Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Launching new products; Taking your first step into entrepreneurship

Viki’s finer points:

“We’re launching new products this year at the Natural Products Expo in California. It’s all natural, the same type of product. Just expanding on the brand, that’s really the future.”

I have to tell you the first time it was easier, because at this point I know so much that it's almost difficult and it's almost much more nerve-racking to launch a new product than it was launching the first product.

“You kind of don’t know. When you have such high expectations and you’re assuming you make a great product, you’re going to put it on the shelf, you’ll demo it. It’s going to fly off the shelf, no big deal. At this point, I do know so much so it’s almost harder to launch the next product just because of the knowledge that I have at this point.”

“But yes, we’re launching new products this year, and hopefully every year we’ll come out with some great new products.'”

“I love what I do. I love the industry. I think it’s been very satisfying. I have an accounting degree, but I definitely always wanted to own a restaurant or a gourmet store. I always wanted to be in food.”

I never saw this as my future. I fell into it by accident. I'm sure you read somewhere that my daughter asked me to donate something for an open house at a school. I did, not thinking anything of it whatsoever. Before you know it I would get phone calls from the principal, 'Miss Sater, everything's okay. Your kids are fine, but would you mind if I buy some granola?' It was amazing.

“I was so honored by the fact that somebody loved my product so much. About six to eight months later I was like, ‘Wait a minute, this is crazy. Why don’t I turn this into a business?'”

“I don’t anticipate it as bad as the first time just because at this point we’ve built up such an amazing reputation and such an amazing client base, that customer base, that I think it’s going to be wonderful.”

Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:

“To juggle it all whether at home or at work takes a good team! It can’t and shouldn’t all be done by a single individual; it’s mentally and physically impossible. So to do things right and to do things well, it is as the old saying goes, “takes a village!” - Viki Sater, Huffington Post

GENERAL NOTES:

Viki Sater – Founder of Viki’s Foods

  • A driven entrepreneur with a passion for health and cooking, Viki embraced her innate skill for baking and hosting parties and gatherings as a way to share her favorite foods with friends and family.
  • Viki’s Foods was serendipitously born in 2009, when, former stay-at-home mom and current owner of Viki’s Foods, Viki Sater, donated a batch of homemade granola to her daughter’s school charity event.
  • After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from the school community, Viki realized that she had created something special.
  • By 2010, Viki had rented a commercial kitchen space and began the journey to launch what is now the fastest growing granola brand in the U.S. Today, Viki’s Granola is available in five delicious flavors and has a loyal following.
  • Viki’s Foods is dedicated to creating foods made from inspiration and high quality ingredients, with health and happiness at the core.  All of Viki’s recipes are “one of a kind culinary art creations,” with a strong emphasis on taste, presentation, and consistency. The family owned and operated brand prides itself on its approach to maintain traditional, homemade cooking.
  • Viki was honored as one of New York Business Journal’s “Women of Influence 2016,” is a proud member of the Women’s Business Network (WBENC) and holds a B.S. of Accounting from Marymount Manhattan College. For more information on Viki, visit www.vikisfoods.com.

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Matt Gottesman

Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ - an online magazine dedicated to the world's entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.