But that is changing, thanks to industry veterans Mike Fata and Greg Fleishman who after decades of building successful natural CPG businesses are now pulling back the curtain on the process for anyone who is interested with the launch of their free CPG “mass mentorship” platform.
The platform is a literal brain dump of key documents, strategies, tips and insights gathered by Fata as the founder, CEO and chairman of Manitoba Harvest, which successfully exited to Tilray in 2020 for $419m, and Fleishman, who has served as an investor, founder, CEO and board director at Foodstirs, Once Upon a Farm, Lily’s Sweets, Nuun and Suja.
The platform, which also includes a job board, blog and curated library of digital tools, comes when an influx of untested entrepreneurs – spurred by the pandemic’s ‘great resignation’ – are entering the food and beverage industry. At the same time, tech-investors are pouring money into the space – making possible what wasn’t before and changing the fundraising proposition.
In this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast, Fleishman breaks down the impact of these shifts on the industry, how his platform can help entrepreneurs stay ahead of the curve and shares advice he wishes he had when first starting out. He also shares what emerging trends he is most excited about.
[Editor’s note: Subscribe to FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast and catch every episode.]
A free startup tool box – no strings attached (really)
When Fleishman and Fata launched their mentorship platform in July, they did so out of the goodness of their hearts – with no expectations of sponsorships, no covert sales funnel, and no shady data harvesting.
According to Fleishman, the platform is their way of giving back to an industry they love and to fill an unmet need for what Fata calls “mass mentorship.”
“Mike and I are both founders, operators and investors. We’ve been in the industry for 20 years and we’ve always had a commitment to mentoring other brands. … Giving back is a core part of what we’re all about,” he said.
While both love working one-one-one with entrepreneurs, he added, “there’s only so much time in the day and in the week and in the month to be able to dedicate to mentoring,” and this platform allows them to help more people, more quickly.
“Fata Fleishman mentorship is a platform that provides startups, particularly CPG entrepreneurs, with all the tools and resources they need to get going in their business. Or, if they’ve already started and their looking to scale, it provides a wide range of tools and resources for them scale efficiently and with their heart and soul,” Fleishman said.
This includes what Fleishman calls “the Startup Toolbox,” which includes everything from projection models, investor lists, pitch presentation examples to must have legal documentation and much more.
The ‘great resignation’ is pushing more people to start businesses
The platform is well-timed to support first-time entrepreneurs who are considering or launching their own businesses after leaving jobs – voluntarily or not – during the pandemic.
“Last year, the IRS reported that there were 3 to 4 million people that signed up for EIN numbers. That was a 30% increase versus 2019,” Fleishman said.
He explained that when faced with the challenges of the pandemic, many people felt that they could have more control if they were their own bosses and if they began their own businesses. But they might not know what it takes to launch and successfully run a business.
And that is where the platform comes in, Fleishman said.
While Fleishman says the platform is stocked with much of what entrepreneurs need to succeed there ae some things that he says entrepreneurs should not bootstrap. Namely legal documents and advice. Which is why the platform offers templates alongside a list of vetted attorneys and legal representatives they trust.
‘They’re bringing fresh thinking, lots of money and value-added resources’
Alongside the new entrepreneurs entering the food and beverage industry is a steady stream of new investors – many of whom Fleishman says hail from the tech world – and with their capital, he notes, they are "bringing fresh thinking, lots of money and value-added resources,” which make now “a great time to be an entrepreneur.”
For example, he said, he is excited to see how these investors not only support individual companies and entrepreneurs but also help build out the services on which they rely – creating a stronger overall ecosystem, which could help boost the success rate.
Trendspotting: Placing bets on the next big thing
As more entrepreneurs and investors enter the food & beverage space, Fleishman says they are bringing with them new ideas, including several that excite him, such as upgraded indulgence, technology-enhanced supplements, weight-management solutions, functional health and wellness solutions and alternative sweeteners.
As the food and beverage industry absorbs and adapts to the new ideas and approaches that entrepreneurs and investors bring in, Fleishman says he and Fata will continue to update and evolve their mentorship platform to include effective new approaches along side tried and true techniques for building a successful business.
If you are interested in learning more about the platform and accessing the templates and tools that Fleishman and Fata used to successfully build their businesses, visit fatafleishman.org and sign up today. https://www.fatafleishman.org/