Macaroni Stork recently talked to Alyson Eberle, the CEO of Pure Spoon, about her journey as a mom who started a successful business and what her advice is for moms who are interested in being an entrepreneur.
Alyson’s journey as the creator of Pure Spoon started when her daughter, Riley Grace, was six months old. Alyson walked down the baby food aisle to look for delicious, fresh baby food and found ... nothing.
"There were no fresh food options! The options were 'shelf stable,' which meant that some of the food in the grocery store might actually be older than my baby. I decided to buy organic produce and make the baby food myself. I realized that although I was making a meal that was good for my baby, it was taking A LOT of time. I know that most moms don't want to spend that much time – or just don’t have that time – so I thought it was a great business idea," she explained.
From that seed of an idea, she created a 100% fresh, organic product that is developed through high pressure pasteurization (HPP) to ensure that the nutrition is locked in, and that the food is fresher and safer. It's available at stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, and select Target stores, and can also be delivered right to your door.
Great Advice for Moms Who Want Start a Business
Alyson shared some advice with me about how to follow your dream of creating a business that’s your passion. Her tips include:
1. Look for a Need. Then, fill that space with an innovative product or service that brings value to customers. Alyson didn't know that there was a void in the baby food market until she needed it. She found out that other parents wanted these products, but couldn’t find them because they didn't exist. Alyson knew that companies are deeply invested in the 18-49 age group – women in particular – so they listen to moms. "If you want it as a mom, and if other moms want it too, you can turn that idea or concept into a product," said Alyson. "Plus, I found out from pureeing my own baby food that it’s time consuming. Moms want the best for our kids, but we don't have the time to make everything at home. That’s why Pure Spoon was born."
2. Take Stock in Your Idea. Alyson suggests that when you’re thinking about starting a business, you should sit down and calculate what you think your expenses would be and then determine the time this new venture would take. "Then, multiply those numbers by two," she said. "It will cost more and take much more time than you imagine."
Next, take complete ownership of your idea. Write down everything about it that you’d like to tell people, and learn it completely. That way, you can turn your idea into something that people will buy. Alyson said that when Whole Foods called, she only had 30 minutes to talk to them about Pure Spoon. She knew everything there was to know about her product, who the intended audience was, and the benefits of fresh, organic baby food using HPP. Whole Foods was impressed and soon became a distributor.
3. Seek Mentorships. You’ll need help to start a business – lots of help! "The reason I started this company is that I wanted to give parents a better choice. But I had to learn the business as I went along. I didn't have a background in this industry, and it was a big hurdle that I was doing something that hadn't been made before," Alyson said. She turned to experts (who wouldn’t be competition) who were willing to help her as she put the wheels in motion for her business.
4. Find Your Balance. If you run your own business, your role as both a business owner and a mom will evolve every day. "It’s true that you can’t be a mom first every day when you’re an entrepreneur. Some days are harder than others. There’s nothing wrong with that. My business helps parents, and this makes me happy. I hope to show my daughter that you can reach for the stars. Being a business owner and a mom can be difficult, but very rewarding," said Alyson.
5. Don’t Give Up. Alyson’s favorite quote is from Thomas Edison: "Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." She said that the quote inspired her, and she reads it every day.
"I would get so many people telling me 'no,' especially since cold pressure pasteurization with purees was something that had never been done before. It requires refrigeration, and no other baby food is like that. But I really believed in what I was doing. People will close doors on you, and that’s part of the process. You’ll learn a great deal from hearing why people are saying 'no.' You have to determine if their 'no' means that you should change something or if you should just pause, and then stay the course," she said.
Alyson came up with her idea for fresh baby food in 2011, and today, Pure Spoon is becoming a popular item in grocery stores and in homes across America.