Looking for business partners or advice - NOT a small bakery startup

Discussion in 'Jobs / Internships Postings' started by dmitry_it, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. dmitry_it

    dmitry_it

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    Colleagues,

    As a passionate but amateur baker (my day job is IT, and I love it), I'm turning to the esteemed baking community to find advice and partners, in what I would call a mission, while any banker would call a business (it's a matter of perspective and priority).

    In short, I have a great product (cake / dessert), and my mission is to let it be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
    Profit is a factor too, of course, but not an overwhelming one (for example, I wouldn't ever consider making sacrifice in quality or taste to reduce the cost, but would focus on any cost reduction which doesn't need sacrifice in quality).

    I am NOT talking about starting a small bakery business to bake myself. This is about finding contract manufacture / private label service providers, where I provide the recipe and money, and an existing established bakery business does the rest, by order.

    What I have:
    • Product of a highest quality (cake / dessert of my own unique recipe) with a complex exquisite taste, which is:
      • so universally loved by people of all cultural backgrounds (tested on hundreds of people in different offices with very diverse workforce, from junior clerks to senior banker executives), that it has clear potential to conquer NYC (where I would like to start) and then the nation (which is the ultimate goal);
      • equally suited as a complement for morning coffee, a lazy lunch dessert, a pinnacle of a great dinner in any upscale restaurant, or a dessert part of catering offer for any level of business (meetings, conferences);
      • so unique that you won't find it anywhere else in the country, yet made entirely with simple and readily available ingredients;
      • can be frozen for storage and delivery, and unfrozen before sale and consumption, without any loss of look or taste (tested and proven); which makes it easier to start with larger batches, and pick up sales gradually;
    • Money to invest in setting up and starting the operations; not an infinite amount, but enough to start.

    What is the plan:
    • Find an automated contract manufacture facility which would produce (source, bake, package, label, freeze, store, deliver) batches of the Product by order;
      • ideally, this would be one medium or large facility, which can do all of the above - I provide the recipe, instructions and money, and they do the rest;
      • alternatively, the above stages (from production to storage and logistics) can be covered by different independent partners;
      • I have tested extensively in my home kitchen, and as a result decided not to consider smaller manual-production bakeries, for the following reasons:
        • manual production performance is quite low, so the cost of final product including cost of labor ends up very high;
        • producing large volumes would be impossible, or too slow and prohibitively expensive (per pound of product);
        • small mom-and-dad bakeries would have high incentive to just take my recipe and do the rest without me;
      • I will not consider (at least initially) renting a kitchen or building my own, and hiring professional bakers to produce the product ourselves, for the same reasons as above, plus this would require my full time focus, which I'm trying to avoid (love my primary IT job);
    • In parallel, make arrangements with sales venues - restaurants, cafeterias, groceries, Starbucks, etc.
      • at this point, I have full confidence that given the characteristics of the Product, selling it will not be a problem - focus should be on efficient production and logistics;
      • as the first production batch is available, give away free samples to promising sales venues, to attract interest and get orders;
      • I may have a good shot with my employer's own corporate cafeterias (thousands of clients daily), if I can get support from senior executives;
    • Look into online sales (Amazon looks very promising, as it can take care of everything post-production, including storage and delivery to clients);
    • Continue to work on recipes, of the original Product and any follow-up or related products (I have a few ideas, which taste great too);

    What I need:
    • Advice and/or help in finding such automated manufacture facility, that would take care of the whole production cycle;
      • I give them the recipe and money - and they do the rest;
      • I understand the need for solid NDA to protect the recipe, as recipes cannot be patented (or can they?);
    • Partners with administrative experience in baking industry, who can help run the operations;
      • I'm not greedy, and am ready to consider different levels of contribution and compensation - as long as the mission is advanced;
      • this is as much in your interest as it is in mine!
      • as I mentioned, I would like to keep my IT job (which I love), and setup the baking operation with minimal administrative involvement from me personally;
    • Any help with sales would be an added bonus, although I expect to take care of sales myself;

    So, I have a great mission and money to start, but don't seem to find the right entrance to get things going.

    Any constructive comments or suggestions are welcome!
    Please try to avoid telling me why this won't work, as I'm looking for ways to make it work. :)

    Dmitry
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    Dmitry_it, I won't tell you your plan/concept won't work. I've done my own thing for most of my adult life. I have a couple of decades on you. I don't know where you're located but it sounds like possibly NYC. You are sort of describing a co-packer to work with. I would venture a bet that you don't have nearly the funds to approach an automated manufacture, especially with an unproven product. It's very difficult to omit the initial building blocks before you scale.
    Anyway, for what it's worth, I make myself available to you through PM. I can offer you some ideas to prove your product. 100's of testers is not going to be enough. Might also want to look into the Science of your product. I've yet to see a product that doesn't go through a molecular change by freezing. enough, if interested give a shout out.
    best of luck to you! and remember, there are 1000's like you. All have a great product. Unfortunately only about .003% make it over that hump from hobby to business. Also remember, success feels great.
     
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  3. dmitry_it

    dmitry_it

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    Thank you, sir! I know everything you said comes from personal experience, sweat and pain. And I'm happy to take your kind offer to have a little offline conversation about this. :) Sometimes a few words of advice can do more than a million $.
     
  4. granola girl

    granola girl

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    I think you should go for it. But be educated and practice risk mitigation. Panini is correct in suggesting a co packer. I have found a few out here in the Los Angeles area. I'm sure you have them over there too. You will be giving them the recipe, some will even bag and label it for you. I looked into this for my CFO granola. My problem was that they have a min of 1000 pounds of product. I have 24 stores wholesaling my granola but that wouldn't be enough to sell the 1000 pounds by the 3 month best by date. Hence, I haven't moved forward on that one. You will also need a recall system. Nutrition facts, bar code. And a food scientist is a good idea. I have one if you want her info.
     
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  5. dmitry_it

    dmitry_it

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    Hi granola girl,
    Thank you for your comments!

    1000 pounds is not a problem at all, I was told by one potential partner that their minimum is 10 metric tons - which is a bit more than I can chew in one bite. :) Then I figured they can only do pound-cakes, so that didn't work out anyway.
    1000 pounds... Nope, wouldn't be a problem with my cake. I might be able to sell that much in a few days just in our corporate cafeteria serving downtown Manhattan office high-rise, without even having to freeze it. :) (it does tolerate freezing well, but it's an extra step, plus of course everything is better fresh than unfrozen).

    Nutrition facts, bar code - my thought was that it would all be taken care of by the manufacturing partner, if they are large enough. Food scientist too - but if you do have an independent one who can be engaged remotely, please do share!

    Not sure what to think of recall system... Is that something obligatory? I guess I'll have to read about it somewhere.
     
  6. granola girl

    granola girl

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    I have asked the food scientist if she can work with someone in NY. I'll get back to you when she answers me. Yes, you are lucky that min works for you. It might be 1000 units, a unit is one pound for me. I have found that each co packer has different amounts so ask around. And yes, I agree fresh is better than frozen. I don't have a freezer in my bakery so my products are baked fresh every day.
     
  7. dmitry_it

    dmitry_it

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    How do you find those potential partners (co-packers, contract manufacturers, etc) in your area? Is there a list published somewhere, or do they advertise themselves in special places? :)
     
  8. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    Trade shows are the best place to find them. People at trade shows are a lot more responsive than people you look up yourself off the internet.
     
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  9. dmitry_it

    dmitry_it

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    Noted, thanks Pat!
     
  10. popcornmaker

    popcornmaker

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    8 years bakery manager, 2 years popcorn owner, 15 years total food service
    What trade shows do you suggest looking at?
     
  11. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    Depends on where you live. There's usually a local website that lists all the trade shows in your area. Or you can use something like 10times.com to search far and wide for any shows that might be interesting/useful to you.