Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Thierry Farges and Francois Baumont, founders of specialty food maker Transatlantic Foods, answer our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
At Transatlantic Foods, we place a particular emphasis on crafting unique flavor combinations. After years of developing, marketing and selling other brands of specialty food products, we noticed that very little product innovation was taking place — even in the realm of fancy foods. We knew that although traditional luxury-food items deserve a place on consumers’ tables, there was plenty of room for experimentation. Now, we’re putting a new spin on familiar flavors, mixing butter and truffle oil or bacon and artisanal spices. And we’ve gotten some attention. In 2008, our first product, Aux Delices des Bois Black Truffle Butter won the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s (NASFT) gold sofi award for outstanding new product.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Watching our Herbes de Provence Artisanal Bacon sizzle on other people’s stoves. Seeing Pig’Nics fly out of stores. Hearing consumers ask where to stock up on White Truffle Butter. Knowing that people are not only buying, but also enjoying our products is the best.
What’s the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Cash flow. We need money to warehouse our wholesale, commodity products – truffles, wild mushrooms, confit de canard – and pay artisanal suppliers and processors. Despite our success over the years, keeping enough cash flowing into the company to pay our suppliers is a constant struggle.
Name: Thierry Farges and Francois Baumont
Business: Transatlantic Foods, a specialty food maker.
Industry: Food Service
Location: New York
Year founded: 2006
Number of employees: 3
Web address: transatlanticfoods.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Getting our first products to market. We were able to capitalize on the brand recognition of my previous company, Aux Délices des Bois, a New York distribution and mail order source for mushrooms and truffles. But the intricacies of finance, research, sourcing, packaging, marketing and trade shows turned enough hairs gray.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Printing too many package labels in the first shot. Soon after launching our first products, we won NASFT’s gold sofi award and entered the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Branded Program, which provides a 50% cost-reimbursement for a variety of eligible international marketing and promotional activities. Who knew we’d want to modify our packaging so quickly?
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Stick with your dream, but be flexible and intelligent enough to constantly revise and switch tactics.
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