business lessons 2014Michael Adams is not even 27 years of age, but already has three food start-ups under his belt. The first began humbly enough selling cookies on the weekend when he was 15. The second, Adam’s started during his senior year in high school. At the businesses peak Michael and his parents were cooking 500 – 1000 energy bars out of their families kitchen each week.  But for the past four years Adams has been the owner of Green Mountain Mustard and is determined to bring new life to the typically uninspired and under-appreciated condiment.

In this episode, we dive deep into Adam’s end of year reflection post titled “What I Learned About My Business in 2014 (and what I’m doing about it).” In this post, Adam’s outlines his top 10 lessons from the past year. It was a big year for Green Mountain Mustard with sales of his product doubling and transactions being made across 17 states. Still, as with any growing business there were numerous challenges that Adam’s encountered over the last 12 months.

We dive deep into the following topics during our conversation: 1.) Fairs and festivals not being a sustainable route to growth. 2.) Why he decided that having Kroger distribute his mustard didn’t make sense from a business standpoint. 3.) The importance of having a top-notch design and product labeling when establishing a new brand. 4.) Listen to the the audio to learn the rest!


Quotes from the Show

After college, I decided I don’t want a corporate job right now and went full-time mustard. – Michael Adams on starting Green Mountain Mustard. 

It’s a really transparent look into what it takes to grow a food business. – Michael Adams  

What You’ll Learn

  • What Michael Adams learned from running Green Mountain Mustard in 2014
  • How Michael got his start running a business at a very early age by selling cookies in front of a salon. Adams was selling $200 – $300 worth of cookies each weekend when he was 15.
  • Learn about Adam’s second food startup, an energy bar business, was launched from his parent’s kitchen while still in high school. Eventually, Adam’s parent’s would be cooking between 500 – 1,000 energy bars each weekend.
  • Adam’s perspective on using festivals to help raise awareness for and sell product.
  • How Adam’s uses his blog to help formulate ideas and reflect on his business while helping other entrepreneurs get started.
  • The importance of knowing your margins when running a food product business.
  • How an e-commerce website can be used to build sales / revenue for food products.
  • How incorrect labeling can create brand or product confusion and tips to avoid it.
  • Learn about Adam’s new book that’s getting released on February, 27th.
green mountain mustard

View Green Mountain Mustards full product line.

Mentioned in the Show

Green Mountain Mustard – This is Michael Adam’s gourmet mustard business. Here you can view the packaging design that Adam’s explains during the interview in addition to picking up a 10% off coupon when you sign up for their email list.

Jar Design – This is the company that designed Green Mountain Mustard’s product labels. They produce creative for other businesses as well. Check out their website, they do awesome work.

Kroger – The massive brand that Adams had to turn down because the numbers didn’t make sense for his mustard business.

Food Bike Story – More food and beverage bikes are beginning to share the road with food trucks. As you might expect the food being prepped on these is limited at best. As usual, this is a well done story from NPR. Check out the West Sac Veggie Trike:

Food Truck Road Trip – I received this book as a gift from my buddy Jimbo. This book was written by the awesome folks over at Strangely enough I used to work with Kim Pham’s brother, one of the authors of the book. Small world.

As someone that has launched a book on Amazon previously, I can truly appreciate the hours, days, and months of effort that went into making this resource. The photos are beautiful and I plan to cook some of the recipes included in this book over the next couple of weeks.  Shout out to the feature of Moral Omnivore from MSP in the book. I plan to make their recipe next. Kudos!

Want to start your own food business?

Hey! 👋I’m Brett Lindenberg, the founder of Food Truck Empire.

We interview successful founders and share the stories behind their food trucks, restaurants, food and beverage brands. By sharing these stories, I want to help others get started.

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