"Read about how Dimitri took his honey business to $1MM+ in yearly sales in 4 years with no outside investment"
S: for our readers, can you tell us in one sentence what your company is about?
J: We are a company that strongly believes in providing healthy products directly from the beehive to as many people as possible. Creating consumer products using ingredients from the beehive in the most conscious manner
S: when were you guys founded? Where are your headquarters? And where are you guys legally domiciled and what's your legal structure?
J: We were founded in December of 2015. Our headquarters are in NYC. We are a Delaware C corp, with authority to do business in New York.
S: Tell me about the founder(s)
J:I am the sole-founder with a background in the food industry. When I lived in Europe, I started a food wholesale business that I then exited. I wanted to create a real product. My father is a beekeeper, so I've been around this world my whole life - I wanted to introduce a better version of honey into the american market. I am passionate about creating a wide variety of bee related products
S: Are you currently fundraising? If so, what round is this? How much you are hoping to close with? WHat is your funding history.
J: Not currently fundraising - looking to maybe later in 2020, but in this stage we're relatively comfortable in terms of capital. We've been working with debt financing since 2017 and recently got an investment from 13 Ventures
. Since day 1, I've worked on trying to build a profitable business that would make money, not burn it.
S. How were you able to build a profitable biz right off the bat?
D: It's all about knowing your margins, COGS, product selling point. I started the company with almost $0 in cash and self funded, bootstrapped. When I'd make sales, I would just keep reinvesting the proceeds. I mastered the art of talking to suppliers and providers (including shipping) and getting preferential terms.
We haven't burned any cash since day one and have been profitable every single year. We chose to start selling door to door and keeping track of it - we built relationships with the e-commerce community step by step, which allowed us to grow steadily and maintain profitability. We didn't want to be one of those companies throwing their products everywhere for super deep discounts with products on the shelves not selling.
S: What do your sales look like?
D: We're on track to sell $1.2MM this year..growth has been on average 30-40% YoY
S: What connections are you looking for at this stage in the company?
D: I would love to talk to VCs or angels that have seen companies pivot into a wider or bigger market, that went through a rebranding as we're undergoing right now and chat and see what their experiences were like with that process. We started as a honey in a jar concept, but I have a bigger vision. Early on, I realized it would be impossible to build a small or medium sized company in the honey in a jar market. In order to be big, I know I have to look outside of the box and venture into different formats and ingredients. I am looking into everything that bees make (including bee pollen, royal jelly, beeswax). I'm investing my own money into R&D of news product lines, including those ingredients that wouldn't simply supply the honey in a jar format. I wanted to create something fast-consumption- oriented and e-commerce friendly. I will start fundraising for these new lines as soon as I've finalized the concept and validated product market fit.
S: What are your hopes for Apiterra in 2020 and 2021? What do you need to get there?
J: Undergo a rebranding. We need to find a greater product market within our consumer base. That's why we're doing a lot of testing of concepts and R&D in order to get to that stage. We're heavily focused on conveying the message that we're also a conscious company; currently undergoing B-certification and non-GMO certification. We're also looking into how to be as carbon neutral as possible down the line. We are currently in talks with partners from different organizations to help them do that. Part of our "1% for the planet" program. Gives us the opportunity to stay humble, and conduct business in the most conscious way possible.
S: Who are your clients?
D: We sell both offline and online. Our biggest clients are Wholefoods, and the amazing Startup, Imperfect Foods. Online we sell via amazon and own website. There have been a lot of companies that have grown online first and then went offline; seems to be a potential good idea for us. Our tactics are different, we'll see how offline tastes but are heavily focused on online sales for now. We never wanted to be D2C only - we believe that only hybrid companies can succeed in the long run because CAC is high in the beginning, before finding a way to acquire customers creatively, going all online is a bit scary for him.
We are proud and blessed to have a very wide range of clients, from Wholefoods to Imperfect Foods, from Wegmans to Amazon. When speaking of our actual clients, we call 'em the Apiterra Family. A health-conscious person, caring for the world around. And of course looving the bees.
J: What's been your biggest challenge?
S: It's a small market with a very low barrier to entry. Everybody knows a beekeeper on their street with bee hives that are selling jars in honey. There's a low R&D to sell and manufacture honey, I had never realized how hard it would be to grow a bee-products company in a small and fragmented market. I'm working on finding a new growth point, new shape and form while using the same ingredients from bee hives to tap new category and market that would require more r&d, harder to get for as many players and in order to grow much bigger business out of that
That is exactly why we are looking forward to tapping a much larger market with a product line based on the same great beehive ingredients. Stay tuned.