If you are interested in learning more about the types of pitches and companies you may see at the $100k Competition, check out what one of last year’s winners, Charles Parsow, has to say about Ginger Time and the competition. His venture, Ginger Time, produces a concentrated serving of fresh ginger roots, honey and other organic ingredients that improves your body’s immunities and even can settle an upset stomach.
Congratulations on Ginger Time coming in first place in the 2018 $100K New Ventures Competition! What sort of traction have you had since then?
I’m incredibly grateful for the traction that I’ve had since I launched Ginger Time in October 2018. I’m in 25 retailers across Massachusetts and 6 in Manhattan. Across these retail outlets, I’ve sold anywhere between 2-10x what would be considered “average” for a new beverage. In one month, one retailer sold 15x what is considered “average.” Amazon has been a tremendously successful channel for me. In the last 2 months, Amazon has overshadowed my wholesale business and now represents 95%+ of my revenue. I’ve had a customer from Sitka, Alaska (population 8,600) and one from a U.S. military base in Kuwait. Many customers have purchased anywhere from 1-2 cases per month since I launched on Amazon, and my return rate has been abnormally low for a food/beverage product at less than 1%.
What resources did you find most useful throughout your experience with the $100K competition?
I think that the networking has been the most useful. One of the judges in the semi-finals round, David Radlo, has been instrumental to my success. He’s been a true mentor, and I’ve learned a lot about distributor pricing and promotional scheduling from him.
I also won a lease credit for office/warehouse space through Cummings Properties. I partly used that credit to store pallets of Ginger Time instead of renting warehouse space, so that was helpful from a cash-flow perspective. Speaking with Bill Cummings and hearing his story was quite inspiring to me, as well.
What are the major trends and opportunities in the nutrition entrepreneurship space that you are most excited about?
Big brands are finally realizing that they are poor innovators and that their products are generally off-trend. They’re investing in and buying smaller companies that have effectively tapped into consumer demand for authentic and innovative products. It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in the nutrition space. And it’s a great time for consumers who end up buying these great, new products.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
Getting my co-packer to produce the first run of Ginger Time was my biggest challenge. Ginger Time’s bottle is unique and most co-packers have large minimums. I had few options and this co-packer fit the bill in almost every way. I’m sure the owner sensed my inexperience at the time and assumed that I was not a serious buyer or worth the trouble for just a small run. He became unresponsive. I’ve never worked so hard to give someone thousands of dollars. Persistence pays off – I made friends with the secretary and probably called/texted the owner 7 times a week for 2-3 weeks.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known earlier?
Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much.
What one piece of advice do you have for Tufts students who are interested in or are starting their venture now?
Prepare yourself for a lot of rejection. No one cares as much about your idea and company as you do. It’s easy to think that everyone should care about the rosy, bright idea that you’ve got in your head. Truth is, few will until you’ve done the hard work and they finally see your vision turn into success. Celebrate the small wins along the way, stay convicted, and keep your eyes on the prize.