It was actually my brother, Emil, who first picked up on the challenges of providing healthy snacks to an office. He was working in a leading tech company as a developer and experienced first-hand how productive he was day-to-day when he had access to healthy snacks. But it wasn’t easy for management to make everyone happy, since not everyone’s dietary preferences were kept track of and it was pretty hard to keep to a budget while giving people what they wanted. Emil thought he could do better by developing a solution to streamline the process; making sure all needs are met, while staying within the budget. This offered an easier customer experience for both the purchaser and employees, making the entire office happier. We’ve kept close to that philosophy as we’ve grown. Emil and I were always entrepreneurial. We’ve been building different businesses and projects since we were 12 years old. We did a kickstarter campaign for a piece of software, ran a hedge trimming company, created a sports data aggregation site, an early amazon affiliate site, and a few others. I think Desk Nibbles has caught on because of the unique way that we were approaching a problem, instead of trying to solve it in the way everyone else was.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Surviving year 1. It was tough. Revenue growth was slow and we were still figuring out the business model. We slowly figured out our product and then product/market fit in early 2018. Now, we’re on track and it’s coming down to when we hit our checkpoints, not if.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Currently; Lost and Founder. Recommended; High Growth Handbook, Radical Candor, How to Win Friends and Influence People, You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar (Sandler)
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
We are incredibly lucky to have an amazingly supportive group of friends and family. Emil and I compete just enough to keep each other growing, but we’re always there to build one another up and that’s how we’re making this work.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Community support; Mentors, Advisors, Innovation Centres like Invest Ottawa, Educational Institutions, great talent. In Ottawa there's an amazing ecosystem to build something great.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
The most difficult part is just getting started. Reject any limiting beliefs you might have.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Just do it! Give it a shot.