Q&A Series: Our Start Up Evolution

By: The Soom Sisters  |  January 10, 2017

How long did it take to get the Company up and running?

Amy: The idea came about in 2011 and we didn’t have our first sale until May 2013. So we spent a lot of time on market research.  This included learning about other tahini’s in the retail market and in the restaurant and food service area. We took a family trip to Ethiopia in April of 2012 because we really wanted to understand where the product was coming from. From January 2013 until the end of April 2013, we started working to bring over the first container.

Shelby: Also, I was working full time, Amy was still in college, and Jackie was getting her master’s degree. Therefore, it took a while for all the pieces to come together. Amy was running the business full time by herself for about about 8 months and then we started bringing on some marketing people a little bit. So Amy spent about 11 months running Soom Foods without me and Jackie.

How has Soom Foods evolved since starting the Company?

Amy: One of the most crucial developments has been the fact that we’re not delivering the product ourselves anymore. In the beginning, we spent a lot of time in the car delivering buckets, which was extremely challenging. So for me, that feels like the biggest difference from where we were then to where we are now.

Shelby: It’s just so hard to wrap that up in one statement. Everything from our labels, to our distribution, to our warehousing, to our website has evolved. If you were to take a snapshot at where Soom Foods was at the beginning of our company, it was so incredibly different. I mean now we have operational processes for our warehouse. We didn’t even know how to use a pallet jack at the beginning; I didn’t know what a pallet was! So there is a lot that Soom Foods has evolved into which has enabled us to focus more on the marketing, on the selling, and on preaching to our customers about why we love our product and they should too.

Amy: Then there are days like today where we’re all in the warehouse packing boxes. That’s what we were 3 years ago! It’s a roller coaster, you go up and down.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced or continue to face while running your business?

Shelby: For me – well for all of us because we are our own bosses – time management and figuring out what to prioritize at any given time is the biggest challenge. There’s a crucial balance between the strategy and the implementation. So making time and space for thinking about the big picture while still running the day to day business is a big challenge.  

Jackie:  And then there are the daily/weekly/monthly challenges that pop-up – backorders, delivery delays, packaging malfunctions etc… We joke that one day we will write “the Book” about all of these mishaps and the learnings that happened as a result.  Honestly, these sorts of challenges just make us stronger as a team and Company.