By: Diana Mercer
Each year at Natural Products Expos East and West, New Hope Natural Media hosts more than 3,000 exhibiting brands who are attempting to chart a course toward success. Some are enthusiastic foodies, or avid supporters of organics, sustainability mavens, or have been recently diagnosed with celiac disease.
All of the brands in the New Hope Natural Media family have a story, and all of them are passionate, hard working, and more often than not, overwhelmed with everything a startup needs to understand and do to be successful.
One of our favorite rapidly growing brand leaders, Koel Thomae from Noosa Yoghurt, recently shared one of Noosa’s first big mistakes:
Noosa had an opportunity to expand to the New York market in our first 18 months, and it turned out to be too far too soon for our young brand. We ultimately pulled back and re-focused our efforts to key regions closer to home, where we could dedicate the appropriate resources to build retail relationships and brand awareness.
In the world of startups, similar missteps happen every day. While Noosa recovered nicely, not all brands are so lucky. In order to support the Expo family of brands navigate rough waters, New Hope Natural Media has launched the NEXT Accelerator to provide growing businesses with the practical solutions, service providers, and networking community they need to succeed.
The NEXT Accelerator tool offers 3 main features that can help:
The LEARN section of the website contains eleven content modules packed with informational video, articles, and downloadable tools to provide entrepreneurial brands with the solutions to common questions from the industry’s leading experts. The modules cover branding and packaging, retail sales and distribution, manufacturing, fundraising, mission and philanthropy and more. Experts like Bob Burke from Natural Products Consulting is an Accelerator Mentor and calls the information he shares on the Accelerator site and presents in his workshops, “Good for your company, great for your career.”
In the natural products industry it’s not unusual to be searching for the right price on organic dried cherries for your energy bar, a co-packer that can handle frozen foods, or a recyclable container for your smoothie product, and our Service Provider Directory can help. The NETWORK section allows entrepreneurs to find what they need – from a packaging agency to a new broker – using our database of more than 3,000 (and growing) service providers.
Startups can search by region or type of service provider. As the community grows, the service provider directory will contain ratings, similar to Yelp, or Angie’s List, from others who have used them, in order to gain insights into that potential partner before a brand teams up with them.
Running a business can be lonely. New startup entrepreneurs often work at home, nose to the grindstone, or are out pounding the pavement looking for their next retail account. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the opportunity to pose startup questions to another brand leader you admire, or an expert industry mentor?
The Forum section of the NEXT Accelerator provides community support from peers who have had with similar problems and experiences, and provides answers to common questions from a diverse pool of trusted industry mentors. For example, in one exchange a member asked about adding chia seeds to a new product and received targeted feedback from a variety of expert mentors and industry leaders with diverse expertise in data, editorial insights, and practical, market-based experience.
Whether you are in the early planning stages of your business and jotting your ideas on the back of a napkin, or you are already running a viable natural products business, the NEXT Accelerator can provide a unique opportunity for you to connect with, and learn from those who have blazed the trail before you, allowing you to make strategic moves with far less headache.
About Next Accelerator
The NEXT Accelerator is a no-cost, high value tool for natural entrepreneurs who are launching and growing their businesses. To become part of the NEXT Accelerator family of successful businesses, visit www.nextaccelerator.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diana is a passionate entrepreneur, and deeply dedicated to helping young ethical businesses succeed. She is the co-founder of Clementine Art, the first full line of all-natural art products for children designed to support healthy creative expression. As community manager of the NEXT Natural Products Accelerator and consultant for the Innovation Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO., Diana is able to provide the small business assessment, mentorship, and support that is so critical to growing brands in the natural space.