'Foolish' small business idea: A source of instant energy food which marathon runners and other athletes could eat, even while on the move. A nutritious, tasty, easily digested, energising food bar. The result: PowerBars.
Start-Up Capital: Unknown.
How small business idea was Launched: In a tiny cellar space, Brian and Jennifer produced 40,000 PowerBars. They travelled to sporting events, sold the bars and gave out samples and discount coupons.
Brian also approached Quaker Oats, but they weren't interested. The U.S. Cycling team offered sponsorship in exchange for free PowerBars. The resulting CBS broadcasting short story, gave them advertising coverage which launched the company into production.
Sales: Mainly to athletes and sports people.
Earnings: $100million-a-year business.
Four-time Canadian National Champion marathon runner, Brian Maxwell, suffered a heartbreaking setback, when stomach problems and running out of energy, nearly forced him out of a marathon. He was leading in front of 7,000 competitors while competing in the Manchester Marathon (England) - a gruelling 26-mile race.
Despite falling apart physically and emotionally, Brian stayed with the race, coming in seventh, instead of winning. However, it made him think, if there had been a small convenient, easy to eat source of energy available, he could have overcome his dilemma during the race. But such a food, simply didn't exist. So Brian determined to produce his own food bar.
He teamed up with UC Berkeley nutrition and food science student, Jennifer Biddulph, also a competitive runner. In Brian's kitchen, they mixed breakfast cereals, fruit juices, vitamin pills, and milk powder. The results were not encouraging. Each combination of mixture merely ended up as a horrible mess of 'gloop'. They persevered and three years and 800 combinations later they worked out the winning formula for a high energising bar that was also tasty and had the right consistency.
Producing 400 bars themselves, they loaded them into a Ford Falcon and began selling PowerBars, and giving out samples and discount coupons at sporting events. Jennifer and Brian had proved the bars worked and could sell, so Brian approached Quaker Oats. They weren't interested, but the U.S. Cycling team came to their rescue. They offered sponsorship in return for free PowerBars. CBS broadcast a short story and Brian Maxwell and Jennifer Biddulph were on their way to winning with a $100million-a-year business.
The product is also sold from powerbars vending machines.