[quote style=”boxed”]Having strong advisors from day one would have definitely helped.[/quote]
For some people, taking a year out of school might involve a trip to Europe. For Aaron Greenwald, it meant starting a premium frozen pizza business. Aaron’s interest in gluten-free and dairy-free foods stemmed from his competitive tennis days in high school. Looking to shed some weight and get more energized and focused, Aaron took his nutritionist’s advice to take gluten and dairy out of his diet, which ultimately caused Aaron to lose almost 20 pounds within a couple of months. He began searching for a great tasting allergy-free frozen pizza but failed to find one. Inspired by the lack of taste and variety of specialty pizzas in the supermarket, Aaron got creative and started experimenting with his own pizza toppings. As a freshman majoring in Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, Aaron found himself gravitating towards courses where he could cultivate his entrepreneurial spirit. It was eventually a project for an Introduction to Entrepreneurship class that turned into the blueprint for BOLD Organics.
A hard to impress professor and a tepid grade on that project did not deter Aaron. Three months later, BOLD Organics was born. Convinced that the idea for a great tasting gluten-free and dairy-free frozen pizza product was unmatched on the market, Aaron decided to bring renowned Chef Eric Brenner on board to perfect his recipe. Together they built BOLD Organics into a unique range of great tasting gluten-free and dairy-free frozen pizzas that are extremely healthy, offer great value to the consumer, and use only the highest quality ingredients. Old enough to start a business but not quite old enough to rent a car, Aaron and his entrepreneurial vision are making an impact on the frozen pizza and gluten and dairy-free market. BOLD Organics is giving consumers the opportunity to enjoy delicious and healthy pizza at a great price.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently the president of BOLD Organics, a company that manufactures and sells gluten-free and dairy-free pizzas in retails stores nationwide, with plans for other products in the near future.
Where did the idea for BOLD Organics come from?
I was playing tennis competitively in high school and realized I needed to lose some weight to up my game. My nutritionist suggested taking gluten and dairy out of my diet. When I did, I lost 20 pounds in two months and was much more energized and focused. I realized that my body felt much better eating that way and I went to the local supermarket looking for quality gluten-free and dairy-free products. I was disappointed in what I found, especially in the frozen pizza space, and I knew there was a big opportunity to offer delicious, allergen-free products in supermarkets nationwide. I ended up taking an entrepreneurship course at Washington University in St. Louis and writing a business plan for an idea I had – gluten-free and dairy-free pizza. I did the research and found that 20 million Americans had celiac disease or some form of gluten sensitivity. I also found that more than 60 million Americans had some form of dairy intolerance. I realized the market size potential and connected with award-winning St. Louis chef Eric Brenner, to develop the first line of pizzas that we eventually launched in the marketplace earlier this year.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up at 5 a.m. each morning and work out for about an hour. I get into the office around 8 a.m. along with my colleagues and will usually have a number of status calls with our brand management firm, sales team, etc. On some days, we have company brainstorming sessions where we all sit down and discuss some of the opportunities/obstacles we have and how we go about creating a solution for them. I also travel a lot for media interviews as well as sales calls. My day usually ends around 9 p.m. when I head out with family or friends for dinner.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I never let an obstacle get in the way of an opportunity. I have faced obstacles every day since launching BOLD Organics and it has just been about working through those obstacles and creating solutions that will be efficient and profitable.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The entire gluten-free trend and the trend towards eating healthy really excite me. More people are starting to realize how important eating well is and we have seen it in the demand for organic, non GMO, and gluten-free products.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
This is my first job so it has been a great experience seeing the highs and lows of business.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Because I started this business right out of college, there were many things I didn’t know about the industry. I think because of that there were some mistakes made along that resulted in a less efficient business. Having strong advisors from day one would have definitely helped.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every day I fight through obstacles, no matter how difficult. Our business is constantly growing and changing, and being able to adjust to those changes and develop creative solutions to various issues that might arise is the most important thing to me in running any business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
This is my first business so I am thankful that it has been successful thus far.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have become very interested in the entire concept of crowd sourcing, and have always thought you could use the concept to simplify financial transactions in many different ways. You have companies like Kickstarter that have already developed crowd sourcing as a way to spur investments for new products and ideas, but I think an expansion of Kickstarter to provide money to a wider variety of financial transactions could be a very useful tool.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would make sure everyone could receive an education and have the tools they needed to be successful in whatever they decide to do in life.
Tell us a secret.
I love real estate development. It has always been my passion and I will probably be working in the industry sometime down the road.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I love working with various management tools. Examples include Basecamp (great for managing projects with the team), Highrise (great for managing contacts) and Evernote (great for keeping track of conversations).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. I really like the project planning and management model in his book and my whole business motto is about getting things done so it fits well.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud all the time, especially working in business. People do things you either don’t like or aren’t correct and it’s just better to sit back and laugh than to get upset and let it bother you the rest of the day. Laughing about it allows you to tackle the problem more easily then getting angry about it.
Who is your hero?
My father is my hero. His knowledge, experience and success in business has inspired me to be an entrepreneur and strive for success in everything I do.
Where do you see this business heading in five years?
I think we are on a great path with BOLD Organics. The products we have developed and are continuing to develop are the best tasting, highest quality, and highest value allergen-free products on the market. Our plan is to build a lifestyle of delicious allergen-free eating where BOLD Organics can be a platform and lead the category for consumers looking for all different types of delicious gluten-free and dairy-free food.
What is a funny story you have had with your business so far?
When I started my business I was only 19, so when I first went out to Los Angeles to meet with our manufacturing partners I had to take a taxi to the facility because I wasn’t old enough to rent a car. After we finished the meeting, I asked the owner if she had a number for a taxi service and she looked at me and said, “You didn’t rent a car?” I said I couldn’t because I was not 21 yet and she starred at me and replied, “What? You aren’t 21? I would have never known.”
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.