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Springfield, MO

Photo provided by RED TOP OVEN LLC

Startup Corner: Jane Ford and Kathy Hubbard, Red Top Oven LLC

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Minimally viable product …
Locally grown fruits and vegetables create our fresh flavor in every jar. We have something local in 99 percent of our products.

Problem solving …
We create recipes and need customers to want that product.  Sampling our products allows people to decide before they buy and makes a happy customer. This is also the time to listen and learn.

Seed money …
A second mortgage financed building the commercial kitchen on our property and equipment – $50,000. Then a personal loan until the business sustained itself. We met goal to pay off the mortgage loan in the third year.  

Next phase …
Expanding our retail footprint. Our newest business alliance, Williams Sonoma, asked us to be a part of the new local foods section in its Frontenac Plaza store in St. Louis.

Pivot …
We started as bakers specializing in cheesecakes but quickly realized customers were loving our fruit jams. Jane’s canning and gardening experience led to the decision to go with value-added products. Full Food and Drug Administration requirements are needed to develop the 30-plus products we sell today.

Biggest mistake …
Believing a holiday order from a business owner for 10 cases of one product would be bought. We still take orders but require a nonrefundable down payment that covers our food costs.

Hurdles overcome …
Exposing our brand to people without spending money on advertising.

Best advice …
Find your cash cow and promote, promote, promote.

Worst advice …
Get into as many retail stores as possible.

Food for thought …
Know your labor costs, and in our case, food costs. Don’t be greedy.

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