Caron Proschan
On Creating Simply Gum
product
Simply Gum
from New York
started
1
Founders
35
Employees
681K
alexa rank
29.4K
followers
1.99K
followers

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

Hi! I’m Caron, the founder and CEO of Simply Gum, which makes natural chewing gum and mints.

Our flagship product is our line of natural chewing gum. Most people don’t realize that conventional chewing gum is made of plastic. It’s also filled with synthetic substances like aspartame and BHT. Consumers are kept in the dark because the FDA allows brands to hide synthetic ingredients in the catch-all term "gum base" on the label.

Instead of plastic, we use chicle, a sap that’s sustainably harvested from a tree. And we don’t use any synthetic ingredients. We also make all of our gum at our own factory in Brooklyn, New York.

on-creating-simply-gum

What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I think I’ve always known that I would eventually start my own company but it took me a bit of time to get there.

I was in finance and real estate and went to business school. Eventually, I decided to take the leap. I’ve always been into natural products and one day as I was chewing a piece of gum, it dawned on me that despite buying organic produce and natural beauty products, I had never really looked into whether gum was natural.

It turns out that it’s totally synthetic, of course, and that’s when I realized there was a real opportunity to create something that was better for our bodies as well as the environment.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

Once I decided that I wanted to explore this idea, the first step was to come up with the recipe! I experimented in my kitchen for over a year, coming up with different formulas.

I think I’ve always known that I would eventually start my own company but it took me a bit of time to get there.

It took almost as long to develop the packaging. I knew the graphics and the structure had to be totally different from conventional gum, in order to really stand out and feel like a premium item. It took a lot of iterations before landing on the current design, but it’s been so successful that we’ve never changed it.

Once I had the product and packaging, I launched a Kickstarter campaign as a way to pre-sell the product. And then I started the process of direct selling, which was basically to go door to door around Manhattan, trying to convince stores to take us. Our very first store was the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle in NYC. They took a chance on us and I’ll be forever grateful!

To keep up with demand, I moved out of my kitchen and set up a factory in Brooklyn, New York. That also opened up a whole suite of challenges, as no one in the company had ever set up a manufacturing line before. Everything from hiring factory staff to getting the right certifications and purchasing equipment was new to us. But, like everything else before it, we were able to figure it out. From day one that’s been consistent -- identifying the next step, figuring out how to execute it, and learning from our mistakes.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, we’re in thousands of doors across the country, ranging from Whole Foods to Publix to Urban Outfitters. We’re sold on Amazon and our own direct website. We have our own factory in Brooklyn, where we’ve been proud to create over 25 manufacturing jobs.

You don’t have to raise a ton of money to start a company. With tools like Kickstarter, you can pre-sell product and use those funds to get started.

Going forward, we’re going to be working hard on increasing our distribution. We’re also focusing on increasing our awareness through a larger marketing investment. And most importantly, we’re coming up with new flavors and innovations. Our next product launch will be this Fall and we’re super excited about it!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use Shopify to power our website, and we’re happy with the data generated by each purchase. We use Hootsuite to help manage our social media, Mailchimp for emails, and Google products for general office stuff.

We’ve also joined a few influencer platforms that have helped us boost our influencer marketing. Heepsy and Trendship are both inexpensive tools to help find influencers. In the future, we’ll start looking into platforms that help us manage on-site reviews, and we’re always on the lookout for great freelancer platforms. Getting involved in the NYC start-up community has been a great resource in learning about new business tools; we appreciate recommendations!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I think what’s been most helpful for me is hearing the stories of other entrepreneurs in my space. So whether that’s trying to network to meet them, or finding articles and interviews online (such as at Starter Story!), I feel like hearing about what has or hasn’t worked for them has been a great way for me to think about my own strategy.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

You don’t have to raise a ton of money to start a company. With tools like Kickstarter, you can pre-sell product and use those funds to get started. You can also start selling your product before it’s finished. If I could do it again, I would have started selling into stores to get buy-in before the final packaging was complete. It would’ve saved us a lot of time.

Be open minded to feedback. If your product isn’t selling well at the beginning, really try to figure out why and be open to changing it. Even if you are emotionally attached to your original idea, you have to be willing to tweak it if you want to be commercially successful.

Where can we go to learn more?

To learn more about Simply Gum, please check out our website at www.SimplyGum.com. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook (@simplygum). We’re always looking for feedback!

-  
Caron Proschan,   Simply Gum

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