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Entrepreneurs: If I Knew Then, What I Know Now

This article by Vickie Reichardt appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Connected for Business, Rogers Magazine

Brian and Corin Mullins, co-founders Holy Crap cereal

Some of Canada’s best and brightest entrepreneurs reflect on the most important business lessons they’ve learned..

CORIN & BRIAN MULLINS Founders, HapiFoods Group Inc. Sechelt, BC MAKERS OF HOLY CRAP AND SKINNY B CEREALS Company founded: 2009 Number of employees: 20

Nurture a solid domestic base.

“When we started, everybody was saying, ‘You gotta get down to the States!’ and Jim [Treliving of Dragons’ Den] was saying, ‘No, stay in Canada. Make sure you’re on the shelves in Canada. Make sure those shelves are stocked.’ 

The U.S. is a huge, huge thing to tackle, so people should pay attention to the domestic market. We spoke to Jim last week, and he gave us the same advice: things are tough in the U.S., it’s a highly competitive market, it’s a race to the bottom where people are selling product at a great discount just to get cash flow.

He said, again, ‘Stay in Canada. Be a big fish in a small pond before you tackle the States or spend the kind of resources you’ll need.’

So, being extremely focused on securing your domestic market was the big lesson. Stitch up Canada first. We became very focused, which is what companies need. And now we sell into 20 countries.

If you don’t have a base, you don’t have anything to come back to. It’s like building a house: you need to have a really strong foundation.”