By: Ben Gran
It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: many small business owners decide to start a business after experiencing a sudden stroke of inspiration. Whether it’s the feeling of realizing that you can no longer stand to keep working at your corporate job, the urge to start a restaurant based on your favorite family recipes, or finding an untapped market for products or services that you know how to deliver in a unique and profitable way, many SBOs are driven by passion and a sense of discovery.
One of Kabbage’s many inspiring customers is Matt Geddie, president of Skinny and Company, an importer/exporter/manufacturer of Skinny Coconut Oil, a raw coconut oil from Vietnam which is the only 100% raw & alkaline coconut oil available on the market. Matt and his brother Luke were backpacking through Southeast Asia a few years ago when they discovered the business opportunity of a lifetime. Working with local partners in the Ben Tre region of Vietnam, Matt and his colleagues are bringing exceptionally healthy 100% raw coconut oil to American consumers, while helping create business opportunities for the people of Vietnam.
We talked with Matt about why Skinny and Company is an excellent example of how small businesses can prosper by embracing a unique sense of mission.
How did you decide to become a Kabbage customer? Why did you want to get a small business loan – how is it helping you grow your business?
We chose Kabbage due to the ease and speed of getting the short-term loan. As a start-up business, we don’t have two years of P&L statements, lots of assets, or an attractive balance sheet. What we do have is an incredible opportunity, a great product, and awesome customer support, which Kabbage takes into account when deciding what the company can qualify for.
As a small company, managing our cash flow is vital and as we conduct business with larger corporations, they typically have expectations of 30-60 day terms. Kabbage comes in with a low interest rate that allows us to use the available funds every month to help us further Skinny’s future with great opportunities.
What inspired you to start your own business? You mentioned on your website that you want to “change the way people change the world.” This is a cool idea – how is small business ownership helping you to do this?
We were inspired to start Skinny because we saw something being done that we knew we could produce better with a higher quality (stereotypical answer, I know). Really though, we have been involved with brokering raw materials for companies all over the world for the past 4 years and we saw that the quality of the product that the consumer was getting was not even close to what it started out as. We decided to offer the highest quality product on the market at a reasonable price. By doing that, Skinny started changing the way people feel by making them healthier. In turn, we’re raising the standards by showing businesses and consumers what quality actually looks, feels, and tastes like.
I think people assume that only acts of grandiosity change the world, but in reality, it’s the little things. For example, I feel like our coconut oil products are helping consumers to be able to make a healthier choice each day. And being healthier makes people happier, and allows everyone to feel better and make a bigger impact on those around them. When this ripple effect takes place, one can see the difference being made around the world.
What does your business do differently from other companies in your field – what makes you unique?
As I said before, we manufacture the highest quality coconut oil in the world. Skinny has a patent pending system that allows us to make the only raw alkaline coconut oil on the market. As an alkaline food, our coconut oil is absorbed at a much higher percentage by our naturally alkaline bodies. Skinny is used in a multitude of ways to help consumers.
Your company has a strong sense of mission. Do you think this is a particularly good time for companies that are operating with a sense of public benefit? Do you think small businesses can be/should be more altruistic than big companies?
Yes, I think it is very important for small businesses to have a public benefit goal. Our motto has always been, “if you are not trying to make it better, don’t do it” and that absolutely applies to social areas as well. Small companies have the ability to do things faster and make an immediate impact in their local communities. In what small businesses lack in funds for social benefit, we can make up for with direct action initiatives.
What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned from running your own business?
The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how much help is actually available. I’ve had countless times where successful entrepreneurs have offered to counsel Skinny, or myself, or even large corporations lending a helping hand. It is wonderful to see so many people who believe in Skinny Coconut Oil.
What’s the biggest challenge of running your own business?
The biggest challenge we face at Skinny is that we are going at a non-stop pace. However, many projects take several months to finish. It’s frustrating to feel like you are waiting, but I have come to enjoy these times. Those are the moments when you can take a step back and evaluate your business strategy and make plans for moving forward.
What are some overall trends that you’re seeing right now in your market, or for small business owners in general? What makes this a good time to be a small business owner? Do you feel like there is increasing interest in authentic, high-quality niche products like coconut oil?
I think small companies that have similar mottos to Skinny’s, and actually do make the world a better place, are growing in popularity. Small businesses are booming. It’s economically smart to start a business, as small company valuations are the highest they have been in a decade.
We have seen our market grow about 100% over the past year and about one-fourth of new food products contain coconut, coconut oil, or coconut water. For Skinny Coconut Oil, people are seeing that it is cheaper to be healthier than being sick and paying for it later (literally and figuratively). Consumers are looking for top products in the market to improve their health. Our customers constantly tell us how much they trust our quality vs. the larger competitors in the marketplace, which encourages me that we are on the right path.
Who are your ideal customers? Who do you sell to? Which market segments are showing the most potential for growth?
We love working with other small businesses. We sell through doctor’s offices, wellness centers, small health food stores, and 25-50 boutique health chain stores around the country. With the cost of healthcare going up, people are looking towards their small health food store to point them in the right direction, and this is where we really see our product flying off the shelves.
What advice would you offer to other small business owners?
I would tell them to love every minute of what they are doing. Someone who has true passion for their company, and believes in their product, will always be successful no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path. There are many moments when I look back and can’t believe how far Skinny has come in the past 15 months.
The original article can be read here: