Striving to become the world’s most responsible food company through nut butters
Matt D’Amour and Adrian Reif didn’t just create a nut butter company; they pursued their dream of running the world’s most responsible food company.
Yumbutter™ began in 2010 with two industry inexperienced entrepreneurs, $900, a Black and Decker food processor and the hope of improving lives.
Reif and D’Amour of Madison wanted to change the business landscape but originally didn’t want to follow the “grow fast and sell” model. Yumbutter’s goals were to grow slowly, change the system and become the example for a movement towards social responsibility in start-ups and developing businesses.
Yumbutter’s founders realized immense amounts of time and effort are needed to create a movement of real change. The Food Finance Institute helped D’Amour and Reif with navigating their options in achieving the right growth and scale as well as securing financing. FFI’s Tera Johnson said, “I helped to clarify their business model path early on and aided them in understanding the process of becoming a national brand so they could sustainably achieve their commendable mission.”
Johnson helped them raise capital by introducing them to prospective investors and helping them package several financial requests through multiple rounds of funding. Appropriately scaling the business was the biggest challenge for Yumbutter’s founders, but with assistance from FFI, they were able to hire employees, increase the size of their facility and emerge as a national brand.
As they’ve grown, so has the competition, from 25 nut butter companies in 2010 to over 150 at the beginning of 2017. Their business model is supported by the pillar of holistic responsibility which allows them to stand apart from competitors.
Focusing on the 3P’s
Yumbutter’s business relies on 3P’s: Potions, Packaging and Purpose.
Potions are the unique nut butters they develop using flavor combinations of organic, fair trade nuts mixed with other great ingredients. The product line ranges from common nut butters like peanut, almond and sunflower to mixes which highlight more unusual flavors like espresso or spicy Thai.
The packaging has evolved from simple jars sold at the Madison Farmer’s Market to brightly colored pouches developed with the help of Modern Species, a branding and responsible design company. Their packaging helps them stand out from their competition and they are now available at grocery stores nationally.
The purpose involves Yumbutter’s deeply-rooted social mission founded on holistic responsibility. Their Buy One: Feed One model has fed 300,000 malnourished children in Guatemala since 2015. Their partnership with Primeros Pasos, in Xela, has also improved education, sanitation and prenatal health of the residents. They have also given back to the Wisconsin entrepreneurial community by sharing their experience of building a national brand with others, including as the inaugural guest of the Edible-Alpha podcast in November 2016.
Yumbutter hopes to become a household name offering nutritious foods in a variety of categories while maintaining its core values and vision of being the world’s most responsible food company.
D’Amour plans to stay in Madison which is home to numerous invaluable resources for entrepreneurs, at mid-level costs as compared to Los Angeles or Seattle.
Yumbutter is continuing to work on their operations and business model so they can be emulated by others to create a movement of socially conscious food companies. They pride themselves on keeping their original message as they strive to expand their reach. “Most importantly, we want to have more fun while improving the world!” D’Amour said.