Last week, Aveyo showcased as a good food innovator at Babson Food Day. Founder Ryan Cahill was on hand to offer Babson Entrepreneur in Residence (and “Bizarre Foods” host) Andrew Zimmern a taste. (Zimmern later posted to Instagram that it was his favorite of the day.)
An avocado-phile, this Examiner loves the five-ingredient freshness of Aveyo and wanted to know the story behind the brand. This interview is part of the questions for a food entrepreneur series for Examiner.
Rachel Greenberger: What was the seed for your business?
Ryan Cahill: A combination of frustration with the food industry and passion for nutrition and well-being. And then just a deep love for avocadoes. They are a perfect food.
RG: What’s the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
RC: Probably price. Staying competitive in the mayonnaise space is tough. We want to be innovative and unique, but also stay true to our core values. A lot of companies add funky ingredients to reduce production costs or make it last longer on the shelf, and we aren’t going to do that. So I’d say not pricing ourselves out of the market is our biggest hurdle.
RG: How do you define success?
RC: When we can get our product to everybody who wants it. Being a refrigerated product makes us expensive to ship. Being able to drop ship directly to customers is a big challenge that we’d like to overcome, but for now we’re focusing on brick and mortar [traditional retail] distribution.
RG: How do you manage failure?
RC: Exercise… That’s a tough one. Being an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster ride. When you hear the word “No” you have to get used to hearing “Not yet” instead of ‘Never”. Sampling events, going to talk to a buyer, it all comes down to the individual in front of you. Whenever you’re doing something new, there will be resistance. When I started out, I had no food industry experience at all. I hardly knew what a grocery buyer was. There were definitely growing pains. You have to learn from your mistakes and keep asking good questions to figure out how to turn those Nos into Yeses.
RG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in the past year?
RC: Leverage your skills to grow into different categories. Being an avocado mayo company is a fairly narrow scope. So by changing how we define ourselves, and the scope of our business, we’ve opened up a brand new set of opportunities for growth and risk mitigation. That proved to be great advice.
RG: Any advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs?
RC: Go for it. The climate for accepting new food products from local entrepreneurs is the best that it’s ever been. Also, be transparent. A major motivator for me was the lack of transparency in the food industry and wanting to do something about it.
RG: What about Aveyo most feeds your soul?
RC: Seeing my vision come true. Not only for me, but for the entire food industry. What matters to me most is being a part of this huge shift in the food industry that’s happening right now. And being part of where and how the avocado plays into that.
You can find Aveyo at select retail locations around Boston and New England.