Posted on 4 Comments

Some Assembly Required

As it turns out, starting a new business can take a while, even when you’re not starting from scratch.

It’s been a month since we got this website online, and started setting up shop in our newly rented warehouse space in San Francisco.

What’s happened since then?

Richard, and the soon-to-be assembled mixing machine. Also, a mess.

Well, we got a new mixer. It’s basically a food-grade version of your typical cement mixer, and the only thing you can get for less than $1000 when it comes to commercial dry-mixing equipment.

It finally arrived late last week and we finished putting it together yesterday. Actually, mostly Richard put it together while I took pictures of it with my less-than-excellent phone camera. :p

Just tightening some bolts. Gotta have tight bolts.

Seems like it will do the job. If demand ramps up in a few months, we may have to invest in some really heavy-duty machinery, but no need to get ahead of ourselves. There’s plenty of other stuff to worry about, in the meantime.

For example, ingredients. You need stuff to put in the mixer, that you want to mix.

The completed mixer, in all its food-grade glory.

As it turns out, trying to buy supplement-grade nutritional ingredients from reputable suppliers as a small, fledgling business is a lot different than buying a little bag of potassium citrate for your DIY on Amazon with free, two-day shipping. This industry works at a different timescale. And at a different volume scale too.

If you’re not buying hundreds or thousands of kilograms of each ingredient per month, you’re tiny. And no one particularly cares about your business, nor will they go out of their way to attract new customers.

If you do manage to get a hold of them, “six weeks” is generally the kind of timeline you can expect to hear for any request. And that’s not counting the weeks it takes for them to bother to reply to you in the first place.

I’m not bitter. Just impatient on behalf of you all, my beloved and loyal customers. ;)

Ah, man. Well, we’re working on it.

Just imagine all the Schmoylent you could fit in there.

Also, turns out that the California Department of Public Health has a lot of ideas about how one should go about doing things in this industry, and ironically they are even less interested in responding to inquiries than the big ingredient suppliers. If they are as apathetic in their enforcement of the rules as they are in the communication and clarification of said rules, then perhaps this would not be such a problem. But I’m not going to bet my business on that.

And it’s great to follow the rules. And the guidelines. And the recommended practices. It just takes a frustratingly long time, and a lot of detective work, to attempt to do so.

So with any luck, we’ll be up and running – for real – sometime in July.

On the bright side, this means I can finally take some much-needed time off without slowing anything down! I’ll be flying to Seattle next week to visit my family, for the first time in a while. Richard will be handling things while I’m out, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stop myself from answering support emails for the whole week. I’ll do my best though. ;)

Hopefully I’ll return with a fresh perspective and a lot more energy for the journey to come. We’re just getting started, after all…

4 thoughts on “Some Assembly Required

  1. And forgot to say: I wish you guys the best luck in the world with this bigger enterprise :)

    1. Thanks, good luck to you too! :)

  2. Wow. I REALLY feel you. I myself feel exactly the same after also trying to start my own thing here in Mexico. Big ingredient companies are exactly the same here. No reply, I need to chase them, you need to buy very big quantities, and even worse here, since many stuff needs to be imported and you need to pay it in advance for it to be imported and it must be a high volume – more than I can even afford. I am glad to see you guys are making progress, it inspires me.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Wow, yeah – I’m glad to help validate your experience, and sorry that you have to go through the same thing! :p A majority of the ingredients are imported into the US as well, but at least the suppliers already have them sitting around in their US-based warehouses so they’re readily available.

      If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this: “Don’t use PayPal to take pre-orders!” Actually, don’t take pre-orders at all unless you are using a platform specifically for that purpose, like Celery. Otherwise all your money will get frozen indefinitely and you’ll be out of luck.

      Send us an email sometime – it would be good to have someone to talk to who’s going through the same thing, and I’d be happy to share some of what we’ve learned in the last several months at Super Body Fuel.

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