Jennifer Palmer, CEO of Gerber Finance, joined a panel with Mike Fake, CFO of Stasher, and Jill Voss, Founder of Baby Gourmet during the “Debt is Not a Four-Letter Word” Workshop at FounderMade’s D2C Finance & Funding Summit.
Together, the panel broke down the path to growth and how options like asset-based lending can fuel D2C (direct-to-consumer) growth.
Stasher creates earth-friendly, reusable, non-toxic silicone bags for food—designed to eliminate single-use plastic bags. Baby Gourmet is a Canadian-based company that produces organic baby food. As these two companies began to grow quickly, they formed financial partnerships with Gerber Finance, which helped them in their quests for continued growth.
When Stasher went to market in 2016, it became successful very quickly due to the market’s interest in the reusability of storage bags. Stasher bags were initially sold on Amazon (D2C) and at a small national retailer. Despite this success, capital was needed to grow the company further. In their search for financial assistance, Mike and Kat Nouri, Founder of Stasher, eventually arrived at Gerber Finance, where they found the financing options and capital needed to maintain success and continued growth.
Over 15 years ago, Jill Voss, along with her sister, Jen, founded Baby Gourmet, which produces organic, authentic “made-by-moms” baby food from nutrient-rich ingredients. As many moms were seeking healthier food options for their babies, Baby Gourmet filled a niche, and became successful almost immediately. Baby Gourmet became the “number one” baby food in Canada, and Jill credits her success to the organic, authentic, innovative nature of the business. For example, instead of using rice-based cereal, she discovered that chickpeas and lentils were a much healthier base for baby cereal. Jill and Jen began selling their baby food at local farmer’s markets, and when they couldn’t keep up with the demand, they knew they were onto something big!
Pathway to Gerber Finance
Jen and Jill soon realized that financing would be needed for the continued success of Baby Gourmet. At first, they used their own personal investments and small bank funding. In each situation, they found the expense was greater than they first thought. Ultimately, they found the best financing options at Gerber Finance, where they received capital to grow their business. Jill discovered Gerber Finance when cash flow became more predictable, and it enabled she and Jen to have the capital to grow the business with minimal dilution while maintaining control over the strategic operations. (Outside investments don’t always provide that option.)
The financial management team at Stasher assumed that debt was expensive, but then realized that equity is much more expensive—and permanent. Additionally, a great deal of profits would have been lost. Mike said that Kat Nouri would have walked away with 50 percent less when she sold the company had she gone with equity over debt financing. In its first seven months of partnering with Gerber Finance, Stasher’s sales doubled over the last two years, with 3.5 percent growth after that. Today, Stasher is a well-known brand with omnichannel presence, and its products are available for purchase virtually everywhere.
Things to keep in mind if you are seeking financing…
- Say “no” to ego: One insightful tip for any entrepreneur who considers debt financing: Leave your ego at the door. Stay focused on your business goals and mission and don’t get caught up in the ego-factor of taking on investors. As discussed, turning over equity can be permanent and expensive.
- Research, research, research: Another piece of advice discussed was the importance of researching and vetting any financial institution that you might partner with. It is important that the lender you choose shares your values and appreciates the vision and mission of your company.
- Slow down if you have not found the right financial partner. Never go with an institution out of convenience, or worse, desperation. Look to other methods for maintaining your business. And again, don’t go with equity alone! (It’s possible.)
Women funding women
Stasher and Baby Gourmet have a lot in common. As we’ve discussed, they:
- Are dedicated to the environment and sustainability.
- Gained success through partnerships with Gerber Finance.
- Are women-owned.
Gerber Finance specializes in helping women-owned businesses. In fact, 34 percent of Gerber Finance’s portfolio consists of women-owned businesses, and it has pledged to increase this number to 51 percent!
We hope you have found this to be an informative lesson on the benefits of debt financing. We welcome you to watch the full workshop on YouTube! If you have any questions on financing options for your business, feel free to contact Gerber Finance today.