Gautam Gupta, the founder of subscription snack box company NatureBox, says that working at VC firm General Catalyst before starting his own company was crucial in preparing him for the challenges of running a business.
Gupta launched NatureBox, which sells boxes filled with four or five different company-produced healthy snacks for $US19.99 a month, in early 2012. His goal is to make snacking healthier and more fun by giving people wholesome, unique food options that they have never tried before.
The company’s on track to ship 3 million boxes by the end of this year up from 1 million last year (which we figure translates to slightly fewer than 250,000 subscribers), and was recognised as one of the top 20 fastest growing e-commerce businesses this year by Internet Retailer.
But Gupta learned at General Catalyst that the only way to grow a successful company is by looking at a really long-term view.
“You realise how cyclical businesses are, with so many ups-and-downs,” he told Business Insider.
NatureBox has had low moments — like when it was featured on a talk show, and the team was so excited because they figured that subscriptions would just start rolling in like crazy, and then the company hardly ended up gaining any new traction. Gupta didn’t let the disappointment discourage the team for long, knowing that if they kept hustling, they’d find success.
When he was advising companies at General Catalyst, Gupta also observed that many founders felt afraid to ask for help, so he vowed to remember to be proactive when his company hit a snag.
“A lot of entrepreneurs think that they’re in it by themselves, but the truth is, you never are,” he says. In NatureBox’s case, Gupta remembers when he had an engineering friend help make sure that their contract developer was staying on course. He wasn’t, and that friend actually ended up joining the company.
Gupta started NatureBox because he’s personally passionate about healthy snacking. He struggled with obesity growing up, remaining overweight until right before college, when he learned about nutrition, changed his diet, and ultimately lost 70 pounds in one year.
Now, his company has two nutritionists on staff to help create fun, nutritious snacks, like cinnamon swirl kettle kernels, Sriracha rice crackers, watermelon fruit chews, and seaweed rice pops. The company’s revenue currently comes mostly from subscriptions, but Gupta’s goal is eventually to have NatureBox’s products sold in stores all around the country.