Milo’s personal recommendations
I’ve found may great resources over the years, and I’m happy to pass these along! Each recommendation is something I’ve personally used/had experience with, and can recommend without reservations. – Jonathan
Last updated: June 2016
I’ve been working with this coach/consultant for many years, and highly recommend her. The amount of $ she’ll save you will far exceed what you’ll spend.
Sign up for Coach Maz’s occasional e-newsletter for the industry by clicking here.
Don’t make the classic beginner’s mistake of purchasing individual UPC codes online. Those codes do not belong to you and will make it much harder as you grow to sell to larger accounts. This is a must-spend expense … purchase your own master prefix, and then get 100 UPCs that are yours alone. Even if you just need 1, it’s absolutely necessary.
Get started here:
I’ve been using this company for some time, and they’re very good. You send them your products, he photographs them, and then uploads the photos for you to use in print or web. Very easy and professional. Around $40 per high-res photo. If you want cut-outs (for use on different-colored backgrounds), make sure to specify.
Website development & graphics
Like the Vino de Milo website? I found a web guy I love — doing this site + a mobile version was around $600. (Note there is no e-commerce component to our site.) Joel is super easy to work with, patient, and no-drama. He can also do general graphics, and is a genius with PhotoShop.
Branding & package design
Check out our pasta sauces — this a brand new look for us after 9 years with an “artsy” label that looked unique but didn’t tell our story well. We did a lot of research, and hired Paul & his company, to help us rethink our look, and they were very good at helping us figure out the message and look we needed to have in a crowded marketplace. Paul also helped us redo our BBQ sauces & salsas into a whole new brand, JB’s Best (see our website to see the final designs). His work has contributed to a significant growth in sales for us.
Banner stands for your show booth
Just used these folks for the first time recently — the retractable banner stands I ordered are 6.5′ tall (not the more standard 7′-8′), but for only $80 each, it’s an amazing deal. If you do any price checking out there, you’ll find that stands like these are usually $300 or more each.
Yes, it’s true: The US government will reimburse you 50% of the cost of exhibiting at the Fancy Food Show, plus national trade advertising, plus a bunch of other things as you get into export mode. They also set up “speed dating” at the Fancy Food Show with international buyers. There are a few strings, but as long as you can do some paperwork and follow a few basic rules, it’s pretty easy.
More info: FoodExport.org
If you’re shipping 1+ pallets of product, you can save a TON by getting quotes from freight brokers. They will need to know origin address, delivery address, class (usually 60 for food), and whether a liftgate is needed at either end (if either end doesn’t have a dock). Make it easy on yourself: Create a draft e-mail with the info, make multiple copies of the draft, then send to each broker, and await the quotes. Note: You do have to get an account set up with each to be on terms, or pre-pay.
As this list changes frequently, please e-mail for an updated list.
We use a digital label house, so we can custom-order labels anytime with a fast (<1 week) turnaround, and no dies, plates, etc — especially useful for starting companies whose packaging might change. If you can do at least 5,000 labels and the labels aren’t huge, you shouldn’t be paying more than $0.10-$0.15/label.
I’ve used several different companies in the past. We print an 11×17, full-color, full-bleed, double-sided brochure; 1,000 of them is in the $300 range. We also got 5,000 4×6 full-color postcards (blank back for custom mailings) for $161.
Postcard printing & mailing
This place in Florida will take your digital-designed postcard + your electronic mailing list, and then print & mail your postcard for you — very easy! For a half-page postcard / full color front / B&W back + postage you’re looking at around $600 for 1,000 mailings.
Tiffany Janczewski, MDP
Andrick & Associates, Inc
4400 Independence Ct
Sarasota, FL 34234
Finding ingredients can be one of the hardest things to do in this business. Ingredient brokers can be a great resource. Just keep in mind they often require a pallet minimum purchase; always clarify up front what the maximum amount you are willing to purchase is. Taylor (below) has been very effective for us; she’s been able to find almost anything we need, with the right specs, and at competitive prices.
Direct line: (503) 404-0180
P.O. Box 707
Wilsonville, Or. 97070-0707
Nutritional panels / FDA approvals
I have not personally used any of these (we generate these in-house as an FDA-licensed processor). I have heard good things about Cornell, and I know that they can also provide a process letter for your product that is required by the FDA.
Cornell — Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship
National Food Laboratory
New Orleans, LA