If you love candy, a new startup working out of the Techstars Seattle incubator might be of interest.
Candy Jar Inc. is a year-old company that lets users order more than 600 different types of candies online and have them sent together to their doorstep.
The idea for the startup came about when co-founder Ben London, a self-proclaimed candy lover, tried to find a way to restock his candy supply for himself and his wife. Nothing online was able to satisfy their preferences — now, with Candy Jar, there is.
The 4-person company launched a Kickstarter last year, passing its funding goal with just more than $20,000 raised. They’ve grown the business since then and are now building the company within Techstars Seattle.
“Our vision isn’t just to be the world’s largest candy store with the biggest selection of candies,” said CEO Rob Fletcher. “It’s to be each customer’s personal candy store.”
Candy Jar buys candy from a series of different supplies and distributors, and then repackages individual orders in its own processing facilities. Fletcher noted that the company differentiates itself from existing options online by focusing on “scoops” as a measure unit and allowing customers to pick exactly what, and how much, candy they want.
“We know that selection, variety and personalization is king in this space — and that’s our approach,” he said.
We caught up with Fletcher for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Go to CandyJar.com and select your jar size (small, medium or large). Each jar holds a certain number of scoops of candy. Fill a jar with your favorite candy (from nearly 600 options) and have it shipped for a standard flat rate, directly to your home or office.”
Inspiration hit us when: “After hearing Ben and his wife’s story, we did further research at the National Confectionary Association’s (NCA) Sweets & Snacks Expo and learned that the channel is prime for connecting confectioners directly to consumers. There is a burgeoning ‘craft sweets’ movement and we’re ready to help our customers source & discover the best candies out there.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrapped so far. We wanted to prove the business model to ourselves before we were ready to fuel our growth with external investment. We’ve done that and we’ll be raising capital to fuel growth in the coming months.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Customer obsession, making the right trade-offs, taking ownership in our work and responsibility for our mistakes — and staying scrappy.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Validating our assumptions about the industry and market before trying to scale the business.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “One early miscalculation in our inventory management caused around 1,000 orders to be delayed due to a shortage of just a few dozen SKUs. That was fun to untangle!”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Why not Zoidberg? Jokes aside, we’d take Bezos. Something tells us he’d have some great insight into what we’re trying to do for our own unique vertical.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Cold beers and ping pong. It gets pretty heated on the table — Conner Beckwith (Business Development) is the current reigning Candy Jar champion.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “A capacity and thirst for knowledge and cross-functional skills. We are firm believers in the philosophy of ‘learning to fish’ — if we don’t know how to do something, we pride ourselves on diving into the details and figuring it out. We see this as an investment not only in ourselves individually, but also in the team.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Start sooner and test what you think you know. Also, be ready for the roller-coaster — startups are hard, very hard, so you have to be tenacious to win.”
Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the 11 startups participating in the Techstars Seattle incubator in the lead up to the Demo Day pitch event on Oct. 27.Techstars applications for its next class are now open.