Celebrating Success: Quevos


Crowdfunding

In this series, “Celebrating Success,” we’re speaking with innovators and entrepreneurs who walked the journey of taking a product from idea to reality. Today, we’re speaking with Nick Hamburger, co-founder of Quevos. In 2019, the Quevos campaign raised $71,786, and in 2021 the team inked a deal with Daniel Lubetzky on Shark Tank.

Celebrating Success: Quevos

Quevos

 

In this series, “Celebrating Success,” we’re speaking with innovators and entrepreneurs who walked the journey of taking a product from idea to reality. Today, we’re speaking with Nick Hamburger, co-founder of Quevos. In 2019, the Quevos campaign raised $71,786, and in 2021 the team inked a deal with Daniel Lubetzky on Shark Tank.

 

When you look back on the Quevos journey, what stands out most to you?

That’s a great question. One thing early on was the difficulty in developing a tasty product that was low in carbs, high in protein…and was crunchy. There are a lot of things like beef jerky or meat products that are high-protein and low carb, but aren’t crunchy.

We spent about two years in research and development developing something that tasted like a crunchy snack, and had a good texture and good flavor. But there were many points where Zack and I would look at each other and be like, ‘Are we going to make something that’s actually a good snack?’ It was definitely a harrowing process.

 

Quevos

You and your co-founder were childhood friends, right? Tell me more about your story. Do kids really sit around their backyards and dream of becoming entrepreneurs?

I don’t know, but we did. We were 12 when we started our first company. We just always had these different thoughts and we sold these fancy Japanese sodas in our middle school cafeteria, and we had other ideas in high school. We were always looking to start a company, and we both had the feeling of never wanting to work for someone else.

It became very natural, when Zack had this idea for a low-carb chip that worked for him as a diabetic, for us to just jump in and give it a go.

 

You and your co-founder were childhood friends, right? Tell me more about your story. Do kids really sit around their backyards and dream of becoming entrepreneurs?

I don’t know, but we did. We were 12 when we started our first company. We just always had these different thoughts and we sold these fancy Japanese sodas in our middle school cafeteria, and we had other ideas in high school. We were always looking to start a company, and we both had the feeling of never wanting to work for someone else.

It became very natural, when Zack had this idea for a low-carb chip that worked for him as a diabetic, for us to just jump in and give it a go.

 

What was your business process like as young entrepreneurs?

At first it was a lot of focus on product development. Then we wanted to see if we were at the point where we thought we were and get customer feedback. We did a market test for six months. We were in 12 stores and had an online store, and tried to do demos and collect feedback on packaging, price point and the product.

I think it’s a great exercise for people with a new product to do. If you have a new product, you do want to get that feedback before you just go crazy. We had some tweaks to make with packaging and product, and we made those and launched on Kickstarter. We worked with Enventys Partners which was awesome. And then we fulfilled Kickstarter and started really going as fast as we could with a lot more retail stores and with our online business.

 

You did a market test prior to Kickstarter. Is that something you would advise other entrepreneurs to try to do?

It obviously depends, you know. Some products are too difficult to manufacture, and you need some funding to even bring it to life, so in that case it’s hard. But the more you can test, the more you can know before you bring it to Kickstarter. Kickstarter backers are understanding and they’re patient, and they’ll always try a new version, but it’s nice if you have some knowledge that people can like [the product.

 

What was your goal for the campaign? What were you hoping to get out of the Kickstarter campaign?

We set the goal at $10,000, but we were hoping for at least $25,000. We ended up doing $72,000, so it was really amazing. For the food category, it was really good. It’s not something like hardware where you see these campaigns into the millions. We were even happier once we looked across the board and we were one of the top-performing food campaigns.

 

So you weren’t one of those campaigns that said you needed to raise one million dollars to consider it a success?

No. I just knew that was not realistic, and we didn’t need it. We wanted to get more customers, more exposure and continue to improve. It was another proof point for investors and, you know, it helped us get on Shark Tank. We knew we could do something impressive enough, but we didn’t need it to be a million or anything.

 

So you weren’t one of those campaigns that said you needed to raise one million dollars to consider it a success?

We were pretty lucky because a producer and an executive producer reached out to us. They’d read about us. That’s very lucky. About half of the companies on the show were reached out to and then half apply.

It’s still not a done deal. You have to go through months of paperwork and application forms. There are virtual practice pitches where you send in something that they show to the producing team. It’s really hard to make it.

 

So you weren’t one of those campaigns that said you needed to raise one million dollars to consider it a success?

No. I just knew that was not realistic, and we didn’t need it. We wanted to get more customers, more exposure and continue to improve. It was another proof point for investors and, you know, it helped us get on Shark Tank. We knew we could do something impressive enough, but we didn’t need it to be a million or anything.

 

What inspires you when you’re thinking up new ideas for products?

Deep down inside, I’m a salty old man and I get frustrated by things. It’s like breaking a fuse in my brain and I think, “There is going to be a solution. How can we fix this?” It’s always been this back and forth of ‘I can’t find the things that I need,’ and I talk to a few friends, and if they have the same problem we go for it. With the Lifepack, I thought, “OK, no one’s making a backpack that’s good enough for me to carry my laptop around, and store it in a way that is drop proof and all that.”

Quevos

What was it like pitching before the sharks?

It was crazy. Definitely the most nerve wracking experience of my life. I had never felt so much heat coursing through my body and my veins. My heart was beating a million miles a minute. The first couple minutes were the most nerve wracking, and then we settled in. I never felt calm, but we did settle in more as we were talking. We practiced so much the week before that a lot of the answers just came out.

You guys inked a deal! How have things been going?

It’s been great. We saw a ridiculous spike, obviously, for a couple of days. Now, our business is sustaining at double what we were doing before. That’s been awesome. It’s really hard to promote products right now with no demos in a lot of stores because of COVID. With Amazon, it’s really nice, you know, because when you get more momentum in their algorithm it gives a sustained boost.

Quevos

 

Were there any moments in your journey, from testing to crowdfunding or Shark Tank, where you had fears or insecurities?

Yeah. Definitely, in the product development process. I remember one day, specifically, Zack and I took a walk. We were out in the forest somewhere and just looked at each other like, ‘What are we doing? Is this going to work?’

We’re lucky that we never doubted the concept and the offering of a high-protein, low-carb chip as something unseen in the space. We knew people wanted it. Everyone told us they wanted it theoretically, but there was a hurdle to get the product to be good. We’re still making tweaks because we want to make it as good as it can be.

Other times, for me, it’s been challenging when there’s a lot going on and you have two or three big decisions that land on your plate in a day. In those moments I’m like, ‘Are we going to be able to just do everything we need to?’ I think that adjusting to the level of having six to eight important things going on at once has been a process for me.

 

What’s been the most gratifying part of all of this?

I think for me, it’s the skill building and seeing something that used to be really daunting as doable. Knowing that I can do it more easily than I once could. Raising capital and doing it successfully, too. We’ve had two successful funding rounds.

Also, just getting more efficient and working smarter. I still put in the same hours as two years ago, but I’ve found ways to be more effective. I remember seeing some of the role models I had in the past and feeling like they were so far away from me. Now, I’m not where they are at yet, but I’m closer. So seeing my own development has been gratifying.

 

What do you wish you would have known before you started this journey?

This is an interesting question. At the beginning, I had a sense that I could start this company and have success. And I’d go and do whatever I want in the next phase. That whole thing would be five years, maybe less. It would just pop off in two years and you’d sell the company. I had this very romanticized idea of how this works before you jump in.

If I knew all the nuts and bolts and all the work, all the ups and downs, I think I wouldn’t have done it.

So it poses a question because there are passions I have that are greater than being in business, and I know I’ll get to them eventually. I often think whether I’d rather have gone straight into that upon graduating college, but overall I’m glad I’m on this path. I look back, though, and I was so naive about how this would work.

 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to do what you’ve done?

Focus on working smart from day one. At the beginning, you know, those first few months of a business you feel like you can allocate your time however you want and you get enough done, and that’s true because it’s pretty simple. But as you go, you get more customers and you’ve got more products and employees…setting the framework for yourself is important. Think about, ‘What do I need to do first to move the business forward?’and ‘What emails do I need to reply to?’ versus ‘Which ones can I get to in a couple of weeks?’ Within six months to a year from starting, you’ll realize you can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t do it all.

 

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