Sober Dough – Nashville USA

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In today’s podcast, we have the privilege of meeting Veronica and Jordan the mother-and-son team behind Sober Dough, an artisan-maker of hand-crafted bread kits (just add your choice of beer or water!) based in Nashville, Tennessee. Capitalising on Veronica’s tradition of baking and Jordan’s business inclination, the pair spotted a gap in the market for their beer-bread. They  decided to take an entrepreneurial leap of faith, create a range of bread kits and make a business out of them. Smart.

In less than 18 months, Veronica and Jordan have managed to get their products into over 110 quality retail outlets across 29 states in the US as well as a further three states in Canada. Taking their sales reach a step further, Veronica and Jordan can now reach an unlimited audience via their website, which is powered by Shopify*, an online e-commerce system used by non-technical people to sell their products online.

With an upcoming slot on QVC and no shortage of media interest, the next five years of Sober Dough look very bright indeed. We catch up with the pair to find out just what inspired Veronica and Jordan to start Sober Dough and what advice they can share with us from their journey to date. Enjoy!

Please note that the guy doing the podcast (Mark) has not won any awards for audio-engineering. We had an overactive computer fan. Our apologies. All future episodes will be so much better!

Some excerpts from today’s podcast:

You make money from food and your business is called Sober Dough. What does Sober Dough produce and how did you come up with the name?

Veronica: Sober Dough is a line of artisan beer bread mixes that make it so easy for anybody –regardless of baking skills to have home-made bread at their convenience without the need to know how to bake. We came up with the name Sober Dough because it (the bread) goes in drunk and comes out sober as the alcohol bakes out. So that’s kinda how the name came out as ‘Sober Dough’.

You decided to raise money on KickStarter. To those listening to the podcast, can you perhaps explain what ‘crowd-funding’ is and why you chose to raise your seed-capital or initial investment in this way? 

Jordan: Kickstarter is a ‘crowd-funding’ website and what that means is that you go online to KickStarter and put your project or idea up and explain what kind of business you want to start. And then you offer rewards based on donations or how much someone pledges and through that, you are able to be successfully funded. You have to set a certain financial goal. If you sucessfully raise the full amount your are looking for, you get to keep it. If you don’t raise the amount, you don’t get to keep it.

It’s a great option for anyone to get off the ground if they don’t necessarily want to go to an investor or go to get a loan from a bank. It’s definitely a source of seed money. In our case, we were able to pretty much fund our operation for the first three months. It really got us off the ground and gave us a great chance to get started with Sober Dough.

Veronica: Kickstarter was also a way of seeing what was the kind of interest out there, based on how many people responded to our Kickstarter campaign. Most of these people, who were backing us or pledging money didn’t even know us or our brand. We had a lot of people from all over the US seeing our project.

How much time do you dedicate to generating demand from customers and how do you generate demand from customers?

Veronica: We have been shocked. It seems like from ‘Day 1’, we went off running and it hasn’t stopped. And that’s why we say we feel so blessed because I was not prepared for how well people would receive the brand.  I think what we underestimated was the kind of emotional connection, which people had with the bread because they take ownership when they make the bread. It makes them feel happy, excited and proud. They instagram photos of their bread. That was the part which we didn’t figure into the equation; the emotional connection which people would have with the bread.

Now listen to the rest of this episode, where you will learn:

  • What it’s like to work in a food business with a family member!
  • How a shared kitchen incubator provided the ideal launch platform for the business
  • How the pair generated huge publicity by seeking financial backers on Kickstarter
  • How Veronica and Jordan have signed up over 100+ stores across the USA to stock their bread
  • Why QVC, Good Housekeeping and other big names are interested after less than 18 months!
  • Why quality logo design and packaging sell your product before anyone tastes it
  • What’s next for Sober Dough on their food business journey
  • What advice Veronica and Jordan have for you in starting your food business

Useful Links and Resources:

soberdough – Sober Dough’s website where you can read their story to date – USA
thegrommet – promoting unknown products with a compelling story behind them – USA
loopandtie – making it easy to find and remarkable send gifts from  1-100 people – USA
scoutmob – marketplace for great products from independent producers – USA
instagram – Sober Dough on Instagram the photo and video-sharing app
yotpo – An ‘app’ which plugs into Shopify and allows users to leave product reviews
culinaryincubator – a free directory of shared commercial kitchens to start your food business – USA
smallbatchamerica – helping independent food makers to generate business – USA
organicfoodincubator – kitchen facility for vegetarian and gluten free food business – New York USA
laprep – commercial kitchen facility for food entrepeneurs opening March 2015 – Los Angeles USA
doughraisingmom – How Grace added a commercial kitchen to her home and made a business – USA
shopify* – online e-commerce platform to sell your food products online – USA


*This is an affiliate link, where we enjoy a small commission at no cost to you, should you sign-up with Shopify. Whenever we stand to make any dough (excuse the pun) from an affiliate, whose services or goods we have used and recommend we will proudly mark this with an asterisk*

Thanks to our guest… and thanks to you!

A very special thanks to today’s guests, Veronica and Jordan from Sober Dough for their kindness in giving us food producers an insight into their entrepreneurial story and achievements to date. Thanks especially to you for listening to today’s podcast here on makemoneywithfood.com, home of the food entrepreneur!

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About Author

Mark Hayes - Editor

Graduating after 4 years at Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland, Mark worked in hospitality and restaurant management roles for ClubMed, Disney (in both Florida and Paris, France), Sheraton Hotels (Frankfurt, Germany) as well as management positions in restaurant chains in the UK. Mark completed an MBA in 2010 with a master's thesis focused on food franchise operations. Through interviewing food business owners, franchise-holders and food-vendors, Mark found that he really enjoyed finding out exactly what compels people to start food businesses and what it is they do to make them profitable and rewarding. In recent years, Mark has also run a successful farmer's market business with his parents, both of whom are passionate 'foodies'. From sourcing ingredients to making food by hand, packaging it, pricing it and selling it in a competitive marketplace, Mark wants to help you to make your food startup a success.