Past B.E.T.A. Challenge Finalists: Where Are They Now? (Series: Part V)
Post from SoYoon Jun ’14, founder of How To Marry:
Rob Dalton M’14 is in his final stretch for the evening MBA program at Babson. He is a co-founder of 88 Acres, a business that won the 2013 Graduate B.E.T.A. Challenge. I have got a chance to interview Rob and his co-founder, Nicole Ledoux, about their business. 88 Acres is an artisan food startup that crafts healthy snack foods free of the top eight food allergens. It provides three flavor granola bars using simple non-GMO ingredients.
Dalton and Ledoux came up with the idea of 88 Acres when Dalton, who is allergic to nuts, suffered an allergic reaction from the meal that was contaminated with nuts. After the incident, Dalton and Ledoux wondered how many people like Dalton suffer from food allergies and have limited choices of food in the market.
While at Babson, Dalton tried to surround himself with professors and staffs to gain insights on how to launch and grow a successful business. For Dalton, the B.E.T.A. Challenge was a unique opportunity to really hone in on the value proposition, practice the pitch as well as deliver an in-depth presentation with an extra cash incentive on the side if his business was to win. Dalton and Ledoux mentioned that although they started working on building their ideas into a business before the B.E.T.A. Challenge, it was the capital from winning the B.E.T.A. Challenge that really enabled them to accomplish some important milestones for the business. Winning the B.E.T.A. Challenge also provided the business with additional validity. With the $20,000 cash provided to the business, Dalton and Ledoux funded plant trials to gain insight on equipment needed and general process of the food manufacturing. Through the trials, Dalton and Ledoux realized that in order to deliver their promised value proposition, they need to have an in-house manufacturing facility. They are currently in the process of building a small-scale manufacturing facility.
One of the best moments of the B.E.T.A. Challenge for Dalton and Ledoux was meeting lots of interesting people through the process. Some people who were in the audience became their mentors after the B.E.T.A. Challenge. Dalton and Ledoux were able to attract many people who loved their stories and business through their presentations at the B.E.T.A. Challenge. One piece of advice that Dalton and Ledoux wanted to share with this year’s B.E.T.A. Challenge finalists was to not be nervous about pitching in front of the big audience. They said “make sure you know why you are doing this and to be passionate about your business as well as what you have achieved so far.”
Dalton is graduating this summer from his evening MB A program. He and Ledoux are ready to take the venture to the further growth stage. 88 Acres granola bars will be distributed in store shelves starting from June 2014 throughout the Northeast regions.
Hear from this year’s B.E.T.A. Challenge finalists at the B.E.T.A. Challenge finals on Thursday, April 10.