Justin’s: The Meaning of Life is Being Passionate in Whatever You Do
As the saying goes, “Eat healthy, live healthy!” However, today that seems to be a bit harder. People are always working or trying to accomplish their goals and, as a result, end up eating junk food or frozen meals that are bad for their health.
But even those that try to be healthy and watch what they eat face problems when choosing products. Take nut butters – they’re part of every diet today, but are they all good?
Well, this is what Justin Gold decided to change. As an active outdoorsman and a vegetarian, he wanted to create a solution that would fuel his protein needs while being healthy. So, he started Justin’s!
With a company that creates natural and organic nut butter, even peanut butter cups, Justin set forth to help people see that there is a tasty yet healthy way of eating. Here is how he made it all happen.
Simplicity is Sometimes a Butter Solution
A success story does not necessarily begin with big dreams. An idea can sometimes come from daily life and slowly transform into a business opportunity. That was the case with Justin Gold.
During his childhood, Justin never occupied himself with thoughts about his professional occupation when he grew up. He simply knew he wanted to do something with passion.
Justin finished Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and majored in environmental studies. He thought environmental law would be the kind of occupation that would be his life passion, but he didn’t enjoy the work or find himself in that lifestyle. So, he left Pennsylvania and moved to the mountains.
As a lover of outdoor activities from an early age, he went to Boulder, Colorado. He was a vegetarian, so peanut butter was a staple in his diet. But after a while, it wasn’t enough. He dreamt of creating something nuttier and, at the same time, tastier, so he started to stack his cabinets with homemade nut butters of all kinds.
Tasty Experiment Turned Into Business Opportunity
Using himself as the guinea pig for this little journey of his, Justin started experimenting in his kitchen with a food processor, making butter from various nuts. Lucky for him, the final product was extremely delicious – so much so that his roommates began stealing his jars.
Faced with no other solution to protect them, Justin wrote, “Justin’s, Do NOT Eat” on each one. And that’s when the real journey started.
For the first three years, Justin looked at all glass jars, the brands, and jar manufacturers to learn more about the available products. He didn’t know about marketing, sales, or food manufacturing, so he needed to quickly gather as much information as possible.
During this time, Justin also had a full-time job in which he worked during the day and used the nights and weekends to produce his jars of butter. Luckily, his employment was at a company that made salsa, so he used the FDA-approved facility to prepare his products.
The Ladder to Success
In 2004 Justin’s journey took off. Pushed by his family and friends, Justin began selling these jars at the Boulder Farmers Market.
Slowly, he convinced small retailers to start purchasing his products and put them up on their shelves. And then, Justin’s became a hit! Later, in 2006, Justin had a splendid idea. Whenever he had a long bike ride, he used to take an energy gel full of sugar. He knew it was not a good option for him, but he needed the energy. Justin thought of peanut or almond butter, but, at that time, there was no such product packed in little squeeze packs like other energy gels.
And this simple thought changed his life. He started wondering why nobody produced nut butter in squeeze packs when there were so many that could benefit from it. Justin borrowed $50,000 and finally bought his own branded squeeze packs.
Justin’s Love for Peanut Butter Cups
In 2011 Justin made one of his favorite childhood snacks but in a healthier version. He used to love peanut butter cups, and now, armed with the needed machines and products to make them, Justin released 100% organic nut butter cups to the market.
Four years later and Justin created a miniature size of this beloved product. Giving the same benefits as the large version, these cups, as Justin puts it, are “more shareable, and let’s face it, adorable.”
Success Comes if You Believe in Your Idea
He talked a lot with customers to understand what other companies producing nut butter were doing better than him. While it was exhausting for his wife and young kids, this invested time was precious for new ideas for the business. In 2007 he was awarded Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan, which helped him grow the business and establish a team.
The results were many different products with various flavors available on the market. In 2010, Justin released Chocolate Hazelnut Almond Butter, with 50% less sugar than the market leader, making it a better alternative.
The breakthrough moment was when the squeeze pack appeared on the shelves. It was a very new category product, never seen before, protein-containing and convenient for those who love sports activities. Suddenly, it was a wanted product, pushing back jams on the shelves and making more space for the nut butter.
Buttering it Up
Ten years after its establishment, Justin’s grew into a company worth around $50-100 million, generating triple-digit growth and employing around 30 people. From a jar with his name, it grew into a multi-billion-dollar brand.
The first funding round was in 2012. It was a Convertible Note with only 1 investor, and the total raised amount was $47.94 million.
Two years later, the company published a book with 50 recipes for Justin’s products. The same year (2016), Hormel Foods bought the company for $286 million.
Nutty Awards for One of the Best Ranked Peanut Butter Brands
Justin’s results were fascinating, and in 2012, the year of the 10th Company’s Anniversary, Ernst & Young recognized Justin as an entrepreneur of the year. In 2014 the company was included in the “100 Cleanest Packaged Foods” companies.
One year later, the company gained another achievement - the USDA organic certificate, the “Rainforest Alliance Certificate” for the Mini Peanut Butter Cups that are gluten-free. But the year didn’t end with only this accomplishment; Justin’s was also listed in the “500 Fastest Growing Companies in America”.
In 2019 he verified the whole product line as GMO-free ingredients.
The Future is Bright for Innovations
Today, Justin’s is available at various stores and famous brands like Starbucks. The company is also actively engaging in corporate social responsibility. The focus is on sustainable packaging, ingredients, pollinator conservation, and hunger relief.
He is convinced that there are still unmet consumer needs, and new entrepreneurs have to identify those needs. But a great business idea is not enough, according to Justin – it requires a passion for fixing the existing problem.
The ideas for new projects are around every corner. Justin’s idea for further development is to expand the nut butter market to the unexpected – as long as there are nuts to mix, his adventures won’t stop.
The current headquarters are in Boulder, Colorado. In 2020, Justin’s started putting out protein bars from various nuts, giving consumers another healthy and sweet option. With this, he proved that there is more that he can do in this business, more doors to unlock, and ways to provide a butter… oh, a better option for everyone!