Welcome to this e-commerce influencer interview! Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Chadd Bauman – the owner of a fascinating business with a fantastic social mission. Our hope is that you find this interview to be enlightening and inspiring as you seek to start and grow your very own online brand!
Interview with Chadd
Thank you for joining us for this e-commerce business success story! We’d like to start by getting an understanding of your backstory. How did you come to own your business?
Circular Harvest was founded by Kyle Born and Chadd Bauman. Kyle & Chadd met in university where they both were in the Environment & Business program at the university of Waterloo. They found their passion for sustainable agriculture at university when they learned about the industry’s enormous impact and wasteful mindset. Kyle & Chadd originally wanted to start a hydroponic farm where they would grow leafy greens and herbs with less space and water than traditional agriculture but they eventually realized that they were not passionate about growing a food product that didn’t have much sustenance for people. After a few pivots the two founders learned about the fungi kingdom and its ability to not only be a nutrient dense food source but also a great tool for dealing with waste within the food sector. Circular Harvest has since been working with mycelium to not only help people grow healthy sustainable food but to combat the vast amount of waste within our food economy. Circular Harvest mission is to reshape agriculture from a linear to a circular food economy.
Terrific! Now, this article is about profiling successful e-commerce businesses. So – can you share your top 3 keys to running a successful online brand?
- Agility – being open minded to all opportunities and not being too attached to your original plan allows you to grow faster and become a better company because you’re willing to learn what works and doesn’t work.
- Be Vulnerable/Honest – talk with your customers and other people to show them the good and the bad of your company. This will instill trust with people and allow you to get honest feedback to help make your company stronger.
- Pay for Marketing! The best product doesn’t win, it is the best marketed product that does! You could have the best product in the world but if noone has heard of it how will they know? Especially in ecommerce you need to spend money to make money.
Excellent. Now, I’m sure it hasn’t always been that easy. Can you tell a story about one challenge, setback, or mistake that you’ve had to overcome on the road to success? How can others learn from your mistakes?
One big challenge that we faced early on was with contamination of our grow kits. When making a mushroom grow kit, you are creating an environment for mold and mushrooms to thrive in so it is important to be very sterile when making them so no contamination gets in. As a mushroom farm there will always be some level of contamination but ideally you want 0%. Most farms operate between 5-10% of their substrate getting contaminated. Anyways, when we first started it was Christmas time which is our busiest time of year and we had a ton of orders that needed to be sent out but then a big wave of contamination hit us where we lost around 50% of our bags! This caused us to shut down our online store so we didn’t take on anymore orders and allow us to focus on getting the ones we do have complete. We ended up filling all the orders but we then got a bunch of emails after Christmas saying that their kits still had gotten contaminated. Since we do a guarantee to grow program we ended up having to replace all those kits for no charge which left us making very little money that year even with all the sales.
Thanks for that. Now – we want to know what’s next! What new initiatives are you rolling out at your business and what results are you hoping to see?
Circular Harvest still does the grow kits and we also offer a commercial service for farmers looking to grow mushrooms. Our next products we plan to launch will be mushroom powders like Lion’s Mane powder and other medicinal varieties. We are also hoping to get some more mycoremediation work where we help clean up the environment using fungi. There are many different uses of mycelium and we plan to explore all the ones that relate to cleaning up the agricultural sector.
Sounds exciting! Any final words of advice for our readers?
If you haven’t heard of how cool fungi is yet, I highly recommend watching Fantastic Fungi or visit our website to try growing your own!
Brilliant! We want to thank you for participating in today’s interview. Hopefully our readers agree that there is a lot to be learned from your brand’s story. What links can our readers use to follow along with your journey?