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Sep 20, 2017

Have you ever been on the brink of losing hope and losing your business? Today’s episode dives into the nitty-gritty and shares some of the not-so-pleasant hardships many entrepreneurs face. Today’s guest shares some of the key lessons he’s learned while he was trying to start and grow his own business.

Tom King is the Founder and CEO of Steviva Foods, one of the largest importers, manufacturers, and distributors of clean-label sweetening systems and natural sweeteners. Thom’s success did not come easy. In fact, Thom had experienced several growth-related hardships in his business before he truly ‘made it.’ On this week’s show, find out why he never gave up on his business even when all the arrows were pointing for him to do so.

Thom first discovered Steviva through his friend. Tom’s friend came back from Paraguay looking for a natural supplement for his daughter, who was suffering from a rare disease. When Thom first tried these leaves from Paraguay, he found them to be very sweet and they had no calories. The light bulb went off in Thom’s head and thus began his journey of creating a sugar/sweetener substitute.

Thom officially launched his company in 1999. At the time, most of his sales were coming from health food stores due to FDA restrictions on his products. However, in 2008, the FDA allowed Steviva to be sold as a sweetener and his sales began to skyrocket. Thom admits that from 1999 to 2008, it was a real struggle getting his business off the ground. 

Thom’s business started from his garage and it was his side hustle. He was working a full-time job on top of trying to convince stores to sell his product. When he decided to move the business from California to Oregon, that’s when he began to run out of capital.

When Thom was running out of money in 2007, he made a tough call to his father asking him for a small loan. He couldn’t make his mortgage payments anymore. He had maxed out his credit cards, and banks weren’t loaning money to him.

Thankfully, his father said yes and lent him $175,000. Once he received the funds, he put his business plan in place and started to bring on employees. His first 10 hires all focused on the production side of the business and Thom was able to focus strictly on selling.

During this financially trying time, what made Thom carry on? Why didn’t he just hang up the jacket and call it quits? Truth be told, Thom really believed in the idea and — here’s the important part — he had the data to back up the product idea. Diabetes and obesity rates were rising and Thom knew he had a product that could do good and help those people.

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