Friday, September 10, 2010

Chicago's finest in health food- Part 1

PART 1: Element Bars

Until recently I have sworn off nutrition bars from my diet. As a consumer I always felt cheated because while the label claimed the bar provided great health benefits (low-carb, no sugar, filling, energy boost, blah, blah, blah) when I checked the back for the ingredients it was like reading gibberish. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. About two years ago Jonathan Miller felt the same way and took it upon himself to start making his own bars out of ingredients he found in his kitchen pantry. No fancy wrap needed, he would pack them in tin foil and bring them to work everyday, much to his co-workers entertainment who fondly coined them ‘space cakes’. Little did they know, Jonathan would soon turn ‘space cakes’ into the very successful, terribly delicious, and uniquely custom, Element Bars. While Element Bars does not claim to be a diet bar, it packs as much nutrition punch as you want it to and tastes like forbidden treat. The idea supporting Element Bars is simple - we all have different tastes when it comes to food (something witty about home recipes). So why not bring a novel customization idea into the food industry and run with it? And why not top that idea off with an incredibly simple user interface which allows such customization to be available to everyone? Ergo Jonathan’s internet website When you log onto the website you have four choices for the main core of the bar; chewy, oaty, chrispy and datey. Once the core has been chosen, choose which fruits, nuts, sweets and boosts you want. The right hand side of the page allows you to see how each choice affects the nutrition facts of your customized bar. Once satisfied you can name your customized bar, I chose the Messi Jessi which was a chewy core with agave sweetening, flax seeds, prunes, and a boost of soy protein.

I visited Jonathan’s bakery to catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes action going into my Messi Jessi.

Mixing the ingredients

Biggest mixers I've ever seen!

The finished product!

But it wasn’t always flaxseed and agave nectar for Jonathan. As a self proclaimed ‘serial entrepreneur’ he knew it would take hard work, patience and most of all the loving support of his wife to get Element Bars off and running. Having already started, maintained and sold a previous business in college textbooks, he knew there would be many sacrifices along the way. But to Jonathan, there is nothing quite like the thrill of “starting something from scratch,” and getting it to the point where it can thrive on its own. Spoken like a true entrepreneur, as I sat and vigorously tried to type notes on every word he said I couldn’t help but notice how passionate he was about his business. Not because he is necessarily a health food nut or because he just wanted a nutritious bar to eat but because he really believes in it and will do whatever it takes to make it succeed, including get grilled on the popular TV show Shark Tank.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Jonathan impressed judges (not an easy task) with his business savvy approach. I was perched at the edge of my seat watching the clips, actually nervous for him but he kept his cool and eventually made a deal. The return on his investment was priceless. While he did have to fork over some ownership of the company the publicity he received from the show practically “brought the website to it’s knees.” On the very same night as the infamous Kanye West rant about Taylor Swift, Element bars was third on the list of Google searches next to Kanye and Taylor.

It was an absolute pleasure getting the opportunity to meet Jonathan and check out the bakery. Whether you are a foodie or not, I encourage you to check out the site and see what creation you would come up with for your customized Element Bar. If you're stuck, the Messi Jessi is highly recommended : )

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments, questions or ideas are always welcome!