3 terrible ideas that were critical to my company’s growth

The longer I function founder & CEO of Farmer’s Fridge, the extra my staff, buyers, and exterior companions anticipate me to be proper: to make the appropriate resolution, put money into the appropriate issues, and pull the appropriate growth levers. And whereas expertise does convey a sure elevated instinct, I’m an enormous advocate for failure. Once I take a look at the inputs to make a strategic resolution, the metaphorical “x” I’m fixing for is just not being proper on a regular basis. Failure is an enormous a part of life and work, even when—and arguably extra so when—you’re a founder and CEO. My mantra is that if there isn’t an opportunity you fail, then you aren’t pushing your self onerous sufficient; and even worse, you aren’t admitting when one thing is just not working. Our entrepreneurial tradition celebrates success tales, however I don’t suppose we discuss failure sufficient. Failure may be costly, it may be embarrassing, it may be humorous (a few of my greatest tales are from failed ideas), however it’s all the time critical to growth.

With out additional ado, right here, three of my worst ideas from the previous eight years of Farmer’s Fridge:

  • The Detox Salad: This salad has develop into a punchline round our workplace. Within the early days, earlier than I had a chef or culinary staff on employees, I created a salad that I lovingly named “The Detox,” which was filled with every part that got here up once I Googled “tremendous meals.” It wasn’t good. In actual fact, it was fairly unhealthy. Extra importantly, it didn’t meet the wants of my clients. (It seems, my market wasn’t solely guys of their 20s making an attempt desperately to get well from an evening out.)
  • California: In 2014, one brief 12 months after founding Farmer’s Fridge and lengthy earlier than we had a manufacturing facility, I gave an interview to the L.A. Instances about our enterprise mannequin. I obtained slightly overzealous and advised the reporter that we’d be launching machines in California within the first half of 2015. Take into accout, that is once we were nonetheless very a lot so proving out the idea in Chicago and had no enterprise increasing to Indiana, a lot much less throughout the nation. My staff freaked out and set me straight, and I rapidly had to backtrack on my phrase. (We simply launched in California with 5 areas at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport in fall 2021, a full six years later, and let me let you know what a full circle second that was for me.)
  • Romaine Empire: Let me guess. You’re rolling your eyes on the cringe-worthy pun above. No, Romaine Empire is just not one thing concocted from a Saturday Night time Stay skit. It’s truly the unique identify of Farmer’s Fridge, and the official authorized legal responsibility firm (LLC) identify that’s nonetheless on all of our tax documentation and worker pay stubs. I assumed Romaine Empire was such a intelligent identify for a salad store, however a number of months into the corporate, a good friend sat me down to inform me that it was a very terrible identify. I’ll admit, I took some convincing—in any case, this identify was my mind little one!— however I used to be fairly quickly satisfied to change the identify to the far more marketable Farmer’s Fridge.
  • (*3*)


    New workers inevitably ask concerning the story of Romaine Empire after they see it on their pay stubs, and whereas at this level our authorized staff may swap the identify out comparatively simply, I like protecting it on our books to remind the staff that unhealthy ideas can come from wherever—particularly the founder.

    Luke Saunders is founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge, a community of greater than 400 sensible fridges stocked with contemporary meals and snacks.