Chocolate-Filled Bite Sized Cones Enter the DSM Startup Scene
Tyler Devos and Jarod Steffes are the co-founders of Muddy Bites, bringing bite-sized cones filled with milk chocolate to the masses. During a recent Startup Stories DSM podcast, the two spoke with the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Mike Colwell, executive director of entrepreneurial initiatives, to discuss the development of the product, the effects of COVID-19 on their business and how they market the business.
Developing the Product
Devos and Steffes discuss the launch of Muddy Bites in 2018. To develop their product, they followed these steps:
· Consider what goes into the product. Are there cones small enough? How can we create our own cones if they need to be smaller?
· Experiment with chocolate and cones. How do you temper chocolate? How do you cut the cones?
· Contemplate automation. How will the product be sealed? Can machines take over the cutting of the cone and input of chocolate into the cone?
A Challenging Start
At the beginning of their Muddy Bites journey, neither Devos nor Steffes were familiar with the process of filling chocolate into the correct size cone. They talk about failing upwards as they experimented, which resulted in burnt fingers almost every day, burnt chocolate and even cutting fingers as they tested cutting cones for a several months. They tried scissors, a reciprocating saw, a band saw and a custom tool created by Devos that ended up with pieces flying everywhere. Finally, Devos and Steffes reached a breakthrough after discovering tubing cutters worked well to cut the cones. In trying to fill the cones with chocolate, they used a small ladle, resulting in chocolate everywhere. Their cooking area smelled like charred chocolate! Yet, after trial and error, within time, the duo created a successful product.
Digital Marketing Content
Photos and video were both fundamental in getting the word out about Muddy Bites. In order to market food products, you need stunning digital content to showcase items. With the help of micro influencers — influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers — posting product images and videos, Muddy Bites found its audience. One 5-7 second video from one of these micro influencers even went viral, setting off a chain reaction and helping the company on its path to success.
The Effects of COVID-19
Muddy Bites had gained traction quickly online from November 2019 until March 2020. In the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Muddy Bites closed their facility for 90 days. During the shutdown, the Muddy Bites website showed a message explaining the reasons for the shutdown and delayed orders. Customers continued to purchase the product without knowing when the company would be back up and running, helping it to stay afloat during that uncertain time.
Devos shares how testing the retail space with a few storefront businesses helped them to determine the need for automating the machinery in order to eventually launch nationwide within the retail space. He and Steffes are now getting ready to raise more capital to begin the next phase of development.
Listen to the entire podcast by clicking here.
You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.
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