Matt Oscamou, the founder of Frontier Bites, talked about lessons learned getting a food startup off the ground at the April 15 Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale. Here is a short recording of his introduction, the benefits the Bootstrapper Breakfast has offered him, and how he came to bootstrap Frontier Bites with his brother and persevere after his brother passed away in a rafting accident.
Transcript of Remarks
Matt Oscamou: I have a food company in Silicon Valley, bucking the tech trend. I was over at Red Rock Coffee working in the downstairs area and I saw “Bootstrappers Breakfast” on the calendar so I figure I would try to find out what that was. This was right when I was getting going. It’s been a helpful group ot bounce some ideas off of. My attendance has been relatively sporadic based on the needs of the business. It’s been good.
Q: You left a high paying job with a future that was very securre. You left the City of Menlo Park where you were working as an engineer.
Matt: yes, I was the City Engineer for Menlo Park. I was running the entire engineering department. I had built a lot of buildings and infrastructure including some pretty big projects. We were going gangbustsers there for quite a while.
I had an opportunity to finish something that I had started so I decided to take it. Frontier Bites is our product line. It’s a product that my brother and I created together in 2010. We wanted to make something that tasted good, was lightweight, had simple ingredients, and was a replacement for the energy bars that we were eating while we were hiking or backpacking.
We started out with a baking competition to see who could make the best product. After about a year of toying around with it, eating it, and giving it to people, we decided to turn it into a business.
April 2011 is when we decided to jump in and get it going: totaly bootstrapping everything. My brother was in finance and doing some work in Northern California and doing this business on the side. I was doing it on the side–of this relatively demanding job, even though you might not think working for a city is demanding, try working at Menlo Park.
We were both working nights and weekends..early mornings, whatever would make it happen. After we really got started the unfortunate part of the whole story is that my brother passed away about five months after we got started. He was in a rafting accident. It was totally unexpected and the kind of thing that can really derail you or motivate you to get going.
We opened the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium in Menlo Park, it was probably the biggest project I did there, As soon as we had the grand opening, I put in my notice in May 2012 and have been doing this ever since.