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The Next Big Thing: Bob den Oudsten Aspiring Serial Entrepreneur

January 26, 2016

Meet Food Starter Food Commercialization Program client Bob den Oudsten, a Chartered Accountant who wants to bring a new, healthy, high protein snack to the market.

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The Vision:

The idea for Bob’s first product came to him while on vacation. “I found a fun idea and ran with it,” he notes. Since then, Bob’s  primary focus has been on creating a preliminary prototype as well as “creating a brand that will last.” He believes that establishing a brand and product that avoids making any unreasonable claims will resonate with consumers.  As a result, all of his still top secret product’s claims will be based on solid evidence.  

Getting Started:  

Of course there are also many other aspects to setting up a successful food business. As one of our first Food Commercialization Program clients, Bob is learning skills that will help him to succeed not just with this first product development project, but also with many different food business concepts in the future.

As a CA Bob finds our training and advice complimentary to his already well developed business skills. “The training seminars have been very helpful in terms of connecting me with individuals that can help me get all my ducks in a row with respect to setting up production. I had the chance to use the facility to do a production test and begin refining my production process. It’s also been a valuable experience to work alongside fellow food entrepreneurs.” 

Q & A with Bob:  

So what kind of person leaves the world of chartered accounting to take the plunge into the deep end of the food business? We wanted to find out so we asked Bob some questions. Here’s what this dynamic entrepreneur had to say:

Why did you decide to leave the world of accounting?

“Although I’ve intended to be an entrepreneur since I was a little kid, I decided to obtain my CA based on my dad’s advice that I’d be vulnerable as a businessman without a solid understanding of financial statements – a lesson he learned the hard way. 

While I was in the process of meeting the CA’s experience requirements, I quickly discovered that auditing was not the job for me and began to look for a position that allowed me to develop a more entrepreneurial skillset. I ended up applying to PwC’s Corporate Advisory & Restructuring Group with the mindset that working on this team would arm me with a sort of ‘jack of all trades” business background while I searched for a good idea of my own. Working in corporate restructuring proved to be an incredibly valuable experience, providing me with the opportunity to run businesses in industries ranging from hospitality to manufacturing, honing my negotiation skills and, perhaps most importantly, teaching me what not to do in business by showing me the most common pitfalls. 

While it took several years for me to come up with an idea that warranted taking the plunge from the safety of a corporate salary to entrepreneurship, I finally came up with that idea during a trip to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup where I first experienced the local delicacy, açai, and began thinking about how I could to adapt it to the demands of the North American consumer. The result is an innovative new product that will be unveiled in Canada in the spring of 2016.”

If you were in charge of the country, what is the first thing you would change?

“The current economic situation is proving how vulnerable Canada’s economy is to oil price fluctuations. To build a more robust economy I think the country needs to focus on rebuilding its industrial heartland – the GTA. I believe that the best way to do this is to create conditions that will foster long-term population and economic growth. Toronto has the potential to become a true world city on par with New York, but not with its current public transit infrastructure. As such I think Canada needs to invest massively in this area as well as in supporting new businesses in order to insulate its economy from future economic shocks. Projects like Food Starter are a great start!”

 

Connect with Bob 

Check back in the coming months for updates about the launch of his healthy snack product as soon as details are released!

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