Tales of An Entrepreneur: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

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Have you ever been on the brink of losing hope and losing your business? Today’s episode dives into the nitty-gritty and shares some of the not-so-pleasant hardships many entrepreneurs face. This week’s guest shares some of the key lessons he’s learned in starting and growing his own business.

Thom King is the Founder and CEO of Steviva Foods, one of the largest importers, manufacturers, and distributors of clean-label sweetening systems and natural sweeteners. His success did not come easy. In fact, he had experienced several growth-related hardships in his business before he truly ‘made it.’ On this week’s show, find out why Thom never gave up on his business even when all the arrows were pointing for him to do so.

Thom first discovered the plant species Stevia rebaudiana through his friend. Thom’s friend had just come back from Paraguay where he’d gone searching for a natural supplement for his daughter, who was suffering from a rare disease. Thom found the plant to be very sweet with no calories, that’s when a light went off for him and he began his journey of creating a sugar/sweetener substitute.

Thom officially launched his company in 1999. At the time, most of his sales were coming from health food stores due to FDA restrictions on his products. In 2008, the FDA allowed Steviva to be sold as a sweetener and his sales began to skyrocket. Until then, he admits it was a real struggle getting his business off the ground.

He started his business from his garage as a side hustle. He was working a full-time job on top of trying to convince stores to sell his product. When he decided to move the business from California to Oregon, that’s when he began to run out of capital.

Thom was running out of money in 2007 when he made a tough call to his father asking him for a loan. He couldn’t make his mortgage payments anymore. He had maxed out his credit cards, and banks weren’t loaning him money.

Once he received the funds, he put his business plan in place and started to bring on employees. His first 10 hires all focused on the production side of the business and Thom was able to focus strictly on selling.

During this financially trying time, what made Thom carry on? Why didn’t he just hang up the jacket and call it quits? Truth be told, he really believed in the idea and, here’s the important part, he had the data to back up the product. Diabetes and obesity rates were rising and Thom knew he had a product that could do good and help those people.


Interview Links:

15% off Steviva products with code: industryangel
Contact Thom directly at thom.king@steviva.com

More Resources:

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Scaling Up is the best-selling book, by Verne Harnish and the team at Gazelles, on how the fastest growing companies succeed where so many others fail.My name is Bill Gallagher, host of the Scaling Up Business podcast and a leading business coach with a Gazelles. We help leadership teams to get the 4 Decisions around People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash right so that they can Scale Up successfully and beat the odds of business growth success. Our 4 Decisions are all part of the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 (from the original best-selling business book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits).