Episode 3 of the Ecommerce Growth Stories brought to light a delicious tale of a cookie dough startup in Canada, a story told by a young entrepreneur, Erica Rankin.

The episode was filled with knowledge and great expectations for a new one-year startup that has immense potential among the consumers who prioritize their health and still want to enjoy a treat, without sacrificing their health or fitness goals.

Bro Dough wants to change the cookie dough game and not only allow their customers to have their dough, but eat it too.

It has been an inspiring story that needs to be heard, so let’s not waste another minute!

Who is Erica Rankin?

Erica Rankin is a 26-year-old fitness advocate from a small town in Ontario, Canada. She grew up working on horse farms and developed an interest in fitness in 2017 shortly after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University for psychology.

Wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, she became passionate about recreating her favorite treats and putting a healthy spin on them. She competed in several bodybuilding competitions and fell in love with the fitness community. As time went on, she became greatly interested in better-for-you foods and trying to lead a more plant-based lifestyle.

She noticed there was a gap in the market for an improved version of a nostalgic treat – cookie dough. This led to the development of Bro Dough and she bridged that gap, by creating a 100% vegan, plant-based, protein-infused edible cookie dough that is lower in sugar. She wanted to take this treat and transform it into something individuals could enjoy without sacrificing their health or fitness goals.

The struggles of a start-up

I had a lot of struggles in my first year, especially with COVID and everything. Being a solo founder is really hard, especially on those days where the world is just like knocking you on your ass. Don’t really have anyone to hype you up. I had a lot of days where I didn’t have the proper support system in place, so it made those days really challenging.

Then that’s when I ventured on to LinkedIn and I found my tribe and had a bunch of people that hyped me up and were there when I really needed them. So that was a challenge that I had. And also getting into stores, because in the middle of a pandemic, stores are opening and closing, they don’t want to take on new products because they’re not moving a lot of the products they currently have. So that was something that I really struggled with.

Then this year, I’m just as I scale, I’m facing a whole bunch of different types of challenges because it’s just like a learning curve. When I think I know everything, I have another conversation with someone else and I’m like, crap, I didn’t even think about that. There are just so many different moving parts.

I’m really grateful for the position that I’m in, but I just realize I have a long road ahead of me. But I’m really excited for this year though!

Creating a community around the brand

I love my customers! Someone who does this really well, too – as Mid-Day Squares, they tell it like it is on their storytelling – is something that I greatly admire. And that’s kind of who I’m following in terms of showing my whole story, the highs, the lows, taking my customers through the journey with me.

I think they really appreciate that. They see the hardships and the things that go on behind the business. If something happens, they’re more forgiving, which is also really nice, just based on that relationship that I’ve developed with them. 

I also make a point to if they email me, I email back right away, Instagram if they message me or post a review. This morning, one of my customers posted a really great review on my products. And I really went out of my way to thank her for that because I really do appreciate it. And just for them, like sharing on their Instagram and other people see it, that’s how I get a lot of my customers, just through word of mouth. Someone has a really great experience with my product, they tell their friends and then I get another customer and it’s just like a chain reaction. 

Incentivising this is something that I’m looking at now because I’m getting my website a little facelift and I’m getting a brand redevelopment happening right now. But when I have my new website, I’m going to have different things like that. I thought about if customers post reviews and I can offer like 20 percent offer, a discount or something. Just as a little thank you, I think that would go a long way. 

Advice to first-time entrepreneurs

  1. Just do it!
  2. Don’t be embarrassed!
  3. It’s like a staircase, you’re going to learn from it. You’re going to know what not to do and you’re going to be smarter about the next thing that you go on to do.
  4. You’re going to mess up a lot – it’s inevitable – but you’re going to grow and you’re going to learn from it.

Stay in tune with us next time for the Ecommerce Growth Stories where we’ll be meeting Miruna Mitu, the Online Marketing & Communication Manager of Mobexpert, who will share with us the story of Mobexpert, the largest furniture and accessories distributor in Romania.

This podcast is sponsored by VTEX.

VTEX is the first and only fully integrated commerce, marketplace and solution that offers the fastest time-to-revenue, without the need for additional updates. Ever.