Tara Bosch grew up struggling with an unhealthy relationship with food. Then one spring, after having a conversation with her grandmother about the negative impacts a high sugar diet had had on her life, Tara decided that she needed to take action. She wanted to find a way for people to enjoy the foods that they loved, without worrying about detrimental health effects. SmartSweets was born. She spent one summer testing recipes in her kitchen, and searching for accelerator programs that could support her in growing SmartSweets. In Summer 2015 Tara with SmartSweets was accepted into The Next Big Thing, she hit the ground running, and hasn’t slowed down since.
On the benefits of being a young founder
Being young is such a great advantage to have, because you’re really not held back by a mortgage, kids, that sort of thing that you have to prioritize that might cause added stress to you as you’re moving forward. There are a lot of people that are older that are really willing to help you, they think “Oh darn, maybe I should have started when I was younger”, and so they admire that you’re trekking into the unknown, and they’ll help you because of that. I think it’s a huge asset to be a young entrepreneur, especially with the impact that you can make with the years that you still have ahead of you.
On advice for other entrepreneurs
For me growing up, because of the unhealthy relationship that I had with food - it impacted my self-perception and self-esteem, and I didn’t have the confidence to act on my ideas. I religiously watched Shark Tank, and Dragon’s Den and had all of these great ideas, but I never actually acted on them.
What I realized was that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs didn’t have a special quality about them, they just dropped themselves in a bucket and learned along the way. Realizing that was crucial for me and made me ok with the fact that you don’t know, and you don’t have it all figured out, but no one really does when they are just starting out. I learned to drop down and conquer, and used my fear as an asset rather than as a barrier.
That is a massive takeaway. “Oh sh*t, well, they didn’t know what they were doing, and they did it anyways. It works, so I can too.”
On being a solo founder
Being a solo founder is a bit like a two-edged sword. The beneficial thing is you have complete control over your business, what that means from an equity standpoint you own 100% of your business from the get-go. On the other hand, there’s only one of you! If you have a co-founder or two, then there’s double or triple the amount of man or lady power on your team to move forward and quickly.
It is really important as a solo founder, to surround yourself with people who might not be on your team, but who are as invested in you and your business idea. They can come in many shapes and forms, and they can be there for that pillar of support that is so important during the ups and downs of building a business.
On being a female founder
As female entrepreneurs we immediately question ourselves, and we’re often a bit more conservative about our accomplishments and what we’re achieving – the milestones we’ve made and what we can create. Harnessing down your- not assertiveness – but confidence and knowing its ok to share your milestones. And realizing that it is not bragging, it’s just getting you to where you need to go. I believe that type of thinking stops us from taking action faster than we could have, and sometimes by that time the opportunity has passed. So [we need to] stop questioning ourselves and seize the opportunity when it is presented.
On the most valuable parts of the TNBT program
Being part of the entire TNBT environment and network was a huge value to my business and to me personally. Being a solo founder, it really helps to have people around when sh*t hits the fan.
On next steps
A big dream of is to start an accelerator for young female founders in the Consumer Packaged Goods world! But for the immediate term, I want to build SmartSweets into a multi-million dollar company that is impact driven and makes a difference in thousands – millions of people’s lives.
Make sure to grab your SmartSweets this summer!