Bubba’s Fine Foods • DENVER, CO
Jeff Schmidgall owns Bubba’s Fine Foods, an indulge-worthy, grain-free, paleo snack business he co-founded with his brother-in-law. Growing up in Iowa, Jeff spent his early years involved in an industrial manufacturing business owned by his family. From sweeping floors to welding to marketing and sales, Jeff had his hands on nearly every aspect of the business.
After several years, Jeff discovered his real passion. He had come to appreciate the importance of a healthy diet through his battle with Crohn’s Disease. He experienced major health improvements by adopting a paleo diet, however spent years struggling with the limited sources for good-tasting paleo food options. Bubba’s Fine Foods was born!
An idea occurred to Jeff while on a camping trip with his brother-in-law, Jared. Jeff tasted a banana chip and nut mix that Jared had made. After eating most of the snack mix, Jeff asked Jared if he had ever considered selling it. From there they embarked on a successful journey that led to the development of Bubba’s Fine Foods.
What it’s all About
Bubba’s Fine Foods, a “good for you snack company” has been in business for six years. “It’s really solving a problem,” Jeff explains. For people on restrictive diets it is often difficult to find foods they can indulge in, while maintaining the healthy way of eating. Jeff experienced this problem as a result of his Crohn’s Disease and desire to eat paleo but still enjoy a tasty treat. Bubba’s Fine Foods uses green Saba bananas, found primarily in the Philippines, to develop their low sugar snacks.
Part of developing their paleo friendly snacks means understanding how they turn green bananas into flavorful snacking chips. Unlike most big companies who ultra process their food, Bubba’s Fine Foods uses seasoning that you would likely find in your own pantry to give the food its flavor. “People are becoming wise to the fact that if they cut out ultra-processed foods they start to feel better,” Jeff explains. Jeff and Jared wanted people to have a snack option that doesn’t sacrifice their health.
How it Came Together
While there was rapid success for Bubba’s Fine Foods, it did not come overnight. In their first year of business, Jeff and Jared were living in two different states. Jared, living in Minnesota, would focus his efforts on making batches of their products using restaurant kitchens, and Jeff, living in Colorado, worked to sell the product. In the first year, Jeff made invaluable connections in Boulder, where he discovered there was plenty of infrastructure to operate Bubba’s Fine Foods from one state. Once both Jeff and Jared were operating out of Colorado the business took off. Jeff explained that it was their initial thought that e-commerce would dominate 90% of their business and over time they would work to get their snacks in stores. Six years later, e-commerce now only makes up 30% of their profit, with the majority of sales occurring in stores.
Mistakes, Lessons and Moving Forward
As the business has grown, inevitable mistakes and the lessons have been learned. According to Jeff, the biggest mistake was growing too quickly and allowing the distribution to expand too wide. Rapid growth put a strain on the company’s financial reserves. Sustainable success would come from tempering growth. Moving forward Bubba’s Fine Foods product line is still seeing consistent success. Now they are ready to bring something new to their consumers!