Janine Zappini is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Los Angeles and former participant in EO's business Accelerator program, which empowers entrepreneurs with the tools, community and accountability necessary to aggressively grow and master their businesses. A serial entrepreneur, Janine is the founder and CEO of Gutsii, which provides vegan, gut-healing, guilt-free snacks. We asked Janine about her entrepreneurial journey in growing her company. Here's what she shared.
What inspired you to start your company?
I am a passionate entrepreneur at heart, and a lover of foods that are not only healthy but functional, convenient, simple, empowering and--of course!--delicious and enjoyable. I've always believed that we can have it all, and I've made it my entrepreneurial mission to prove that.
My journey with nutrition and health started with the death of my grandfather in 2000. That's when I realized that my grandmother, mother and myself were experiencing a multitude of illnesses. I learned very quickly that food has a significant impact on people's health--and was amazed by how changing what we ate significantly improved how we felt.
I embarked on a long journey, learning about diets, food types, the unique requirements of everyone's individual body, and the urgent need for simple, functional snack solutions that meet multiple dietary requirements.
In 2011, I left my corporate job as a business analyst to start my first company, Simply Raw--Australia's first 100-percent raw ingredient snack bar. We achieved extraordinary growth, hitting the million-dollar-revenue mark in two short years. I ventured into a few additional snack food projects, including Bennetto Chocolate, where I helped guide the business as a director. We delivered 50 metric tonnes of chocolate into the waiting mouths of Australians and New Zealanders within six months.
My most recent company, Gutsii--offering "funKtional" chocolate snacks and shakes that support healthy gut function--launched in early 2018 in Australia. In September 2018, I expanded the company internationally in the US, supported by my move to Los Angeles.
I am now actively educating consumers on health and well-being with the focus on simplicity, efficiency and cost-effective solutions that are easy to apply to your everyday, busy schedule.
How did you learn about the business accelerator program you joined?
I heard about EO's Accelerator program through my network a few years before joining. However, I was skeptical about it because I was running a product-based company. Most of the other entrepreneurial education groups I encountered focused predominantly on service-based companies and didn't provide suitable value for my business. I wasn't convinced that this program would be much different.
Once I inquired with EO, however, I learned more about the scope of Accelerator and was intrigued. Joining the program was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself personally as well as the business. It provided the community of support and entrepreneurial knowledge I needed to grow and scale my business to new heights.
I was in the Accelerator program for just over 15 months. I learned so much that now I'm onto my second business since "graduating" to become an EO member.
How did what you learned influence your business?
I endured a long period of running my business where I felt alone, lost, overwhelmed and inefficient. Looking back, a lot of that resulted from a lack of knowledge and undeveloped leadership skills. The Accelerator program and EO helped me to fill all of those gaps and more.
I've met some of my best friends through EO. I am a big believer and advocate for the network and the family-type support and feelings it inspires.
The organization provides business leaders with education, values, a network, exclusive events and the opportunity to truly be heard and understood by other entrepreneurs who face similar challenges in a confidential Forum environment. Relating on that level builds a high level of trust and support.
I meet EO members from all around the world. There is always an instant connection, warmth, openness and trust--which I believe is based on the fact that we all share similar values as a result of our individual experiences with the organization.
What I've learned through EO has helped save time and money as I grow my business--something that every business owner can appreciate. In addition, the EO network has given me the confidence to expand my company globally.
And here's the best part: My business has tripled since I first joined Accelerator.