No matter what your favorite kind of cookie is, when you think about that cookie, your imagination gets to work, recreating smells and sounds, sights, and memories. Maybe it's grandma's house, or something special your mom made for you. Maybe it's a certain brand, or a certain type- chocolate chip anyone? The U.S. cookie market is expected to hit Twelve billion dollars by 2023, a number that would make grandma do a double take, so it's no surprise that the story I'm about to tell you combines cookies with product launch success.

Life Without Cookies

First-generation American entrepreneurs Kristoffer Quiaoit & Victor Macias, founders of Nui Foods, found themselves struggling with their own weight and fitness. At the time, ketogenic diets were showing up everywhere, and they decided to give it a try. When their results of the low sugar, low carb diet earned them higher energy levels, less napping, less anxiety, and their hunger highs and lows went away, the duo had two thoughts:

  1. "How can we bring this to more people, because we feel amazing."

  2. "Can a keto-er get a cookie though?"

Ketogenic dieters often miss out on their favorite desserts and foods because low carb, low sugar removes a lot of options, including cookies, something Quiaoit and Macias didn't want to live without. And judging by the market value in cookies sold across the U.S., a lot of other people aren't willing to go without cookies either.

Top Down Approach

Plenty of entrepreneurs are encouraged to work their business from the bottom- up, beginning with their product and using that as the foundation they launch from. Quiaoit & Macias took a different approach, more of a top down approach, by starting with their market and building from there. Team Nui's market-centric approach allowed them to gauge the market, where they could add value, and how they could monetize that while minimizing risk and increasing their upside. The end result: low carb, low sugar cookies that taste great and come in at an acceptable price point.

A lot of new entrepreneurs go to their friends and families with their ideas, find that "everyone loves it" and hit the ground running, pouring resources into an idea that has a massive chance at failure. Quiaoit & Macias did go to their friends and families first, but they took 2 additional steps that really contributed to their success. Their market proof process looked like this:

Step One: talk with friends and family, get good feedback, take their idea public.

Step Two: Research data, cookie popularity, and use those numbers to decide the first two cookies they would do their market research tests with.

Step Three: Lastly, they went exactly where their tribe was, in this case a Reddit group of Ketogenic followers, and put their product in front of potential buyers. With a stock photo, a Paypal button, and a $20 ad investment, this was where the rubber met the road, and they knew if they had sales, they had a business.

Time To Build A Business

After they had about twenty orders, the duo had the feedback and the traction to keep pushing forward. At the time, they were losing money on every test order that came in because they were sourcing all of their ingredients from Whole Foods. While losing money isn't fun, they also didn't have a ton of cash or resources tied up in inventory so for the bigger picture, this type of loss isn't terrible. Throughout this entire process, Quiaoit & Macias continued asking themselves, "How can we set ourselves apart and gain attention?" So naturally, their next step was Kickstarter. And 30-days before that campaign went live, they started sending out cookies to influencers on Instagram who were big into keto. First of all, who doesn't want free cookies? Second, who doesn't want free cookies that align with their lifestyle?

Television Debut

While Quiaoit & Macias were diligently working on ways they could get in front of more people while spending less money, they decided to go to an open casting for Shark Tank. Again the question of how they could set themselves apart was sitting at the forefront of their planning. When the casting agents showed up to hand out bracelets, the duo acted quickly, handing out cookies to help the agents counter the effects of the very long day ahead of them. Their planning worked and by the time they got to the agents to present their pitch, they were all snacking on Nui cookies. Their partnership with guest shark Alex Rodriguez is one more piece of their success story, and the team at Nui Foods is only getting started.

Plan Your Process

This process, of diligence and calculated risk over gain, is a story with something for everyone. If you are launching, or thinking about launching, think about how you can take a page from these cookie-lovers, to show up in all the right places, at the right time, to make the most of the resources you have.

Published on: May 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.