Naturally Smart Foods Gets Its Product On The Shelves With The Help Of The FSBDC

When Mark Patterson, founder of Naturally Smart Foods, LLC, first came to the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF (FSBDC) he sought assistance in establishing a presence in the Jacksonville market for his product – a gluten free, high protein dessert with an appeal to those looking for a healthy alternative to traditional ice cream.  Mark already had begun to offer his product at local natural food markets, including Grassroots II and Bio Max, as well as Thin Centers and other health and fitness-conscious establishments. He had received such positive feedback; he knew the product’s potential if only it were available in more accessible places of distribution. Toward that end, FSBDC consultants Paul Arrington and Kevin Monahan provided assistance by reviewing Mark’s business plan, discussing development of an overall marketing strategy, advice regarding developing and maintaining financial records and projections and pitching his vision to investors. 
Paul offered a chance for the business to become the subject of a UNF Coggin College of Business marketing class instructed by FSBDC consultant and UNF instructor Diane Denslow.   Mark jumped at the opportunity and was able to benefit from the marketing strategies developed by College of Business student teams.
When One Spark 2014 came around, Mark decided that this crowdfunding festival would be an excellent opportunity to showcase his product. As a part of his preparation for the event he took advantage of an entrepreneur’s round-table forum designed by FSBDC consultants Kevin Monahan and Jared Bailey to help festival participants make the most out of their One Spark experience.  Mark’s tireless efforts at One Spark paid off, with Naturally Smart Foods becoming one of the most highly noticed festival entries, attracting continuing media recognition:
·         Pittman, M. (2014, Feb 10).  Matt About Jax:  The Naturally Smart Dessert Option.  The Florida Times-Union
·         Marshall, J. (2014, Feb 19).  Bringing “Naturally Smart” Choices to the Dessert Aisle.  Ignite Media
·         Marshall, J. (2014, Mar 6).  Meet the creators: Jacksonville entrepreneur makes dessert “Naturally Smart”.  Jacksonville Business Journal
·         Jones, C. J. (2014, July 7).  One Spark favorite now in the freezer aisle of 35 stores.  Jacksonville Business Journal
·         Bull, R. (2014, Oct 1).  Working on the First Coast: One-man frozen dessert operation makes headway.  The Florida Times Union
·         McKinney, C. (2014, Oct 1).  Naturally Smart a healthy alternative to ice cream.  The Gainesville Sun
It was while networking during an annual Small Business Week awards celebration event hosted by the FSBDC at the UNF in May 2014 that Mark was able to attract the financial interest of an investment group.  Now having the backing of an investment group that realizes the huge potential offered by Mark’s business, Mark has been able to turn that investment into a Jacksonville area success.  The frozen dessert product has become is available at multiple mainline retailers, including Whole Foods, Fresh Market – including a new, premier Fresh Market location, and most recently in 27 Winn Dixie locations.  Additional approved locations for product placement include Earth Fare, Lucky’s Natural Food Store and Hitchcock’s Markets. 

“I’m excited about how my business has been able to take off and grow,” says Mark, “and the help I have received from the SBDC has been an important part of that.”
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