We’re thrilled to start sharing a new series called “5 Questions With…,” which takes a behind-the-scenes look into the daily lives of our small business customers.
Name: Charlotte and Shai Tzabari
Company: Olive My Pickle
Location: Jacksonville, Fl.
Products/Services: Lacto-fermented pickles, hummus, and olives
Years in Business: 5 Years
1. Tell us about a day in the life of Charlotte and Shai Tzabari.
Shai and I drop off our kids at school together and spend the ride to Olive My Pickle headquarters reviewing the day’s priorities. Shai spends more of his time on the tactical, operational-side running of the business. He handles pickle and food production and lines up all our supplies. He’s also the man when it comes to managing our vendor relationships. I focus on sales, marketing, and financials. I spend about half my time following up on open items and the other half creating new opportunities—for example I wear the hat of ‘outside sales rep’ and I’m currently working on opening new natural food store accounts in the Southeast.
2. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a small business owner? Most difficult?
Small business ownership is like one long-stretch project — the best part is it makes you tougher and smarter, the difficult part is it does tire you out.
3. Why did you originally need financing?
We’re growing our business into new channels, but much of that growth has to be funded by our current farmers’ market-based business, which is kind of like watering a farm with a garden hose. Our bank wouldn’t loan us money and appeared uninterested in supporting the growth of smaller, local companies. OnDeck was there when we needed to front money for growth.
4. How has OnDeck helped your business grow? Tell me about your experience.
Pickles are seasonal, so we can only produce them twice a year. We had to produce a 6 month supply of inventory within a few weeks, so we used the OnDeck funds to help with that expense, while using our cash flow from the farmers markets to keep that segment of the business going.
OnDeck gave us a quick loan with very little front-end paperwork and has made it manageable to repay because of the daily payback feature. The fact is, there are other short-term loan options out there for a small business. What stands out about OnDeck is their enlightened, 21st century treatment of its customers. By featuring its customers in its marketing rather than simply pushing its financial products, OnDeck adds value to the customer’s overall “borrower” experience and creates loyalty in the process.
5. If you were just starting out again, what would you tell yourself about running a small business?
I’d urge myself from Day 1 to treat my business with the discipline and close financial management of a national company. We originally started as a farmers’ market business to generate some extra income during the post-recession recovery. In four years, we’ve created a natural food brand with national potential. Although our brand is fun and we “don’t take ourselves too seriously,” there is an art to creating a compelling brand personality and a science to running a profitable, solvent business. We need to be great at both.
BONUS: How did your mascot, Pete the Pickle, come to be?
Pete was born when we participated in a local crowdfunding event in Jacksonville earlier this year. We originally ordered a man-sized pickle costume, with plans to hire someone to walk around promoting our business. But when the costume arrived, our son Noam put it on and BEGGED us to get one in kids’ size— he promised if we did he’d wear the costume and promote pickles. Well, Noam became a bit of a local celebrity at the festival, running through the streets of downtown Jacksonville (supervised, of course) playing the part of Pete the Pickle.
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