Daniel Lubetzky, founder of New York’s KIND Healthy Snacks, is our Entrepreneur of 2010, capturing customers–and votes–with his scrumptious snack bars and his mission to inspire random acts of kindness among strangers.
Derek Zobrist, on the Pacific coast, is our Emerging Entrepreneur of 2010, making waves with Enovative Kontrol Systems, which installs hot water recirculation systems that save building owners big bucks (and we loved the Ferris Bueller-inspired video).
And this year’s College Entrepreneur of 2010 honors go to Allen Kim, who’s starting Bebarang, an online baby clothing rental store, from his University of Michigan dorm room.
So if 2010 got you down, just remember: These three entrepreneurs braved the economic gloom and lived (well, thrived, really) to tell us about it.
Fresh out of law school, Daniel Lubetzky had this crazy idea: start a “not-only-for-profit” business that could be used as a force to solve social problems. In 1994, he launched New York-based PeaceWorks, a food company that encourages trade and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
It was slow going until 2003, when he alighted on a recipe for snack bars different from anything else in a market crowded with hundreds of options. The product line, which Lubetzky named KIND, features minimally processed snack bars with ingredients you can pronounce and easily recognize through the clear wrapping–think sesame seeds, dried cherries, cashews and coconut slivers. “It took us years to find the right formula, and we hit every challenge you could imagine trying to scale and get into stores,” he says.
But the bars, which retail for $1.99, spoke for themselves. In fact, they sold so well Lubetzky renamed the company KIND Healthy Snacks. “People love our product and philosophy–I’d even say some are obsessed fans,” he laughs, adding that great products do the marketing for you.
Sounds about right. The 50-plus-person company’s revenue and distribution footprint have increased between 60 percent and 100 percent every year for the last four years, and in 2010, sales surpassed $30 million. KIND bars are in 35,000 stores, including Starbucks, which will soon add them in all its airport locations.
Now, Lubetzky is thinking beyond bars. “This company is going to be a platform for all sorts of healthy living solutions,” he says, including cereals and trail mixes, and snack products that are diabetic friendly. Stay tuned: He says he’s got about 100 different ideas.