Manage Your Business
How entrepreneurs can run their businesses from exotic locations
Chase for Business partnered with Business Insider's BI Studios to chronicle the stories behind Pipsnacks' newest product, Death Valley Corn. Here, we widen the scope to learn lessons from other businesses about the daunting task of product development.
Small business owners need to constantly innovate to advance and grow, and for many, that means frequent travel in pursuit of new ideas and products.
The challenge is staying on top of running the business while making time for creativity. Wherever they go, the founders of Pipsnacks, WANT Expeditions, and Greenbar Distillery use the Chase Mobile® app to remotely manage business finances, freeing them to focus on what's next.
Co-founders Jeff Martin, Jen Martin, and Teresa Tsou have found the mobile mindset key to their business' swift success. They launched the artisanal snack brand in a very traditional fashion in 2012, selling and sampling their artisanal, mini popcorn in Brooklyn's Smorgasburg food market, and receiving real-time feedback. Even after landing a partnership with Whole Foods, they continued to sample their products in-store.
This face-to-face R&D process and real-time feedback helped in developing unique flavors like non-dairy cheddar, salt and vinegar, and ghee. "Our consumers definitely respond to innovation and that's part of our strategy as we grow," says Jeff Martin.
Pipsnacks' pursuit of cutting-edge products inspired Jeff, Jen, and Teresa to take a weeklong sabbatical in Los Angeles and in the Eastern California desert—one of the hottest places on Earth—on a mission to develop a new flavor, Death Valley Corn. The idea was to use solar power to produce a delicious smoked mesquite popcorn with activated charcoal and ghost pepper coated pieces mixed in.
While this type of on-the-scene innovation is great for business, having the core team out of the office presented challenges. Tsou found the Chase Mobile® app indispensable in managing business expenses from Death Valley. "We could look at everyday cash flow, stay on top of bills, and pay our vendors," she says. The team also used the app's wire transfer capability to order more solar cookers to be delivered to the site—a last-minute development that was critical in developing Death Valley Corn.
When traveling for pleasure is your business
Mobile apps come in handy when you're traveling for business—and even more so when you're running a business from remote corners of the world. That's something Jessica Pociask knows all too well. Ten years ago, she co-founded WANT Expeditions, a company that specializes in pioneering one-of-a-kind adventures focused on intimate encounters with rare and endangered wildlife in remote locations.
Her business started with just two tours, to Uganda and Botswana, but has since grown to 63 destinations and operates on all seven continents. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences include dog sledding in Greenland, trekking to find mountain gorillas in Virunga, and photographing snow leopards in India. Pociask considers WANT a "travel with purpose" community, connecting intrepid travelers and photographers with scientists and conservation activists in the field.
Since WANT's inception, Pociask recognized the benefit of, and need for, implementing technology into her global operation. "We were using cloud computing before it was a thing," she says. This allowed WANT to keep creating and scaling, while ensuring its guests could reach them and feel connected. "Chase Mobile® app offers a more seamless and safer way to wirelessly send and receive money," she says. "It's an essential tool that I can't operate without."
Searching the world for new flavors
Mobile plays a big part in the research process at Greenbar Distillery, another small business that finds much of its inspiration for new products outside of the office. The husband-and-wife owners Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew consider their hometown of Los Angeles' sprawling multicultural culinary scene a laboratory for creating new spirits.
Founded in 2004, today Greenbar Distillery produces 23 craft liquors, liqueurs, and bitters—the world's largest portfolio of organic spirits.
CITY Bright Gin, launching soon, is the latest example of this cross-cultural fusion. Composed of ingredients they enjoy at immigrant-owned restaurants and markets all over LA, the spirit will include ancho chiles, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and cardamom. "We combine flavors you wouldn't think would go together, but they do," says Mathew.
Though she works and researches in Los Angeles, she and her husband are avid travelers, always in search of new flavors. They use their phones to capture images and keep meticulous tasting notes. Mathew also leverages the Chase Mobile® app to see when a major deposit has hit their account. "It's so gratifying to see that your labor meant something," she says.
These entrepreneurs represent a wave of businesses that are embracing a mobile-first approach to doing business. As they adopt new apps and tools, they're finding the freedom to create new products, while still tending to the bottom line.
Business owners mentioned here have been compensated for their participation.
Alex Brophy is a former finance analyst who has written for Yahoo, Business Insider, and News Corp. publications.