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Grants power growth

Grants power growth

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners share their stories.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners share their stories.

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See how far they’ve come

Since the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest launched, we've gotten to know some amazing entrepreneurs, ranging from butchers and dairy farmers to inventors and creators — all with a true passion for what they do. Their stories and motivation for starting their businesses captivated and inspired us all.

For many of our winners, their companies and their lives have changed a lot since they won their FedEx grant. Some have grown substantially; others have parlayed their skills into a second or even third business. They've moved into new offices, expanded their inventory, and hired their first employees. Their stories are all different, but each is a small business success.

 

Here's what three of our winners have accomplished:

Paleo Treats

When Nik Hawks and Lee Selman started a Paleo diet, there was only one thing they missed: dessert. So they turned their collective sweet tooth into Paleo Treats, a California-based small business that now ships delicious, caveman-friendly desserts to people all over the world.

Starting out, their shipping boxes were plainer than plain. Their retail displays were functional enough, but the utilitarian containers did little to catch the hungry eyes of shoppers passing by.

 

A photo of Nik Hawks and Lee Selman of Paleo Treats standing near a table

 

"When you're a small business owner, you have to set priorities. Plain wasn't us, but plain cost less," Hawks said. "So, we stuck with the basics." All of that changed when Paleo Treats made the top 10 in the 2015 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and won a $5,000 grant. The dull boxes were sent packing.


"When your display stands out, you sell more — and that's been true for us."


"We created a new 12" x 12" shipping box for our direct customers and a new display box for our wholesalers," Hawks explained. "The shipping box makes us look more like a ‘real' company — we get lots of compliments. It also fits with our mission to bring quality, beauty, and joy to the world."

Their display boxes received a makeover, too. The pink-and-white graphic gives Paleo Treats a visual pop in retailers' refrigerated sections, attracting new buyers, while showcasing the company's sense of fun.

"When your display stands out, you sell more — and that's been true for us," Hawks said. "We've tripled our sales at one local store. While I can't say that it's all because of our new display box, it definitely played a part in that growth."

 

The Wok Shop

A fixture of San Francisco's Chinatown for nearly fifty years, the Wok Shop was one of the first mom-and-pop retailers with a functional, optimized e-commerce site. And its online store took off immediately when Tane Chan launched it in 1999 with the help of her son.

 

A photo of Tane Chan of The Wok Shop in her shop surrounded by cooking utensils

 

"Orders that come in by 3 p.m. are still shipped the same day," Chan says proudly. "And all the fulfillment is done from our basement." But Chan — a 2016 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winner — was eager to grow her international sales. To do that, she needed more help. "The day I found out I won, I went out and hired a part-time webmaster to make improvements to our website and make it more user-friendly," Chan says.


"The day I found out I won, I went out and hired a part-time webmaster to make improvements to our website and make it more user-friendly."


With her FedEx grant money, she's been able to hire a specialist to focus just on the website so she can grow her international business. "We want to ship more products worldwide," she says. "We want to connect to more people. With the grant, and with someone focusing on our site, I think we'll be able to do that."

 

Booze Dogs

Booze Dogs makes and distributes bratwurst infused with bourbon, rum, or gin, selling nationwide. Proud of the company’s growth, Joe McGowen, owner of Booze Dogs, shared how grateful he is to have won a grant from the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.

 

A photo of Booze Dogs' bratwurst on a platter with bottles of alcohol behind

 

During the contest period, an investor for Booze Dogs had to back out for personal reasons. The grant money that Joe won saved him in the nick of time and allowed him to then get through the seasonality of the product by building a support base for wholesale buyers through the next year.


“Reinvest or leverage your assets to resolve your liability to multiply your return on your investment.”


Right now, Booze Dogs products are offered on a university campus. Joe has plans with an athletic department for all sporting events and is also selling to a small grocery chain. Expansion plans for the future include adding burgers and sliders. His advice for other small business owners: “Reinvest or leverage your assets to resolve your liability to multiply your return on your investment.”