Benjamin Fleischer grew up in the food business working for his father’s company, a leading private bagel manufacturer. In 2006, Fleischer was researching natural alternatives to sugary energy drinks when he discovered stevia, a plant in the sunflower family that has leaves with a very sweet taste. Recognizing a true market opportunity, he switched his focus to eventually develop a proprietary extraction process that utilizes one species of the plant. The process isolates only the sweetest part of the plant, effectively minimizing any lingering bitterness or licorice-like flavors commonly associated with stevia.
In 2008 Fleischer launched Pyure Brands, LLC to supply all-natural and organic stevia products to the marketplace. Unfortunately for Fleischer, the giants of the food industry had also identified stevia as a growth product, and he found himself up against similar products launched by the likes of Coca-Cola, Cargill and PepsiCo. Still, the 27-year old entrepreneur persisted and Pyure Brands became the first company to bring a certified organic stevia sweetener product to the marketplace. After a frustrating first couple of years, Fleischer, who was working the distribution side on his own, began to get some traction for the product.
“In the beginning, nobody understood what I was trying to do,” said Fleischer of Pyure’s early struggles to gain market traction. “I spent the majority of my time educating people about stevia and its benefits, not selling it.”
That education paid off. Just two years after posting 2009 gross revenues of only $60,000, sales for Pyure Brands leapt to $1.5 million in 2011. Today, Fleisher employs 10 people in house with a team of outsourced executive management team of 8,200 brokers nationally for their retail lines. Today, Pyure Brands products are found in over 12,000 stores in the United States, Europe, and South America. Amongst their national accounts are Whole Foods, Homegoods, Big Lots, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Wegman’s, PriceSmart, Amazon, and Walgreens.com. Pyure’s commercial extract technology can also be found in over 100 established and up-and-coming food, beverage, and personal care products.
Fleischer says he’s always prepared for growth and has a strategy that will handle mass retail volume. Continuing to fund the operation on his own, Fleischer is also one of a handful of entrepreneurs manufacturing retail products entirely in the U.S.
Think your business can’t stand up against industry giants? Fleischer and Pyure Brands have proven with a unique product, the right research and a huge dose of persistence, anything is possible.