By James A. Merritt
That early experience may be what gave Davis the confidence to start his own smoothie business. Today, he is the founder of a wildly successful smoothie business, Smooth-N-Groove. His business is based in Auburn, Alabama.
One day, Davis learned that his friend spent thousands in the gym buying smoothies. The popular health drink was a must have for health conscious gym rats, so Davis had an idea; sell smoothies. With recipes from his father-in-law Davis began selling smoothies at his gym.
Each of Davis’ mostly vegan smoothies is named after a popular dance: Tango, Twist, Electric Slide, Nae Nae, and countless others. Part of his marketing strategy is to name new smoothies after popular dances to draw in new customers and build familiarity with his brand.
While his focus is on providing delicious and healthy smoothies, he believes he offers something more. “We create an experience, an atmosphere. We’re the fun place to be. Kind of like ‘Cheers’, where people know your name,” Keon explains. He further explains, “We really don’t sell smoothies. We sell an experience; and we give you a smoothie while you’re there.”
Like any entrepreneur, Davis is always looking for new opportunities. While his company was a success at the gym, he came across the opportunity to leave and start a contract with Auburn University to sell smoothies on its campus. He bought a former Frito-Lay truck and outfitted it with plumbing, electricity, and a freezer.
Today, Smooth-N-Groove has two trucks and two brick-and-mortar stores on campus, as well as nine employees, including himself. Deciding to work with the university has provided Keon with a built-in clientele, convenient for not only him, but also his collegiate customers as Smooth-N-Groove accepts students’ meal cards.
The partnership is more than lucrative. This year alone, his company brought in $469,000 and is slated to make $800,000 next year. He plans to grow that to $1.3 million by 2017 with his burgeoning merchandising arm.
With those kind of sales, Davis is more than qualified to offer a little advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Here are a few tips he’s gleaned from his time building his smoothie business.
Start Where You Are: “Don’t worry about getting investors. Just start small. If you want to start a bakery business, just start making cakes for friends and family. ”
Keep It Real: “In business, you’re selling who you are. Your business should be a representation of who you are. Make it as closely related to your personal beliefs as possible.”
Bring it: “Always perform at a high level. Never stop. Things happen, but don’t let yourself get knocked down. As long as you keep running, you will win.”