Marin SBDCSan Rafael, CA

"ECOlunchbox has benefited tremendously from the opportunity to work with Ashwin Gulatiduring this critical stage of ECOlunchbox’s expansion. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of running a small business. Ashwin is a seasoned expert at getting up to 50,000 feet and looking at the big picture as a first step toward planning for a successful future. With his support, we were able to evaluate our areas of strength, plan a strategy for expansion, obtain loans and significantly increase revenues. I look forward to working with Ashwin in 2012."

Sandra Ann Harris

ECOlunchbox has developed a back-to-basics lunchware product line hewn from traditional reusable materials, stainless steel and cotton. It’s completely free of waste and saves families hundreds of dollars.

ECOlunchbox is currently selling wholesale direct to national chain retailers, such as Whole Foods and The Container Store through established natural products distributors, such as Down to Earth Distributors, Frontier Natural Products, Lotus Light Distributors and Honest Green Distributors, and direct to independently owned natural groceries, co-ops, boutiques. They also sell directly to end users through our online store.

ECOlunchbox’s multi-tiered distribution network was well established but the demand for its green consumer products was stronger than the small company could support due toundercapitalization. ECOlunchbox was frequently going out of stock on all its products due to high demand and lack of resources to adequately buy stock. Additionally, the bootstrapped company was seriously understaffed. Founder and President Sandra Ann Harris needed to focus on putting the financials together to obtain equity. After all liabilities are paid, ownership equity is the remaining interest in assets. If valuations placed on assets do not exceed liabilities, negative equity exists.

The following areas and topics were addressed:

  • Planning: An executive summary was researched and written to demonstrate strength of thelunchware category and explain market forces driving ECOlunchboxes’ strong growth.
  • Financial: Bank Loans, Equity Investment and Convertible NoteA financial security that generally has a longer term than a bill, but a shorter term than a bond. However, the duration of a note can vary significantly, and may not always fall neatly into this categorization. A financial securityA pledge made to secure the performance of a contract or the fulfillment of an obligation, such as the repayment of a loan. Examples of securities include real estate, equipment, stocks, or a co-signer. that generally has a longer termThe maturity or length of time for final repayment of a loan, bond, sale or other contractual obligation. than a bill, but a shorter term than a bond. However, the duration of a note can vary significantly, and may not always fall neatly into this categorization. Options were evaluated in detail. Business Loan packages and Investment Pitches were fine tuned for presentation.
  • Sales Focus: ECOlunchbox analyzed its existing multi-tiered distribution and added new channels to its sales development plan for 2012.

ECOlunchbox reports the following successes:

  • Revenues are up more than 50 percent during the first six months of 2012 over 2011.
  • Employees doubled from end of 2011 to mid-2012.
  • Office space has been secured.
  • ECOlunchbox secured $200,000 in loans for expansion.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.