A father-of-two has turned his passion for peanut butter into a million dollar business that made $540,000 in the past four months alone.
Australian sports journalist Nick Sheridan, 40, went looking for a nutritious, preservative-free nut butter to snack on while training for a marathon in 2012.
Disappointed to find most laced with sugars and additives, he started making his own in the cramped kitchen of his one-bedroom London apartment – and realised he could turn his obsession into a clever business idea.
After moving back to Melbourne one year later, Mr Sheridan quit his job to flog jars of ’99th Monkey’ spreads at farmers’ markets, where they were soon picked up by a string of independent grocery stores.
Five years later, the self-made businessman with ‘zero experience’ in the food or retail industry caught the attention of supermarket giant Coles, who now stock his ‘clean’ creations in 800 stores across Australia.
Father-of-two Nick Sheridan (pictured) turned his passion for peanut butter into a million dollar business which made $540,000 in the past four months alone
Thanks to record-breaking sales since Sydney was plunged into lockdown on June 25, the brand is set to turn over a staggering $1.6million (AUD) by the end of December – an extraordinary sum Mr Sheridan says he still finds hard to believe.
‘I was playing around making it at home and I just went, hang on, it’s not that hard to make something without all the nasty extras,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It made me wonder why no one was really doing it when it was so simple.’
Simplicity remains the cornerstone of his brand – its best-selling product is a $7 jar of natural almond butter made with just one ingredient: crushed almonds.
‘We’re not sophisticated in how we make it, and I guess that’s kind of the point,’ Mr Sheridan said.
In a increasingly crowded marketplace worth an estimated $3.4billion in 2020 alone, Mr Sheridan believes his success comes down to the taste and thoughtfulness of his products
In an increasingly crowded marketplace – the global peanut butter market was worth $3.4 billion alone in 2020 – Mr Sheridan believes his success comes down to the taste and thoughtfulness of his products.
‘It’s delicious food that’s good for you and good for the planet,’ he said.
‘With natural nut butters it’s pretty hard to differentiate yourself – to be natural, it’s gotta be just nuts, right? But I honestly believe we make the most delicious in the world.
‘We distinguish ourselves in how we make it – we focus on small batch production turned out quickly. By the end of the week it’s on shelves with that beautiful complete texture and freshness.’
The Australian sports journalist (pictured) quit his job to make natural nut butter in 2013; now his brand is stocked in 800 Coles stores across the country
Despite record turn over during lockdown, the pandemic hasn’t been without its challenges.
Mr Sheridan said sales declined at such speed after the Covid crisis broke out in early 2020 that he had to halt production for ‘about two weeks’.
Thankfully, business picked up soon after and he hasn’t looked back since.
‘I think nowadays more than ever, people want to support small businesses who are doing the right things,’ he said.
The humble entrepreneur admitted he often ‘cringes’ when he reflects on where he started.
‘I look back and think of how our jars looked at the time – I was printing labels on sticker paper from Officeworks,’ he laughed.
The humble entrepreneur said he often ‘cringes’ when he reflects on where he started, but his brand is expected to turn over a whopping $1.6 million by the end of 2021
‘Along the way I’ve had a lot of battles with imposter syndrome. I’d be thinking, I’m just a journalist, what do I know about food?
‘We certainly haven’t been an overnight success but luckily we’ve always had a certain momentum to keep us going.’
The brand’s biggest seller in Coles is its Aussie Nutella alternative – an almond cocoa butter made from only four natural ingredients: roasted almonds, coconut sugar, cacao powder and cacao butter.
What started as a dream in a tiny cramped kitchen is now a full-time operation that pumps out around $1 million worth of nut butters each year.
Mr Sheridan is busy gearing up for his company’s next exciting challenge, a global expansion and a line of new and equally natural products.
His best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is simple: ‘Do it now and learn from your mistakes along the way.’