Josh Reding - MakerBars
Tell us about yourself
My name is Josh Reding, and I am the founder of MakerBars in London, Ontario! I have been a passionate foodie my entire life since a child cooking in the kitchen next to his mum. My entire family enjoys when I step into the kitchen even when there happens to be too many cooks!
I recently graduated with a dual degree in Integrated Engineering from Western University & HBA from Ivey Business School. I have a strong belief in creating social impact! In high-school I started a Me-to-We club, was involved in Engineering Without Borders through university, and created AgTech Western to showcase innovation in growing unique herbs for restaurants.
MakerBars was inspired by my passion for cooking and innovation! I aim to share the love for cooking with the world by connecting consumers with the food they eat. We focus on sustainable packaging and food systems. Our focus is to become a Fair Trade certified energy bar, which would be one of the first in Canada despite how many bars use ingredients that are available in supply that supports Fair Trade. Fair Trade supports a better living wage for farmers.
Tell us about your business
I’ve just started my journey! I operated my business very part-time in my last year of studies doing some innovation studies and seeing where the idea would take me.
We won a small pitch competition for $250 which sparked the first prototypes and customer development. Since then we’ve grown to selling more than a 1,000 kits and launching a new premade product, MakerBars GO! I began full-time on my business May 2019 and it has grown so much since then participating at the Propel Summer Incubator through Western University and the SBC Scale UP! program. I also just completed a virtual accelerator with League of Innovations which is helping youth lead our community with amazing innovation.
We have one part-time sales student, and will be hiring production staff through 2020! It is an exciting time for MakerBars!
Was there something that drew (or pushed) you into being an entrepreneur?
Being able to be philanthropic one day and have a voice in decisions that affect our society really drives me. We usually call that “an entrepreneur’s second purpose” where they didn’t just create their business for the passion of what they are creating. They also had a second purpose that really ignites them. I hope one day I’ll be in a position to be philanthropic and help build better local community.
I also saw a lot that I didn’t like with how the food industry operated, and what it is doing to our lifestyles. I don’t like how people are losing touch with food, and we need to make ultra processed vegetable patties to convince someone to eat vegetables. There are more rooted problems in society than that type of band-aid solution. It drives me to tackle those problems in the long term.
I’ve always done entrepreneurial things throughout school between starting two school clubs, and several innovative events/fundraisers. So you could say the entrepreneurial bug was always there!
Can you tell us about an entrepreneur you admire and why?
There are quite a few! I really like those who are serial entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Kevin Hart. They didn’t just stop because they knew they could have a profound impact on society as leaders. Although they are human and have had mistakes, they have created products and services that many people love. They challenge the way things are and push to be very innovative!
What advice would you give to someone starting a small business today?
Don’t go all in, not right away! Despite how much it may feel right, do everything you can to prototype and trial an error. If you want to start a food business, run some markets & use a rental kitchen. If you want to write a book, write a chapter first. If you want to make an app, create a slideshow of what it looks like. If you want to start a clothing company, create some samples first.
Everything is about customer feedback, listening, and delivering better than ‘the other team’ aka your competition!
Take smart risks & have a blast along the way! You’ll be surprised how much you learn!