By: Lexie Newhouse
Photo by: Deniece Griffin
Continuing our conversation with Nathan Foster (B.B.A. ’18) and founder of Enrich as he shares how he grew an innovative agriculture startup. Read on to find out whether he continued to seed or sell? If you missed part one, read it here.
“The best business lesson I’ve learned is to “just do good business.” – Nathan Foster
How did you fund Enrich to get to where it is today?
I bootstrapped Enrich, but in order to keep scaling my business, I realized that I did not have the personal finances to continue bootstrapping it. In the Robinson College of Business, my instructor Ken Mathis was extremely helpful in developing an exit strategy to sell the company in order to bring it to the next level.
Why did you ultimately decide to sell Enrich?
It was a big decision, but that opportunity called. I wanted to see my dream live on. I realized that we did not have the finances to support Enrich. I joined the military to go through college debt-free, and I was not comfortable taking out large loans to support the company’s growth, especially having just graduated college. We were at the perfect point to sell because we created the product, we validated the product, and validated a customer base would buy the product over and over again.
What things did you consider in finding a new CEO to take over Enrich when selling?
I wanted to find somebody just as passionate about Enrich as I was. It was never about the money. We actually received some higher offers than the one we accepted purely based on the fact that I know the gentleman that purchased Enrich will bring my idea to the next level. It’s going over to the UK, which has a strong target market for this kind of product.
From a technical perspective, was it difficult selling your company?
We sold our company through Shopify, which is actually what we created our website on. Shopify is also an exchange market place where you can actually sell your business. It was extremely easy to market it for sale and entertain offers.
What did you learn along your entrepreneurial journey?
This is going to sound cliché, but the best business lesson I’ve learned is to “just do good business.” It is extremely easy to take shortcuts, especially in startups. There will be moments where you question yourself. That was something I struggled with when encountering those rough patches with our co-founders and consultants. I could’ve taken the shortcut and played dirty, but that would have hurt the company greatly. It is like a baby in a custody battle, and therefore, it was both emotionally and financially taxing.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
My biggest mistake – It’s good that I’m young because when you screw up, you are not putting others like your spouse or children at risk, just yourself – I was so obsessed with the team and business’s success, that I neglected to focus on myself. As a leader, I was aggressive with hard deadlines and ready to do the work. Although we were able to develop a company in a year and a half, that practice isn’t sustainable. I should have been more methodical and holistic with my approach to leadership.
With all of these experiences behind you, where do you see yourself in the future?
It was so rewarding to build, scale, and exit being only 21 years old. I want to have the same drive in my career as I did with my startup. I see myself in financial services or banking, but eventually I want to get back on the entrepreneurship grind when I’m a little older and wiser. History has proven that countries and citizens continue to struggle with managing their money, which is a consumer pain I wish to help solve. My time as an Economics major at Georgia State has prepared me to solve such problems, but I can’t wait to return back to campus to help students achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions as a mentor.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Entrepreneurship to me is creativity, gumption, and determination. When you enter into the world of starting from scratch, your only resource is yourself. I had to dig deep to find resources I could leverage for building and scaling a business. It’s a difficult journey but you’ll learn more about yourself in a year than some will in their entire lifetime.