Four Hollywood actors had a big idea: Launch a snack bar and use the sales to help feed malnourished kids around the world. They had a big name, This Bar Saves Lives, for their company. And as they sat around their office—which was really just one of their condos—in the early days of the business, they dreamed up their biggest possible goals and wrote them on a chalkboard.
“We brainstormed what success, on the business side, would look like. I’m not talking about growth trajectory or EBITDA here—I’m talking about wild indicators that would mean we’d made it,” says Ryan Devlin, one of the company’s co-founders. They wrote down three things: (1) Bars in the White House; (2) Bars in space; (3) Bars in Starbucks.
They’re still working on the first two. But with a little gumption, the third proved attainable—and would force the company to rethink exactly what it is and who should even lead it.
This is often how it goes with mission-driven businesses. Their founders start with full hearts and eager plans, but not necessarily a full grasp on what it takes to scale their ambitions. Devlin admits it himself and even sees it as a good thing. “We are a mission with a company, not a company with a mission,” he says. But regardless of whether a socially minded company is run by famous actors or obscure do-gooders, the reality of running a business will eventually take hold. And it would for