Defeating Goliath Without A Slingshot – The Chobani Story

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Defeating Goliath Without A Slingshot – The Chobani Story

The Idea: Perhaps the most disruptive brand in recent years is Chobani, the Greek yogurt company started in upstate New York by Hamdi Ulakaya in 2002.  Within three years, Chobani was the market leader in Greek yogurt, having overthrown kingpins, Dannon and Yoplait.  Three simple characteristics influenced their massive ascension.

Ulukaya shared, “Too many entrepreneurs believe it’s impossible to scale a business without relying on VC’s (venture capital partners) or other equity investors. That view is wrong. If I could grow a company from zero to $1 billion in less than a decade in a capital-intensive industry, many other businesses can too.”

Lesson #1: Don’t Lose Control of the Brand

Chobani has never lost control of their brand identity by giving over strategic and financial control to the investment community.  The team was initially grounded in the financial requirements of what it took to create a winning position.  They teamed up with their personal community to fund their new business venture.  They captured the needed support but did not lose control of their vision.

Lesson #2: Understand Future Consumer Preferences

Chobani also did not play the game like most companies attempting to make a better mousetrap.  Instead, they created a whole new product, which appreciated growing interest in Greek yogurt, as opposed to more traditional products. They understood a secret that others underappreciated.  They understand an emerging consumer trend before everyone else.   An ear to the ground capitalized on a shift that no one else saw.  When you create a wonderfully tasting product and are at the front end of a consumer trend, you are positioned for success.

Lesson #3: Control The Supply Chain

Chobani’s leadership controlled the manufacturing and supply chain of their new brand.  They invested in domestic manufacturing facilities and control the whole supply chain, including development, manufacturing and keen branding.  They owned it top to bottom, (while controlling costs) and it shows.

Chobani has seen tremendous growth because of these three principles.  But they are the Goliath now, and there will always be a David.

Can David beat Goliath?  Is anyone unbeatable?  Think again!


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