One Startup. 30 Days. No Secrets. Start at the beginning.
"I don't trust anyone who isn't a person. Including the government."
That's when we fell in love with our honey supplier, a Hudson Valley beekeeper who lives completely off the grid, only deals in cash, and doesn't pay taxes.
Morgen and I left the city this morning with a few appointments lined up with possible honey suppliers. I've been recipe testing like crazy, but I've been eager to get our honey supply secured. As I've discussed in an earlier product development post, each honey variety has distinct properties and I wanted to find something light and sweet to balance the spicy combination of chilies. And something we could get in abundance.
Our drive started in rainy weather, which morphed into a blustery snowstorm as we drove further upstate. Morgen managed to crawl his trusty (rusty) old Subaru to the little cafe where we had an appointment to meet Larry (not his real name), our off-the-grid beekeeper.
Setting up this meeting took a bit of maneuvering since Larry has neither computer nor phone. We were connected to him through a local beekeeping expert who urged him to contact Morgen, and the thing about Larry is you just have to wait for him to find a way to find you.
We entered the cafe and the sizing up process began. "I thought you guys would be older," Larry said. "You guys live in Brooklyn, huh?" But I pulled out a jar of our spicy honey, he pulled out a jar from his hive, and conversation started flowing as we dipped wooden coffee stirrers and discussed the intricacies of hive breeding, seasonal flavor shifts, and the zen of beekeeping. Luckily Morgen is an avid climber, so his knowledge of the area also went a long way in convincing Larry we were people.
As he started to trust us, he opened up about his own journey. Larry was not always a beekeeper, but this took a sudden change when his father-in-law unexpectedly passed away. Larry suddenly inherited one of the oldest and well-regarded group of hives and, while still processing the death, had to immediately tend to the harvest. "While he was alive, I couldn't question him on anything because he was the master. I'd wonder why do it that way when this way seems easier. Now that he's gone, I wish I had asked more questions."
So Morgen and I are embarking on a new business at the same time Larry is coming up on his first spring alone with the bees. The convergence was unexpected and exciting. Once the weather is nice, we're going to spend a day getting our hands dirty alongside Larry and a twelve pack of Coors Light. ("It's a working beer," he told us. "You can drink it all day and still work.") At the end of our meeting, before any of our other appointments, we bought a five gallon bucket of Larry's honey.