When one student struggled to find healthy snacks, he started a business to make them himself.
After about a year of success selling his popular Berg Bites snack line in the DMV area, senior Daniel Berg now has plans to grow nationwide over the next year. The business offers gluten-free granola snack bites to about 40 stores in the DMV area and will now expand its sales online to sell across the country, Berg said.
Berg came up with the idea for his health food line in middle school, after gaining an interest in health from gym trips with his dad. Then he said he made an unusual request of his mother – throw away all the cookies and cakes in the house to make a healthy change for the whole family.
“I made my mom throw away all the junk food in the house,” he said. “We sat down and came up with these recipes for these bites, and we started serving them as a dessert to all our guests.”
Berg decided to begin selling the bites in college because he saw a market for them in D.C. The bites – small balls of rolled up oats mixed with other ingredients based on the flavor – are packaged in round boxes with bright colors.
Berg Bites line the shelves of stores like Whole Foods, all seven Compass Coffee shops around the city, and smaller coffee shops and convenience stores.
“It’s probably one of the most active cities, people here love health and wellness, working out, and I think a lot of my target customers are here,” he said. “So I think D.C. was a great place to get started.”
In the past month, Berg has joined a local incubator for sustainable businesses, prepared to distribute online with Amazon Launchpad and purchased new machinery for mass production, all to prepare to get Berg Bites on shelves across the country.
Berg Bites come in packs of three bites for $2.99 or seven bites for $5.99. The first three flavors he introduced when launching the business as a junior were chocolate chip madness, peanut butter with dark chocolate and sunflower button with white chocolate. He now offers five flavors and all of the products are made with gluten-free oats, chia seeds, hemp seeds and a different nut-butter.
To spark this expansion Berg joined Bethesda Green, which was founded by Seth Goldman of Honest Tea Beverage Company, about two weeks ago. Joining the group of 40 sustainable and social-impact brands has been a big step to expansion because it allows Berg to work alongside well-known health food companies, he said.
“Who knows what it will lead to,” he said. “But Bethesda Green is also all about sustainability, which is what I’m all about. Just promoting health and wellness and so combining those two, we will hopefully be able to produce some sustainable household products.”
The senior, who is double majoring in organizational science and health and wellness, purchased equipment to mass produce the product last month so he could make large quantities faster than when he was hand rolling the granola balls in his own kitchen.
Berg and his three full-time employees – including his friend and roommate Alex Ludwig, a senior studying finance – work out of Union Kitchen, a community kitchen that hosts about 70 member businesses, at 1369 New York Ave. NE.
Berg’s friends originally helped him out with production on the weekends, but he knew he needed to start increasing the number of people on his team when sales started to take off this summer.
“I needed people I could rely on full time and make sure our consistency is the same,” Berg said.
While Berg Bites’ first step toward selling across the country is distributing to New York City, the company is also using the equipment to increase production and provide the high-energy snack online through Amazon.
They will work with the Amazon Launchpad program, which is designed for small businesses and startups to begin selling online. Amazon will buy products at their wholesale price and sell them on their website for their retail value, allowing Berg to market to new customers across the country.
When Berg graduates in May, he plans to run his company full time and jump-start other ventures as well.
Berg Bites are sold under a larger company that Berg holds, called Future Forward Foods. While continuing to grow Berg Bites, Berg said he plans to expand Future Forward Foods to include other products – like electrolyte-filled beverages – to complement his first product.
“By next September, when I’m fully graduated and going full time, we’ll be able to really get going,” Berg said.