How the Founding father of Dave’s Killer Bread Went From Jail to Promoting His Enterprise for $275 Million

December 17, 2020 5 min read

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As an entrepreneur, you are used to doing multiple tasks and navigating troubled waters. Eventually, you get used to surviving in a world of organized chaos. Setbacks are only part of the process for you, but what if one of those setbacks happened to be a 15-year prison sentence? Would you be able to maintain the same excitement that keeps you going now?

Meet Dave Dahl, the founder of Dave’s Killer Bread. By his own account, Dahl will tell you that he suffered from low self-esteem and made a number of bad life choices by 2001. After serving a decade and a half in prison for drug possession, robbery, burglary and assault, he returned home in 2001 to the family bakery business that his father built and his brother ran. Together, he and his brother tried to develop better bread, hoping to change lives one by one.

Fast forward to 2015 and Flowers Foods agreed to purchase Dave’s Killer Bread for $ 275 million. Let’s take a look at the five things Dahl did to get his bread company from local farmers’ markets to world markets.

Related: A family business with an open-minded hiring policy

1. Forgiveness

Dave’s story is one of the second chances. It is actually one of several opportunities. He had been jailed four times before reuniting with his brother and joining the family business. The moral of the story is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve screwed; There is always the option to start over. You may have failed yesterday, but that doesn’t mean you have to carry that burden today. Comfort yourself in the knowledge that most people will not remember your missteps. Do you want to know why? They are too busy to worry about their own.

2. Never drive in neutral

One of the main reasons Dave’s Killer Bread was such a hit was that other breadmakers just weren’t that innovative. You can argue that its non-genetically modified ingredients are better, but on the surface, Dahl just added more whole grains and unique toppings to the exterior than other manufacturers have offered. The big dogs stopped being creative. The biggest mistake you can make as a business owner is rolling it out.

Related: Five Reasons Entrepreneurs Need to Think Outside the Box

3. Stay driven

When you work on something that you are passionate about, great ideas come up. There is a saying from Gabby Bernstein: “Let your passion become your goal and one day it will become your profession.” Dahl’s passion helps him fill that hole in his life. He wanted to bake a bread with a rich texture and natural whole grain that people would love. Passion gives you motivation, direction and meaning in life.

4. Take a leap of faith

One of the biggest challenges Dave’s company faced was moving into a facility that cost his brother Glenn $ 1.5 million. It was a huge risk for them to know they had no cash flow support to sustain such a purchase and it was all based on future expectations. Eventually they saw significant growth in the business, even expanding and hiring more people. Dave’s hard work, dedication, perseverance, and continued focus on his purpose helped him take this risk.

There will be moments in your own entrepreneurial endeavor when you will be forced to operate outside of your comfort zone. Eventually, you will learn how to work with butterflies in your stomach, and it will be as usual.

Related: Why You Need To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

5. Be a mad scientist

Dave experimented with different types of bread and a myriad of ingredients. He researched what was trending and what wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid to launch his product to get feedback. He knew that some of his ideas would fail. He also knew that some of his ideas would succeed, and if they did, they were home runs. Customers were repeatedly asked about his bread, and it became known so quickly that it became famous in the community.

Your business ideas don’t work if you think about them all day. You have to go out, experiment, and implement your ideas, no matter how crazy they may sound.

Dave Dahl was not born an entrepreneur. His early life was a struggle and he long held onto a victim mentality. But Dave’s Killer Bread is a perfect example of how to turn tragedy into triumph. For Dahl, even after 15 years behind bars, it was not too late, and for you, it is not too late. Use the same five strategies he used and build your own multi-million dollar empire.

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