Tara Bosch, Founder of SmartSweets

How this female entrepreneur turned a sweet idea into $40m business.

Khyati Hooda
By Khyati Hooda 6 Min Read

Tara Bosch was once a sugar addict. She described to BBC herself as someone who used to buy “penny candy” at the 7-11 every day. As she got older, her attitude shifted and she realized that too much sugar ― the stuff in treats like soda, candy, and cookies ― was wreaking havoc on her body image, self-esteem, and general feelings of well-being.

Tara, Founder of SmartSweets
Source: BBC News

How it started?

Tara decided to cut sugar out of her life four years ago. Soon after, she felt better and healthier. In search of a real-life sugar alternative, she decided to experiment in her kitchen and eventually developed the recipe for SmartSweets.

In summer 2015, she tested some recipes. She was so pleased with her results that she thought there might be a good business opportunity awaiting for her.

That autumn Tara made a decision. She dropped out of the third year of an arts degree at the University of British Columbia so she could get started on her entrepreneurial journey. Being just 21, she had limited credit history and couldn’t put down a bigger chunk of money for an initial investment. But armed with samples and a strong desire to be an entrepreneur, she managed to secure 105,000 Canadian dollars from angel investors.

In 2019, her company SmartSweets exceeded 50m Canadian dollars. And a range of SmartSweets products became the market leader of the fast-growing low-sugar sweets sector in both Canada and the US. That year she also decided to help people cut out more than one billion grams of sugar.

They have successfully kicked over 2.4 billion grams of sugar since July 2016

Source: SmartSweets

But was it as easy as it seems?

No it was not easy for her, she had to write a thorough and detailed business plan with a two-year growth forecast. Not just this, she also had to take out life insurance. “One of the terms of the parties involved was life insurance, and they had to be the beneficiary,” she told BBC.

Tara had obtained the funding she needed to start her baking business. Soon after, she looked at her potential supply chain and decided to use plant-based fibres and stevia to create her sweet products. She settled on using this natural sweetener in place of sugar, and it soon became a trial and error process that ultimately gave her the results she was looking for.

Then to sign up for her first customers she sent out emails, did some phone calls, showed up in person, and used the LinkedIn platform to network. She finally got her first retailer, Vancouver-based Choices Market. But she remembers how incredibly nervous she was before the first meeting.

She also told BBC “I had called and emailed with persistence, until they finally said stop by. And when I arrived out front, I was so nervous that I drove away. Then I drove back, had the meeting, and they became the first retailer to take a chance on Smart Sweets.”

And with her persistence, she was able to sign up a few other small Canadian chains shortly afterwards. She continually emailed her potential clients until they would say yes to her and in this way she leveraged success. 

She didn’t secure her first American customer until 2018, but in just one year 80% of the SmartSweets sales came from the US. And because of that, she decided to manufacture her products in the US only through contract suppliers. 

Source: SmartSweets

Getting recognition for her efforts

Tara has been applauded by many entrepreneurs and among them is Scott Semel, a food entrepreneur and strategist based in the US, who appreciated Tara for her passion. 

Scott Semel who sold his best-selling confectionery brand Bark Thins to US giant Hershey has mentioned that “An annual revenue of CA$50m is very successful, just getting to $5m isn’t easy, and confectionery is dominated by a few big players. I think what’s even more impressive about doing CA$50m in 2019 is the time frame in which she has achieved it.”

He also said,

“Tara has a great feel for the market… she thinks far ahead.”

The business that just started with her and her sweet idea, now has 47 employees. Tara is now planning to grow and expand her business and thus she’s thinking of exporting her products outside of North America. 

She believes that her success is because of her hard work, determination, and persistence. 

She said “For me growing up, I wasn’t that smart or athletic, I didn’t really have any talents in particular, but I always had an innate sense of urgency, resourcefulness, and the ability to make something happen if I decided I wanted to make it happen. And Smart Sweets was the first time I realised the power of those three things combined.”

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Posted by Khyati Hooda
Khyati is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant and growth hacker. She helps sustainable revenue growth through marketing for SaaS and subscription companies. Her expertise lies in building scalable customer acquisition strategies and implementing effective digital marketing campaigns that drive high-quality, low-cost leads for startups. Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more - successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.
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