Eric Murphy has always had a special place in his heart for condiments. He’s been a huge fan of condiments since he was old enough to understand what they were and how they could be used to alter and improve food. Secret sauces, dips, spices and other signature condiments were always more intriguing to him than the primary components of meals themselves.
When Murphy was getting a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship his senior year at IU, he decided to embark on his own startup, a blog he called Condiment Connection.
Eric MurphyI define success as building something that didn't exist before.
“When going into a condiment aisle at the supermarket, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options, especially now that mainstream grocers are migrating away from big name brands and branching into local products and lesser-known, small-scale producers. I thought to myself, what if there was a central authority online where you could go to see ratings and reviews from condiment experts and fans alike?”
The original Condiment Connection blog was quite simple really. It involved evaluating, rating, and reviewing condiments that were available to consumers at supermarkets and restaurants. Eventually, he hoped to grow the startup by leveraging user-generated content and launching a mobile app similar to Yelp.
Though Murphy’s original plan involved monetizing his publication two-three years down the road, the opportunity to turn his dream into a reality came faster than expected when he took his business idea to the annual Orr Fellowship pitch competition and won best pitch. This was the push he needed to take Condiment Connection to the next level.
“The ensuing conversations I had with investors made me realize this dream could be a reality easier and faster than I expected. The pitch competitions’ judges Eric Tobias, Mike Fitzgerald and David Becker, encouraged me to revise my business plan to make Condiment Connection an e-commerce company first and a media company second. That way, I could use revenue generated in the company’s early stages to invest back into the company to spur immediate growth, rather than rely on debt or equity financing to get to the point where I could monetize the business down the road.”
“Shortly afterwards, I called up Gerry Hays, a long-time supporter of the Orr Fellowship, who also happened to be my Entrepreneurial Finance professor during my senior year at IU. He was the one who encouraged me to apply for the Fellowship in the first place, and he made himself available to me as a mentor throughout my time in the program. He challenged me to focus on proving out my concept by generating revenue before entering a formal deal with investors. That way, if I ever did decide to take on funding down the road, I’d have leverage for retaining as much ownership as possible.”
“It was all possible through the Orr Fellowship. The organization is an all-you-can-eat buffet of opportunities, both personal and professional, waiting for you to reach out and take them. Every person who has gone through the Orr Fellowship should take a moment to reflect on the opportunities laid on the table before them, and to appreciate them with the knowledge that very few young professionals in the world are as blessed as we are.”
During the day, Murphy works at International Medical Group as a digital marketer, specializing in search engine marketing and digital analytics. At night he works on Condiment Connection. “Like everyone else my age, I work an 8-to-5. But then I come home and work an 8-to-12.”
The company’s first products are gift boxes that feature famous local condiments from different cities in the U.S. The site already has boxes available from Indianapolis (pictured below), Cincinnati and Chicago, with plans to release a new box every month in 2016. Through Murphy’s hard work, Condiment Connection sold 100 boxes during the first 3 weeks of business.
Although Condiment Connection is beginning to get traction, Murphy says that money isn’t the real indicator of his success.
“It’ll never be about money for me. I define success as building something that didn’t exist before, and money is just a trailing indicator that people see value in your creation. All successful companies know their ‘why’ or their purpose. If Condiment Connection is successful, it will be because people believe in the why, and for me that why is about so much more than condiments. I like to think of condiments as bottled, preserved pieces of history, local culture, and culinary traditions that are unique to different locales around the world. I believe that people should be able to experience the cultures and famous flavors of other parts of the world from the comfort of their own homes, simply by ordering or receiving a box. I think the mission reflects an ideal that resonates with people of all ages, races, religions and geographies — now I just need to get the message out there”
To check out Condiment Connection go to https://condimentconnection.com
To find out more about the Orr Fellowship go to http://orrfellowship.org