An Entrepreneurial Journey of Monetizing Your Mission

A rare yet not impossible sequence of events:

  • Seeing a need in the world that sparks a personal mission
  • That mission inspires a product
  • The production of that product turns into a business
  • That business becomes a vehicle for not only serving the injustice but also for inviting others into the mission

And the cycle goes round and round.

This is the story of our client Americano Foods, brother-and-sister entrepreneurs Jeff and Denise Malkoon and just about the best peanut butter you’ve ever tasted.

When Jeff was volunteering in Uruguay in 2013, he observed how even though the peanut grew abundantly in the region, those in poverty-stricken areas preferred more sugar-rich spreads instead of nutritional peanut butter. Why couldn’t peanut butter be natural and tasty at the same time?

When he returned to the states, he and his sister Denise started experimenting in the family kitchen. Together, they created a delicious peanut butter that they would start selling at farmers markets around town, later securing placements at retail stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fry’s and Amazon. What started off as a peanut butter line has blossomed into almond butter spreads with more products in the works.

But they never forgot the inspiration for their product. As mission-focused entrepreneurs, Denise and Jeff created the Fund for the Americas initiative, which to date, provided enough peanut butter to make 40,000 PB&J sandwiches to communities in need.

When Jeff and Denise came to Root + River, they already had a successful business. They already felt centered in their mission. They just needed a way to connect the dots between their mission and business to build their brand.

In the Root Session, we discovered the commonality: Denise and Jeff were committed to “spreadable happiness” – both on the local and world stage. It’s a message they’ve used on their new website, in social media posts and in video content to help them better tell their story. For them, it’s all about the connections – to their customers, to their partners and to the world at large.

“Our goal is to always have and inspire meaningful interactions,” says Denise.

Denise recalls many stories of long-time customers who have turned into friends because their brand has been so focused on spreading happiness and gratitude. When one customer fell out of touch for years and reconnected to Denise, it was so much more than a transaction. It felt more like a family reunion, Denise said.

“It turns out peanut butter was just a vehicle for the friendship,” Denise said.

As Americano Foods grows, Denise said the investment in discovering the roots of their brand, connecting their brand to their mission and telling a cohesive story about what Americano Foods stands for was foundational to the growth they’re experiencing today.

“I’m still experiencing the benefits of our Root Session,” Denise said. “It’s been the most worthwhile time we have ever spent on our brand.”

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