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eLab Featured Startup: bumble & butter

Not your standard granola.

The brainchild of Cornell School of Hotel Administration students Jamie Kim (‘19) and Katie Lee (‘19), bumble & butter specializes in small-batch, natural granola. This two-woman team personally bakes the granola using only locally-sourced ingredients, including honey from Ithaca Honey Works, a company owned and operated by Cornell alumnus Michael Rowell ('12) and his wife.

bumble & butter’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients has been integral to its operation since its inception; the company initially used olive oil in their products but later switched to butter from a farm just 30 minutes away from Ithaca in an effort to give business to local farmers. In addition, production occurs completely in-house, and the founders are always looking to innovate and introduce new products to their line.

Kim and Lee formally created bumble & butter in October 2016 in a pitch directed toward their marketing class. Kim was no stranger to granola; after working at a restaurant during high school that gave diners jars of granola to take home after their meal, she began experimenting with baking her own. After she gave Lee a jar of her granola, they pitched the brand to their class. The word of mouth generated by that one pitch alone produced significant revenue for the team.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, both Collegetown Bagels and Manndible Café picked up bumble & butter. In August, the team signed a deal worth over $5,000 with Urthbox, a box service delivering healthy snacks to its subscribers every month. This summer, bumble & butter also held stands at Smorgasburg, a weekly outdoor food market which attracts over 20,000 people each weekend. From there, the popularity of bumble & butter has skyrocketed. Recognition from the Kickstarter campaign, recent feature in Urthbox, Smorgasburg, and the launch of an online store have garnered a national customer base reflected in the company's sales.

In terms of expansion, bumble & butter has released three new seasonal flavors just in time for the holidays: black truffle with honey, roasted chestnuts, and sweet potato with ginger and cinnamon. Additionally, the team has been in contact with representatives from a brown butter farm who share their entrepreneurial spirit, and a future partnership seems possible.

When asked about the future of bumble & butter, the two women shared their intent to continue running the company well beyond college: "We're in it for the long haul!" Reflecting on their venture, the partners agree that, though it’s been difficult to manage both college and a budding business, the work pays off by making them better students and businesswomen.

Check out bumble & butter's website here.

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