Featured in an episode of CNN’s “Small Business Success,” the FruitGuys are a perfect example of how one simple idea can lead to a multi-million dollar business. In this brief news segment, we learn that founder and CEO Chris Mittelstaedt got the idea for the FruitGuys by reaching out to friends in San Francisco during the 90’s dot-com boom. He asked them for feedback, and many told him that they weren’t getting enough nutrition in their office environments. Surviving on vending machine food, caffeinated energy drinks, and chocolate-covered espresso beans, many of these downtown employees found themselves gaining weight and yearning for healthy snacks. In that moment, Mittelstaedt realized that he could start a business to deliver fresh fruit to offices. The FruitGuys was born!
To get the newly founded business off the ground, Mittelstaedt visited the Embarcadero Center buildings in San Francisco with a notepad and wrote down contact information for as many companies as he could. Of the first 500 contacts he gathered, about five of them became the first FruitGuys clients. Before long, the young founder — who would don a banana suit at various events to draw attention to his company with humor — had a strong client base and a local reputation. The family-run business makes sure to offer variety in its fruit options and change the menu depending on seasonal changes in local fruit. This community mentality ensures that offices receive fresh, healthy snacks that support local farmers. The FruitGuys also believes in getting unconventional fruits into people’s hands; sampling new fruit helps office workers get excited about eating healthier.
Today, the FruitGuys delivers fresh fruit to more than 3,000 healthy offices around the country, with major delivery hubs in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Each hub maintains relationships with local farmers to guarantee that most of their fruit is homegrown and freshly picked. This also allows for lower shipping and energy costs, so FruitGuys customers can feel great knowing that their fruit order helps to support the local economy. Mittelstaedt has kept these community values at the heart of the FruitGuys, even as the company has expanded to handle corporate clients like Yahoo! and Yamaha. No matter how large the FruitGuys becomes, the product has stayed local and satisfied, healthy offices look forward to eating fresh fruit every week.