After graduating from Scottsbluff High School in 2006, Nik Ingersoll used the marketing skills he learned there and at San Diego State University to co-found Candy Lab, an interactive marketing firm. While working at Candy Lab, he designed and created several brands, including the Barnana brand from scratch. He met his business partner Caue Suplicy, who told him about a special banana snack he ate as a child growing up in Brazil. Two years later, they created Barnana. Now, Ingersoll has been named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list.
In an email, Ingersoll said being named to the list was an great honor.
“This is definitely something that you hope to achieve being a young entrepreneur,” he said. “The overall feeling is certainly surreal.”
The snacks are made from organic bananas that have been rejected for export because they are imperfect, have scuffs, are a little too ripe or aren’t the perfect size. Barnanas are made from these imperfect organic bananas that used to be wasted.
Growing up in western Nebraska was a benefit for Ingersoll.
“It taught me how to work hard from a young age and have a deep appreciation for nature and food,” he said. “I grew up in the country so I got to roam around a lot, create art and music, farm and hunt — all of which developed in me both the innate desire to hustle and the unquenchable thirst to create new and different things.”
Ingersoll credits his Papa Wilber, who used to own the Skyport Restaurant, and Scottsbluff High School teacher Derek Deaver with helping to foster his entrepreneurial journey in creating new things. Ingersoll described the marketing program at Scottsbluff High School as truly unique.
“Most high school students never get to experience business, marketing and entrepreneurship until they get to college,” he said. “For me, Deaver and DECA helped solidify my path both heading into college and creating new businesses for a living.”
In the past year, Ingersoll’s business has more than doubled. They have expanded into Costco, Canada, Japan and Australia and have introduced new snack-size products. The Barnana line will soon see a new set of products hit the shelves in Target and Kroger and expand at Costco.
Ingersoll plans to raise additional capital to fund the rapid growth rate of the company. They have new investors, including Mark Rampolla, the founder of Zico Coconut Water, who recently sold his company to The Coca-Cola Company.
While he has been busy expanding his business, Ingersoll is trying to stay grounded.
“I’m just focused on keeping my head to the earth and hustling as hard as possible,” he said. “I’m also pumped to head back to western Nebraska to go bow hunting next season.”