The Long, Hard Road to a Dream

Two years ago, slogging through the cement-like mud of my local duck pond, legs on fire, dead tired, I had an epiphany. Hunters and fishermen lift and carry, push and pull, hike and haul, endure wind and waves, and most of all compete with the toughest of creatures. We’re athletes, hardcore ones at that. But we’ve been snacking like couch potatoes and pencil pushers. No wonder the game and elements defeat us sometimes, or at least make our sports harder than they have to be.

But epiphanies — those lightning strike realizations and inspirations — don’t get things done. They’re the spark, the first wisps in the foggy forming of a Dream. But the dream is really at the end of a long, hard road, not there at the beginning.

So a partner and I — him a fisherman, me a hunter — set about combining the considerable performance nutrition experience gained in our careers and created the Dominant Predator® snack bar. The first snack bar designed by and for the predator athlete. We made countless test batches, sprinkling in different kinds of protein, researched special nutrients no one else knew about to help with some of the extreme outdoor athlete’s needs, like better hydration, longer-lasting energy, alertness and focus.

Finally, we arrived at the right combination. A feast-worthy fusion of survival food, sports supplement, and something delicious that mom would make. Like a rice crispy treat, packed with performance enhancers. Legal ones, of course.

Then we begged, cajoled, lobbied, and campaigned to get big companies to produce our little first order of wrappers, trays, and snack bars. We built a website (, bought liability insurance, found a toll-free number, formed a corporation (Fierce Foods, Inc.), registered our trademark, and a million other details that you know about if you’ve ever developed a product and started a company on a shoestring. For two years, it was one step forward, two steps back. Nights and weekends lost to spreadsheets, business forming chores, and the taming of all the wild, runaway details.

But last week the product finally arrived in our little garage bay warehouse. And we took an order from a little store in Wisconsin. A day after they got the product, they told us they had sold out. And it was at that moment that we realized, the inspiration that bred the dream had just cracked open to reveal a beautiful reality.

I don’t know if the Dominant Predator bar will be a big success or make a lot of money.  I do know I’ll never experience a stronger moment than when I heard from that store in Wisconsin, selling all their bars and saying people — hunters, construction workers, and the usual passing through travelers — had liked the package I designed and loved the taste of the bar. Those first people made my dream come true after two long, hard, uncertain years. What happens after, well that’s a place I can’t see or know. But I’m stepping on to the road leading to it, and the crunch of gravel under my boot sounds good to me.

~ by SpeakingZenaphorically on May 14, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Long, Hard Road to a Dream”

  1. Nom nom nom, they sure are tasty. Fine work Neil. Congrats.

  2. When I tried to visit, I received a virus warning. Might want to take a look.

  3. I sat in a blind at Wister with a great guy named Neil who said he had a dream of creating a energy bar for sportsman. It is great that you kept that dream alive. Great news on the pup.

  4. What a great story , I enjoyed reading the long hard road to a dream. Being dead tired, I know what you mean, hunting can be exhausting. Before I hunt for deer. I start walking a few miles a day. Then I do some exercising and prepare for the hunt. Going from couch potato to hunt is hard to do.

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