Chris Wysong’s veteran-owned small business can help anyone become a good cook and baker!
Bucket of Bread offers an easy start to lots of meals and snacks: just add lukewarm water. Chris said, “All the options make great bread! The Traditional White is the most versatile. It is great for making pizzas, cinnamon buns and anything in between. The Honey Wheat is delicious as a pizza crust for Hawaiian style pizzas or for doughnuts. The Seven Grains has a nice amount of texture. I love making bagels, breadsticks or even crackers with it.”
When Chris started the business, he came to the Small Business Development (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse for help. He said, “The SBDC is an incredible resource. They offer so much to the community of regional entrepreneurs. My SBDC was able to help me with financial projections, operating agreements, sales tax compliance, a business plan and marketing strategies.”
The SBDC also helped connect Chris with business professors and students at the university. “The students did a deep dive into my concept as a learning opportunity, and I was able to see the results. Legal students, with professor oversite, were able to help me process my trademarks and develop the small print for the website. When discussing starting a business with anyone, my first recommendation is to look up the closest SBDC office,” Chris said.
Another entrepreneurial resources Chris worked with was the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). He has also been working Bunker Labs which provides programs and resources to help military Veterans and military spouses. He also won second place in a pitch competition for Veteran-owned businesses called the Ignition Challenge.
THE GIVING BACK
Chris wanted to use Bucket of Bread as a means to help those in need. He began the Bucket Benefit Program. Customers may purchase donation buckets online at bucketofbread.com; then his company makes the buckets of dry dough mix and delivers the finished products to the Hunger Task Force of La Crosse for distribution directly to those in need. Also, every purchase helps raise ‘dough’ for good causes.
Within three months of launching, Bucket of Bread partnered with The Thrivent Financial Member Network of South Wisconsin on a community food drive. This mobile food drive, Thrivent Cans Hunger Drive, resulted in more than 2,900 individual items donated to local food pantries. Also, through monetary donations, pantries were gifted a total of $9,000.
“My biggest obstacle was probably the renovation of the building. Meeting building and health and safety codes for basic food production standards delayed the desired launch by a couple months; however, once it was done, everything worked great. Another big obstacle was moving my website from its original platform into WordPress. I spent a lot of time learning and countless hours getting it put together just right,” he said.
One surprising discovery Chris made in the move from business concept to actual business operation was attendance at events like farmers markets. “I didn’t think I would have so many live events planned; however, it turned out to be a great way to introduce myself to a lot of people and make my product concept known,” he said.
Chris looks forward to more growth of his business as well. Some future goals include increasing online sales, hiring additional employees and adding toppings to his product line. “The ultimate goal for Bucket of Bread is to become a common household name synonymous with high quality,” Chris said. We wish him the best of luck in achieving his goals and more!
Accomplishments with UW-La Crosse SBDC
- Financial projections
- Business plan
- Marketing strategies
- Sales tax compliance
- Operating agreements