By Meleah Maynard
Nick Beste (B.S.B. ’10) has a knack for creating opportunity. In high school, he didn’t just mow lawns to earn a little extra cash. He started his first business by contacting a local bank and striking a deal to mow the lawns of all of its foreclosure properties. More businesses followed, each successful and thoroughly strategized, including buying the rights to sell a hot sauce made in his hometown of Grand Forks, North Dakota, in neighboring states. So no one was more surprised than Beste when his sixth and latest venture, Man Cave Craft Meats, was the result of a happy accident.
Based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, Man Cave Craft Meats began in 2009 as the first home party company for men. Rather than selling typical female home party fare of cosmetics and lingerie, Man Cave organized“MEATings,” with grilling tools and home bar accessories for sale. Beste, who is 27, came up with the idea with his business partner, Kevin Carlow (B.S.B. ’07). It was the third business the duo had conceived of since meeting in the Entrepreneurship in Action class at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. They were onto something, but the real opportunity didn’t become clear until the night of the first home party.
“We thought it would be a good idea to offer free meat, so we just bought some at the grocery store and cooked it during the party,” he recalls. As it turned out, people weren’t very interested in what was for sale. They wanted to know where they could buy the meat. “Everybody kept asking us where the meat came from because they thought it was so good, and we were like, ‘Um, at the grocery store?’ That’s when we realized that meat was what people really wanted to buy, so we went from there and we’ve come a long way.”
Beste, the sole owner of the business after he and Carlow opted to divide up their co-owned ventures when seeking investors for Man Cave, says first-year revenue was $100,000. Today, he says, Man Cave brings in far more than that in one month.
Last year Man Cave discontinued home parties in order to focus on retail sales. Grocery store accounts have already grown from 22 to 250. Beste is now focused on building an iconic brand. “We’d like to be a household name, at least in the region, so if there’s a party people will say, ‘Oh, you have Man Cave Meat. Great!’”