In 1996, Jacob van der Schaaf and his daughter Angela Santiago founded The Little Potato Company near Edmonton in Canada, driven by a vision to popularize small, flavorful potatoes, as Adeline Panamaroff reports in a news article published on Country Guide.
Starting with a single acre, hand-dug and hand-washed, they quickly identified a significant market opportunity. Early on, the duo distributed free samples to local restaurants and delis, gathering valuable feedback.
This initial effort quickly bore fruit. By the end of their first year, they received a substantial order from an Alberta retailer, marking the beginning of their rapid expansion. By 1998, the company had grown to 30 employees and secured widespread distribution across Western Canada. Under Santiago’s leadership as CEO, the company continually faced and overcame scaling challenges.
Today, The Little Potato Company is a leader in North America’s creamer potato market, with 14,000 acres of contracted crop, 400 employees, and multiple facilities, including a flagship 95,000-square-foot plant in Edmonton. They are expanding with a new, sustainable site equipped with solar panels and water conservation technology.
Santiago’s advice to any new startup and especially for any farmer on the trail of a potentially big idea is clear: get strategic with your business thinking right from the start. “Don’t wait for threats. Don’t wait for the first competitor to come hunting for a slice of your market, or for a retailer to wonder if maybe you’re just a proverbial flash in the pan after all.”
Santiago’s journey with The Little Potato Company highlights the importance of strategic planning, resilience, and adaptive management in business growth. The company’s success story is a blend of innovative branding, customer engagement, and commitment to sustainability. The Little Potato Company exemplifies how vision, strategy, and adaptability can lead to significant achievements in the agricultural sector.
Source: Country Guide. Read the full story here
Photo: Angela Santiago