WILTON, Conn. — Will D’Agostino was always a big hiker, skier, camper — an outdoors person. Nuts, fruits and seeds had been a big part of his life for a long time.
So after working in mutual funds sales and financial technology, the Stamford resident decided to follow his passion and start selling wholesome nut bars.
He developed a business idea — to sell custom nut bars made for customers in brick and mortar stores. But he realized that process was too tedious and labor intensive for a low price point.
So he started making them at home. And he had good feedback from his friends.
“They liked them,” D’Agostino said. “And then it was really my dad [who] was like, ‘OK, great, your friends like them, but you got to get someone to turn over their hard-earned dollars for these bars.”
So he started Nutshell and turned to farmers markets to test the market and see what people liked. Now, D’Agostino visits farmers markets three days a week — Wilton, Rowayton, New Canaan and Stamford. The rest of the time he works on product packaging and product development.
D’Agostino said he’s focused on making a healthy product that people want to consume — “just fresh bars, wholesome ingredients, no additives and preservatives and fun flavors.” His flavors range from PB&J to java and chipotle.
He’s aware of competitors on the market, but he wants to reinvent the traditional nutrition bar from a simple convenience to something that people really want to eat.
"I want to change the relationship people have with nutritional snack bars from, ‘I’m starving, I’ll just grab this from my glove compartment’ to ‘oh, I want a coffee and I really want the devil's detox bar because they go really well together, and it's actually delicious,” D’Agostino said.
He also wants to create food that sustains people. Once, during a mountaineering trip to British Columbia, a helicopter that was supposed to replenish food for him and companions couldn’t make the trip. They had to make do with what they had — “all we had left was trail mix,” he said. So he tries to recreate that sustainability with his bars.
D’Agostino makes the bars in a commercial kitchen in South Norwalk — close to where he grew up in New Canaan and where he now lives in Stamford. He now seeks to expand beyond farmers market and get shelf space for his product in bakeries, cafes, “anywhere with a bakery display case.”
For more information on his D’Agostino and Nutshell, visit his website here.
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