Dec. 13, 2021
Since setting foot on the University of Missouri campus as a preferred walk-on in 2000, Clint Matthews has overcome his fair share of challenges. He has endured adverse conditions by realizing that the same grit, discipline and persistence needed on the football field can also prove to be invaluable in the realm of entrepreneurial business ventures.
As the co-founder of Start Right Foods, Matthews — and his business partner, Kyle Rood, a fellow former Mizzou student-athlete — has watched the company grow from a couple of waffle irons and a rent-a-kitchen in Columbia to its current 1500-square-foot facility in St. Louis. That’s where they mass produce high-protein waffle sliders for distribution to consumers throughout the Midwest and beyond in a growing market space of frozen healthy breakfast options.
Despite a seven-year age gap, Matthews and Rood met at the College of Business in the early 2000s.
“We were kind of different generations from a sports standpoint, but I could tell pretty immediately, I liked his work ethic,” Matthews said.
The pair worked as partners on a few entrepreneurial ventures, and although the projects eventually went dark, the experience cemented their ability to work as a team and navigate rough waters.
Matthews approached Rood in the spring of 2015 with a new business proposition: high-protein waffles.
“We wanted to give this one more go,” Matthews said. “Neither one of us had a part-time job. We went all in. Kyle and I were literally flipping waffles by hand with three irons and delivering them into stores in my pickup truck. And through a lot of effort, toil, and good and bad decisions, we've progressed to today."
In the fall of 2017, the duo moved its operations to its current facility in St. Louis. After going through the struggles of its infancy, the company, Matthews said, is beginning to “hit on all cylinders” by expanding its national footprint — going from the Midwest to an agreement with national chain Sprouts Farmers Market to offering direct sales on its website starting this summer.
As revenue continues to increase for Start Right Foods each year, so has the amount of money coming from angel investors to ensure its future growth, allowing Matthews to put what he learned to use in the Allen Angel Capital Education Program on a weekly basis.
And the heart of that knowledge stems from taking risks.
“Don't be afraid to take a risk,” Matthews said. “It could be the best thing you've ever done. You just don't know. It’s a little scary, so people don't want to do it, but take that leap, because you never know where it'll go.”