Success Story: Mike McAndrew

Posted on in Success Stories, Venture Challenge

Mike McAndrew used to have a day job. He worked in Oil and Gas until 2015, when the industry faltered and he was laid off. He struggled to find work because employers assumed he would leave to return to Oil and Gas the second the industry recovered. Mike knew he needed something different. He looked into buying a company, but everything seemed too good to be true and eventually he stopped trying. He decided, instead, to start his own.

Mike is the kind of person who likes to bring people new experiences. He moved to Texas from Florida in 2011 and, over time, he realized that a snack that every street vendor sold in Florida was completely missing in Texas. No one here knew what boiled peanuts were. He set out to change that, founding Lil’ Red’s Boiled Peanuts. The competition was nonexistent and the peanuts sold steadily. People kept telling Mike that the boiled peanuts tasted creamy and he decided to work on creating a spread. Once he’d invented the perfect dip, he now had an innovative food product to bring to market. He heard about LaunchSA’s Venture Challenge and thought it would be a great opportunity to refine his idea for the spread.

While in Venture Challenge, Mike says he learned a lot. He had an idea of the direction he wanted to go with his company but, by listening to the pitches of the other competitors and the advice of mentors within the program, he learned which of his ideas would actually work.The length of the program gave him the time to study his business plan and to make changes intentionally. Although he didn’t win any funding, Mike says the advice and guidance he got from Venture Challenge were immensely helpful to the success of his peanut spread, which is now in Central Market.

When asked if he had any advice for someone considering joining Venture Challenge, Mike says, “You have to be open to critique and new ideas. Don’t be set in your way of doing things. And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.” 

This year, Mike rejoined Venture Challenge and was a finalist again. He now had real numbers to show investors from his dip’s success at Central Market. He won first place and $11,000 for his expansions!