Winner of the award for Best Case in Entrepreneurship track in The Case Centre Anniversary Conference 2014

Building a Business from Nature: Kari W. Block’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Building a Business from Nature: Kari W. Block’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Case Code: LDEN092
Case Length: 08 Pages
Period: 1990-2014
Pub Date: 2014
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.300
Organization : Earth-Kind
Industry: Agriculture, Farm Equipment, Ware Housing
Countries : USA
Themes: Entrepreneurship
Building a Business from Nature: Kari W. Block’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The First Brush with Entrepreneurship

Kari credited her father for her entrepreneurial spirit and said, "He was a successful entrepreneur and amazing leader. I saw the positive difference he was able to make through innovation and want to continue his work with my own spin."

SKari’s first experience with entrepreneurship occurred when she was a farm wife in rural North Dakota. Since the income from the farm was neither adequate nor regular, she felt the need to supplement it with income from other avenues. Taking advantage of whatever resources she had at her disposal viz., land, retail experience, and the tenacity to experiment and learn - she began with an organic truck garden and 99-cent packets of garden seeds. ....

Mice Under the Pant and an Opportunity

Having lived on farms, Kari was no stranger to the rodent menace on farms (refer to Box I Rodent Menace). She had also seen her father selling rodent poison to keep them in check. But a personal experience that brought her face to face with rodents made her think of an idea that would eventually make her a millionaire....

Tackling Challenges

One of the biggest challenges Kari faced was obtaining a license to sell her product as a pesticide. When she visited the Department of Agriculture to find out the details required for grant of a license, they told her to give up, since it would cost her close to US$ 2 million. But Kari was not one to give up easily. She started mobilizing her own funds and grants to carry out research to prove the efficacy of the product. She was able to complete the study spending less than US$ 200,000. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorities refused to accept her findings and demanded more data....

Farmer in Charge

Having created her business in rural America surrounded by farms, Kari was greatly concerned about the environment. Instead of approaching the rodent problem from the same perspective as others, she sought to tackle the problem in a humane way, using her passion for natural solutions. Kari said, "I found where I fit in. I found the place where my background, my knowledge, my passion, and my drive all came together to solve a real problem in people’s lives." She found that rodent poisons were not only toxic but were also only 50 to 60 per cent effective....

Expanding the Market and Business

Kari named the product Fresh Cab and packed it in an attractive package which carried her message and signature (Refer to Exhibit III and Exhibit IV). Kari developed the market, channel by channel. First, she started marketing the product to implement dealers. She prepared a radio advertisement with two farmers talking about the problem of mice, how it was damaging their combines, and how they had found a new product invented by a farm wife....


By 2013, Earth-Kind had booked annual revenues of US$ 5 million and a cumulative sale of US$ 40 million at retail points. In 2013, Kari was recognized as a runner-up for the National Small Business Person of the year by the US Small Business Administration from among 54 entrepreneurs. She had earlier been named North Dakota’s Small Business Person of the Year...

Looking Ahead

In the next stage of the growth of the company, Kari was looking at expanding the market globally and at ways to expand to countries like India. She said, 'Right now, I'm growing to be a $30 million business on an annual basis. We’re growing exponentially and we have other innovative products in development specifically for rodents.’.......


Exhibit I: List of Recognitions for Kari Warberg Block
Exhibit II: Kari Warberg Block

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