Chobani’s Founder on Growing a Start-Up Without Outside Investors

by Hamdi Ulukaya

I’VE ALWAYS LOVED YOGURT—the thick kind I grew up eating in Turkey, where my mother made it from scratch on our family’s dairy farm. When I moved to the United States, in 1994, I found American yogurt to be disgusting—too sugary and watery. If I wanted yogurt, I usually made it myself at home. So when I came across a piece of junk mail advertising a fully equipped yogurt factory for sale, in March 2005, I was curious. The factory was about 65 miles west of the feta cheese company, Euphrates, that I’d started in upstate New York a few years earlier. In 2005 Euphrates had fewer than 40 employees and about $2 million in sales; it was barely breaking even.

Kraft owned ...

Get HBR's 10 Must Reads on Entrepreneurship and Startups (featuring Bonus Article “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything” by Steve Blank) now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.