Many of us have had ideas for products that might be useful to the world or services that we wish existed, but most people don't do anything to make those a reality. The founders of Verb Energy, however, had an idea that led to the creation of their successful start-up while they were students at Yale University.

While studying for a biology exam, co-founder Matt Czarnecki bought an expensive coffee and granola bar to keep him going, but when he felt jittery and worn down soon after, he wondered why there wasn't a cheaper, longer lasting, and more convenient energy source.

The four co-founders were able to juggle all this while being students and now work at the company full-time, learning many lessons along the way about founding and managing a food start-up in college.

1) You don't need experience in food to make a difference

As the co-founders of Verb put it, "it’s probably not as difficult as you think it is, as none of us had food experience." The group of students had an idea, and their product was successful because they put in a lot of research, experimentation, feedback, and repetition. Their lack of experience in the food industry was not a barrier to the company's success.

2) Taste is very important

As Verb tested different recipes, caffeine levels, bars that required refrigeration, and complex packaging in their early days, their customers tolerated this. However, what customers absolutely did not like was if the bar tasted bad. Thus, the company always received and took into consideration the feedback about the taste of their product because they found that this really mattered to the people buying the bars.

3) Everyone has different tastes and preferences

That said, every product doesn't please everyone. With their 127 recipes and thousands of bars, the group received a lot of conflicting feedback about the calories, sweetness, and protein in the bar, and they had to make some decisions about their product and stick with them, because "90% vegan or 90% gluten-free or 90% delicious isn’t going to get a customer that cares about those things if there are other options that deliver on their need 100%."

Furthermore, they realized, "If you make a bar that 4,000 people aren’t fans of but is 1,000 people’s favorite energy bar, you’ve got 1,000 great, receptive, supportive customers that will stick with you as you grow and help you make a better bar. If you make 5,000 people’s fourth favorite bar, you’ve got none."

4) What people say they want is different than what they actually might want

As Verb surveyed people about hypothetical changes to their product, the prices that people said they were willing to pay were different than what they would actually pay when they had to make real decisions about their product choices and budgets. The customers' surveys indicated different results than their behavior in the real world context.

5) It's not necessary to secure funding early on

The founders of Verb did not create their start-up with the early goal of getting funding for their product and company, and they're glad they didn't. "We would have thrown a bunch of money at a bar that wasn’t ready yet," they said. Instead, the group of four were able to work with customers and advisors to first create the perfect bar they wanted to sell before trying to get funding, which allowed them to put out the best product they could.

6) As your company grows, you will need help

As the company continued to grow and manufacture more bars, they couldn't make, package, and ship all of the bars themselves. The founders decided to bring on a co-packer to make and package the bars at scale, partnered with a fulfillment company to manage the increasing load of online orders and reduce the time and cost of shipping, and tried out different marketing methods. These decisions were crucial in the company's ability to handle the growth and increasing demand for their product. They also found it important to then start working with investors who brought important experience, and this helped with gaps in funding and overcoming challenges.

7) Not all partnerships will be right, so do your homework

As Verb grew, they had some partnerships that were successful, but others that did not work out. What they learned is that it is extremely critical to do your research about potential partners. Talk to their references, visit their facility, get to know the people, and talk to other companies they partner with, especially companies that used to be partners but stopped. This research will provide you with the right information to make informed decisions about whether a partnership will be useful in the future or will cause more stress than help.

The founders of Verb have learned a lot from creating a food start-up while being students in college, and they've loved doing it full-time after graduation. An idea that grew out of frustration during exams, to now being sold on Amazon, Verb is sure to reach even greater heights in the future. And, if you are a college student trying to launch a food start-up, use these lessons to help you and also maybe try a Verb bar to keep you going during your next late night.