I’m a big fan of the good old fashioned family business. I’m an even bigger fan of good old fashioned family businesses created to help improve the lives of people with chronic medical needs. Julie Bombacino, who founded her company Real Food Blends with her husband Tony, is proof that necessity really is the “mother” of all invention.
Originally inspired by her young son AJ, who is tube-fed, Julie created Real Food Blends to provide 100% real food meals for people with feeding tubes, offering a whole food, variety-rich diet as an alternative to processed formulas.
Prior to co-founding Real Food Blends, the 40-year old mother of two was a marketing maven, with more than 15 years under her belt in digital and direct marketing leadership roles at companies of all sizes including Road Runner Sports, optionsXpress and United Airlines. Julie is an inspiration to every woman who has ever wanted to start a business, out of necessity or not.
Read on to learn more about her story, in her own words.
What was your first job out of college?
I was a marketing assistant at a computer hardware company. I LOVED having a ‘real’ job and feeling like an adult. I was 22 years old, living in Southern California with a good job…there wasn’t much NOT to like.
What led you to create Real Food Blends?
Pure necessity! I never would have imagined that I would have founded a food company, much less one for people on feeding tubes. My son’s experience with the existing feeding tube formulas, and how he responded to real food, lead me down this path and I’m honored to be able to help other families now.
How do you start each day? Describe your morning routine.
KIDS! My morning is probably pretty typical of every working mom up early and getting everyone ready for school – fed, cleaned, clothed and out the door. I’m typically answering emails during this time and re-heating my coffee about 14 times. I’m very lucky I don’t need to spend too much time on myself, I usually work in my workout clothes and shower at night.
What does your typical work day look like?
There’s nothing typical. If I’m working from the office, it’s conference calls, tons of emails, squeeze in a barre workout, and more work, plus meetings with our team. If I’m traveling or taking meetings in person, I’m usually plugged in and doing all this on the road too.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“When the circus comes to town, all the vendors sell more balloons!” [This advice was from] my former boss when we were the first to enter into what eventually became a crowded market. In the tube-feeding world, the formulas are dominated by two really big companies but I knew, from very personal experience, that there was room and a demand for more natural options, so I brought my ‘balloons’ to the town!
It’s 5:00 p.m. on a Friday. What’s in your glass?