Eric Bonin '08: An awkward spill launches an entrepreneurial success
It all started with a yogurt mishap in Eric Bonin's car.
At the time, Bonin ‘08 was manager of strategic initiatives for Commonwealth Dairy. He was driving to a business meeting when he spilled a cup of Greek yogurt on his pants while reaching for a spoon. There had to be a better way, Bonin thought. Passionate about health and fitness and possessing industry experience, he set out to create a healthier, more convenient option.
The result is Pillars, the drinkable Greek yogurt company based in Framingham, MA, that Bonin developed using hard-earned practical business wisdom, analytics, and skills honed as an undergraduate in Bryant's top-ranked Finance program. He efficiently brought Pillars through a two and a half year research and development process. By spring 2016, he had secured a commitment from the company’s first customer, Whole Foods Market. Today, more than 400 stores throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic stock his products.
For a few yeas after graduation, Bonin worked as a stock analyst. But although the work was enlightening, entrepreneurship was Bonin's passion: In middle school, he sold magazine subscriptions door-to-door; in high school, he started an online business selling golf clubs.
His first consumer product venture, a high-protein frozen Greek yogurt created shortly after graduating from Bryant with a degree in Finance and a minor in Legal Studies, was set for acquisition by a frozen novelty food company. When that company pulled its commitment to purchase the concept at the very last minute, “I went from Cloud 9 to the lowest of the lows," Bonin says, "but it set me on a new path that led to the role at Commonwealth Dairy."
Bonin spent just over a year helping Commonwealth expand nationwide before deciding to venture out on his own. Using the skills learned at Commonwealth, he built Archway Group LLC, a successful consulting and brokerage business that helps food and beverage companies implement operational efficiencies. One month after launching Archway, Bonin began developing Pillars’ recipes.