In his January 19th Case in Point for the Washington Post, Assistant Professor Tim Kraft explains how new business owners confront operational challenges such as identifying and increasing existing capacity.  He discusses how at NoBull Burger, a Charlottesville-based vegetarian burger company, Elizabeth Raymond and her two daughters quickly had trouble keeping pace with growing demand:

Early on, the Raymonds spent a significant amount of time promoting the business and identifying new markets…The Raymonds spent less time understanding NoBull’s operational capabilities.

As the handmade, vegetarian burgers became more popular, the Raymonds needed to increase production.  First-year operations students Merritt Osborn (MBA ’13) and Elizabeth Tang (MBA ’13) worked with the start-up venture to help identify potential process improvements.  While the Raymonds initially thought they should purchase expensive cooking equipment to grow production, the students’ operational analysis showed that the system constraint was not equipment but instead labor hours.

The NoBull case demonstrates that while sales and marketing are important, entrepreneurs should not forget about operations. During the initial stages of a business, execution can be just as important as growth.

The full text of the NoBull Burger case, UVA-OM-1479 written by Kraft, Osborn and Tang, and released in September 2012, is available through Darden Business Publishing.