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Entrepreneurs Grind

Roxana Saidi, Founder Of Táche Pistachio Milk, Is Looking Beyond Dairy

Roxana Saidi, the Founder, and CEO of Táche Pistachio Milk, was this week’s guest on Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed Táche, what the Táche company does, brand consulting, and when it all started.

“Táche is a two-month-old company, and we are the first true pistachio milk in the US. We are an oil-free, distinctly delicious plant-based milk made from Pistachios, and it requires significantly less amount of water than almond milk,” said Saidi.

Being the first at anything is not easy, and according to Saidi, it took five years to bring Táche to market. However, she did mention that it was on the back burner while she was involved with consultant work.

“It took five years, and most of the time, it was in the background while I was doing consulting on brand strategy for other brands. But, this brand is unique, and I really wanted to make a barista blend. So, I am a big coffee person; my mom probably gave me my first cappuccino at age nine, which she hates when I say it, but it is the truth.

You must really scale the business before you can even launch. I mean that no one will take your product unless you care to do 100,000 units in this type of manufacturing. On your very first production run, most want more, like a quarter of a million. I had to scale the business before we launched, and that took some time. Fundraising the funds was a challenge because you can’t bootstrap that type of volume out of the gate.”

The idea for creating the company came to her back in 2015 on a trip to Paris with her family.

“The idea came to me in 2015, and at this point, I was consulting and launched a social media agency in 2011. So, in 2011 there was no Instagram, and there were not many social media agencies. It was born out of a career that I hated, PR, and I have nothing against PR, but I lived in LA in my early 20s, and PR for me got these genes on Nichole Riche. So, I started a social media agency because I saw potential there and something that would take off.

In 2015, I moved to New York, and I was phasing out drinking a lot of dairy milk, almond milk, and eating a lot of almond butter. I was traveling in Paris with my family, and at the end of a long lunch,  I was craving my go-to. An almond milk latte, but in France, it had not made its way yet. Then I had a light bulb moment and said I have been eating pistachios my entire life. My dad is Iranian, and in a Persian household, pistachios are like toilet paper. You must have them at all times, so I started to think couldn’t I make pistachio milk the same way as almond milk.” 

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Roxana Saidi on Instagram and Twitter.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Margaret Wishingrad, the CEO of Three Wishes, Is Putting A New Spin on Cereal

Margaret Wishingrad, the Co-Founder and CEO of Three Wishes Cereal, was this week’s guest on Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed Three Wishes, what Wishingrad was up to before starting the company, and more.

“Three Wishes is better for you, a cereal brand, and even beyond that, we are better for you to eat. We love to take naughty things and put a twist on them, making them okay to eat again…We have about five flavors, and they are all really good,” said Wishingrad.

She grew up in an immigrant family, where McDonald’s and eating unhealthy cereals such as Cookie Crisps, HoneyCombs, and Corn Pops, was the norm. Wishingrad did not always work in the cereal industry; she and her husband, Ian Wishingrad, owned an advertising agency in New York City.

“So, my husband and I have an ad agency in New York, and we love building brands. So, we have the big clients like Nestlé, Pepsi, and then we have the small clients that would come to us with ideas, and that was it.

Just the idea, and we would build out the whole brand, the name, what it looks like, what it talks like, what the instore feeling feels like. And when we became parents, Ellis is six now, but when he was four months old, we as parents started to realize that we had problems in our lives that we did not identify before. And by introducing new foods by him, the recommendation was cereal, and I looked at the aisle, and it is the same junk that was there when I was a kid,” Wishingrad shared.

“Nothing was innovative in it, and I need to do something that is going to work for my family and all these other families. Cereal is also one of those things…everyone loves cereal, so we are like, ‘there is a big problem here, and we need to solve it.’ That was what made us go from building brands into building our own cereal.”

They founded the company in 2017 and got started quickly.

“I like to say we founded the company when Ellis was six months old, which would have been 2017, but it took us two years to develop the product. So, we only launched in late 2019.”

They did not launch with all five flavors; in fact, they only started with three.

“No, we only launched with three, which is very fitting for the brand. We launched with cinnamon, honey, and unsweetened. The outlook for us on cereal was not going out and recreating the wheel, and for us, it was ‘let’s create something that people loved, that was super familiar but twist one thing.’ For us, that is what it is made of, and the rest we wanted to keep the same. The experience, the flavors, the box, the shape. All those things we kind of kept similar.”

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Margaret Wishingrad on Instagram and Twitter.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Staying Spicy in Lockdown with Trop Flavor Co.

“It’s not about getting knocked down…it’s whether or not you get back up.”

In other words, you can’t control what happens to you. You can only control your response. 

When COVID hit, like many other people, Kenny Cousins and David Zheutlin were left with time on their hands. They decided to do something with it. 

The Trop Flavor Co. sat down with ONE37pm’s Bo Templin to tell their story.

ONE37pm: When did things take that next step and kick things into another gear?

Trop Flavor Co.: Quarantine. This was a quarantine project to start. We are roommates, friends. This became something where it went from two people who love sauce…to making hot sauce, blending things up, and giving them to friends.

ONE37pm: So this is nitty gritty, in the dirt, you are creating something.

Trop Flavor Co: I was legitimately trading hot sauce for things like radishes. It was your classic tale of a quarantine hot sauce company…It was pretty organic. 

When it comes to the actual ingredients of the sauce… they have a secret they are willing to share with ONE37pm. 

Trop Flavor Co.: Some experimentation with mezcal…there are a few drops in every bottle. 

ONE37pm: See, now you are speaking my language.

Trop Flavor Co.:   We threw some in sauce and brought it to our bartender friend. They loved it and we decided that we should drop a product. 

ONE37pm: When you are putting out a product like this, I feel like you could go two different ways. You could have your product vary greatly from your competition. Or you could go in a different route with marketing and branding, where you think your company has a bigger difference from your competition. 

Trop Flavor Co: I feel like it’s the local aspect. During this time, it was about being opportunistic. We had to use our two skills to launch the brand—the equity between us, our friends. And our skill sets, we leaned into them—our similarities and differences. So people feel part of David, part of Kenny, in the sauce. As a startup, whether you already knew us pre-existing or at a pop-up, That differentiated us. Flavor-wise, we take that seriously. The idea of hot sauce is generally “metal.” The flavor of peppers is delicious. Prickly pear, mango, or papaya, so the chance to surprise people in the flavor profile that won’t crush you, I think it’s a marriage of both.

ONE37pm: When you have two people leading the way, a duo. Do you think you are your yin to your yang or are you both with the same vision, the same goal. What do you think your dynamic is?

Trop: I wouldn’t say yin and yang. We def have a number of shared interests and traits but are different people. I think we balance each other well. People say don’t go into business with friends. I think the reason is often because the friendship will overcome the need for business. We might be on the fire escape right now, but we are going to have a meeting. We are going to treat it with that same respect. Hot sauce is not our job, it’s our side project that is turning into something fun and exciting. 

Kenny: I have a more social media, strategic background. David doesn’t have an Instagram. As friends, partners, we have moments where we see things from different angles, but are saying the same thing. 

ONE37pm: I ask this to a lot of people. But when you are in a business where your product is determined by the public… the people get to decide if your hot sauce is good. How do you guys balance-taking what the audience is saying versus trusting your gut? “I know this is a good hot sauce. We need to trust our vision.”

Trop Flavor Co.: It’s def a lot of trial and error. You put something out and get feedback. But that’s the benefit of doing these pop-up events. We get the first-person testimonial. When we come across those really niche hot sauce heads, they taste our sauce and want it hotter. And that’s not what we are about. That’s some of the tough-guy stuff that we don’t want to deal with. When people actually taste our hot sauce and give us feedback that they want it a touch hotter, that is an easy fix for us. We can always add peppers… With any event we do, we bring experimental hot sauce. That’s rare to get that unlabeled, untested, you are the test market. We are looking for feedback. We are not the hot sauce experts. We are learning too.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue with Marisa Zupan, the Co-Founder of United Sodas

Marisa Zupan, the Co-Founder and CEO of United Sodas, was this week’s guest on ONE37pm’s Open Dialogue with Phil Toronto. The two discussed United Sodas, working in marketing and brand strategy, and ultimately made Zupan want to start her own business.

So, what is United Sodas?

“We are a soda company that launched in May of 2020. The full name is United Soda of America. We are essentially premium all-natural sodas that focus on a variety of different flavors and are organically sweetened for everyone to enjoy. Also, it feels exciting, new, and captures the best part of soda, while leaving the worst part of soda in the past.”

Zupan did not have a background in the soda and beverage industry before entering it in May of 2020. However, she did work in the marketing and branding space and used her experience in both occupations to build United Sodas.

“I had been working in strategy, marketing strategy, brand strategy, communication strategy, and advertising strategy. I was at agencies, and I was at brands. I was a mentor to founders of new companies who wanted to learn how to build brands. And through that journey, I eventually found my way to making my own and doing it in a very different way. So, before starting United Sodas, I did not have any experience making a soda brand. I come from outside the beverage industry, and I am applying those brand principles to build a product and building a team, company, and culture,” shared Zupan.

According to Zupan, timing played a significant role in why she decided to create her own brand.

“Timing had to be right, and it was also the people that I was surrounding myself with that allowed me to feel I had the confidence, and the resources, and team to be able to do it. Essentially, I met my Co-founders during a time I was a consultant, and they had been working in the beverage industry for a while, and I had been working in it on the brand side,” Zupan said.

“And I cooked up, in an incubated way, this exciting idea because everybody was cooking up things outside of soda to capture the soda opportunity. So, why do we not do it on the inside and that was really the first exciting impetus started. Then we developed it, and it allowed me to transition. And I love this idea, I love this team, it is the right time in my life, and we just decided that we are going to make this jump together.”

You can listen to the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Marisa Zupan on Instagram and Twitter.

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Culture News

These Are The 20 Best Dispensaries in Seattle

Six years ago, Washington was the second state in the United States, after Colorado, to authorize the sale and use of recreational cannabis. 

Since then, Seattle has grown into one of the biggest hubs in the cannabis industry, not just in Washington but in the world. Tourists come from all around the world to participate in the cannabis culture. Every year, the Emerald City hosts HempFest, the largest hemp festival in the world. According to an April 2019 article on Thrillist, over 516 retailers in Washington State spent over $1 billion on flowers, edibles, concentrates, and other products. 


We here at ONE37pm decided to name the Top 20 cannabis shops in the Seattle area that you should check out the next time you’re in the area.

1. Clutch Cannabis in Seattle

People arriving in Seattle are warmly welcomed and guided by their first legal experience with the same enthusiasm as regular pick-ups of their daily projects.

When you look at the menu and descriptions on the site, it helps narrow down your choices, and customers always trust the suggestions they’re  given.

Some of their products include Strawberry Shortcake [Indica], Cookies & Cream [Hybrid], Rainbow Sherbet [Hybrid], Orange Daiquiri [Indica Hybrid], and Duct Tape [Hybrid].

2. Evergreen Market – North Renton

Complete with a super friendly staff who make you feel at home when you go in, if you are a first-time customer and do not really know what you are looking for, the staff is really patient and will  help  you find the right product.

The store is very clean, and they have an express window that makes things really easy for on-line pickups or when you already know exactly what you want. By far, this is the best dispensary in the Renton, Washington area due to the fantastic customer service and the offers they provide.

Products include: Cake Crasher [Hybrid], Black Cherry Soda [Hybrid], Wedding Cake [Indica Hybrid], Grape Cake [Indica Hybrid], Big Smooth [Hybrid], and Blueberry Muffins [Hybrid].

3. Uncle Ike’s Capitol Hill Marijuana Dispensary

If you are on Capitol Hill and need a dispensary to go to, Uncle Ike’s is the place to go.  They have an excellent inventory selection, and you can pre-order online and pick up can be completed in one hour, and it is a straightforward process.

Products include Girl Scout Cookies [hybrid], Pearly Glue [Hybrid], and Blackberry [Hyrid].

4. Have a Heart | Recreational Cannabis Dispensary in Skyway

Have a Heart in Skyway is a great shop to visit.  Their prices beat out a lot of their competitors in Renton, and the addition of your phone number to their loyalty program makes it even better. The choice is smaller, and it is a smaller place, but for someone who likes shopping for the same products, this is a great location.

Their products include Phat Panda, Freddy’s Fuego, Tree Hawk, Green Crack, Orange Zkittlez, and OG Chem. The staff is fast, friendly, and cool. There’s usually a line, but the online ordering is so fast, you can even make it there and go to that line instead.

5. Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis Dispensary in Seattle

The location is such a convenience to customers. It also has competitive prices to other dispensaries in the Seattle area. 

It works like a properly oiled machine. You can also pre-order and have the option of coming to retrieve your order when they text you to tell you that it is ready. They also have curbside pickup which makes it extremely convenient.

Products include Blue Dream NWCS B75 [Sativa], Strawberry Mad Dawg 4EverTree C160D [Sativa] Girl Scout Cookies 4EverTree C161 [Hybird], and Gorilla Glue Banger Series A3 [Hybrid].

6. Origins Cannabis West Seattle Marijuana Dispensary

The staff is very knowledgeable and helps customers find what they are looking for. I strongly recommend this location for all your cannabis needs. They are extremely skilled and professional.

If you are looking for some fire weed and try some of their Master Headband from Sensi Organix. Customers say it is some of the best weed that they have ever smoked.

Products include Sun Sokd Jack Herer, Sparket Lemon Cookies, Sun Sokd Pineapple Muffin, and Origins Gas Mask.

7. Pot Shop on Dexter Ave

With exceptional customer service and an online ordering system that is simple to use, they offer a relaxed atmosphere with budtenders that make me feel like a valued customer, not just some other number.

Products include Milk Chocolate Squares [Hybrid], Water Yer Melon [Hybrid], ManBearPig OG [Hybrid], and Raspberry Haze [Hybrid].

8. The West Seattle Marijuana Store

This joint has some of the nicest and most knowledgeable staff in the Seattle area.

They have various daily offers for edible products, oil/wax, pre-rollers, flowers, and cartridges. Highly recommended. Just as an FYI before you head over, they only accept horizontal IDs.

Products include Wavy Blue by Okanogan Gold, Trainwreck by High-Frequency Farms, and Dutch Oven by Columbia River Reserve.

9. Dockside Cannabis Recreational Dispensary – SODO

A great store with even better people. Superb visuals on all products, non-pressurized environment. . Kiona’s Lemon Cheesecake Thai is a customer favorite, but also the Lazy Bee’s Tesla Tower, which is a hybrid.

The pre-rolls are a terrific value for someone that is looking for short hits.

Their products include Allen Wrench [Sativa], Purple Punch [Indica Hybrid], and Slurricane [Indica Hybrid].

10. Ganja Goddess Cannabis Shop in Seattle

The degree of professionalism and customer service has clients who want to come back each time. Everyone is so knowledgeable and willing to give authentic feedback about the products and I never feel that I am pushed toward a particular item. It is always worth traveling to SODO to support a diverse and women-led company.

Their products include Legit Infused Cone Blueberry Tart [Sativa], Legit Infused Cone Kush Breath [Indica], and Rogue Raven Cone GG4 [Sativa].

11. Green Fire Cannabis in Seattle

There are plenty of reasons to love this place with good prices, bargains, and a wonderful selection, but the atmosphere and the employees really make a difference. Clients who come here continuously use joints as an excuse to exchange pleasantries with some really chill folk in a very comforting environment. It is good to sit down and talk—great layout for the shop.

Automatic discounts as you buy more volume. I tried a low-shelf Green Crack from Buddha  Cannabis and top-shelf Jack the Ripper from Northwest Finest. While the top-shelf was more visually appealing, I think their lower-priced stuff is of good enough quality that you do not need to overspend.

Their products include: Creme Brulee [Hybrid], Purple Punch [Indica], Zen CBD, Lemon Agave [Hybrid].

12. Kush21 Premium Recreational Cannabis in Burien, Washington

There is nothing but great things to say about this store and the people who work here. Customers always feel they are getting their money’s worth, and bidders are truly caring and knowledgeable individuals. 

They have quality products that are seriously affordable through “rock bottom pricing”($5 pre-rolls, and $3 edibles, FTW) and offers like their morning and late-night happy hours where you can score a 10% discount.

Their products include: White Widow Flower (Pagoda) [Hybrid],Outrageous Tangie flower (Pagoda) [Sativa], Lemon Peel flower (Pagoda) [Hybrid], and Wedding Cake Flower (Creekside Cannabis) [Indica].

13. The Reef Cannabis Capitol Hill, Seattle

The Reef is one of the best cannabis stores in Seattle. It is located on Capitol Hill, and they always provide you with products at a good price.  As with any store, make sure you do your research on what you need for your choice of cannabis. There is indoor cannabis and outdoor cannabis. Indoor cannabis is always going to be more potent than outdoor cannabis. They are equipped with a full line of hybrids, sativas, and indicas. They also provide online help and share their picks online. If you are a veteran customer, they also offer a 25% discount.

Their products include Adak OG, Aliens on Moonshine, Banana Punch, Bazooka Bro, and Bifrost.

14. American Mary in Ballard

It is an excellent establishment. The staff is friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and very entertaining to speak to. The staff is friendly, helpful, competent, and super fun to talk to—immaculate layout, and it is very easy to find what you require. The store also comes with great prices and a cool loyalty program. They also offer a wide variety of marijuana, edibles, CBD, and cannabis products for whatever you are looking for during your visit.

Their products include COSMIC: Grape Ape [Indica], Forbidden Fruit [Hybrid], and ORGROW: Dutch Dragon.

15. Mr. O.G. in White Center South Seattle.

It is an amazing store! Customers have never been dissatisfied with the quality of the products and the personnel is friendly, knowledgeable, and professional.

The Wonder Rub is a customer favorite at this location. This is often used by massage therapists while working on their client’s forearms, hands, and neck after a shift. Their other products include Alien Fruity Pebbles, Lemon Slushee, and Presidential Kush 1g by Green420.

16. Ruckus Recreational Marijuana On Capitol Hill

The staff was thorough, knowledgeable and the prices were among the lowest I have ever seen on concentrates. The locations were perfect if you are within the Seattle Capitol area. The Cherry Pie wax is really thick, only costs $10 a gram, and is super potent.

The location has other great strains like RSO Cinex, OMG Sykes, AC/DC Live Resin Refine, Super Lemon Haze Activated Distillate, Double Delicious, and ATF Distillate Cartridge.

17. Ponder Cannabis Shop Seattle, Washington

Ponder Cannabis Shop has a very knowledgeable staff that helped customers understand more about marijuana. They also found customers quality weed within their budget. They have a good selection and even organized their strains per farmer vs strain type (Sativa, hybrid, and so on). 

Their selections of concentrates include Refine, Dabstract, Oleum, SPR, Rouge Raven, and Bodhi High.

18. The Bakeréé- Georgetown

The staff is very knowledgeable and able to answer any questions customers may have in mind. They offer discounts during happy hour, and their prices are more than reasonable.

This store offers a great experience for beginners or people who are not so well informed. However, if you are someone who knows what you are looking for and wants to skip the entire indica/sativa conversation, this is a store for you.

Their products include Pennywise CBD by Western Cultured, Pineapple Express Pre-Roll by Gabriel, Platinum OG by Blue Bastard, Purple Kush Pre-Roll by Burnwell, Narnia by Soulshine, and Middlefork by Royal Tree.

19. The Novel Tree Bellevue, Washington

Their inventory now consists of a competitive selection. The staff is welcoming and highly knowledgeable and when you walk through the door, the doorman shares the discounts that they have that day. 

Many dispensaries have employees who check IDs and have no idea what the store is selling. That is not the case here as every person working the door of this establishment has a broad knowledge of the products they’re selling.

While their products are on the costly side, they charge a premium because of their location. Also, because they obtain their supplies from medical producers and processors.

Their products include Blue Cheese [Indica], Sunset Sherbet [Hybrid], Grapefruit [Sativa], Bruce Banner [Hybrid],  The Jack [Sativa], Ice Cream Cake [Hybrid], Raindance [Hybrid], and Juicy Fruit [Hybrid].

20. Higher Leaf Marijuana Kirkland

Some high-quality cannabis that is a little bit more expensive. As with most dispensaries, the more you spend in advance, the less you will have to spend in the long run, and this is definitely true here. You won’t have to take as much because they do have some really good quality green, but it’s expensive even for the Eastside. 

Their prices are about 4.5-5.5x markup when the industry standard is normally around 3.5-4x. That aside, the staff is very familiar and knows the complete menu indoors and outdoors.

Their products also include Headband [Indica], Poison Fruit [Hybrid], and Gas-N-Fruit Trim.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue With the Co-Founder of Haus, Helena Price Hambrecht

Helena Price Hambrecht, the Co-founder and CEO of Haus, along with her husband Woody, are rising entrepreneurs in the beverage industry. Hambrecht recently sat down with ONE37pm’s Phil Toronto on the latest episode of Open Dialogue to discuss the Haus brand, why they started in the first place, and how they distribute their products.

So, what exactly is Haus?

“Haus is booze, and we are the first direct to consumer company in the liquor space ever, and we wanted to reinvent what an alcohol hall company can be today,” said Hambrecht.

“Everything from what’s in the bottle, how it looks, how it is distributed, the whole thing. So, it’s really great tasting booze.”

Hambrecht’s career did not start in the alcohol space unless you count working in bars at the age of 21. She started working in Silicon Valley with a background in public relations and communications for tech companies before she and Woody started Haus in June of 2019.

“I lived so many lives; I did have a past life in booze. I worked in bars from 18 to 21, and that is where I learned about the world, but I certainly wasn’t making it. I got my start doing PR for startups; that was my first personal adult life. Then, I started to see that Silicon Valley would need branding, photography, creative campaigns.

And I thought I could be that person since I have been doing photography since the age of six-years-old, and it worked. I worked with every small startup, and every big one, like Facebook, Google, Uber, and Twitter, the whole thing. So, that was the first ten years, and now booze.”

She continued to explain why she started Haus in the first place. “It really started by marrying a dude named Woody, who already made alcohol. So, this guy named Woody, he is my husband now, and he is a third-generation winemaker. He was actually making aperitifs and gorgeous wines for a decade when I met him. And originally got into aperitifs, which Haus is, when he was living in Berlin,” shared Hambrecht.

“He moved from New York, where he works hard, plays hard, shots, shots, and then when went to Berlin, and said everyone is drinking differently here. They are drinking to meet each other, to have a conversation, and to remember things. It turns out they were drinking aperitifs, and he said I have to make this thing in America.

So, when he returned, he took over his family’s farm and started making aperitifs. So, when I met him, he was doing all the things the right way, such as getting the cool distributor, got it in the best bars and restaurants, but if you don’t know the alcohol industry as an independent brand to make it big… So, Woody did not grow beyond being cool, and the best accounts and I as an observer said ‘that sucks.’”

 

According to Hambrecht, she has been drinking throughout her adult life, and while there have been many good things that occurred over drinks, the downside is the countless hangovers, not getting much sleep, and having to work off the calories. She began to think about why there isn’t a better way to drink.

“So, I started to do some digging and some research to see if everyone felt this way, and it turns out kind of yeah. Our entire generation felt this way, and they were looking for a better drink, but there weren’t any options. So, they are experimenting with sobriety, bitter in soda. It was just a clear opportunity of why there wasn’t any Glossary of alcohol. And why  hasn’t it been disrupted like every other industry.”

So, they decided to build an index based on Apéritifs and started selling them on the internet.

“If you are an Apéritif and you are made of grapes, and you are under 24 percent alcohol, You can bypass those laws that liquor has and sell online like wine. That gives us the freedom to say ‘okay if we don’t have to worry about what the competition  thinks or distributors, we just need to worry about what the drinker would look like.”

Make sure you check out the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Helena Price Hambrecht on Instagram and Twitter.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue With the Founder of Behave, Mayssa Chehata

The founder of the candy company Behave, Mayssa Chehata, is a rising entrepreneur in the industry. Chehata recently sat down with ONE37pm’s Phil Toronto on the latest episode of Open Dialogue to discuss  Behave and her background and consumer marketing.

So, what is Behave exactly?

“We are a candy brand, and we make low sugar candy that is made with no artificial ingredients. So, we do not use any artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, artificial colors, or flavors. All the ingredients in our products are natural. But our candy, and what we like to hear from people, is still delicious. So, you are not compromising on taste just by going with a healthier option, which is important to us.”

Chehata has not always been in the candy business, but she has been involved in consumer marketing and branding for a long time.

“I have worked at a number of brands. I have always been [involved with] consumer brands, and I have always worked in a sort of a combination of brand marketing and partnerships or business development. 

So, I started my career in the NFL and was in the sports world for a couple of years. After the NFL, I joined Uber, where I worked in brand partnerships and business development. I spent two years there, and after Uber, I was introduced to the founder at Daily Harvest, which at the time was still a small startup,” said Chehata.

She continued: “They were just closing their Series A at that time. Now, it has grown to be a nationally recognized brand. I joined there early, and we were like a two percent marketing team when I joined. So, I saw everything brand and partnership, and then my counterpart saw everything growth and performance.

Then from Daily Harvest, I went to SoulCycle and led a business development team at SoulCycle. So, yeah, that was what I was doing when I decided to take the leap and work on Behave full-time.”

In the beginning, it was not an easy task to establish a brand identity, but the name of the company had been presented to her by one of her girlfriends.

“In the early stages, the idea went from ‘I wish there were a low sugar candy that I could eat’ to ‘what if I were to start this.’ One of my girlfriends is such a self-starter, and she has her own business and started throwing names out there. It started snowballing from there, and we were all throwing out these crazy names, and I think one of them threw out the name Behave, and I liked it.

It is kind of like tongue and cheek. It definitely piques your interest, and it sort of has this double entendre that I loved. We are making a better ‘for you’ product, but Behave also has this Austin Powers cocky connotation because it is this naughtiness of eating candy, but we are trying to dispel that. So, I felt like it had this multiple meaning thing, and it stuck,” shared Chehata.

“As far as creating a brand around it, I have always had my own thoughts, and as a person, I am not a health nut. I want to be really open about that, and I did not build this brand because I am keto, low sugar, I only drink [Healthy drinks], that is not me.  We are not a brand that you have to be on a certain diet or be a certain weight, eating a certain way or having to stick to strict rules around eating,” Chehata said.

“We are a brand where you can binge like you were a kid [with your] Halloween candy, but you cannot come back from eating 50 grams of sugar in one sitting like when we were kids.  We wanted to make a brand that was fun like when we were kids and something that speaks to that… We worked with an incredible brand studio out of Brooklyn called ‘Gander,’ and I came to them with that in mind. They had a similar vision and were able to align, and the brand process was so fun.”

Make sure you check out the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Mayssa Chehata on Instagram and Twitter.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue With the Founder & CEO of Bubble, Jessica Young

An up and coming entrepreneur, Jessica Young is the Founder and CEO of Bubble, a digital marketplace for clean label food based in New York City. Young is a trained chef who attended the French Culinary Institute (ICC) in New York City. After graduating, she started her career at Michelin, Hu Kitchen, and prepared meal kit sets at a startup company.

Before starting BUBBLE, she was employed at Daily Harvest, where she served as head of product and operations. This is where she became known throughout the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry for her ability to spot food trends. Young recently sat down with ONE37pm’s Phil Toronto to discuss the brand standards, why she started the company and launching their in-house vegan version of Nutella.

“We are the go-to for clean label foods shipping directly from brands across the US. So, we have a really tight set of standards on brands that we promote on the platform. Really being that D to C point for brands, so definitely think of AirBNB of heavy foods,” said Young.  

“We do not allow products to sell with us any refined sugars, dyes, and preservatives. That customers have this interface with standards, and that is a lot of that guesswork of what is really in my healthy foods, and from there, they can shop paleo, vegan, and AIP diets. You don’t have to turn the label [on the product] that is a pretty key element for a product to gain that stamp of approval, and they have to pass our taste test as well.”

Jessica launched BUBBLE in late 2018, after leaving Daily Harvest following the closing of their Series B.

“I saw a white market for what we were doing at Daily Harvest but didn’t have the digital know-how. It also did not make sense for someone with three or more skews to make an online play on their own and the metrics there. Understanding the digital space for the consumer was not enough either, and we wanted to fix that, bring product and people together. In that quality way, which is how BUBBLE was born.” Young explained.

“The product that we launched in house is called Hella, and it is a Vegan Paleo version of Nutella. Classic stable, and it only has three ingredients: Hazelnuts, coconut Sugar, cacao nibs. We went in stock with Hella a couple of weeks ago. We have been out of stock this whole year because our Hazelnuts are sourced from Piedmont, Italy, and that is one of the biggest places that were affected by COVID. So, we could not get our supply out, and picking up a new supplier in the middle of COVID was nearly impossible, but we found a different supplier. 

So, we ran Hella, and we had a few thousand people who were on that waitlist for just that product. It was great to get that momentum going again,” Young said.

Make sure you check out the latest Open Dialogue episode above, and you can also follow Jessica Young on Instagram

Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

Open Dialogue With the Founder & CEO of Recess, Benjamin Witte

Benjamin [Ben] Witte is the founder and CEO of Recess, a New York-based startup that manufactures canned drinks containing CBD. As the brand soared in popularity on social media outlets, it has navigated through uncertain CBD rules and regulations behind closed doors. Witte recently sat down with ONE37pm’s Phil Toronto segment Open Dialogue to discuss his journey to success despite not having paid for any advertising.

Before Witte founded his company Recess, he did not have a background in the beverage industry or the CPG industry; His career started in Silicon Valley.

“I did not come from the beverage and CPG industry. I started my career in Silicon Valley, working at two early-stage tech startups, which were in the marketing and technology space. I always knew I wanted to start my own company, and at my core, I would say I am a creative. Growing up, I was very into art and design. I thought I was going to pursue something in the creative field, but I am 32, and I graduated in 2010. Right when the Silicon Valley startup scene started emerging, and that was the place to be.

It was a great experience because I think I learned how to build a company around that entrepreneurial culture, and after seven years decided to venture out on my own. I ended up moving to New York and started to explore a couple of different ideas. I actually teamed up with two friends [Justin Hauser and David Hess] from a firm called ‘Life Capital,’ and the idea was to incubate various ideas, and invest in companies as well.”

According to Witte, Recess’s idea came about because he started seeing CBD oil featured in natural food stores. He was stressed, anxious, and a wired individual in need of a  reset.

“ I had seen CBD oil bubbling up on the periphery in natural food stores. I have always been a naturally stressed out, anxious, wired person, and I had experimented with various things to help me calm down, reset, and rebalanced through various points of my day. I started using CBD oil, and when I did, I started feeling better. As a result, I felt more productive, more creative, and less stressed out and creative.

“The second insight was around CBD itself, basically like the user experience of putting oil that tastes like grass under the tongue is not a great one. The way to think about CBD as a compound is no more interesting than caffeine or alcohol. It is just a commoditized functional ingredient that delivers a feeling that the opportunity for CBD is viewed as an ingredient in various applications and building a brand on top of it.”

Witte views CBD as the caffeine of the 21st century and, as we all know, some of the biggest caffeine companies in the world include Starbucks, Coca Cola, Monster, and Red Bull. However, if you look at their marketing strategy, they are not focused on the caffeine itself; instead, they are selling how their products make you feel. The feeling that Witte and Recess are focused on is being able to relax after using their products compared to what you are looking for in stimulated beverages such as coffee or alcohol.

When Witte entered the space, he knew no one in the industry. He took the time to research things independently, which allowed him to take a different approach as a business owner.

However, unlike coffee companies like Starbucks and Coca Cola, Recess has been met with various obstacles in terms of rules and regulations.

Legislation around hemp in the US has advanced in the past five years, but a lack of regulatory guidelines for CBD products from bodies like the FDA leaves CBD companies like Recess without a clear roadmap for the future.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 created pilot programs that allowed states to experiment with the growth and marketing of hemp. Then, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, making it an agricultural commodity and defining hemp to include its cannabinoid derivatives and extracts, like CBD.

“The timing was perfect in some ways because we launched one month before this bill called the Hemp Farming act passed, and that shifted the regulations from CBD from the DEA, which controls control substances to the FDA, which controls our food system and substances. Something just does not go from a controlled substance to a 100% approved food additive overnight.

There must be a process to determine how the compound can be used, what are the labeling requirements, dosage requirements. That is what we have been going through, and it is an unprecedented situation in the history of our food system,” said Witte.

You can watch the latest episode of Open Dialogue above and make sure you check out Ben Witte on Instagram and Twitter.

Categories
Culture News

CBD Seltzer, Hard Kombucha and Non-Alcoholic Beer Take 2020 By Storm

From White Claw to Waterloo, the beverages consumers are reaching for in 2020 look a lot different than years past.

Spiked seltzer sales are skyrocketing, hard kombucha is having a moment, CBD-infused creations are capturing consumer curiosity, and zero-proof offerings are starting to infiltrate happy hour.

According to market research firm Nielsen, off-premise sales of hard seltzer are up 183%, to $3.3 billion, through the first 9.5 months of 2020. The category – which was valued at about $1.5 billion in 2019 – now makes up nearly 10% of total U.S. “beer” volume, and Credit Suisse analysts estimate that figure could grow to 25% by 2025.

Meanwhile, nine out of the top ten best-selling sparkling waters – drinks like Spindrift, Bubly and Topo Chico, among others – are also growing, according to market research firm IRI. Sales of those three brands in particular are up 95%, 70% and 42%, respectively.

Athletic Brewing

Though smaller in overall size, Nielsen also reports that sales of hard kombucha and non-alcoholic beer are also on the rise in 2020, up 120% and 40%, respectively.

And sales of CBD-infused drinks distributed outside of the dispensary channel are forecasted to increase 119%, to more than $101 million this year, according to cannabis market research firm BDSA. By 2025, the segment could be worth $1.4 billion, the firm estimates.

The growth of these products is largely being driven by consumers who are reassessing their relationship with alcohol and choosing to moderate consumption while also seeking out “better-for-you” drinks that feature functional ingredients and contain fewer calories, carbohydrates and sugar.

As such, an onslaught of new brands has emerged, a phenomenon that Jeffrey Klineman, the editor-in-chief of leading beverage media outlet BevNET, believes has begun to reshape the overall beverage business.

“We’ve seen an ongoing push of products that are perceived as healthier for you,” he said. “You have all of these new brands, which have started to create categories, and all of these people with very similar ideas. It has led to an upswell of awareness among consumers.”

Athletic Brewing

Dozens of innovative beverages are now proliferating the perimeters of grocery stores across America and being sold directly to consumers online. And while the beverage category welcomes new brands with regularity as trends come and go, the products hitting the market in recent years feel like they’re doing a better job of capturing the current zeitgeist.

Several of the recent non-alcoholic introductions are designed to replace occasions where someone might ordinarily reach for a boozy beverage.

Alcohol-free brews, zero-proof spirits, and canned mocktails are all being marketed to so-called sober-curious consumers, many of them in the Gen Z and Millennial cohorts, who have altered their drinking habits in a bid to become healthier.  

To reach craft beer fans looking to reduce alcohol consumption without sacrificing their social lives, startups like Athletic Brewing and Partake have raised millions of dollars to expand the availability of their near beers.

Saint Ivy

Similarly, an emerging group of alcohol-free spirits makers like Saint Ivy and Ritual are targeting those drinkers who prefer liquor-based drinks but want to avoid the next day hangover that often accompanies an extended happy hour.

“We get a lot of working professionals who want to be more productive and don’t want to continue drinking alcohol if it holds them back,” said Jason Stanley, the founder of Saint Ivy, which makes a virgin Moscow mule and an alcohol-free gin & tonic.

When asked why so many people are beginning to limit their alcohol intake, Athletic Brewing founder Bill Shufelt said he believes greater access to information coupled with a desire to improve fitness and nutrition habits has caused drinkers to cut back.

“The whole world is so performance based these days, and people can very easily correlate and track all of their metrics and information,” he said. “So, if they have variables in their lives that are detracting from everything they care about, they will isolate and eliminate those.”

However, Shufelt understands that not all consumers will opt to eliminate alcohol entirely like he did back in 2013. In fact, roughly half of his own customers still drink booze, they’re just being more mindful about what they buy and how much they consume.

“You can see what’s happening in hard seltzer and hard kombucha,” he said. “Those are basically just better-for-you alcohol delivery mechanisms.”

Boochcraft

Margaret Link, the director of marketing for Boochcraft, a San Diego-based maker of hard kombucha, said she made the switch from beer to hard kombucha after joining the company earlier this year.

“I personally feel better drinking hard kombucha and I see more people catching on to that every day,” she said. “My household is fully converted, and I expect to see more households making the same decision.”

Still, it’s important to remember that more than half of Americans are not drinking much alcohol, if at all. According to research from author Philip Cook, who penned a book on the “costs and benefits of alcohol control,” 30% of Americans abstain from drinking all together while another 30% consume less than one drink per week.

When Shufelt quit drinking to keep up with the demands of his previous career in finance, he said there was a stigma attached to his decision.

“It was sort of a penalty box situation,” he said.

“I think people are scared to say that they just like to have a beer with friends, but they are not necessarily in it for the alcohol,” he added. “That’s why we’re trying to make an easier and more exciting choice for people at bars than there ever has been.”

Recess

Another group of products vying for that abstinence occasion are CBD-infused drinks like Recess and Mad Tasty. Klineman calls them “buzz substitutes.”

CBD products have earned a reputation of being a quasi-panacea for anything ailing the modern-day consumer. Many drinks claim to regulate mood, calm the mind, improve focus, boost immunity, reduce inflammation and aid sleep.

For its part, Recess aims to replace occasions where a consumer might otherwise reach for an alcoholic beverage or a caffeinated drink.

“As many people drink Recess now in the evenings as a substitute for alcohol, as do those who drink it in the afternoon as a substitute for their two-o’clock coffee,” said founder Ben Witte.

Witte views CBD, short for cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, as the base ingredient in an emerging set of products that are formulated to help optimize a person’s mental state.

“There’s a big new category forming that includes offerings which are intended to engage with your mind in some way,” he said. “Nootropics are an example of that. Adaptogens are an example of that. Magnesium is an example of that.”  

Witte’s wager is that a beverage containing CBD and other functional ingredients will become a “daily habit” for many consumers – like coffee or alcohol — which in turn will enable him to build a brand that extends beyond drinks. 

He also believes a product like Recess can help beer distributors offset future alcohol sales declines, and that major chain retailers will soon be building dedicated “relaxation” sections in their stores once the Food and Drug Administration clarifies its rules around ingestible CBD products.

Currently, CBD cannot technically be included in food and beverage products, advertised as a dietary supplement, or marketed and sold as a drug.

Nevertheless, Witte and others have plowed ahead, asserting that the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill — which removed hemp (cannabis sativa plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC) from the legal definition of marijuana – gives them the right to infuse their drinks with CBD and sell them in markets like Colorado that allow hemp to be used as a food additive.

They’re betting that the FDA will eventually form guidelines and regulate the market, which will open up massive retail opportunities at chain stores Walmart, 7-Eleven, CVS and Target, among others.

Mad Tasty

Another one of those bettors is Grammy winning singer-songwriter and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, who last year launched his own line of CBD-infused drinks called Mad Tasty.

Tedder began using CBD at the end of 2017 after fighting a severe case of anxiety that caused him to pull the plug on a new album and cancel a global tour.

“I threw millions of dollars down the drain because I was losing my mind, I was not sleeping, I was stressed out and I ended up on Xanax,” he said.

After getting on CBD and getting off Xanax in 2018, Tedder said he began to wonder if there was a “more obvious and delicious way” to get the compound into his system while also hydrating.

Over the next several months, Tedder got to work developing a brand, partnering with an emulsion technology company and soliciting investment from private equity fund First Beverage Group.

The result was a portfolio consisting of three flavors – Watermelon Kiwi, Unicorn Tears and Grapefruit – that each contain 20mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract.

In addition to online sales, which Mad Tasty said have quadrupled during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBD drinks are currently distributed in Colorado, Texas, Los Angeles, Nashville and soon Chicago.

But while non-alcoholic beers and hard kombuchas have identified their niche and built a core set of purchasers, Klineman believes CBD beverage manufacturers still need to articulate a “primary use case.”

“The standardization and baseline of dosage isn’t there yet, and so it is really hard to get a consistent signal on what these products do and when,” he said.

Boochcraft / Athletic Brewing / Mad Tasty

Consumption of all these emerging products is on the rise and a transformation of the beverage sector is underway. How big these emerging sectors get will ultimately depend on the ability for companies to expand distribution, broaden awareness and cultivate consumer audiences.