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When Comfort and Innovation Collide featuring Tanu Grewal, ALEN Group

Gooder Podcast featuring Tanu Grewal

“You have to be so progressive to be able to go against the norm.” – Tanu Grewal

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Tanu Grewal, the Vice President of Marketing, Innovation, and E-commerce for AIEn, USA. We discuss how and why a company that has traditionally targeted a conventional consumer decided to tackle green cleaning by developing the new Art of Green brand. We also learn how the brand’s innovation and marketing will target some trial and conversion issues of many of the most hesitant conventional consumers. Along the way, we learn the story of a feisty and inquisitive leader who brings a contrarian view of leadership, innovation, and life to every opportunity and conversation.

In this episode we learn:

– A little background about the newest green cleaning brand called Art of Green.
– About assumptions and missed opportunities that the green cleaning industry
should be tapping into related to consumer adoption.
– How the years of working in a parallel industry allows her to approach the
category and production innovation in a new way.
– Why aroma is a big driver of category success.
– How to extend the life of your job title beyond the magic 18-month timeframe.

Gooder Podcast

When Comfort and Innovation Collide featuring Tanu Grewal, ALEN Group

About Tanu Grewal:

Tanu is a global brand builder and strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience working in mature and emerging markets like US, EMEA, and India with companies in the CPG, durables, luxury, and hospitality industries. She is passionate about using brand purpose to help drive innovation and marketing that creates real value and emotional engagement with consumers.

Reporting to the CEO, Tanu is currently the Vice President of Marketing & Innovation at AlEn USA, a growth stage division of the global ALEN Group. One of her top achievements in this role has been the launch of a natural, green cleaning brand called ‘Art of Green’ that just won the prestigious Product of the Year award. Prior to this, Tanu has worked on iconic brands like Kohler, Maytag, and Whirlpool where she elevated commodity categories to lifestyle brands through a combination of award-winning
product design, disruptive innovation, and experiential marketing.

Starting her career with Whirlpool North America, Tanu held a variety of marketing and product development positions over 8 years including an ex-pat stint in Italy. Tanu holds an MBA degree from Rice University in Houston.

Outside of work, Tanu is passionate about creating communities that enable people to thrive. Currently, she serves on the International Student Advisory Board at Rice University and as a board member for the South Asian Women’s Professional Network.

As a public speaker, Tanu’s topics include launching and scaling a challenger brand and standing out in a crowded market through creative marketing. As an Indian woman, living in the US and working for a Mexican company (AlEn), she also speaks on navigating multicultural work and market landscapes. Tanu has been interviewed by Forbes and delivered the keynote address for Coke FEMSA’s Annual D&I conference in
Mexico City, Women’s Masters Network’s Annual Meetup 2020 and the Houston AMA’s Quarterly Luncheon.

An avid traveler and consummate foodie, Tanu lives in Houston with her husband and son.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tanugrewal/
Website: http://www.alenusa.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tanu_Grewal
Personal Website: http://tanugrewal.com/

Books Mentioned:

Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra – From her dual-continent twenty-year-long career as an actor and producer to her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, from losing her beloved father to cancer to marrying Nick Jonas, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s story will inspire a generation around the world to gather their courage, embrace their ambition, and commit to the hard work of following their dreams.

Show Resources:

The Art of Green –  product line offers consumers an affordable and high-performing natural cleaning alternative that is priced for everyday use.

Kohler Co. – founded in 1873 by John Michael Kohler, is an American manufacturing company based in Kohler, Wisconsin. Kohler is best known for its plumbing products, but the company also manufactures furniture, cabinetry, tile, engines, and generators.

The Maytag Corporation –  is an American home and commercial appliance brand owned by Whirlpool Corporation after the April 2006 acquisition of Maytag.

The Whirlpool Corporation–  is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of home appliances, headquartered in Benton Charter Township, Michigan, United States.

South Asian Women’s Professional Network (SAWPN) – SAWPN was created to bring together and engage women across various industries, nationally. Our goal is to build a strong networking base to support, mentor, and celebrate successful, strong, and vibrant women across the country and within our communities.

HINT – an American beverage company based in San Francisco, California, as an alternative to soda and sugar beverages. It was started by former AOL employee Kara Goldin.

Amazon.com, Inc. – an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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The WEInvested Podcast: Food, Beverage, Wellness, and Fitness Brand Development ft Diana Fry‪c‬

A sustainability thought-leader, marketing and networking tour-de-force, Diana is resourceful, insight-driven, and loaded with can-do energy. 15+ Years into her journey, she deeply understands the importance of gaining team alignment, distilling marketing research into actionable insights, and brand-driven copywriting to build and grow brands.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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When Blue Ocean, the Joy of Food and Food Waste Collide featuring Perteet Spencer, AYO Foods

Gooder Podcast Featuring Perteet Spencer

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Perteet Spencer, the co-founder of AYO Foods. Using her spidy SPINS senses and her desire to create a brand that celebrates the ingredients, flavors, and culture of the West African diaspora, Perteet takes us on her journey of transition and joy. Along the way we learn how her Liberian upbringing and heritage inspires her new venture and how this cultural view naturally embraces a more inclusive food production system.

In this episode we learn:

  • A little background about her brand AYO Foods.
  • Why Perteet thinks North American consumers are ready for African flavors, textures, and ingredients.
  • What food trends shape AYO Foods innovation.
  • Why she thinks Chicago has become THE place to watch for food innovation.
  • How to use data as an indicator, and not simply validation, to uncover new innovation platforms and opportunities.
  • Pereet’s thoughts on how to shrink pre-production food waste through product and manufacturing innovation.
Gooder Podcast

When Blue Ocean, the Joy of Food and Food Waste Collide featuring Perteet Spencer, AYO Foods

About Pereet Spencer:

Perteet is thrilled to be able to bring all of her passions into her role as co-founder of AYO Foods. Seeking to build a more inclusive food system that reflected her experience growing up in a Liberian family, Perteet launched AYO with her husband Fred last summer with the vision of creating a platform brand that celebrated the ingredients, flavors, and culture of the West African diaspora.  

Prior launching AYO, Perteet held brand, sales, and consulting leadership roles at LEGO, General Mills, and SPINS.   

When she’s not actively working on AYO, you can usually find Perteet spending time in the kitchen with her two girls or advancing the issues of food equity through her involvement in the Food Recovery Network, a non-profit focused on eliminating food insecurity through food waste recovery.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/perteet-spencer-18b3146/ 

Email: perteet@ayo-foods.com

Website: https://ayo-foods.com/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pmcspence/?hl=en 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/perteets?lang=en 

Show Resources:

Moonboi Project – In Kpelle, “Moonboi” means prosperity. At AYO Foods, we believe that we have a personal responsibility to enrich the communities that inspired our products. 

General Mills, Inc. – is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods sold through retail stores. It is headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.

SPINS – transforms trillions of retailer data into performance solutions to accelerate growth, and deepen loyalty with shoppers.

Food Recovery Network – a nonprofit focused on eliminating food insecurity through food waste recovery.

Whole Foods Market, Inc. – is an American multinational supermarket chain headquartered in Austin, Texas, which sells products free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. A USDA Certified Organic grocer in the United States, the chain is popularly known for its organic selections.

Girl Power Africa – an organization that was founded a few years back, really in service of women who were victims of civil war and are trying to get back on their feet in Liberia. 

Imperfect Foods – Shop affordable groceries and exclusive items that went from unwanted to wish for. Reducing food and retail product waste, one household at a time.

PepsiCo – is an American multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation headquartered in Harrison, New York, in the hamlet of Purchase. PepsiCo has interests in the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of grain-based snack foods, beverages, and other products.

Betty Crocker – is a brand and fictional character used in advertising campaigns for food and recipes. The character was originally created by the Washburn-Crosby Company in 1921 following a contest in the Saturday Evening Post.

Lego – is a Danish toy production company based in Billund. It is best known for the manufacture of Lego-brand toys, consisting mostly of interlocking plastic bricks. The Lego Group has also built several amusement parks around the world, each known as Legoland, and operates numerous retail stores.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Transitioning from Sundance to the Food and Beverage Industry featuring Emel Shaikh, Sundance Institute

Gooder Podcast Featuring Emel Shaikh

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Emel Shaikh, a PR and communications strategist with more than 10 years of experience leading publicity efforts, both in-house at the renowned Sundance Institute and as well as boutique agencies across multiple disciplines. Join us as we discuss why growing up as an immigrant and a woman of color influenced Emel’s interest in amplifying the untold stories of fellow BIPOC and other minority groups.

In this episode we learn:

  • How the pandemic has affected PR, what brands are doing differently that they weren’t doing before and how they are planning for the change. 
  • About what it means to be an outsider, especially within PR and strategic brand communication and how that “outsider” status becomes a super power.
  • Why she’s not a fan of cancel culture and explains how she thinks it doesn’t hold people accountable for their behaviors.
  • What made Emel decide to start her own firm on her own and work with minority owned brands rather than bigger ones and the challenges that these brands are facing.
  • Which women leaders she has her eyes on that she’d like to elevate or want people to see.
Gooder Podcast

Transitioning from Sundance to the Food and Beverage Industry featuring Emel Shaikh, Sundance Institute

About Emel Shaikh:

Prior to starting her freelance journey, Emel worked in various PR roles, developing campaigns for Better-for-You food and beverage, wellness and lifestyle startups and CPG brands. The experience gave her a firsthand look into what it takes to launch and grow an innovative product and ignited a passion for mission driven brands. Emel did four years in-house, where she led the charge on publicity efforts around the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah, built awareness of Sundance NEXT FEST, a new film and music festival in Los Angeles to reach a new demographic, and introduce tastemakers to the Sundance brand and pitched stories surrounding the institute’s year round artists support labs and programs.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emelshaikh/ 

Website: http://www.sundance.org/ 

Personal website: http://littlecakeshop.tumblr.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emelshaikh/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emelshaikh 

Show Resources:

Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization founded by Robert Redford committed to the growth of independent artists. The institute is driven by its programs that discover and support independent filmmakers, theatre artists and composers from all over the world. 

BIPAC is a bi-partisan, membership-supported, mission-driven, organization working to improve the political climate in America for the business community and help employers and employees play a more active role in public policy and the political process.

Fast-moving consumer goods, also known as consumer packaged goods, are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low cost. 

Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio-chat social networking app launched in April 2020 by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth of Alpha Exploration Co. In May 2020, it was valued at nearly $100 million. On January 21, 2021, the valuation reached $1 billion. 

Tik Tok, known in China as Douyin, is a video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The social media platform is used to make a variety of short-form videos, from genres like dance, comedy, and education, that have a duration from fifteen seconds to one minute.

One Stripe Chai: Hand-crafted chai that actually tastes like chai. Black tea brewed with organic spices and made with love in Portland.

Wayne Enterprises, Inc., also known as WayneCorp, is a fictional company appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly in association with the superhero Batman. 

Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Driving a Mission in Plant Based Meat Products featuring Christie Lagally, Rebellyous Foods

Gooder Podcast featuring Christie Lagally

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Christie Lagally, the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods, a food production technology company working to make plant based meat price competitive with traditional chicken products. 

In this episode we discuss how Christie’s development of “Meatless Mondays” while working as a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry at Boeing, helped her understand the barriers to plant based meat in offices and institutions. Join us as we discuss how Christie has parlayed this information into building her own company to bypass those barriers by catapulting meat alternative production toward price parity and convenience with animal-based meat.

In this episode we learn:

  • The history of Christie’s brand Rebellyous, how it was started, and reasons for its existence. 
  • How Christie is using the pricing method to make her products accessible to everyone and why that’s important.
  • How Covid impacted their company, the opportunities that came up, and how it affected their market, and how they responded. 
  • The importance of why brand owners should understand the purpose of their brand’s existence before they focus on the income. 
  • About the process of enrolling investors and partners.
  • Christie’s vision she has for Rebellyous and what people should expect in the near future.
Gooder Podcast

Driving a Mission in Plant Based Meat Products featuring Christie Lagally, Rebellyous Foods

About Christie Legally:

Christie is the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods and a mechanical engineer who holds multiple patents in manufacturing technology. She spent much of her career in the aerospace industry working at Boeing. Previously Christie served as senior scientist for the Good Food Institute and covering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean meat. 

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christie-lagally-875b9a4/

Email: info@rebellyous.com

Website: https://rebellyous.com/about-rebellyous-foods/christie-lagally-founder-ceo/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lagallyc?lang=en 

Blog: http://christielagally.wordpress.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BqLQI4MjHif/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_medium=loading 

Show Resources:

The Good Food Institute is an international 501 nonprofit that promotes plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs as well as cultivated meat.

Rebellyous Foods is a food manufacturing technology and production company defined solely to catapult meat alternative production toward price parity with animal-based meat.

Humane Society is a movement leader when it comes to farm animal advocacy in The United States.

Food Equality Initiative in Kansas City Improves health and end hunger in individuals diagnosed with food allergies and celiac disease through access, education, and advocacy.

Seattle Food Tech​​ is a food manufacturing technology and production company on a mission to “catapult meat alternative production toward price parity with animal-based meat.”

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Leaders, Brands and the Hawaiian Value of Kuleana featuring Danielle Laubenstein, Godiva Chocolatier

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Danielle Laubenstein, The Director of Global Marketing for Mauna Loa. Danielle is overseeing the future and legacy of the company’s direction into becoming Hawaii’s wellness brand. She believes product development and holistic marketing looks at beauty as a combination of qualities of paradise, creating brand culture and products that empower the mind, nourishes the body, spirit, and evokes emotional health. Join us as we take a deep dive into the health and wellness industry and explore how brands should strive to serve their customers with healthy products.   

“If you’re Hawaii brand, then you’re a brand from Hawaii.” -Danielle Laubenstein

In this episode we learn:

  • About creating a brand community and how to make it be authentic.
  • The difference between a Hawaiian brand and a Hawaii brand or Hawaii owned brand.
  • How Mauna Loa is leading the naturals industry in staying true to its purpose of caring for everyone’s needs.
  • The concept of giving back and social responsibility or reciprocal responsibilities, where that comes from, and how it affects Danielle’s leadership style. 
  • About how Danielle is mentoring women, especially women of color, and why it’s important for her.
  • What the word Kuleana means and the importance it has within the Hawaiian culture.
Gooder Podcast

Leaders, Brands and the Hawaiian Value of Kuleana featuring Danielle Laubenstein, Godiva Chocolatier

About Danielle Laubenstein:

Danielle has worked in CPG Health and Wellness, as well as in the global travel luxury confectionery space for over a decade for companies such as Chocolove, Godiva and DFS. 

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniellelaubenstein/

Websitehttps://www.maunaloa.com/ 

Show Resources:

Godiva Chocolatier is a Turkish-owned chocolate maker that is jointly owned by Turkish conglomerate Yıldız Holding and MBK Partners. Founded in 1926, it was purchased by the Turkish Yıldız Holding in November 2007; then MBK Partners bought a stake in 2019. 

Chocolove is a chocolate manufacturer with headquarters and a manufacturing facility in Boulder, Colorado, founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Timothy Moley. The company produces all-natural and organic chocolate bars. Chocolove imports chocolate and cocoa butter from Belgium to produce its chocolate.

DFS Group is part of the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), and a pioneer in luxury travel retail.

Hawaiian Host is the original chocolate-covered macadamia. Hawaiian Host is also the largest manufacturer of chocolate-covered macadamias in the world, as millions of boxes of our treats are shared all over the globe.

The Hershey Company, commonly known as Hershey’s, is an American multinational company and one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world.

Project Potluck is a professional community founded by People of Color with a singular mission: to help people of color build successful companies and careers.

Lei Day is a state-wide celebration in Hawaii. The celebration begins in the morning of May first every year and continues into the next day. Lei day was established as a holiday in 1929. Each Hawaiian island has a different type of lei for its people to wear in the celebration.

Siete is a Mexican-American food brand, rooted in family that makes delicious grain-free products.

Books Mentioned:

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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You Can’t Do Good In The World By Yourself featuring RaeJean Wilson, GloryBee

Gooder Podcast with RaeJean Wilson

In this episode I had the privilege of chatting with RaeJean Wilson, Director of HR/Communications of GloryBee – a supplier of natural and organic ingredients to manufacturers, bakeries and consumers for decades. We discuss the how the naturals industry has changed (and stayed the same) since the company’s founding in the 1970’s as well as how the brand has evolved from a simple expression of love to one of stewardship for the greater good. Along the way we discuss the efforts GloryBee is making to ensure the future of honeybees, and to make sure the brand continues to stand as a leader and information source for farming practices as they relate to pollination, general food production and the overall health of our planet.

“It isn’t about one business or one company; it’s about all of us doing things together to make this world better.” – RaeJean Wilson

In this episode we learn:

  • The challenges and joys of leading a brand through the evolving naturals industry.
  • How farming practices have evolved and how the introduction of food science has affected the honey and sweetner industry.
  • How RaeJean and her family have managed transitional leadership change.
  • Why food is considered a love language.
  • How bee propagation is instrumental in the success of an industry that is leaning more and more heavily into plant-based diets and products.
  • Why leadership doesn’t need to be heavy-handed to be effective.
Gooder Podcast

You Can’t Do Good In The World By Yourself featuring RaeJean Wilson, GloryBee

About RaeJean Wilson:

RaeJean Wilson is the daughter of GloryBee Founders Dick and Pat Turanski. RaeJean has served in the family business in several capacities for 25+  years. After earning a BA in Public Health at the University of Oregon, her focus was on sales and building GloryBee’s customer base. RaeJean now serves as GloryBee’s Director of HR and Communications, overseeing marketing, human resources, safety, sustainability, and community outreach.

RaeJean is married with two adult sons and a daughter. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, wine, and travel.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raejean-wilson-9154221ab/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GloryBeeFoods

Instagram: https://instagram.com/glorybeefoods/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GloryBeeFoods/

Show Resources:

GloryBee – With over 45 years of experience in the natural foods industry, we have been supplying natural and organic ingredients to Pacific Northwest natural food manufacturers, bakeries, and shops for decades. It’s likely that you’ve enjoyed our ingredients in your favorite natural and organic prepared foods and restaurant meals! You may even have a jar of our honey, coconut oil or natural sweetener in your pantry at home.

SAVE the BEE: Led by GloryBee, the SAVE the BEE Initiative is a partnership of researchers, beekeepers, businesses and consumers committed to protecting honey bees.

B-Corp – Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Seattle Pacific University: is a premier Christian university that equips people to engage the culture and change the world.

The University of Oregon: is a public flagship research university in Eugene, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1876, the institution’s 295-acre campus is along the Willamette River.

Franz Bakery: is a source for the highest quality breads, bagels, buns, English muffins, cookies and more.

Eugene Mission: We are not a homeless shelter in the traditional sense. While we certainly provide our guests with food and shelter – and do so with an abundance of God’s love.

Oakshire Brewing: is a community-inspired, small-batch brewing company founded in 2006. We are locally owned, employ 24 people, and produce a wide variety of fresh, quality beers through our three distinct brewing programs.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Leverage Your Network to Maximize Business Opportunities featuring Ashley Hartman, Bluestein Ventures

Finding an investment partner, at any time, is no easy task. It’s not unlike soccer or football. The greater the number of shots on goal, the more likely to score a goal. But for young entrepreneurial brands, many entering business ownership for the first time, a capital raise can be a complicated and grueling task that can make or break a business owner’s dreams.

In this episode, I had the privilege of chatting with Ashley Hartman, Senior Principal at Bluestein Ventures, a family-backed venture capital fund that invests in the future of food. Ready to provide insights into a new way of seeing the capital raise. Ashely shares how investment and venture capital firms have taken the opportunity of the 2020 events to re-evaluate how, where, and with who they do business with. She shares how this year has become an opportunity to get better and stronger, meeting not only business but personal goals. Along the way we learn the importance of being a good community partner and how investing beyond a financial commitment has become a cornerstone in her firms’ success.

“People need to be utilizing their network a little bit more and asking a little bit more.” – Ashley Hartman

In this episode we learn:

  • The reason why Ashley and Bluestein Venture focuses on helping brands in Seed to Series A stage funding.
  • The ways investment firms are finding and supporting brands during this time.
  • The criteria and evaluation tools that Bluestein uses when courting brand opportunities.
  • The key differences in communicating with serial entrepreneur’s vs the home-grown “Hatchery” style entrepreneur.
  • About diversity initiatives in business and how Bluestein is able to outreach to those communities that traditionally haven’t had accessibility to capital investment.
  • Where Ashley derives her energy to keep on pushing hard to meet her goals and those of Bluestein’s brands.
Gooder Podcast

Leverage Your Network to Maximize Business Opportunities featuring Ashley Hartman, Bluestein Ventures

About Ashley Hartman:

Ashley is Senior Principal at Bluestein Ventures, a family-backed venture capital fund that invests in the future of food. Bluestein looks for game-changing, early-stage ventures across the food industry that redefine how consumers achieve their health and wellness. Our investments span the entire value chain – both B2C and B2B – with a focus on four areas: high-growth consumer brands, proprietary foodtech, next-gen commerce, and value-add digital technology. At Bluestein, we’re active investors, going beyond capital to help its portfolio companies develop, iterate, and implement their go-to-market strategy to achieve product-market fit and set the foundation for scale.

Ashley is involved in all areas of Bluestein, including screening, due diligence, portfolio company support, as well as firm development and strategy. She has extensive experience leading growth strategy and establishing scalable infrastructure necessary to build sustainable ventures, honing these skills throughout her time running and scaling her family’s business, working on new ventures at Coinstar, and her experience in financial consulting. Active in the Chicago food community, Ashley serves on the Selection Committee and Associate’s Board of the Good Food Accelerator and is a mentor at Food Foundry and The Hatchery. Ashley received an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School and a BA in Political Economy, summa cum laude, from Williams College.

Outside of Bluestein, you’ll find Ashley on her yoga mat, exploring Chicago on foot, hiking up a storm when she can escape to the mountains, or at a contemporary art museum. A health & wellness nut, she’s been vegan for nearly eight years, but doesn’t preach!

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyhartman2/

Email: ashley@bluesteinventures.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/a_hartman1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleyhartmanrobin/

Show Resources:

Bluestein Ventures – We invest in the future of food. We’re looking for game-chaigne, early-stage ventures across the food industry that redefine how consumers achieve their health and wellness. Our investments span the entire value chain – both B2C and B2B – with a focus on four areas.

Chicago Food Community – A united community effort working to bring food, dignity and hope to Cook County neighbors.  They act as the hub for a network of more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs which provide food where it’s most needed.

Good Food Accelerator – The Good Food Accelerator gets emerging Good Food CPG brands ready for prime time, giving them the skills to scale up

Food Foundry – A Chicago-based growth accelerator program by Relish Works built in partnership with Gordon Food Service and 1871. It supports, connects, and propels innovative startups who are reimagining the food industry.

The Hatchery – A non-profit and beverage incubator dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs build and grow successful businesses.

Yerbae – A line of zero calorie sparkling waters that are enhanced with a blend of yerba mate, white tea extract, and guarana seed extract.

Coinstar – An American company operating coin-cashing machines

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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When and Where are the Most Powerful Times to Use Consumer Insights

Our experience with clients has shown us that when it comes to consumer data, there are two camps. Some organizations can’t make the simplest decision without tons of research to back it up; some disregard research entirely and go with gut instinct.

Of course, the reality is that Beloved & Dominant naturals brands make the best decisions with the right combination of data and “feels.” Research without analysis is just a bunch of statistics. And decisions without data are just guesses.

To use research properly—whether it’s a Usage & Attitude studytrend research, syndicated retail sales data (SPINS), or focus groups—you need to overlay the findings with your brand’s mission and vision. Analyze the data through your brand lens—that’s where you’ll find actionable, “decisionable” insight to guide everything from channel expansion to product development to messaging.

When to Lean into Consumer Data

One of the greatest decision-making vulnerabilities in our naturals category is our collective tendency to assume that our consumers are just like us. Especially in brands led by a creative founder who innovated a special product and grew a business around it, leadership believes that the brand’s tribe consists of like-minded and like-lived fans. Practically speaking, consumer insight can be a daily reality check against our biases.

Brands often don’t seek insight without a pain point. When one of these challenges starts to emerge or there’s a pattern, you should seek it out:

  • You’re not getting the velocity you predicted, want, or used to have.
  • You’re losing ground to competitors that are more trend aware and innovative.
  • Retail partners are less enthusiastic about your offering and are shelving your products less prominently.
  • Store brands are eroding your traction.
  • You’re seeking to widen your audience beyond the consumers you currently serve.

Major disruptions like the current pandemic are also ideal times to procure consumer insight. For example, The Hartman Group is publishing research on how Covid-19 is affecting grocery shopping habits.

What Data Can Tell You—and Can’t

Generally, we don’t conduct focus groups with our clients. There’s a time and place for them, but they’re not relevant for developing the big brand strategy that we work on. Focus groups and other primary consumer research yield a small sample size of opinions that can help you make tactical moves like line extension or packaging design messaging hierarchy:

  • the general look and feel (e.g., I like that photo, logotype, colorway)
  • I would tell my friends about this product
  • I may prefer vanilla vs. chocolate
  • the benefits claims would influence my decision to buy the product

Consumer feedback and syndicated data can’t offer wisdom about how people connect with your brand on a deeper level:

  • how your brand fits into their lives in a cultural context
  • how they behave when your product is one of many in a consideration set
  • where they would expect to see your brand
  • what is the best sequence for your innovation pipeline and channel strategy

When you’re developing a brand strategy, it’s essential to bring intuition and expertise to shopper research; often, that takes outside consultation. You can ask consumers all the questions you want, but they can’t do the critical thinking for you.

How to Manage Data

If you’re a data-driven organization, your opportunity is not to gather more, but to organize and rationalize what you have so it’s useful. Often, brand teams have so much information that they’re paralyzed. To better manage existing consumer research:

Get it organized. Take inventory of the consumer data you have, and in what format it exists. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business and see if your IT team can build a dashboard that aggregates multiple reports.

Keep it current. As we like to say, data is like in-laws and fish—really good fresh, not so much after a week. Consumer research generally has a 12-month shelf life before it becomes outdated. If you’re relying on three-year-old data to make decisions, you’re immediately behind the curve.

Spread it around. Your sales team has data, your marketing team has data, your retail partners have data. Share it across the organization and take key decisions out of business silos.

Consumer Data Plus Brand Insight

Beloved & Dominant naturals brands combine information with insight to make the right decisions. It takes overlaying the brand mission and vision to create analysis in order to inform those “gut” decisions. Without the strategy, the understanding of the consumers, the point of view—you can’t prioritize options and make decisions.

Research alone is just a set of numbers; its power emerges when you gain clusters of nuance within the data that takes a strategist and marketing team to translate and respond to. Ignoring data would be foolish—but to know what to do with it, that’s the magic.

Think of those “hidden picture” games you had as a kid, where you’d have to lay a sheet of red acetate over the page to see the full image. Analysis—ideally from an outside advisor with tons of expertise and zero bias—is the red acetate that reveals your brand’s path. If you are ready for that external eye – or maybe just thinking about it – drop us a line and let’s talk.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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Marketing Expedition Podcast

Diana Fryc is a marketing industry executive with 20 years advising brands from Fortune 500 to start-ups on how to address their toughest growth challenges. As a partner and CMO of a creative branding firm, Retail Voodoo, Diana uses her expertise in brand development, innovation, consumer markets, marketing, and packaging systems to help clients generate meaningful and sustainable growth. Tireless and determined, Diana is obsessed with the world of food, beverage, and wellness brands and has been building long-standing client relationships because people trust her to put the right combination of people and business assets together to move mountains. She founded and hosts The Gooder Podcast where she interviews the powerhouse women leading on every level in food, beverage, and wellness. Diana lives and works in Seattle, and in her spare time enjoys running, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:00 – 00:20 Welcome to The Marketing Expedition Podcast
  • 00:20 – 01:55 Introducing Diana Fryc
  • 01:55 – 03:55 History of Retail Voodoo
  • 03:55 – 06:12 Retail Voodoo Areas of Expertise – Foundation Brand Building
  • 06:12 – 08:24 Clients They Attract- Risk Takers
  • 08:24 – 11:02 Branding from the Inside Out: REI Example
  • 11:02 – 16:44 How did Diana get where she is now
  • 16:44 – 21:48 Helping consumer packaged goods through COVID-19
  • 21:48 – 23:39 Marketing strategies for Retail Voodoo
  • 23:39 – 25:45 Natural Products Expo Event and Outdoor Retailer Show
  • 25:45 – 32:11 Favorite foods and companies they have worked with
  • 32:11 – 35:22 Overview of certified B-Corp
  • 35:22 – 38:52 Diana’s mentors
  • 38:52 – 42:33 Recommended books and podcasts
  • 42:33 – 44:15 Diana’s social contacts: LinkedIn, and Email
  • 44:15 – 45:48 Where she sees herself in 5 years
  • 45:48 – 47:21 Last Words: Find a goal and be Patient
  • 47:21 – 47:54 Closing and find more at Peppershock.com
  • 47:54 – 48:23 Visit Themarketingexpedition.com to find more

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Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana