In this episode I had the privilege of chatting with Denise Woodard, CEO and Founder of Partake Foods: a brand of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies.
Denise takes us on a journey of discovery as she tells us the story of tackling her daughters’ dietary restrictions while meeting her sweet tooth “demands”. With a little tough love from her daughter’s childcare provider “Your daughters’ diet is boring.”- Denise embarked on a journey of discovery and perseverance learning to bake, develop product, start-up and run a company and developing it into a beloved industry darling. Along the way we hear about the 86 investment rejections, road trips selling product out of her car, to becoming the first black woman to raise a million dollars in seed capital for a packaged food brand.
In this episode we learn:
The genesis and inspiration of Partake.
What is driving the demand for allergen-free foods.
How Denise plans to support the growing needs of the allergen-free consumer.
How food and beverage brands can improve their listening of consumer needs – beyond product development.
How Denise is supporting other BIOPIC women in the industry.
The ways Denise stayed inspired during the early days of fundraising and growing Partake.
The advice that Denise gives new food and beverage entrepreneurs.
“Successful people are just regular people who want to solve a problem and are very passionate about it.” – Denise Woodard
About Denise Woodard:
Denise Woodard is the Founder/CEO of Partake, a line of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Since launching in July 2017, Partakes first product – delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly cookies – can be found in over 2,500 retailers including Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods Market. The company has been featured by People, Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur and, in June 2019 closed a seed round of funding led by JAY-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners.
Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer-packaged-goods at various Fortune 100 companies. Most recently, she held the title of Director, National Sales in Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands division. Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an MBA from Arizona State University. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, Jeremy, and their 5-year-old daughter, Vivienne.
Guests Social Media Links:
Parktake: Our products give delicious peace of mind to those with dietary restrictions… and “how is this so good?” enjoyment to everyone else.
Marcy Venture Partners: Co-Founded by Shawn Carter (JAY-Z), Jay Brown and Larry Marcus. The firm has a passion for building game-changing consumer businesses and mass-market brands that resonate with culture across products and services, media and technology. We combine unique access, instincts, deep networks, operating and venture capital expertise to be long term partners in growth.
Whole Foods Market : 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.
Honest Tea: A bottled organic tea company based in Bethesda, Maryland. It was founded in 1998 by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company. The name is a pun on the word “honesty”.
Food Equality Initiative: Improving the health and ending hunger in individuals diagnosed with food allergies and celiac disease through access, education and advocacy.
Frito-Lay: An American subsidiary of PepsiCo that manufactures, markets, and sells corn chips, potato ships and other snack foods.
Stacy’s Rise Project: Created to help bridge the funding gap for female founders, Stacy’s Rise Project™ has been connecting and empowering women business owners for years.
Episode Sponsor – Retail Voodoo:
A brand development firm that builds, grows and evolves brands in the food, beverage, wellness, and fitness industry. If your brand is in need of positioning, package design, or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com
2:01 Denise gives a brief overview of what Partake Foods is all about
3:03 Denise share a little bit of her journey and some of her big moments after she left Coca Cola
4:13 Denise talks about why she choose baked goods and not other shelf stable product
5:17 Denise shares how her nanny was instrumental and how she helped to the development and growth of her company
6:23 Denise gives the reasons why she decided to start her company from scratch
7:34 Denise talks about what she does for her to capture the attention of very high profile investors to come and invest with her
9:31 Denise also shares some of operational struggles that she goes through while growing her company
11:23 Denise shares some tips on what she did to get her initial seed investment even after going through 86 rejections
13:03 Denise talks about how she is the first black woman to have raised a million dollars for a package food company
14:25 Denise talks about how they connected with Emily Brown for the first time
15:14 Denise discuss where the demand for allergen free foods is coming from, why it has increased and if it is a global thing
17:49 Denise speaks of what other CPG companies are not doing in terms of their production that is not considerate of the consumer
19:20 Denise talks about her vision for the company in the next couple of years so as to grow her business
20:46 Denise also shares the advice that she always finds herself sharing with young entrepreneurs who approach her for advice
24:32 Denise talks about moments or points where young entrepreneurs get stuck or what hinders them from achieving their mission
25:44 Denise encourages people to keep pushing harder and keep grinding and one day they will get the kind of results that they want
27:00 Denise talks about the trends that are in her industry and why she is excited about them
28:34 Denise talks about the incubators and why she thinks that they are important
30:07 Denise also shares some of the things that she’s doing nowadays to keep herself sane especially in the lockdown period
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