Ep. 210: They Borrowed $10,000 And Built Two Pioneering Brands. How The Founders of Annie Chun’s & gimMe Snacks Did It.

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Once bitten, the entrepreneurial bug is hard to shake. That was the case for Annie Chun and Steve Broad, who after together building one of the most successful ethnic food brands in America, set their sights on disrupting the snack category.

As the co-founders of Annie Chun’s, a brand of Asian-inspired noodle bowls, soup bowls, sauces and snacks, Chun and Broad grew sales to $15 million annually before selling the company in 2009 to South Korea-based CJ Foods. Three years later, they saw an opportunity to adapt a traditional Korean snack for an American audience and launched gimMe, a brand of dried organic seaweed snacks. Committed to sourcing sustainably grown organic seaweed, gimMe helped pioneer a new segment of Asian-centric better-for-you brands in the snack aisle and has established itself as the leading company in the burgeoning space.

In an interview included in this episode, Chun and Broad spoke about the origins of Annie Chun’s and its evolution from selling at farmer’s market to gaining national distribution at grocery stores. They also discussed how they have incorporated lessons from their past experience into gimMe and why they continually evaluate the brand’s positioning.

Show notes:

0:49: Annie Chun & Steve Broad, Co-Founders, Annie Chun’s/gimMe Snacks -- In a call with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif, Chun and Broad chronicled the development of Annie Chun’s from concept to brand, how a focus on familiar flavors supported the products on shelf and why the brand benefited from a confluence of consumer demand for natural and specialty food. They also explained why many of the company’s early decisions were “driven by survival,” their approach to innovation and evolution of the brand’s product line and why operational efficiency is critical to achieve sustainable margins. Later, they discussed the origins of gimMe Snacks, why they launched with seaweed snacks, why they believed they were “too confident,” how they communicate the key selling points of the brand and the importance of “discovering new experiences for the consumer.”

Brands in this episode: Annie Chun’s, gimMe Snacks, Smartwater, Vitaminwater

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