Ep. 221: This Is How Innovative Concepts Become Top Brands

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This special episode of Taste Radio features highlights from interviews with six entrepreneurs who joined us on Taste Radio during the first half of 2020. Our guests include Siete Family Foods co-founder and CEO Miguel Garza; Nick & Elyse Oleksak, the co-founders of Bantam Bagels; Miyoko’s founder and CEO Miyoko Schinner; Ben Van Leeuwen, the co-founder and CEO of Van Leeuwen’s Ice Cream; Orgain founder and CEO Andrew Abraham; and Gail Becker, the founder and CEO of Caulipower.

Show notes:

1:36: Interview: Miguel Garza, Co-Founder/CEO, Siete Family Foods -- We kicked off the show with Miguel Garza who we featured in Ep. 214. Miguel is the co-founder and CEO of fast-growing Mexican-American brand Siete Family Foods, which markets tortillas, taco seasonings, queso dips and enchilada sauces, all of which are plant-based and grain-free. In the following clip, Garza spoke about the importance of family in how the company operates, the hallmarks of its product development and innovation strategies, and why Siete avoids chasing trends.

7:51: Nick & Elyse Oleksek, Co-Founders, Bantam Bagels -- Next up are Nick & Elyse Oleksek, the co-founders of bagel and breakfast bite company Bantam Bagels. Launched as a retail concept in 2013, Bantam Bagels has since evolved into a sprawling platform brand that includes mini stuffed pancakes and egg bites that are sold at Safeway, Target and Costco and also in pastry cases at Starbucks. In this clip, from Ep. 208, the Olekseks explained why investing in PR has been crucial to the brand’s success and how they define the phrase “fake it till you make it.”

14:45: Miyoko Schinner, Founder/CEO, Miyoko’s -- Let’s continue with Miyoko Schinner, the founder and CEO of pioneering plant-based cheese and butter company Miyoko’s Creamery. In a clip from Ep. 198, she spoke about how poor leadership led to past failures and early struggles, and why she describes her business as “a mission with a company.”

18:56: Interview: Ben Van Leeuwen, Co-Founder/CEO, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream -- Next, we featured Ben Van Leeuwen, the co-founder and CEO of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Launched in 2008, the premium ice cream brand and retailer has evolved into a broad platform with 22 ice cream shops in New York and California and a wholesale pint business with more than 1,500 accounts across the U.S. In a clip pulled from an interview included Ep. 203, Van Leeuwen discussed launching a business in the midst of a recession and why “running lean was just the default” when building the company.

24:11: Interview: Andrew Abraham, Founder/CEO, Orgain -- We continued with Andrew Abraham, the founder and CEO of protein-centric brand Orgain. Introduced as a first-to-market brand of organic protein beverages, Orgain has since grown into a thriving platform for protein drinks, powders and bars. In this clip, pulled from Ep. 197, Abraham discussed learning the ropes of the food and beverage industry, why entrepreneurs that are not well-capitalized from the outset might be in for a bumpy ride, how he convinced his family that, despite significant losses, the brand was on a positive trajectory and why he believes that “the best defense is a super aggressive offense.”

29:57: Interview: Gail Becker, Founder/CEO, Caulipower -- Last, but certainly not least, we have Gail Becker, the founder and CEO of Caulipower the vegetable-forward brand, best known for its gluten-free, cauliflower crust pizzas. Last year, after just three years on the market, the company generated an estimated $100 million. As part of an interview featured in Ep. 196, Becker discussed the value of taking risks, breaking traditional “rules” for packaging and retailing of a food brand and what she learned about the food business from working at her father’s store as a five-year-old.

Brands in this episode: Siete Family Foods, Bantam Bagels, Starbucks, Miyoko’s, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, Orgain, Caulipower

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