75 Launching a New Unboxing with Ollie and Lerer Hippeau

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We first spoke to Ollie in 2017, less than a year after they launched. Gabby Slome was on the podcast talking about building a brand on great ingredients and an innovative model for shipping ready-to-serve, refrigerated dog food. Now, two years later, Ollie is scaling to keep up with their growing customer base.

When launched, Ollie was shipping their human-grade dog food in single-use plastic trays. As their customer and canine base grew, they got the customer feedback they needed to scale and adapt their initial packaging experience. Last week, they launched a totally revamped packaging suite that uses less plastic and takes up less space.

Now, food is shipped in vacuum sealed film packs and customers can store the meals in the newly designed, reusable Pup-tainer for freshness. This fresh start for Ollie was over a year in the making. On this episode, we’re talking to Nancy Walton, Ollie’s Senior Operations Manager about the serious supply chain strategy behind this exciting milestone and their new packaging redesign.

Caitlin Strandberg is a principal investor at Lerer Hippeau, a seed investor in Ollie. She's joining Stephan on this episode to give big picture perspective on how this packaging update marks a milestone moment for Ollie, not unlike other startups at this scale.

On this episode, Nancy talks about interacting with customers early on (6:41) and adapting their cold chain (11:36) to support their growth. Caitlin shares the key indicators that it’s time to make the second bet on your minimum viable product (14:40). Nancy highlights the new Ollie unboxing (17:45), sharing how they addressed the challenges of the old packaging through user research (20:54). As the team at Ollie tested their product, their packaging solutions evolved. Nancy shares how Ollie responded with slimmed down food packs that pair with the new Pup-tainers and optimized their SKUs and spoons to address consistency in portioning and packaging waste (22:43). Nancy and Caitlin give advice on making actionable data-driven supply chain decisions (27:10). Caitlin talks about translating best practices for growing companies from early predecessors (44:53). And finally, Nancy and Caitlin talk about how creating a repeatable magical moment is the key unlock for burgeoning brands (48:11).

Also mentioned on the show:

Links and images can be found on the Lumi blog.

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