Noha Waibsnaider is a leading food entrepreneur and change maker in the healthy, real food movement. After graduating from Columbia Business School, she worked at Unilever and learned about the preservatives, chemicals, and processing that fills most of our foods. Originally from Israel, Noha grew up on a diet of mostly unprocessed foods and snacking on dried fruit. She realized there was a big gap in the marketplace and an opportunity to create snacks that make people feel good about snacking, with food that tastes great and is naturally nutritious. In 2005, she launched Peeled Snacks: organic fruit snacks with no added sugar or preservatives. In the last year, the brand has quickly evolved to a larger healthy snack platform, with the launch of Peas Please, savory veggie snacks. With her vision of providing tasty and nourishing snacks everywhere you need a snack, Peeled Snacks are sold in Starbucks, Target, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Giant, Hudson News, Amazon, and many other retailers. The company has ranked on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for four years, has been featured in Oprah’s O List, and received Healthy Snack awards from Health Magazine and Fitness Magazine.
- [02:25] - When did you start your own business and what was your background?
- [02:40] - I learned about the food industry and supply chain. Realized that the products were loaded with sugar and chemical. I will talk to the scientists and they are not willing to eat it!
- [03:10] - There’s an opportunity to make real food that’s not highly processed and make it accessible to people.
- [03:30] - People have been eating dry food for a number of years.
- [05:28] - Product-based businesses have so much to consider upfront. In terms of operations, what did you start with?
- [06:12] - There’s a very large based eco-system for food-based products now.
- [07:40] - We started small. The early challenges, limitations and constraints are what helped you define the concept.
- [06:26] - It’s an evolution and part of the creative process.
- [09:00] - How much money did you invest upfront?
- [10:00] - I sent in a two-page application for funding but was not successful.
- [11:03] - Initially, I thought it’s a small business and it can be self-funded. I was using credit card and doing balance transfer. Started borrowing money from family - started fund-raising with friends and family.
- [13:09] - Since then we continued to raise money from Angels and crowd-funding.
- [16:08] - What is your pricing strategy?
It’s important to get pricing structure right early on. We have premium products and we increased the price gradually and people were still willing to pay for. At least 50% margin.
- [19:55] - How does the Strategic Advisory Board work?
- [20:14] - Network is “give and take”. At one point we gave stock options to people.
- [21:43] - My first strategic advisory board guru was a business school professor. His biggest piece of advice was – “you’re going to need an advisory board and I volunteer to be the first member on it”. That was very helpful.
- [24:07] - Those on our board have very diverse business backgrounds.
- [26:10] - How do you get access to influential people like Stacy Madison?
- [27:06] - Building relationship, meeting people, networking, going to industry events, asking what you need and being clear of what you need.
- [27:47] - If you could go back, what are the 3 things that you would have invested in most?
- Golf lessons! – so much of networking happens on the golf-course.
- Gone into it with a long-term view and not so overwhelmed by all the ups and downs.
- [31:27] - What motivates you to keep you going?
- There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Passionate about what I do, i.e. healthy food, food that energizes and what our brand stands for.
- Consumer’s feedback.
- There’s no tracking back, we have to give returns back to our investors.
- [33:54] - What are things to learn, unlearn and relearn from your corporate background to your own business?
- When I was at a large company, I had access to so much data. At Peeled Snacks we did not have any.
- Being responsible for your own space and schedule.
- It’s a totally different level of stress – managing emotions.
3 KEY POINTS
- The more the business grows, the more money is needed.
- Network is “give & take”.
- Be passionate about what you do.
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