Timing is Key: Be Early, Not Late in CPG

I shared a great article yesterday on LinkedIn about some research done by the least well-known Silicon Valley investor - Bill Gross. His investigation of why his own firm's investments fared so much better in terms of scale/durability than startups out of his reach

The Law of Frito-Lay

I hope their attorneys don't send me a letter. Really. I've consulted multiple times for Frito-Lay North America in the past. Inside they have a culture that is terrifyingly disciplined, built around 8 billion dollar salty snack brands (will Smartfood be the ninth some day?).

Mental Endurance Is Paramount

Premium CPG founders face serious headwinds trying to scale. Most never do. The ones who do scale take 7-10 years on average, though we all get distracted by a tiny group that does it in 2-3 years. This is why I always recommend that founders

$3M per % of ACV – The Benchmark of Benchmarks

Say what? Where did I get this number? This is the metric that dozens and dozens of now-famous Skate Ramp brands met as they crossed the $100M trailing POS revenue threshold. This is an infrequent level of revenue efficiency for an early-stage brand. It's an

Saying No is a Fundamental Skill for Founders

You might think saying 'no' is simply a luxury of an established business who has the privilege to turn down an opportunity that isn't absolutely dead on perfect. But you'd be wrong. Saying 'no' is one of the fundamental business skills never taught in school,

Why a Sales Plan is NOT a Strategy

The vast majority of CPG startups operate as B2B businesses. They don't interact with their consumers. They aren't curious about how they receive and use their products. As long as case volumes grow, they're happy. As long as their wholesale price can float operations and

Word-of-Mouth Marketing is Alive During the Pandemic

Guess what? A lot of the face-to-face storytelling about brands during this pandemic has moved onto Zoom. Virtual happy hours. Virtual meet-ups. Virtual hang-outs. Facebook Livestream groups. But we're still talking about brands we love. And premium CPG brands tend to get an unusual amount

The Problem With Growing Too Slowly

Although I caution against chasing unicorns, this is not meant to validate any brand's growth rate being in the single digits, YoY. This slow growth rate may be in line with the premium CPG sector overall, and it may be much faster than commodity brands

Why You Have to Transition from a B2B to a B2C Brand

The vast majority of consumer startups selling in retail get lulled into operating as a B2B company, even though they make products for the end consumer. This is because the initial data they manage concerns distributor case sales and retail account sales. They have no

The Risks of Raising A Lot of Money Too Early

Up until the pandemic, I saw lots of strange over-investment in emerging concepts in CPG. ZX ventures invested $1.5M in a brand new switchel brand as they began building investments in a non-alcoholic portfolio. $1.5M for a brand that has sold less than $500,000 is