Podcast 4: Actual Veggies Co-Founders Jason Rosenbaum and Hailey Swartz speak with Andrew D. Ive from Big Idea Ventures about starting a plant-based burger company.  

In “The Big Idea Podcast: Food” series, each week our Founder Andrew D. Ive will speak with some of the most innovative minds in the food space about the exciting projects they are a part of. 

To listen to the second episode featuring Actual Veggies‘ Co-Founders Jason Rosenbaum and Hailey Swartz, click on the links below!

 

The podcast can be viewed at the links below:

 

Please view the transcript of the interview below.

Andrew D Ive

00:00 

Hi, welcome to big idea food podcast. This is your host, Andrew D Ive from Big Idea ventures. So today we’ll be talking to the co founders of actual veggies. I don’t want to go into too much detail about what they do they do it far better than I do. So let’s get into it. And if you have questions, or comments, please do post them. Like and Subscribe this via YouTube, via the various podcasts and so on. Look forward to engaging with you. Thanks very much. Actual veggies. How are you guys doing?

 

Jason & Hailey (Actual Veggies)

0:39  

Doing well? How are you?

 

0:43  

Hailey this is your cue.

 

0:44  

Oh, sorry. I’m great. Thanks for having us.

 

Yeah, go ahead.

 

0:53  

We don’t normally do a podcast with like three people. So it’s

 

0:56  

Jason and I have done a few. So we’re good at this. Don’t worry.

 

0:59  

I really yeah. You drop the ball then.

 

1:05  

I thought he was answering for both of us. So I was giving him that one. 

 

1:11  

When has he ever been allowed to do that? Come on.

 

1:14  

Yeah, that’s true. Okay, let’s get going again.

 

1:18  

This is all live. This is it. We’re not going to change this. This shows the dynamic of like the actual veggies team. It’s very cool. So let’s get back to it actual veggies. Welcome to the podcast. Love you guys have been, you know, following your journey now for quite some time. Why don’t you guys tell us about the company and what it is you’re doing.

 

1:44  

Go ahead, Jason.

 

1:45  

Perfect. So what we’re doing essentially is we’re making the best veggie burgers that have ever existed. And we kind of hit on all the different pain points in veggie burgers out in the market. And we offer this refrigerated fresh veggie burger that has all clean ingredients. And it’s all completely naturally colorful. And we really play off of the different colors. So we have four different burgers that we launched with the actual black burger, that’s black beans, the actual orange burger, its sweet potato, the actual purple burger, that’s beets, and then the actual green burger. That’s all your different super greens. And what’s amazing is you can really see taste and smell all the vegetables in them. And they just taste amazing because they’re all chef crafted by our partner who’s a chef. But it’s a it’s been an exciting journey. I mean, almost every single day is a roller coaster a lot of up but obviously some down as well.

 

2:36  

So I mean, veggie burgers pretty horrible stuff, right? Traditionally, now.

 

2:41  

Now they’re so good. The great thing about them is that like we’re finding that people who don’t eat meat, love them, people who are trying to eat less meat, love them, they’re so versatile. They go on the barbecue, they go in a pan, they’re easy in the oven, and even in the airfryer that’s we’ve been hearing a lot of that and as people are trying to eat healthy, especially during COVID times and but also have less time available. It’s a really convenient, easy meal to make that’s absolutely delicious. And it’s just it’s really one of my favorite things is seeing all the different ways that our customers and consumers are preparing it. It’s like every day it’s a new way.

 

3:19  

So my daughter is 18, soon to be 19, and for the first 16 years of her life I don’t think she tried a vegetable period, she would not eat vegetables. Is this actual veggie going to crack that code. Is it making vegetables, you know, interesting, approachable for you know, kids and adults alike?

 

3:39  

yeah, that’s what’s super interesting. We’re also seeing people use this as not as like their side, you know, as a replacement of the veggies on their plate. The colors are really good. The taste the seasonings, like really add to it. And it’s definitely a way to get your daily vegetable regardless, like I said, if you’re eating completely as a vegan or flexitarian.

 

4:01  

But it tastes great in a bun? Oh yeah. Like taking it off the barbecue, slapping some, you know, plant based cheese on top and some ketchup and just taking a big bite. Yeah. So how did you guys come up with this? Veggie burgers have been around for a while, veggie products have been around for a while. You just sort of woke up and said, We can do this better or like what’s the story?

 

4:27  

So I stopped eating meat towards the end of 2019. And I stopped eating meat for health reasons. My cholesterol was always high and I tried everything and eventually I was like alright, I’m going to cut out meat and see if it helps my cholesterol drop. So my favorite food was always the beef burger. So that was the first thing I was missing. And I pretty much learned that there’s two different types of vegetarian burgers on the market. 

 

The first is your imitation meats that really look tasty and bleed like a beef burger. But the problem is they’re really processed. They have a lot of sodium, and they’re called they’re plant based burgers but they don’t have them the plants in their ingredients. So they taste good, they look good but for me, they’re not that healthy. So it didn’t really work for me. And then on the other side, you have these kind of like antiquated, old school veggie burgers that really haven’t seen much innovation or any innovation throughout the years. And they’re really just these like, frozen, like kind of hockey pucks that just sit in your freezer for months and months and they’re just not exciting. 

 

There’s so many pain points, they’re thin, they’re small, you need like two or three to be even close to being filled up. And like we always had those when we were growing up, and they literally lived in the freezer unless there was nothing around for dinner. And it was just a last minute thing to fire one of those up. And it’s simply because they’re just not that exciting. And they’re also just not that healthy. They just don’t taste great. So really, we discussed why is there not like this restaurant style homemade style veggie burger that you can go buy at a grocery store, and then cook it up in five to 10 minutes. 

 

So we created this like thick, colorful veggie burger that just tastes amazing. It doesn’t have any fillers or preservatives, almost every other burger out there that you look at, has like oils, they have coconut oils, which is really bad for you once you heat it up. They all have all these other ingredients that help the burger bind cellulose eggs, bread crumbs, we cut out all that and we just use just veggies. And it’s just a clean burger that tastes amazing and it just was something that was not on the market. Because everyone’s so focused on imitation meats, and we were just like, hey, let’s make the best veggie burger out there. And that’s what we did.

 

6:29  

So from a nutritional perspective, how do your products break down? Like, you know, salt, sugar, fiber, you know, all those good things, tell us about that.

 

6:40  

Yeah, so they have about like 200 calories each. So not high in calories. They’re high in fiber, they’re low in fat, they have a decent amount of protein. And really, we have like 50% less salt and sodium than the other players out there. So that’s definitely something that we’re playing into is making sure health is front and center.

 

7:01  

What’s your number one selling skew?

 

7:06  

Well, so right now, we think that you know, so the black burger is the most versatile. Again, that’s the burger that the veggie burger that our customers are really comfortable with. But it’s really across the board when we have like someone try them, which one they liked the best. So it’s still probably too early to say exactly which one.

 

7:27  

So you’ve got how many, how many, how many flavors, how many colors,

 

7:31  

We have four different flavors. And then in terms of what we’ve sold the most, it’s by far the actual black burger, but the actual Greenburgh are starting to creep up.

 

7:41  

Awesome. So it’s kind of like 30%, the black burger, the actual black burger 20%, the actual green burger, and then the other guys are sort of quickly coming up behind?

 

7:53  

Yeah, it’s funny, the purple actual purple burger is probably our least sold from like a revenue perspective but the fans of the purple burger are the most vocal and the most excited about it. So it’s definitely a niche flavor. Yeah, it’s a beat based burger. So people love them or hate them. But the people who love them, they really love them.

 

8:18  

And how are these things being made that you guys sitting around in your kitchen switch squishing the stuff together with your hands and knees? Or how?

 

8:26  

I’m actually we have a big coal manufacturing facility out in Denver. I’m actually there. Right now we’re in the midst of a big production run. So yeah, we have a big facility. It’s a big operation. In it, it’s, it’s pretty exciting, because like, when we first started, we were just using our chef’s commercial kitchen, and we really scale this thing grow grew quickly to be able to fill capacity over at a big packing facility.

 

8:53  

And how did actual veggies get it start? Who said yes to actual veggies first, from a distribution or a sales channel perspective.

 

9:03  

So not to toot your horn, but having big idea ventures as our backers has been super helpful and making us legitimate in the eyes of investors and sales. Um, we definitely, we got a lot of introductions that led us to the right people, and the right connections to scale this a lot quicker than we could have on our own. So, you know, I think the idea was at the right time. You know, I always say it’s the perfect, you know, your dream is to get the perfect product market fit. And I think we did that. You know, it’s a product people want and it’s a market that people want it in. But really, all the mentors that big idea ventures we we were not afraid to really, you know, bother you guys all the time and ask for the right connections and right interactions to help us scale as quickly as we were able to.

 

9:53  

So who’s who said yes, first, which channel which which retailer which, you know, okay, I’m going to take a gamble. on actual veggies.

 

10:01  

So we the first technical place that we sold our product was a place called pop up grocer in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a traveling grocery store. Alright, cool. It’s one store. So it was very exciting. Our sales were were out of the roof, it was amazing. Our first like real big production. And our first real big order was in QVC, where we launched this year, January 8, and we sold out instantly. So that was like, that was our first like, moment, like, wow, like, we’re really onto something, this is a product people want. This is a product that, you know, the sky’s the limit here, essentially. So that was our first customer. And from there, it honestly feels like it’s kind of happening overnight, where orders and new vendors and new customers are just coming in, like almost in our sleep. It’s it’s, it’s amazing. Like, it’s just like all the work we put in last year’s laying down the foundation, with big idea ventures with our other investors with our other mentors. It’s all kind of coming to fruition now, like within the past month.

 

10:59  

Absolutely. So obviously, because of COVID, you couldn’t be in the studio of QVC, sort of watching the the ticker go as people are placing their orders, because, you know, I’ve seen the movies where you’ve got, I don’t know, 10 minutes, and everything, you know, the orders are coming in in those 10 minutes. And that’s the only 10 minutes you’ve got at that particular point in time and the, you know, the the video starts or the you know, the presentation starts and if you’re lucky the telephone start ringing, the internet starts getting its orders, the clock starts getting all of the numbers of all of the orders that are coming through and it’s a success. Now you weren’t there for that, but I’m guessing that was pretty much the experience.

 

11:47  

And yeah, so it was it was funny. Obviously, with technology, it’s a little different. But like one thing of starting our company in March 2020 is we don’t really know that what the reality of doing things in person is. So we, we had to sit and wait a few hours until we got our first cvc numbers and then it was just like, this moment of like, really, really like, Is this real? Um, it was just the fact that we pull it off QVC and like I said, and like Jason said it, it really made us feel like a legitimate company. So

 

12:24  

Have you got that? Have you got the video of that, that kind of that presentation on your on your website or anything for people to see the kind of first time you guys went out on QVC?

 

12:35  

Yeah, so we have the video, if you go to do search QVC actual veggies, you can see the video there. And we can also put it in the show notes as well.

 

12:44  

Oh, great. So they actually keep you up on the website constantly. So you’re an ongoing vendor to them. That’s awesome. So what what came next after what came next after QVC.

 

12:56  

And so a huge, sort of randomly. So hungryroot solid hungryroot is an online retailer that’s growing like crazy. And the exact consumer, we want to reach someone who’s healthy, who wants to eat healthy, but and clean, but also really values like a delicious meal. They found us in the pop up grocer. And they reached out and they said, you know, we want to try your burger. So we didn’t even have to reach them. And they did a huge order that with repeat orders every four to six weeks. We’ve just shipped our first order to them, I think at the end of March. And then we have another one early May. And like I said, they’re a great partner, their audience cares about the same thing our consumers care about. And it’s just really fun to work with them.

 

13:48  

That’s amazing. And obviously, how you came together as a team? Who’s doing what roles those sorts of things. You you’ve all been, you know, tied down a little bit by COVID. Although I think you guys risked it a few times. I think there were certain drinks, parties and barbecues and things where you guys all kind of came together and hung out. I don’t know whether you wore your masks then. But you’ve been able to create this business as a team from different places. You know, take us through some of the the challenges you’ve had. Obviously, I don’t know that there’s been too many completely sleepless nights where it was touch and go in terms of whether the company is going to survive. Maybe there were some and you just didn’t tell me but you know, take us through some of the the obstacles and how you found your way around those.

 

14:38  

Yeah, I do want to reiterate for us, we I think one of the advantages we had is we didn’t start the company before COVID. So really, we’ve only known working remotely. And I actually can’t imagine sitting in an office with my brother and Jason every day.

 

14:55  

I can’t imagine that either.

 

14:58  

Yes, that’s something that I say is an advantage, we didn’t have to pivot our strategy. We didn’t have to figure out like how to, you know, all these meetings that used to be in person, we don’t know what that’s like. And if anything, we found that like, buyers and advisors and investors had more time to talk to us. And so you actually feel very thankful for that course, like, on the, you know, obviously would not wish this pandemic on anyone or anything but that it has it. We did, there was a lot of positives that came out of it at the same time,

 

15:32  

and tell the big negative that happened.

 

15:35  

Yeah, you can.

 

15:38  

So just a quick story. So with, I guess it doesn’t matter. So with hungryroot our first order, this was our first like big, big production order. A nightmare happened where our one of our machines broke. And it was our machine that essentially takes our burgers go into our trays, and then the machine will seal the burgers with film, the machine completely broke. And we had to seal 20,000 trays. We lost a lot of sleep over this trying to figure out how the hell we were going to seal these machines. We ended up finding a another co Packer that was based in Colorado. We trucked everything over to them. They had the machine it was working, they ended up doing it for us. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. And obviously, it obviously cost us money financially. But it was a nightmare. But luckily, we figured it out. We made it happen. We got the product to Hungryroot, but it was like an ongoing issue for almost a week where we put all of our brains together to try to figure out a solution. And luckily, we made it work. 

 

16:43  

One more nightmare that we had. I thought I thought this is the one you were gonna bring up. So I think y’all know this one. But um, when we first apply the big idea of ventures to be in your cohort to um, we sent you guys burgers from Los Angeles. Oh, there you go. There’s the laugh um,

 

17:01  

I still haven’t still haven’t tried the product. 

 

17:04  

Yeah, so there’s supposed to be a burger. It’s supposed to be stable. That’s one of our our core differentiators is that we’re a stable burger without any fillers or oil, or preservatives. Um, we did not freeze. We did not send the burger with ice or dry ice or anything. The burger was not yet stable. And I remember, we got an email from you, Andrew. And it was like a picture of what was supposed to be our burger, but it looked like soup. And you and your humor were like it looks like the American soccer team just kicked this burger across the United States. We really thought we blew our chance at being in a big idea ventures cohort that no way we will get in without a, like a product that was working and tasted good. And so it was it was quite a surprise when we actually got the investment and joined the current cohort.

 

17:59  

Yeah, we were I mean, we invested in you guys. We knew you’d figure out the product eventually. And you have look at you guys. I mean, Mike Barrow, who’s the guy, for those that are listening is the person responsible for distribution sends me texts almost daily with updates on you guys. He’s like, Oh, my God, they just got into this channel, this this account and that account and look, you know that they’re blowing up and like he’s, you know, texting me on everything you guys are doing? Why don’t you? Why don’t you take us a little bit through the team members, obviously, we’ve got Jason and Hahley, what do you guys do? And who else is on the team? And what are they up to?

 

18:37  

So So yeah, I’m the CEO and co founder. Hailey’s co founder and president. And then Hailey’s brother Alex is our co founder. And he deals with operations and logistics. So he’s the director of that. So pretty much. We met with a lot of people when when we started, and they told Hailey and myself that we should pretty much never attend meetings together. And we should always kind of be doing our own thing and, and kind of carving out our own role. A lot of times when we met with people like that, like we left, and we were like, We were very scared or like, are we doing things right? Like, some of those people we met with are no longer that some of them are founders of other food companies. 

 

Some of them are no longer even in business. So it’s like, you kind of have to take everything with a grain of salt. So what works for Hailey and myself is we do a lot, we wear a lot of the same hats. And it just works for us. We attend a lot of the same meetings. Usually I know what she’s doing, usually, you know, she knows what I’m doing. There are things that I kind of break out and kind of took ownership on as well as Hailey has, but our roles definitely collide and overlap a lot. Whereas Alex, our other co founder Hailey’s brother, his role is really defined. He’s He’s our guide that deals with everything from sourcing ingredients to our co Packer to really owning the relationship with our co Packer to owning all of our logistics in terms of picking up products, shipping product, things like that. So he’s really defined. I kind of stick my nose in there every once in a while but he’s he’s got that down to a science. 

 

But yeah, I mean, Hailey and I are both involved in everything from marketing. When it comes to finance, I usually kind of take the lead on that. When it comes to like social media, stuff like that Hailey takes the lead on that. Sales, we kind of break up. We’re usually both involved in it together. But there’s certain people that I deal with them sales or that she doesn’t. 

 

But yeah, we really just, you know, we’re kind of just every day, like, what makes it so fun is like, every day is different. We don’t know what’s going to happen. A lot of it’s unpredictable. We’re learning a lot under fire. And we really just work well, as a team. There’s no egos here, at least I don’t think there are. And it just, it just works. Like, people tell you like, you know, there, you have to do things a certain way. But we’ve done things the way we’ve wanted to do it. And it’s been fun, and it’s working. And we’re gonna keep doing it our way. And it’s great. I mean, that’s pretty much how it’s played out right here. It is, like, we were both kind of all over the place. And we stay organized. And it works for us. Yeah.

 

21:01  

So who’s the chef?

 

21:04  

So we, when we first started, we brought on chef Joel, who we brought on as an equity partner, and pretty much brought this vision to him to kind of create these burgers. And he pretty much brought it to life in terms of just, you know, the recipes and making it happen. So he’s involved in everything from just kind of recipe creations and things like that.

 

21:25  

And you said, you guys have roles that sometimes collide, sometimes overlap, and so on. I’m guessing you guys have never disagreed on anything.

 

21:33  

There we we pretty much agree. disagree. Okay. That’s I’m trying to think of a few things that Yeah, there’s been a few things that we’ve really disagreed on. Um, but I, it’s interesting, at the end of the day, we want the same thing. 

 

21:55  

What is that what’s the same thing?

 

21:57  

We want to grow the business and we want to make our consumers happy. Um, so I’m like, it’s interesting, I think having three of us, usually it’s two against one. And then that’s sort of the way that we would like would solve something. And then the other way that we’ve like, solved disagreements is it will bring in like a third party, who is unbiased. And that’s really worked really well. But again, there’s no ego. And we really, we always, it really just works. And I, you know, I know we’re a year in, but I’m hoping that that remains the case.

 

22:38  

I guess what could change the dynamic is if you guys ever do sit in the same office together, that may change everything.

 

22:49  

That’s That’s why I moved across the country. I was in New York, and Hayley and I would sometimes work together, but she made me move all the way to California. So now we are we are far apart.

 

22:59  

Is that how it’s gonna be? You’re going to be California for the rest of the company. And Hailey, you’re going to be New York, are you? Do you see yourself Hailey moving across to LA and joining the glitterati at some point?

 

23:11  

NO? for the foreseeable future? I’ll stay here. And my brother will be in Chicago. And like I said, it works. Yeah.

 

23:21  

It’s, it’s really interesting. I wonder if we’re going to see this kind of group of companies that started during COVID and see, and I wonder if that’s going to make them kind of totally different ways of doing business, if it’s going to make them scrapier, if it’s going to make them more tenacious, than the kind of companies that needed to your point, Jason pivot, because of COVID and do things differently? You guys had to build it from scratch during this thing? It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be really interesting.

 

23:56  

Yeah, no, that’s definitely the case. Like I said, I really do think it just has made it easier to have more meetings, and keep our expenses down to not travel to those.

 

24:07  

You also mentioned, focusing on keeping making customers happy. I think it’s a fantastic kind of filter for everything that you do. But where do you see actual veggies? Being? You know, what, what are your personal goals as a team for the next, let’s say five years? Yeah,

 

24:26  

So I’m just gonna last because this is actually probably one of the things that we argue about. I was like, trying to remember what the last thing we argued about, and this is it. Um, so obviously, actual veggies is not we don’t want to just be a burger company. There’s a lot you can do with the actual veggies brand. And I think it’s all about celebrating vegetables and like making food delicious and making it what it is and being transparent about what that is. Now when and what those products are going forward is something that we’re still we’re still tackling, there’s so many different ways we can go and there’s so many different ideas that we have and I think knowing when, and what products to launch next with are something that we’re still discussing internally. But Jason, you can probably share some of your ideas, which he has a lot.

 

25:22  

I’m not gonna share individual ideas. But yeah, that’s definitely like a point of contention of when do we start coming out with new products. So like, now we’re starting to see traction with our burgers, like Hailey said, we don’t see actual veggies as a burger company. we’re not pigeon holed to doing alternative meats, we can take this wherever we want, we don’t have to do what someone like get beyond meat is doing where they’re just doing imitation meats, we can really take this wherever we want. So that’s definitely where this is heading. 

 

It’s just a question of when we have a bunch of different awesome fun products that are getting close to you know, getting ready to go. but what’s really what’s really cool, which we haven’t even talked about yet, is we’ve had such success with these online retailers like hungry root, we have a couple other ones coming on board. But our big play here is is traditional retail. And we are we’re officially launching, I guess we can announce this now. With sprouts, they’re relaunching with every single one of their 370 locations, which is another reason why I moved out west is just so we can have someone on the ground in California that really cares and can can kind of go into the stores because most of their stores are based in the West Coast. 

 

But that’s what’s really exciting, we’re launching with them early May 370, stores, three out of our four skews, and it’s going to be a huge launch, they’re really getting behind us. And really, that’s just the start of it. I mean, we had a bunch of other retailers knocking on our door, but sprouts was just the perfect partner to launch with and they’re really getting behind this. So that’s where, you know, that’s where things start getting exciting.

 

26:53  

One thing I would one thing that for what it’s worth, I’m hearing from people who try your products that they are passionate about them, you know, it’s not just okay, it’s a bland burger, I could take it or leave it. I don’t give a crap when the next Damn, I said crap, that’s gonna have to change the rating of this podcast. Oh, well. Yeah. So, you know, when people are, they bite this product, they’d like this product, those who like this product, love this product, right? In terms of what you should do next, figure out a way for what it’s worth of asking your passionate consumer, right, you’re building a tribe of people who kind of get into what actual veggies is all about. 

 

There’s, there’s a kind of a story and a thought process of why you’re doing what you’re doing and how it’s different from anything else out there. Find those people who are your evangelists and give them some choices. If you’ve got, you know, five ideas 10 ideas of what products you’re thinking about next, ask the people that are voting with their dollars for you guys.

 

28:01  

That’s a great idea.

 

28:02  

I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know if that’s like a, you know, a voting or getting people to call an 800 number or I don’t know what whatever. But there’s got to be a way of reaching out to the people that are actual veggie consumers.

 

28:15  

Just give my phone number I’m happy to get those tests done.

 

28:20  

Yeah, I mean, there’s got to be some way of reaching out to your most passionate consumers and saying, you know, what frustrates you about the food you’re eating today? What things do you want to see vegified? Or, you know, what, what do you want to see better nutrition, better quality ingredients better, you know, taste and texture than currently is out there today? And what you know, what do you want us to tackle next? Maybe you’ll get some good ideas.

 

28:45  

That’s great.

 

28:47  

Very cool. So next five years, still sort of in the thought process by the sounds of it? Are you building a team? Do you see yourselves being you know, four plus in at some point in the future?

 

29:01  

Yeah, I mean, definitely looking to build onto the team as we raise more capital. That’s definitely something that we want to do. But something that’s been really working for us is we’re bringing in part time, essentially freelancers, and because of COVID and because we never were in a physical office, we’re able to operate that way. So we found we have some amazing, amazing part time, freelancers, our designers, she is an absolute gem. She is incredible. We don’t we’re just going, you know, she’s part of the future. This company, she’s part time, eventually we’ll bring her on full time. We have so many other people like that. And we’re gonna keep going down that path just so we can stay lean. 

 

At first, like, we were like, alright, let’s build a huge company in terms of employees have, you know, 100 200 people, now we’re thinking more let’s stay lean. Like, let’s bring in amazing people that are part time. If they work out, we’ll bring them on full time. But yeah, that’s that’s kind of the route that we’re looking to take.

 

29:52  

And you’ve got enough to cope with with the US market for now, I guess. Any thoughts at some point in the future that you could be either licensing your, your kind of brand and your technology to other regions or doing it yourself, or is that just too far away for now? 

 

30:12  

We started engaging in those conversations already and really, we’re probably about a few months away to re engage in those, it’s definitely a channel that we want to explore, It’s just we want to make sure we’re, we’re comfortable in the US at first. 

 

30:29  

Got it. What are some of the challenges or gates obstacles that you’re coming up against right now, if any? Or is it all just plain plain sailing?

 

30:43  

It’s Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely challenges. One of them is, believe it or not, we’re already looking for our second or third co Packer, because we’re already getting to the point where capacity is going to be an issue, just because kind of orders are coming in overnight. So that’s definitely something we have a couple other amazing co Packers that we’ve been talking to for a while that were potentially going to start sending some business their way. So that’s definitely something I don’t know does anything else come to mind? Hailey, in terms of just like,

 

31:15  

I mean, I think the other thing for us, it’s not much, it’s a small challenge in the sense that so many people want our burgers and it’s a hard product for DDC. So it’s it’s expensive to ship. It’s an expensive supply chain. And yet, we want to make sure that as many people can try burgers as possible, as we’re, as we’re still in the process of getting into grocery stores nationwide. 

 

So working, you know, and it sort of takes a backseat, when you look at the quantity of orders that we’re getting to you to see because we’re not we’re not focused on promoting that, but at the same time, making sure that we can support it. So anyone can try our burgers, something that we constantly are revisiting.

 

31:55  

Given the low levels of sodium, fat, high fiber, you know, the density of vegetables, and, and the deliciousness, I would have thought that the school sector and the university sector would be probably really interested in what you guys are doing, you know, having this as a kind of meal one day a week in a you know, in a school district would probably give kids more of the nutrients they’re looking for for a healthy, you know, healthy diet. Is that something that you guys are already talking in exploring? Or is that something that you’d like someone if they’re listening to reach out about if, if they’re in that space?

 

32:41  

Yeah, so exactly what you just said, we have had some initial conversations, I think, right now, schools and universities are still trying to figure things out because of you know, how things are going to open due to COVID. But yeah, that’s definitely a space food service is definitely a space that we will love your audience to enter make the right introductions to, we’d really we have we have the ability to support those and would love to do those orders.

 

33:10  

Perfect. And if those people listening want to reach out what’s the best way of doing so.

 

33:16  

And you can just reach out over email, Hailey hailey@actualveggies.com, or jason@actualveggies.com. Reach out on Instagram at actual veggies. We are always willing and happy to talk to people.

 

33:41  

Fantastic. So anything that you want to kind of get out there that you you know, you want to talk about from either a company perspective or, you know, anything that you really want to bring up as part of this conversation today?

 

33:59  

Yeah, I mean, I think Hailey just kind of hit one of our points is we definitely see actual veggies going into restaurant chains. So that’s something that we do need help with. And if there’s anyone listening that can help with those introductions to different restaurants, or anything in food service, whether it’s universities, camps, schools, anything like that, we definitely need help there. Because that’s a huge, we see that as a huge part of our future. 

 

Something else that we’re starting to gear up for is to raise our series a round. We’re not actively trying to raise that right now. But we definitely will in the next, I’d say three to six months. So if there’s anyone listening that we haven’t already talked to, because I know we’ve talked to a lot of a lot of different venture groups and angels in the space if you haven’t talked to us or if you have and you want to re engage we would love to speak again or, or or meet because that’s definitely something we’re inevitably going to have to to raise it in the near future.

 

34:57  

I mean, we introduced very investors to you guys, you know, a year ago, but the story is dramatically different in the past 12 months, the kind of traction that you guys have been getting the success in the marketplace, the kind of avid fans, etc. I think it’s a very different story from when you were having those initial conversations, because then it was a, hey, we’ve got this great concept, we’ve got this great range of products. 

 

We don’t seem to be able to ship it anywhere right now, because we haven’t figured that out yet. But you know, it’s it’s early days. Now it’s, hey, we’ve got multiple proof points, multiple, you know, in the marketplace, we’ve got multiple people placing orders, we’re gaining revenues consistently. We’ve got avid fans, you know, let’s have a conversation. I think I think you should be in a great spot, actually. What do you I mean, obviously, you don’t want to get into too much detail about this. But series A you think you’ll be raising $1 to $2 million, something in that range? Give or take?

 

36:00  

Yeah, exactly. Right around $2 million. But yeah, well, like you said, What’s amazing is now we have orders. And not only do we have orders, we have reorders from the same customers. And we really have an amazing run rate in a projection where we’re, you know, doing multi million dollars in sales over the next 12 months. So it’s Yeah, it’s your like you said, it’s a completely different story from from where we were a year ago.

 

36:20  

And your cost structure is awesome, because you don’t have 100 people in the business. It’s what 4, 3 4?

 

36:28  

Yeah, there’s four of us. And then just part time people exactly.

 

36:31  

Wow. Okay, I should reinvest

 

36:34  

All right, yeah.

 

36:37  

This is actually an investment call. Hopefully,

 

36:39  

We’ll do the next round. Don’t worry about telling anybody listening, don’t bother about investing we’re gonna do the whole thing. No, I’m just kidding. Reach out to Jason and Hailey if this is, you know, a story and a mission that you’re interested in, if you’re interested in a company that’s growing very, very quickly. And it’s, I got to say, I would say no, normally it’s a delicious product. I’ve tried it. I haven’t, but lots of people I know have and they rave about it. So you know, it’s a delicious product and it’s a great business you should engage with them.

 

37:12  

And and Jason will ship the product directly from the packer

 

37:18  

I will or you will?

 

37:21  

I’m not sure it can get that far. Man. I don’t I don’t believe you anymore. I’ve given up. So you mentioned that you’re that Halley’s brother was doing the the kind of CO man that ingredients to sourcing that sort of thing. So why is your you know, why is your kept t shirted body sitting in a co man facility in in this the state that you’re in right now? Why is he not there doing this?

 

37:51  

He’s on the floor. He’s actually doing the work. Wow.

 

37:55  

Okay. There’s two of you.

 

37:57  

Yeah. So we actually have a meeting with the owner of the CO packing facility. So I flew out for that. But yeah, Alex is here. He’s been here longer than me. He’s, he’s downstairs, I see him now. He’s like carrying boxes, carrying our master cases and stalking him on the pallet. So he’s working.

 

38:12  

So let’s see how much money you guys are making. And if you’re truly boozy, are you guys sharing a hotel room? Or are you in separate hotel rooms?

 

38:22  

We are in separate hotel rooms.

 

38:24  

Oh my god, you’ve hit the big time, man.

 

38:26  

Yeah, we finally made it.

 

38:30  

Meal budget is $10 a meal and that’s one a day and the other meals are the veggie burger.

 

38:35  

So absolutely. What else you need to eat if you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? actual veggies? Right. Yeah.

 

38:43  

Thank you. So what are our salaries looked like you would understand why we are eating our product every single day.

 

38:49  

You got to make sure it’s good that way, man. You know. All right. So I think this has been for me, this has been a great call. I think we’ve covered off the key things, actual veggies. You guys are amazing. If anyone wants to reach out to you guys, whether it’s about telling me telling you how great your product is because their consumers, whether it’s retailers who want to stock that probably the first delicious, plant based vegetable based burger to reach out to jason@veggies.com or Hailey hailey@veggies.com or via Instagram actual veggies or via actual veggies.com. If you’re an investor, run, don’t walk because these guys have a great growth rate and a great trajectory. I just have a problem with the word trajectory. My teeth just don’t allow me to say that one. So yeah, you guys are going to be opening up your series A in the next few months or so.

 

39:53  

Correct.

 

39:54  

Okay, it’s now April the 15th when this goes live, You may actually either just be about to start your series A or be in the middle of it. So we’ll try and get it out a little earlier so that people who are interested in you guys can find out about it before you’re going through the investment cycle. Thank you. Alright, anything else to add before we press stop or pause and just say goodbye to each other? Yeah, she’s

 

40:26  

Thank you. Been great. 

 

40:27  

Why are you so locked in on New York? By the way, if everyone’s deserted you and running across the country? Why?

 

40:36  

She has a boyfriend in New York and now

 

40:40  

I’m stuck here is my boyfriend so that Yeah, no, it’s it’s good.

 

40:47  

All right, well, maybe you can drag him with you at some point.

 

40:50  

Exactly.

 

40:51  

There you go. Work on him. Alright, everyone, thanks for listening. This is Andrew from Big Idea ventures and actual veggies. do reach out to them if, if you want to just say hello to Jason or Hailey, if you want to get involved in in what they’re building in one way or another. I’m sure they will appreciate it. I’m going to press pause ….

 

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with the co founders of actual veggies. Great team call people doing some amazing things. So if you need to reach out to actual veggies, they gave you lots of ways to do so if you want to reach out to me, Andrew, I’ve your host from Big Idea ventures. Please do come along to big ideaventures.com. That’s it. We’ve I’ve enjoyed the podcast today. I hope you have if you’ve got questions or comments, please do reach out we want to hear from you and please like and subscribe and tell your friends your relatives, people you don’t even like very much tell everyone. Thanks again. I hope you enjoyed the podcast. Look forward to speaking with you all next week. Bye

 

© Big Idea Ventures LLC 2021

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