Podcast #50 David and Jarred, founders of Thrilling Foods, speak with Andrew D. Ive from Big Idea Ventures about Thrilling Foods, the company that they founded to develop their plant-based bacon product, BAKON.
Based in Portland, Washington Thrilling Foods created BAKON, a product that is taking the country by storm. BAKON is plant-based bacon produced using old traditional techniques. It’s salt-cured and smoked just like traditional pork products. You get all of the sizzle, aroma, taste, and texture of bacon without the cruelty or damage to the planet.
Big Idea Ventures has launched our very own podcast The Big Idea Podcast: Food. Each week Big Idea Ventures Founder Andrew D. Ive will speak with some of the most innovative minds in the food space and talk about the exciting projects they are a part of.
To listen to the episode click the links below!
To learn more about Thrilling Foods, check out the link below!
Andrew D Ive 00:00
Welcome to the Big Idea podcast, where we’re focused on food. Today we’re going to be talking to Thrilling Foods from Portland, Oregon. That’s David and Jared.
Andrew D Ive 00:12
These guys have created, and are launching, a plant based bacon, spelt BAKON. It’s an incredible product. It looks like a big thick slab of bacon covered in Pepper, and it tastes good. They have sent me some and I went through it very, very quickly. Really, really good product. I liked it a lot. So let’s have a conversation with David and Jared, talk about the company, how they got started, how it grew, and how they’re going to do some crazy, crazy things around the bacon category. So let’s get on with it. Thanks
Andrew D Ive 00:59
Jared, David from Thrilling Foods, Welcome to the Big Idea podcast. Thanks for coming along today. How are you both?
Jared Hansen 01:06
Doing great. Thank you.
David Jones 01:08
Andrew D Ive 01:09
Okay, I’m sorry, I need a little bit more energy than that. This is sort of Yeah.
Jared Hansen 01:14
Yeah. We’re thrilled to be here.
Andrew D Ive 01:16
It’s thrilling. It’s thrilling, thrilling to be here. So Jared Hanson, David Jones, you are the guys behind thrilling. Why don’t we first and foremost talk about Thrilling so people can figure out what you guys do. Then I’d love to know about Jared and David how you guys came to build this thing and where you came from and why? You know why, this is such an important thing for you guys. So Thrilling. Tell us about Thrilling Foods.
Jared Hansen 01:47
Sure, well. Yeah,
Jared Hansen 01:52
Thrilling Foods makes the best plant based bakon in the world. We’re now in over 220 locations across the United States and growing very quickly. We’re generally the top selling bakon wherever we go. And we’ve been doing this for nearly two years now. It is a wild ride so far.
Andrew D Ive 02:14
You sent me a pack of this stuff back in the day, when we first met, and it looked like a really big, chunky, thick cut bacon product with the pepper. It looked absolutely crazy, incredible and it’s all plant based. It cooks well. It tastes delicious. I’m not surprised it’s doing as well as it is. I interrupted because I know David wanted to say hello and introduce himself as well. SonDavid, tell us about Thrilling. I’m sorry to be so excited about the product.
David Jones 02:49
Oh no. Me too. Obviously I’m wanting to jump in. The product you described was designed to be like my old favorite, which was a German thick cut bacon, that you find in a high end deli counter or meat store down in New Braunfels, Texas, that kind of place you know. I was living in Portland, still am, and so much vegetarian and veganism.
David Jones 03:16
I realised I needed to actually run a business and I was happy to be the guy that made something that excited people, and looked like bacon and fried like bacon and was a superior product. I’m very proud of that, but I wasn’t the guy to run a business. So I reached out to Jared, who is my son in law and asked him if he was interested? He had eaten the bacon, so I asked what he thought my challenges would be. Patents might be one of them, and so forth, and Jared with his background, in running businesses, and being an attorney luckily, he said he would join me and that we should see where this goes and just start slow. I think for both of us, it’s been a really wild, exciting ride that has us both wondering what’s going to happen the next day, it’s been very successful.
David Jones 03:16
My partner, she’s vegetarian, and one of the promises I made was I won’t have meat in the house. We can do that and be healthy and it’s so good for the planet. I needed to embrace that. After a while, I started missing meat and I began to try a lot of these alternatives. I just could not, you know, eat them. So I began as a cook, to start to make my own and had fun with that. Tried some of the newer techniques that I was so excited about, like, impossible food and these techniques and ingredients. What I ended up with though, was to go back to old school, learned how to make tofu, basically, I had made bacon in another life, you know, from pork, and knew how to cure it.
David Jones 04:05
So I just sort of took my belly for cooking and the fact that I didn’t like actually what I was tasting and a lot of that was about the new ingredients and methods, you know, isolates and protein powders and things like that they just couldn’t find a way to use and have it be good. But I came up with this product and we’re sharing it with the neighbors and they just kept on asking for more and it just started right there. Once stores got a chance to taste it, you know, some trials and things they were all on board immediately. The guys were up out of their seats because it smelled and tasted like bacon, that got them so excited. They wanted to have it in their store, on the meat counters and it just sort of took off from there.
Andrew D Ive 05:47
So the one thing that sort of strikes me as you’re talking David is, plant based, has had a great deal of excitement in the food category, a lot of consumers are driving towards finding that more sustainable plant based food. We’ve had beyond the impossible, and various others kind of coming online. One of the challenges we’ve heard from consumers over time is, you know, the ingredient list is long. It’s a laundry list of things that your grandmother wouldn’t necessarily recognize if she was reading down that that list. You just made the point that Thrilling, is very much about, you know, keeping it clean. So how did you figure that out? It’s not an easy thing to make a product that looks so close to the real thing that, you know, is it that you’re taking that pork, sharing knowledge, and that’s how you’re getting the taste and the look and the flavor?
Jared Hansen 06:48
That is important Andrew, when you think about what’s the difference between a side of pork and pork bacon, and the only difference is the cure, that is it. So you must have that cure, it used to always be a dry salt rub, followed by a day in hardwood. So that’s what we use. Now today’s modern bacon’s, in the United States, may or may not use those, they’ll use brine, and they’ll actually use liquid smoke now, drenching liquid smoke. So your current New World, bacon isn’t even made the way we do, we use the absolute old school techniques.
Jared Hansen 07:22
But that’s not what gave us what we wanted. And I was reacting against the fact that most of the things I was tasting and eating that were all meats that I wanted to love are a product of putting a lot of powders and some liquid into a hopper and churning and extruded. And that’s the current technology. And it makes a lot of sense when you’re trying to make money. But that’s not what I was about. What I was about was, hey, let’s have some fun trying to make the closest as we can to, to the experience of say bacon, where it looks like bacon, it cooks like bacon, it smells, it chews it tastes like bacon.
Jared Hansen 08:01
Actually, the macronutrients are absolutely identical to bacon. And so that’s what we have, we have fat and protein, we have protein bound fat, and the fat is made from the same amino acids that you’d find in meat, so you can body build on the product, it’s macronutrient lay the same, it’s not a rice cake that’s been made to look like bacon or something, which is a lot of what you see high carbohydrates.
Jared Hansen 08:26
So in going back to square one, we decided we didn’t want to make something from dumping powders, which are super processed. You don’t even like the taste of those powders. If you were to taste those powders, you would say yuk and they actually make flavorings designed to directly counteract the negative and off tastes of some of these protein isolates and powders. And so that was just not a place we wanted to go. That’s Food Science and food industry. And I made this with loads of food. Fooling the tastebuds. It’s not giving the taste buds, what they want is fooling the taste buds from actually tasting what’s going into their mouths properly, which is a great way of putting it.
Jared Hansen 09:12
It’s actually really hard to fool the tastebuds. What you’re seeing right now in some of the alternative meats, after the excitement and after many people tested it and tasted it, that didn’t get the resales. At first everyone was interested, until all of those people sort of died down and now the repeat sales have slowed down too. We’ve never had that kind of hype. We’ve just slowly grown with repeat sales. It is about flavor. I don’t think you can fool the tongue. You know your tongue is quite a student and so we were working honestly.
Jared Hansen 09:53
We try to work with really simple ingredients and to go back and embrace the hundreds of years old technology and modify it to bring it up to date, change it, where and I think that’s the most exciting and crazy thing, Andrew, the tofu that you would get today still in the grocery store everywhere is exactly the same tofu that was made 300 years ago, it doesn’t even have salt.
Jared Hansen 10:22
So therefore, it doesn’t have much of a flavor. It’s nothing but aggregated soy proteins. So, I don’t know, there’s not a lot of of work or documentation or anything of anyone doing anything to tofu except trying to get less fat, you know, to use a defatted product to make a low fat tofu. That’s about all the innovation we’ve seen. And so it just seems like we’re the only ones to be approaching and modifying an old world product like tofu, to bring it up to what we can do today, like what cooks would even do to make it taste better.
Jared Hansen 10:59
it’s just amazing and there is a lot you can do. There’s a lot we did, we have a high fat lean section, these layers are high fat and lean. They’re very flavorful with umami flavor with what meat should have. And then they’re cured with another old world technique of smoking and salting and fascinating to see that that’s basically what they can experience is umami, fattiness, salty, smoky, get the right chew and texture and you very close to eating pork bacon, no harm needed no harm to any creatures.
Andrew D Ive 11:33
So one of the things, when we talked a little bit about all protein being this big promise to have some, necessarily materialized in terms of that repeat purchase. I think part of that’s coming through as part of that happening, that sort of consumers loving the idea, but not necessarily integrating it into their habits on a day to day basis as a direct replacement. Ongoing, right, I’m not seeing that direct replacement ongoing. And I think there’s a key reason for that, and I think you’ve touched on it.
Andrew D Ive 12:07
One is that a lot of the products out there, and there are some great ones that actually do deliver, but the majority of them just a sort of to the side of the target, in terms of what consumers consume. As consumers we have gotten used to bacon being a certain way, got used to chicken be in a certain way, you know, beef, etc, all of these different things and these replacements, these alternatives, almost hit it but miss it, they almost get there, they don’t quite have the right texture, they don’t quite have the right bite. Sometimes the taste is close, but not and it may be it’s the battery of those powders and that sort of process you’ve outlined, but what happens is, there were some innovators who brought some really interesting products in that were the first step, the first evolution.
Andrew D Ive 12:59
And then, because there was big excitement, you had all of these meetings with people running around saying all this is going to make them a fortune. They were going to create a pea protein nugget or another soy burger, blah, blah, blah, and you ended up with multiple brands with mediocre products. So that consumers go with the consumers buying into the hype, and they’re seeing these mediocre products and they’re taking them they’re like, Okay, I’ll try it once but I’m not trying it twice.
Andrew D Ive 13:28
Your product. You sent me a pack. I think it had, I don’t know 12 slices or something like that. I had 12 slices. I didn’t eat one slice and say That’s nice, now I’ll go back to regular bacon. Thank you very much. I tried 12 slices. I was wait, I was kind of pissed off that I ran out of it so quickly. Sorry for swearing folks. I don’t know why aren’t people doing it like you?
Jared Hansen 14:01
Do you know, when you eat potato chips, you’d swear you’re gonna just eat one and yet something in your brain, your mouth or somewhere in there says get one more. There’s a crave ability to certain things, bacon has that cravability. It’s a lot about umami and glutamic acid, that’s the amino acid that is the protein, your key umami indicator really fires off with that Parmesan cheese. But when I was working with persons who were involved in bringing some of our natural flavors, you know, to help us with this, the flavor was there and I had put the whole package and bacon just like you did and put it out on the plate to be nice.
Jared Hansen 14:40
And during our conversation we both looked down and she had eaten the entire plate of bacon by herself, you know, because it did have that capability. One more, one more. And I really feel like the key achievement is that, unless people feel that way about your food product, that it’s as long as it’s still there. I have ruined my tummy, I’m going to eat it. Something’s telling me to eat more. You know, that’s our favorite foods. And that’s where we needed to be. And I really felt that was just so wonderful to watch her eat this product unconsciously just like to consume it all, you know, like additional ice cream.
Andrew D Ive 15:19
You and I are becoming the commercial for Thrilling Foods Jared!!
David Jones 15:26
So I have some thoughts on this as well, you know, because it’s that focus on the perfection of the product that I think really drives it. And I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this out loud, but I’m not a vegan myself. I almost never, in fact, I can’t remember the last time that I bought pork bacon for my home. My kids, my wife, me, we all eat Bakon. That’s really bacon now instead, because it works.
Jared Hansen 15:57
Andrew, you asked why is it that others didn’t do it? The repeat purchase maybe wasn’t always there, right? Or why is no one else doing it the same way? And I think you know, going back to how we got started? I’ve knon David, my father in law, for 17 years as a guy who’s an absolute genius at food, and who knows how to make food that just blows people’s minds and often is not reproducible, right? We’ve had many conversations about hey, you remember you’ve made that meal? That was one Oh, no, that was a one time thing. That’s not coming back.
Jared Hansen 16:35
But here was a thing that he had developed, that they approached with a chef’s passion for excellent food, and it started there. I think a lot of the great innovations start from solving the founders own problem, rather than from starting in an r&d Lab, where you’re trying to solve the problem of well, this is a you know, we have a factory that has this footprint, and it’s got these machines, and we’ve got access to this supply chain. So how can we combine these blocks into something that we think the market will like?
Jared Hansen 17:14
David started with none of that, you know, it just started with…. How do I figure out how to combine ingredients that are all edible on their own, into something that replicates this taste this texture, this smell experience of this bacon that I love. And nevermind, if it’s economically feasible, right, that’s not the point, we’re just trying to make something. I think that’s been our job to figure out how to take the initial product, and then turn it into a repeatable, high margin, economically sustainable process that creates this. And I think, you know, the pattern that is thrilling is, was awarded for David’s innovation and creating this layer tofu product really reflects the the uniqueness of the innovation there, and the novelty of what we’re doing. And yeah, I mean, we’ve made very substantial strides from our standpoint and making more,
Andrew D Ive 18:20
I was gonna say let’s talk about that piece. So you, instead of starting with, you know, we want to make a product, we’re going to blend powders and liquids, and extrude and blah, blah, blah, and we’re going to see if we can make something that enough people buy. You guys started with the great product. Amazing. How do you and I’m wondering whether the people who are on that side of the equation, the sort of powder water side of the equation, think to themselves, Oh, that’s the wrong way to go. You shouldn’t start with the perfect product. Because, you know, how do you retrofit that into scale? How do you get this economically viable, so that the margins are there so that you can produce a product in volume? If you’re using very traditional curing processes and so on? I’m assuming because there are baking companies out there that scaled up bacon cured bacon, that there are ways to do it. How tough has it been to go from great product to scalable product with margins where there’s a sustainable economic business model here?
David Jones 19:25
I will say that, look, it’s not without challenges, right? Of course, it’s tough in the sense that you have to think through it, you’ve got to solve all these problems but fundamentally, I don’t think there’s anything insoluble there. I think that what we did, and this is where, you know, my background as an engineer came in handy. You look at the problem, and rather than modeling it as a, you know, a set of starting ingredients and starting processes that you have to go with you, you look at how to break down your process into its components steps, and then think about which of those components steps you might be able to do in a more scalable or more sustainable way. And it turns out there was, there isn’t, there still remains a fair amount that we can do to improve the efficiency of the process. And so, you know, we’ve come a long way, we’ve got some improvements, but it’s a journey.
Andrew D Ive 20:31
It’s a journey, it’s a journey, and you’re fundamentally scaling up and learning. What did it what is the essential component of each step in your process, and learning how to do that essential component at scale efficiently, and blending that all together and getting something, gain something high margin out of the way,
Jared Hansen 20:51
Let me interject that, you know, we like to say tofu like product, it’s not tofu, it’s a tofu like product, we’ve gone beyond and changed enough that the patent is on a tofu like product. But it’s still a novel product never been made before. So there is not scale equipment directly made to address the needs that we have. So we’re doing a lot of custom and bespoke type things that we need to do and most of what we’re doing is just looking at volume, scale, reducing touch time, just like any artistanal process that’s been brought big, like you’re pursuing, it’s still exactly the same product or designerly. Same flavor, they dare touch the ingredient, dare touch the basic process, what they have to do is when on scale, and smart production facilities, and that’s what we’re doing. And that’s what we have lined up to do. And we need those investors to help us get there, you know, otherwise, it’ll be a little bit slower journey. That’s all.
Andrew D Ive 21:55
Um, do you start with core principles slash criteria that is the filter for scale up where you say, Okay, these are certain guide rails that we will never cross so that we can get to scale? Or we can get to a certain margin? How do you think about that?
David Jones 22:19
What the product is basically, that people have eaten, is going to stay that what’s entering their mouths right now, that they’re loving, we’re going to keep that and that everything that Jared and I can think of that would be a smarter way to work. You know, that’s all up for grabs, we’re happy to have every bit of change and embrace it. But the ingredients and the basic method of a layered tofu like product will remain the same and that’s the sort of touchstone that we believe in and Jared does, I mean, the same product and his family?
Jared Hansen 22:53
Exactly and I will say, actually, even more broadly, even beyond the bacon itself, because you know, we’ve got additional products in development. There are, it’s funny, you ask Andrew about specific guide rails or sort of guiding principles for the company, and we definitely do talk about food without sacrifice. And what we mean by that is a four part commitment, right? Anything that we produce, any food that we deem thrilling enough to put our brand on, is going to be made without sacrifice to animals on the planet, we’re not going to sacrifice on taste, it’s going to be something that people love to eat and eat again and again. We’re not going to sacrifice our customers health, the ingredients are always going to be clean. It’s always going to be a good for you food.
Jared Hansen 23:41
And finally, we have a commitment that we’re not going to sacrifice on how we treat our employees. So everyone has good benefits. You know, everyone has stock options in the company, we pay well, everything. They take care of the team that is becoming Thrilling Foods as a company. So that’s kind of our Northstar, right. It’s a cluster of four, that guides us as we think about how to expand our product offering and how to how to make our existing products in a more efficient and sustainable way.
David Jones 24:16
Do no harm.
Andrew D Ive 24:18
It’s funny, they say never to ask a question that you don’t know the answer to in this kind of environment because you know, you want to go in one direction but because you don’t know the answer could go in the other. I was looking through your ingredient list, and it’s incredibly natural. I’m looking at it’s like soy milk. It’s maple syrup. It’s radish and paprika for natural food coloring. It’s black pepper its sea salt. Like I’m not seeing the kind of list that I would expect on you know, I call it regular food, but maybe that’s the wrong way of calling it. You know, your list is, is more as you say artisanal, it’s kind of something you would expect in a little shop in Portland, Oregon instead of in supermarkets, right?
Jared Hansen 25:14
Yeah, we have a high intention by design. And one of the most interesting things that you know, you’re not seeing all the preservative ingredients, because it’s cured, it is actually preserved by its cure, right? So we lose a lot of those oddball you know, preservative type things, but this is such a clean list and so healthy, we’ve had a number of doctors heart surgeons, you know, people come to our booth and get really excited and say, I’m recommending this in my next book, and everyone’s gonna know about this. I have so many people who want to eat bacon, who no longer can, and we found out we’re in now, retirement homes and villages, that kind of thing. We’re the healthy alternative for bacon because of the ingredient list basically.
Andrew D Ive 25:58
It’s funny, the one thing that always used to stop me from moving towards veganism was bacon. It’s a family tradition. For me, it was I grew up every Saturday with my family eating bacon, and eggs and toast and you know, it’s an ongoing family tradition on the weekends. So I couldn’t ever find a product that got there. So I’ve been very excited about Bakon for quite some time. I have to stop getting so excited because otherwise people are going to be like, Jesus, I just, sorry, I just annoyed all the religious people there they’re gonna basically say, Andrew you spent 45 minutes just talking about how great the product was, and not really peppering them with questions.
Andrew D Ive 26:40
So again, another question I don’t know the answer to, have you actually sat down with a pork or bacon company and considered some kind of partnership or some kind of relationship because, you know, if I’m a pork company, sure, I want to sell my pork, but maybe I want to get more consumers into my market share and having a partnership with you guys might be a way of giving their audience both regular pork and plant based pork and knowing how great your product is, it will probably convert some of their pork eating, folks.
Jared Hansen 27:22
I would say I don’t want to comment on any specific companies, but we’ve had some discussions, some discussions are ongoing. And you know, we’re always open to it, right? Like the goal is to get more of this stuff out to more people, right, and get more scale and have more impact in the world and so we’re certainly open to every way of approaching or being approached. We were approache you know but ….
Andrew D Ive 27:49
Alright, it’s secret, it’s a secret. Nobody’s listening anyway, don’t worry. Okay, so what’s next? It sounds like you’re sort of actually posed to see what’s next but it sounds like you’re kind of at the beginning of an incredible journey, where it’s about, it’s about how to get this great product into as many homes and mouths as possible. So how are you thinking? How are you thinking about that distribution side? How do people get this product? How do they try to buy it online? Is that more around local grocery? Or what are your channels of distribution at this point?
David Jones 28:28
Sure. So right now, you can buy a back end in about 150 retail locations across the US another 100 Plus about 120 or so restaurants have us on their menu. You can try us there, of course you can buy online at thrillingfoods.com. And as far as the distribution strategy, I mean, we’ve been approached by pretty much every major food distributor, right? To bring it to the natural organic specialty type stores.
David Jones 29:03
The constraint is not distribution, that constraint is not demand. The constraint is how fast can we scale up our production capacity and we’ve scaled it up quite a bit in the last year, but as far as what is next, what’s next is opening our expansion facility that will allow us to go 10x beyond where we are today. As we do that, we’ll be able to bring on many more stores, many more distributors and continue to grow there. And, you know, I think it’s probably primarily us focused for at least the next 12 months or so, but we get approached all the time by international firms as well and I think there’s obviously a large expansion opportunity over time there as well.
Andrew D Ive 29:52
So US for the next couple of years.
David Jones 29:56
I don’t know that I’d say a couple of years, probably 12 months or so, but again, like, that’s opportunistic. I mean we do have one large launch currently tentatively scheduled in Southeast Asia in just a few months. It’s not that we have an expansion team hunting down international opportunities, it’s that, you know, folks reach out to us, and sometimes it makes sense. So, you know, we’re not close to anything, but it’s more a question of where we’re going to put resources, where we’re going to focus expansion activity.
Andrew D Ive 30:34
Jared Hansen 30:35
Before we get to all the alternative skews that we want to bring out, you know, are the additional pork related products.
Andrew D Ive 30:45
I was gonna go there in terms of, you know, I’m sure you’re innovating around new product lines that sort of take some of the tradition elements of what you’re doing, and bring it into new directions and so on. But again, it’s such a huge opportunity, because bacon is something that love, a lot of people love, it’s a central part of family life, and I haven’t seen many good alternatives, yet. There are some, but we were very excited about this product, so I almost don’t want you to divert your attention from the opportunity ahead of you on the bacon side by getting involved in, you know, skews 2345, and six.
David Jones 31:34
Well, we won’t do it until we get squared away what Jared and I are trying to achieve at our first facility. I think all other new products, we need to make sure that we’ve learned all of our lessons with bacon, and get that into a smooth flowing, ever increasing ability to make and do even if it means building another factory, but we’ll learn our lessons from that on our country hams, and that kind of thing that will come out next.
Andrew D Ive 32:07
So as soon as entrepreneur sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt carry on, Derek.
Andrew D Ive 32:11
Oh, no. I was just saying, Yes, I agree.
Andrew D Ive 32:16
All right. Where do you guys, if things go to plan, if things go as, as you would expect? What do you think Thrilling Foods will look like in let’s say, three years time.
Jared Hansen 32:30
So if our growth continues at the same rate that we’ve sustained for more than a year, we’ll be doing over 77 million a year in bacon sales alone by the end of 2025. As we have hinted to, or as we have hinted at, I think bacon is really the beginning of something even larger, right, there are additional skews, there’s ingredients we’ve been approached by others about are using our protein bound fat as an ingredient in their own products. I think there is a lot here, and you know, as we think about the longer term opportunity for Thrilling Foods, when David was talking with me about the bacon that he had created and the possibility of coming to join him and work with him on this, on creating a company,
Jared Hansen 33:11
I remember saying very clearly, I’m interested, but for me, I will, it needs to be park, the goal needs to be something very large, like the opportunity cost of coming to do this is quite high, so we need to be aligned on what we want to build and what I will come and build is a company that has ambitions to go global and to compete on the scale of impossible and beyond, and to win. And that’s what we intend to do.
Jared Hansen 33:44
So I mean, it seems obviously sort of grandiose at that stage right to say something like that, but that’s the goal, right? And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. So three years from now, I think we should be doing high double digit millions in revenue and we should be continuing our strong growth trajectory. Within four plus years, we should be gearing up for larger, more public kind of events.
Andrew D Ive 34:13
Amazing. Amazing. So what can what can people listening do for you? It sounds like there’s so many opportunities here. What can people listening do to support Thrilling Foods?
Jared Hansen 34:30
Like for me, I know that people who feel like they can’t get it, they’d like to have it in their town or their dear little local restaurant or their sweet little grocery store. They can simply let that grocery store that restaurant know what we know and what we’ve seen is that they reach out to us. We’ll send you some and let you get started one way or the other. We’re generous that way. For now, that’s what we can do, and we’re, I believe, one of the most profitable skews a grocery store can have in about seven inches wide. They make more money from our product than almost any other product sold. We are certainly competitive in that area.
Jared Hansen 35:08
For restaurants, they get a tremendous increase in followers and loyalty by having Thrilling Foods bacon as a part of their offerings. People are very excited and most of the restaurants that carry us, write to us constantly saying, you guys can’t believe how much our customers love your bacon and they order it over and over again, and they’re really pleased with the results. So I just say reach out to your local grocer or restaurant and have them call us and we’ll take care of it for you.
David Jones 35:40
That’s certainly the biggest thing. Of course, you know, if you just want to buy bacon for yourself, you can do that as well. And if there are investors that are listening, and they’re interested in participating in our growth, certainly we’re open to that conversation. As we build out our expansion facility.
Andrew D Ive 35:58
Amazing. So Thrilling Foods.com is where people can find the product, either to reach out or to buy it.
Andrew D Ive 36:08
Yeah, you can buy it online as well.
Andrew D Ive 36:09
And does that have your contact details? Or is there a better way to do it?
David Jones 36:16
Just send us an email at Hello at thrillingfoods.com and we’ll get it to the right person.
Jared Hansen 36:23
We answer right away. We’re still small enough that you’ll get a real good connection real fast.
Andrew D Ive 36:28
Amazing. And is this very much Portland? In other words, a lot of those retailers and so on in Portland or is this US wide?
Jared Hansen 36:38
I think LA has a bigger footprint than Portland.
David Jones 36:42
For sure. We’re all across the country already. From Hawaii to Maine, we like to say that 270 locations right now growing all the time, there’s a map on our website. It’s going up.
Andrew D Ive 36:57
Should I ask the question as I haven’t already. How are you making this product? Is this? David is this you going crazy? Or like, Do you have a commercial kitchen somewhere? Or how are you making it?
David Jones 37:09
We have more than one commercial kitchen, we unfortunately, in Portland, where we are, and where we got started, there are so many groups that are starting, so many fantastic restaurants and foods, and you know, we’re just a big foodie town, as you may know. So what we’ve been forced to do so far, without having our own, built out location yet, is just get these commercial kitchen spaces and you know, agglomerate them together into our production facilities. So we’ve got one that does the assembly, we have another place that does smoking and then packaging, and we’re getting by, but it’s, you know, two shifts, and we’re looking at adding a third, and that will become tight at some point soon.
Andrew D Ive 37:57
Well, you said there’s no shortage of demand, there’s just the ability to supply right. Sounds like you need somebody to come in, potentially as an investor, and I don’t want to speak for you guys, but it sounds like having somebody come in as an investor who can help you get that first Thrilling Foods facility where everything’s under one roof, you’ve got the process end to end, probably get the margins improved, because moving part finished products around even one town is less than efficient.
David Jones 38:34
Yeah, and, and the movement of product between those facilities is like, the least inefficient part of a current thing. I mean, I could go on and on at length about here’s the oven size that we have today and here’s the oven size that we need, right?
Jared Hansen 38:51
We need a documentarist, a novoline, someone who can write and record because what we’re going through is taking a completely artisanal food and moving it into a high production facility. And you know that transformation is not always done. This is a unique transformation as well to take a high quality artisanal food, and to make it available to everybody in the United States at a decent price. That is one heck of a good challenge. We’re up for it. But I think it was a documentary film, and how did they do it? You know, we can’t wait to finish it.
David Jones 39:27
For sure. I mean, I’m always telling the team like we’ve got 20 people working on our production team now around the clock. And I’m always telling the team we started as a kitchen. We have to become a factory and the challenges of scaling everything that you’re doing and making it more repeatable more reliable, you know, faster it’s it’s a lot of fun.
Andrew D Ive 39:28
Yes, we’re expecting some improvement as well. Not just the some of you actually.
David Jones 39:58
Oh, for sure. Yeah.
Andrew D Ive 40:00
I’m kind of wanting to send a kind of request or question out to people who are listening. I’m sure that there’s a company out there in the United States that has very strong artisanal, a very strong artisanal heritage, that had to figure out how to scale that business up and maintain the quality, maintain the short number of ingredient lists, etc, etc, to keep the artisanal methods to somehow, as you say, move to that, that increased scale. I’m sure there’s a few companies that have done it, and maybe even founders that have been part of that journey. Or for the life of me, I’m not, I’m blanking, I’m not figuring out which companies normally I’d be like, oh, yeah, that’s ……
Jared Hansen 40:55
Cheese, our cheese company here on the coast of Oregon went from I mean, they produce a very fine cheese and a very huge scale.
Andrew D Ive 41:06
Right, right. And so the question is, anyone watching, listening, whatever, which companies would you say, are a really good model of taking that artisanal approach and scaling it up without losing the integrity the thing that made that product great? who are those companies? Let’s figure them out, because they should be talking to you guys, and at least mentoring you if not somehow getting involved? Right?
Jared Hansen 41:34
Big Brother program? Yep. That’s right.
Andrew D Ive 41:38
The great thing about food is it’s very collaborative. So if there’s a food founder out there that’s been through this journey already. Hopefully, they’ll reach out and we’ll connect them to you. In terms of that contact, we already said right Hello at a Thrilling Foods.com I feel like there’s so much more I can talk to you about. I feel like I’ve spent way too long telling everyone how amazing your product is apologies for that. Is there anything I should ask you that I haven’t?
Jared Hansen 42:12
I think it’d be fascinating for people to just watch us as a bellwether or something like Neo COEs article Omeo. Because that company is rolling and coming up with new products and their sales are up and going. And when you’re looking at what’s going on and they no meat space, or the all protein plant based no harm space? I think what’s going to happen in the next year is really going to be fast. And then is a vegan 2.0 that needs to settle in, where it’s not just about saving the animals you’ve got to make it so so good that it is craveable and that’s our answer. Thrilling is going to be right in the middle of this and so you know, just watching us, watching the news figuring out what’s going to happen in the next one year should be pretty fascinating.
Andrew D Ive 43:00
Jarred, David from Thrilling Foods, thank you for your time today guys. If you’re listening, if you’re watching, please do reach out to Hello at Thrilling Foods.com If you have questions if you want to help help them or in any way support their their journey from artisanal to artisanal plus, I don’t want them to get rid of the artisanal but I do want them to get it so that I can walk into my local, you know, Wegmans or supermarket and buy every day. I don’t want it to go out of stock every 15 minutes, which I’m sure is happening.
Andrew D Ive 43:34
That’s been known to happen. Yeah. Yeah. We’re working on it. Yeah.
Andrew D Ive 43:37
All right. Thank you guys. I appreciate you Thrilling. Thanks a lot. Thank you for coming along to today’s podcast at the Big Idea podcast where we focus on food. Today, we had a great conversation with Jared, and with David from Thrilling Foods. They’re doing some amazing things around plant based bacon.
Andrew D Ive 44:00
So I’m Andrew, I’ve been your host. I’m the founder of Big Idea ventures. We have offices in Paris, Singapore, New York, where we find and work with and support and invest in founders, engineers, scientists, changing the world ,solving big problems with big ideas. So that’s it. If you’re an investor interested in food innovation and related please reach out, if you’re a founder who wants help and support find us at Big Idea adventures.com or via LinkedIn. That said this is Andrew from Big Idea Ventures. I look forward to connecting with you again. Bye bye
Thrilling Foods: Based in Portland, Washington Thrilling Foods created BAKON, a product that is taking the country by storm. BAKON is plant-based bacon produced using old traditional techniques. It’s salt-cured and smoked just like traditional pork products. You get all of the sizzle, aroma, taste, and texture of bacon without the cruelty or damage to the planet.
Big Idea Ventures
Big Idea Ventures is the world’s most active investor in FoodTech – our goal is to invest in the best Food and Agri-Tech companies globally. The company has contributed to the development of the growing alternative protein industry since its inception and has become a global leader in food innovation. BIV is backed by a strong network of strategic partners including AAK, Avril, Bühler, Givaudan, Temasek Holdings, and Tyson Ventures, and is partnering with governments around the world working on food security and new food ecosystems. The firm has offices in New York, Paris, and Singapore and has invested in more than 100 companies across 25 countries.
Big Idea Podcast: Food Host
Andrew founded Big Idea Ventures to help solve the world’s biggest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers. Andrew is responsible for investing and building companies across alternative protein, food tech, and agtech sectors. Andrew works with investors, corporations, and governments to invest and build the most transformative companies and ecosystems around the world. Serving on the Tufts Nutrition Council advisory board, and a Friedman School Entrepreneurship Advisor, Andrew is a Harvard Business School graduate and Procter & Gamble brand management trained. Andrew has invested in more early-stage / pre-seed food companies than most other investors worldwide. Big Idea Ventures has teams and offices in New York, Singapore and Paris.
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