Podcast 6: Confetti Snacks Founder Betty Lu speaks with Andrew D. Ive from Big Idea Ventures about starting a fine foods company based in Singapore and NYC.
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.
The podcast can be viewed at the links below:
Please view the transcript of the interview below:
Andrew D. Ive
Hi there, welcome to the big idea food podcast. I’m your host, Andrew, Ive from Big Idea ventures. Today we’re talking to Betty. Betty is the founder of confetti snacks. She is on a mission to change the snacking industry, with her fantastic vegetable base in perfect vegetable based, wonderful snacks.
You should really try them, you should try the mushrooms. I’m a big, big fan. Take a look. If you can find them, wherever you are. If you’re in the United States, I think she’ll shortly be launching them if she hasn’t already when you listen to this in Amazon. She’s also everywhere in Singapore, across multiple stores, supermarkets, channels, and so on. So if you’re interested in a lady who’s building an amazing company, a mission driven company around imperfect vegetable snacks, please listen to this podcast comment, like and so on. Let’s get into it. Thanks. Betty from confetti snacks. How are you?
I’m good. Thank you, Andrew. It’s lovely to be here.
It’s good to be here. So I’m seeing a whole range of boxes behind you lots of snacks. veggie chips, written on the boxes. I’m hoping if anyone’s watching this person is listening to it, they can see the same things to these packagings look really, really good. You’ve changed the many. You’ve changed him in the last year or so what’s what’s been happening? What’s been going on with confetti?
Yeah, lots of things, Andrew. So confetti is really a mission driven company. And we’re trying to bring more colors into global snack house, you know, majority of the snack aisle is still dominated by an ocean of yellow. Everything is either extruded compounds, or they’re deep fried potato chips. And we really love to change that. So confetti is a celebration of colors. We use upcycle produce and turn imperfect produce as well as crop surpluses into amazing award winning color for snacks. So we can impart more joy to global consumers and have vegetables portrayed in a very fun way.
So you’re using colors, you’re using upcycled imperfect vegetables to create a whole new range of snacks. Is that because it’s more nutritionally beneficial? It’s more nutritionally dense? It’s ultimately better for people who are snacking on vegetables versus, you know, potato and extruded stuff?
Yeah, absolutely, Andrew. So our whole goal is to make veggies fun and young for the world. As you know, different colors have different sets of phytonutrients that are really good for us. So what we do is, you know, instead of having potato chips or extruded corn puffs, we really emphasize on low starch high nutrient density vegetables such as radishes, carrots, shitake, mushrooms and okra. And they come with a burst of plant goodness.
Yeah, so as you know, different vegetables and different colors have different sets of phytonutrients that are very good for us. So say the mushrooms you know, they are really light, airy and crunchy. And we have led tested it. So it’s a really excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
And that’s a natural source, right? This is not something you’re adding vitamins or other things to? You know, these vegetables are naturally nutritious.
Oh, yes, that’s right. So we craft our snacks in such a gentle way we really respect the nature and the integrity of every single vegetable and their nutrient density. So we craft it in a very low temperature. So it maximize the nutrient density and then at the same time is scrumptious, delicious and crunchy. And of course we infuse them with amazing flavors inspired by the world.
You know, Singapore is very much a culinary heritage and a melting pot of different cultures. So we really want to be very inclusive as a snack company and really celebrate the different flavors and culinary cultures of different Heritage’s as well as different cultures. So for example, you know, we have teriyaki BBQ inspired by the Japanese community. We have summer truffle inspired by the eurasians. And we have our tandoori inspired by the Indian culture. So you know, we really want to bring diverse cultures together and really celebrate different vegetables, different colors and also bring people together by celebrating diversity.
So let’s just briefly go through your products. What are the different ingredients and the different …. so I go along to a supermarket aisle and I look for confetti, what are the kind of products I find?
Oh, yes, great question. So you would have you know, we have the vegetable range where it celebrates different colors like you know, teriyaki truffle, tandoori, you know, infused into these vegetables which are radishes, carrots, mushrooms as well as ocra. And then we have one line exclusive just for shittaka mushrooms. Because people really love mushrooms and they are fun guys. So we decided to create a range of it. So we will have our black truffle green curry. And you know, they are really celebrating different spices and culinary authentic recipes of each of these cultures that we try to infuse into our snacks. So we are sorry, go ahead, please.
Oh, Andrew, would you like me to share my screen? So I can show pictures? Or should we just do this audio wise?
Well, I’m actually seeing behind you the products so I think people can see them. I mean, if you want to grab for example the shitake mushroom package and show people on the camera. That’d be great.
So for anyone who’s watching, you’ll be able to see Betty showing showing some packaging. Okay, so it’s a kind of a green green package, lovely mushroom cups lifted just a little higher. Awesome. So and that’s not that’s not chocolate or anything this is. This is real shitaka mushroom that’s been dried at low heat so that it’s got a really nice crunch to it, and the flavor in this case is a green curry, correct?
Yes, absolutely, Andrew. So, green curry to celebrate the Thai culture. And then you can really taste you know, complex elements of top, middle and base notes of crushed kafir lime leaves, creamy coconut milk tumeric and various spices, which celebrates Singapore’s unique culinary heritage. And at the bottom, we have a fun veggie joke as well. So we have lots of different points that we put below. And of course, you can see all the nutrition facts behind. It’s an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron.
So tell us tell us from an from the nutritional pack at the back, what’s what’s the what have these snacks got in them?
Yeah, it has, you know, vegetables, spices, there’s tumeric, you know, various spices that have high or right values or antioxidant values. At the same time. There’s also, you know, a rich source of calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. So not only does this taste better than a Cheeto, or the riddle or potato chip, you know, it’s not only very moreish and scrumptious it also has a burst of planned goodness, that is good for us. Yep. And then you know, we have summer truffle itself.
Yeah, so it has low starch veggies. So you know, most of these net companies have very high starch veggies, like potatoes or root vegetables. So what we do as a company is we use low starch veggies, like, you know, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, that are not only morish and colorful and fun to eat at the same time they are packed with so much more vitamins and minerals.
And most people are not big fans of like radishes and things in terms of day to day, but but somehow and I’ve tried your products somehow because you’ve made them crunchy and sort of saw a little bit salty, a little bit, some of that spices, it’s turning things that I would never ever eaten, you know, raw into something I’m very happy to eat hand in hand falls off. So I think it’s really interesting what you’ve done here. Now, you talked about the different flavors. So truffle green curry, and teriyaki. Is this product not oriented towards kids, given that it’s healthier, it’s more adult centric, is that right?
I would say kids love it as much as adults. Yeah, it’s very hard for kids to like vegetables. You know, parents spend a lot of time persuading their little ones to have vegetables. So when they eat something so crunchy and delicious, you know, they love it, they get addicted to it, and they get their parents to buy more. Yeah, and because, you know, our flavors really stand out and it brings people on a culinary adventure around the world with COVID you know, everyone is stranded in their own countries.
And you know, we are using snack as a medium to bring people to exotic parts of the world even to verify far flung far flung countries and bring them on the culinary adventure across the world. Yeah, so they can taste you know, summer truffle from the Eurasian community. They can taste you know, green curry from the Thai community. You know, they can taste tandoori from India, and they can also taste teriyaki from Japan. Yes. So I know it’s,
Kids liking different. So for example, I think my daughter would have loved the teriyaki, she would have probably loved the truffle. I’m not so sure whether she would have liked the curry and the what was the other the fourth flavor?
teriyaki BBQ is by the Japanese community.
Okay, so So I think, I think maybe the curry she would have probably avoided because he’s not a big fan of like spicy things as a child. But I think the sweet ones, and the, the truffle she would have probably loved.
children say do you find children have have preferences? Or are they liking all? All flavors?
Yeah, they are liking all flavors, because we deliberately catered all the flavors, so it’s not too spicy. So even young children can have it without any problems. Yeah, so yeah. So when we say green curry, you can taste like tumoric you know, lemongrass, we were spices, but the the chili itself, we keep it at a minimum. So you know, young and old? Can they can all enjoy this snack?
And in terms of the flavors, have they been brought to the snack in a natural way? How have you brought those flavors to the to the, to the vegetable?
Yeah, so we took a long time to experiment, you know, 18 months of r&d to taste the flavor profiles, we work with different you know, contract manufacturers, as well as flavor houses to perfect, you know, the nutrient density, the cooking method, as well as the spices and the, the texture mouthfeel as well as the, the flavor profile. Yeah, so we went back and forth multiple times with our flavor partner, which is giovane. To get it to taste just right, you know, how you make a perfume. And then there’s the top middle and base nose is the same for taste as well. There’s top middle and base notes, which we took many, many months to perfect
Are Giovane good partners in that process.
Yes, they are perfect. They’re very patient with me, because I’m a perfectionist, and I want everything to be perfect. So they have really been very patient. And we have been back and forth so many times to ensure that you know, we get the right flavor density and is still like airy and crunchy while maintaining the authentic roots of the culinary recipes that we use.
So they still talking to you. Are you are you allowed back in the office?
Yes, yeah, we speak quite regularly. I haven’t been banned yet from their offices.
Still time. There’s still time. So how did you come up with this idea? What made you sort of want to drive forward with a snack, which was not only different and tasty and leveraging up cycled imperfect vegetables? But you know, but but we’re so moreish what, how did you kind of come up with the idea and how did you drive it forward? Or did it evolve?
Yes, it did. So it started off from a world tour that I did with my parents, with my mom. And, you know, I was on a world tour for three and a half years, and I was hiking up the mountains of British Columbia. So in those mountains, you know, I was really struggling to find a perfect snack.
You know, the protein bars felt very bland and sterile and tasted a bit like cardboard. And then we have potato chips that gave me a sore throat because they are deep fried. And you know, every time you deep fry something, there’s so much carcinogens that is evoked from that cooking process. So I found that it’s very hard for me to find a perfect snack to bring up the mountains with me. So you know, apples and fruits and vegetables, they are quite heavy. So it weighed down on my backpack. So it’s really hard to climb up.
So I started experimenting when I was in British Columbia. So I started visiting farmers markets, you know, I really love food, I love cooking. So I decided to get some fresh produce from the farmers markets. Then as I slice them up, and I season them with authentic flavors inspired by where I come from. As you know, Singapore has a very rich culinary heritage. And I started slicing them up, I was feeling quite homesick, I infused them with authentic recipes inspired by Singapore. And you know, I dehydrated such as crispy and light and crunchy and I shared it with my friends and family. And you know, my neighbors living near me and everybody loved it. So they asked me the you know, the golden question, which is, you know, can we find this in the stores because if we can, we will definitely love to buy it.
So that gave me the idea and the lightbulb moment for me to bring this concept back to Singapore and get this to commercial terms of where we are today. So I pitched the government. And they gave us the first funding to kickstart the company and to give us the working capital to create this. And then we started getting to the trade shows everybody loved it. We started winning awards as well. Like we’ve been featured on the Michelin Guide and we also won the Best gourmet snack brand of the year. So we’ve come a long way since then, and we find that people actually really love eating vegetables.
So we got more and more people on board and now we are actually scaling up. We are in every major grocery channel in Singapore now the major supermarkets, convenience stores, specialty food grocers, you know online market platforms as well as offices. More recently we also have a partnership with hospitality. Groups like krisflyer by Singapore Airlines where you can redeem your MLS for snack bundles. At the same time you also in the gift shops and hospitality channels like hotels.
So if I go on a Singapore airline, I’m going to be given a little confetti bag when I sit down on my chair.
Oh, yeah, you are able to get into the krisflyer Singapore Airlines website, and then you can redeem your air miles for our snacks. Then for to get us onto the airlines, we will need a mini pack which we are getting out soon. And then we have to negotiate with them. Because they are very strong in bargaining.
Don’t worry, they’re not working. They weren’t they’re not watching the video, don’t worry. Okay, so British Columbia with your mother going up a mountain wanting something that’s both delicious, but light. And, and, and again, you wanted to sort of bring the flavors of different cultures, which Singapore is very known for? Bring those flavors together in something that would remind you of home, I totally appreciate that. What when did when did when was this mountain climb? And what sort of take us through some of the journey since then, in terms of bringing your own snack line to consumers? Given that you, you know, you weren’t from the food industry, I think, and this was this was sort of a crazy idea encouraged by friends and family.
Yes, this absolutely right, is inspired by travels. And I find that you know, when I travel, I get the best ideas. And yeah, and you know, I really love making Food, Cooking and sharing that with the world. You know, to my friends and family to see people happy, really makes me happy as well. And you know, this journey hasn’t been easy.
My background, you’re absolutely right. It’s not in food, but more in marketing. So my background is really in marketing and branding. And I’m quite a creative person. So I find that creating confetti has really been a very strong creative outlet for me to explore ideas to share, to self actualize. And really to bring, you know, a crazy idea into the world and into the shelves. And trust me, it hasn’t been an easy process. I have to pester every single buyer, you know, force myself into their offices and pitch them about, you know why they should carry us because shelf space is really prime real estate that you know, people feel very reluctant to give up. Especially when you are contending and competing with you know, the largest billion dollar brands in the world like Lay’s like Pringles like Doritos, like Cheetos, you know, we have to fight for shelf space. And as a newcomer, you really have to convince the buyer why, you know, we are so different, why we are so special, how we are adding values to their shelves, for them to be convinced that you know we have a product here that is better for the consumer. It’s not only healthy is vibrant, you know, it’s colorful, it’s fun to eat at the same time is so much better for the consumer, because it has so much vitamins, minerals and fiber.
You mentioned your many shelves in Singapore, you’re in most of the grocery stores, if not all of the grocery stores, multiple outlets. You won that discussion. You You won that battle. So how did you convince the buyer given that you’re, you know, new to the industry that you’re very young company? How did you convince them to to take a chance on you?
Yeah, it takes a lot of persistence. And you know, it’s not a one off thing, you know, we have to knock on doors we have to, you know, keep following up with them. And of course, you know, they we and they equally aware that behind us you know there’s a few 100 people queuing up to speak to them. So I really need to convince them that we are super differentiated.
You know, in the snake oil is still dominated by an ocean of yellow everything is potato chips is high in starch. You know, it’s all deep fried and there’s so much carcinogens there you know, we are in the snack our you know, one of the rare most superior in terms of nutrient density. And of course the taste and the mouthfeel is amazing. And you know when they open one of these bags and see all the colors is so good for entertaining and you know, kids really, you know, enjoy the colors and the same for adults as well. They love this with kombucha you know, they love this with green smoothies, you know, especially if the pandemic we find that our sales have gone up in terms of cumulative growth. So we find that, you know, especially in the pandemic, people are very conscious about what they put in their mouths, and they really want to take care of their health. So they’re not only one indulgence, but they want permissible indulgence, you know, they want something which is not only tastes amazing, you know, at the same time is also good for them and gives them the plant based nutrition that they need. Yeah, I think the COVID Yeah, sorry.
Go. Take us through some of the steps from lady climbing mountain with you know, dehydrated fruit and various vegetables in a bag with spices to big boxes of dried, you know, a dehydrated, great tasting snacks behind you. Take us through some of the steps that you needed to go through to get to where you are today.
Yeah, so firstly, I would say the consumers King is super important to win the consumer and the taste, you know, you have the best, most nutritious product in the world the best design, but it tastes like cardboard, no one is going to come back again. So it’s very important to win them on the taste. So the first thing we do is to convince the consumer do they love it. And really do they love the taste or the experience, we really need them to feel, you know, wowed or really delighted when they taste the snack. So the taste is number one, for sure. And then the secondary messages will be the fact that you know, hey, sustainable, you know, we’re addressing food waste by upcycling, imperfect produce or crop surpluses.
And then the secondary message should be is also a few good effects. The fact that, you know, it’s also very nutrient dense, it is high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Those are afterthoughts, I think number one for any food company is definitely the taste, you know, are we able to convince them on the taste first, then, of course, after that, we need to focus on the packaging. Because before they get to try this, you know, they need to be won by the packaging and the design and the branding itself, it needs to capture their attention. Snacks are very much an impulse purchase, we only have a few nanoseconds when a consumer walks past us now and decide to choose you, you know, among everything else that they so it’s very important for us to capture their attention, pique their curiosity, and get them to choose us in those nanoseconds. So we spent a very strong effort, you know, we have a very strong branding team led by Michael Crebit, who is our creative director. And, you know, we spent so many months working on the branding, the messaging hierarchy, you know, the brand messages that we want to convey. And, you know, we managed to get it together in a very cohesive way. So is very strong. And after we get that, then how do we communicate it to the audience, you know, what messages are we choosing to communicate and convey our sustainable messages.
So, yeah, there’s, there’s many points of truth when they encounter the brain to capture the attention as they get go. And after the second moment of truth, when they bring it home, they open up the package, they eat it, Wow, this is amazing, you know, it’s so amazing, I’m going to tell my friends, I’m going to go back and buy the next few 100 times. So those moments of truth are very important. And we need to get all of them right. And of course, pricing is very important as well, you know, it can’t be too expensive that they can afford it on, on a regular basis. So we need to find the right price point, and also communicate the messages in a very strong and cohesive way.
You mentioned sustainability is the package and the packaging of the product sustainable.
Yes, it’s very sustainable. So, you know, our reason deter, you know, the whole reason of our existence is really to address food waste, and to end hunger. So when I started off, you know, just climbing mountains and hiking and enjoying my world travels, I, you know, I stopped the travel, I cut it short to come back to focus on this full time, I wanted to create a brand that really resonates and leaves a very strong impact in this world. So one we can do is really tackle food waste, 2.8 trillion pounds of fruits and vegetables are thrown away every year, you know, simply because they’re ugly, or they’re just even Apple, if it’s too big or too small, they don’t make it onto the supermarket hours, it needs to be just the right size. So there’s a lot of unnecessary waste. And they don’t make sense most of the time. And we feel like you know, we really want to change that address food waste upcycle.
These crop surpluses and imperfect produce into a nutrient dense, award winning and useful snack, to delight consumers and see them smile and happy and you know, something that is good for their bodies. At the same time, a portion of whatever we do goes to feeding the hungriest people in the world. So you know, the faster we scale into global markets, the more we can do to tackle food waste, address them and upcycle and repurpose them to something useful. At the same time, you know, it, it protects food security across different nations. And the more we can do to end hunger, you know, don’t also donate to hunger relief efforts for people who can’t afford food.
And from the packaging itself, is that a is that a silver foil or what is it?
Yeah. Yeah, good question. So, you know, our very first prototype was done in a compostable form. And because it’s such a fragile matter, you know, it actually becomes fertilizer for the soil within 26 weeks. And because Singapore is so hot and humid, it started developing micro hosts micro holes on the packaging that made our chips soggy. So I needed to go back to the manufacturer and ask them to do more r&d to perfect it.
So in the meantime is made from aluminum, like 99% of the snacks in the supermarket’s but, you know until we get that prototype that allows us to become compostable, what we are doing now is you know, we can And also what with companies like terracycle, we can upcycle this to roofing material for to reinforce the roofs and shelters for third world countries, or to provide housing for refugee camps. So that you know these, after you wash it out, and you stuffed it with newspaper, you know, we can use it to fortify, you know, refugee shelters, roofing material, you know, and there are a lot of people who are homeless people who die from the cold every winter in Europe as well as US. So you know, these can even be made for sleeping mats or tents to house the homeless people as well. So we are exploring ways of how we can upcycle this for emergency housing and shelters.
So how does how does that work? Basically, when someone’s finished with the package, what would they do?
So we, they have a central place where they can collect all these empty bags, then somebody would clean it out. And then we can stuff it say, with newspapers, or we can just send it out to camps or refugee societies so that they can use it to fortify roofs in third world countries.
So so in Singapore, they’re collecting these bags and recycling them. I don’t know if we do that in the US? That’s a great question. So let me I’ll go and find out about that as well. Now, you mentioned you’re you’re growing very quickly, in multiple channels in Singapore. Is there anywhere else that we can find you or what’s the plan in terms of taking this outside of Singapore?
Yeah, great question. Andrew. We’re really excited because you know, we have our confetti snacks sitting in a warehouse in New York right now. You just got in one week ago and we are super excited. So in Singapore, you know, we are very pleased to be announced that we are in all the major grocery channels, you know, we are in Fair Price, the largest supermarket chain, we are in Media, we are in Cold Storage, Shelf 57 outlets across the island. We are also in specialty stores like these for me market, you know, a Ryan grocery, as well as the largest bookstore chain in the whole of Southeast Asia.
So it’s called popular book store. And of course, we work with gift companies as well like Noel, and we are in Mitchalin fine dining restaurants around Singapore. And we of course, our recent collaboration with Singapore Airlines allow us, you know, allows users to redeem their airmiles for our nutrient dense gift sets and our snack bundles as well. And also very happy to announce that we are in the schools as well as the university. So National University of Singapore, as UTD as well as Nanyang Technological, logical University. We are also in these universities. So in summer, we are actually looking to launch officially in both North America namely USA as well as Middle East in Kuwait.
So the containers are being prepared at the moment so that we can do our official launch in summer and we are going to do a soft launch in New York in May. So please look out for it. We are going to be in some specialty stores in Soho in New York City. And we will also be doing a soft launch in Amazon us. So he will also help us to facilitate you know negotiations with big box retailers in USA so that in summer during our official launch in August, we will be able to you know consumers will be able to find confetti snacks in their local stores as well.
Same flavors, you’re going with the same you’re going with the same green curry, teriyaki, truffle, etc. In the USA.
Oh yes. And for the US we have a special surprise you know, because the mushrooms are flying off the shelves here. So we decided to create one more variant which is called black truffle. So these mushrooms also come in black truffle, which is a new product that we are going to launch in us and of course you know Andrew, you gave us amazing advice at the get go to have mini packs so that we can access more channels, you know, like hotel minibus like cafeterias, kids lunch boxes as well as you know when people go out for picnic or hikes they want small packs. So we have also access us exclusive when we launched in August. We also have the mini packs really. So these two flavors would have come in mini packs as well.
When you say these two flavors, I’m just reading here the mushroom chips will have many flavors mini sizes and the vegetable chips and there are mini flavors will have all or sorry the mini sizes we’ll have all flavors?
Yeah, because you know one of you will just have the summer truffle and veggies and you would have the green curry mushrooms. Yeah, we’re just doing to use because, you know our our major focus would definitely be foodservice like subway, or Preta Manger or Starbucks you know when you want to grab and go or mini pack. I don’t think the counter space has much space for too many skews. So we decided to just prioritize two of the best selling one one for mushroom and one for vegetables.
Are you doing multipacks where someone can buy 10 or 12 at a time?
Yeah, we’re exploring that right now. So if they buy a carton, then they would have like five different flavors in one. So I think the parent can throw a different flavor into the school bag of their child in a different day. So Monday to Friday, they have a different flavor every day.
I’m sad. I’m sad that my daughter’s 18 because I can’t send her to school with any of your competitive products now that I made her pack, I might have packed lunch every day of her school career, from you know, junior school, middle school up to high school. I think it would have made my job easier with confetti snacks.
Yeah, I think you can send her big, big bags now. Because she’s a grown up girl.
Yeah, I’ll send them to university through Amazon. That’s a good idea. So, so it’s going to be in Soho in the summer in New York. Where and then obviously, people can go on Amazon, if they want to try confetti snacks. If they’re not living in the New York City area. I’m guessing this they’ll ship it anywhere, right? So anyone in the US can try this can try these products. Wha about price, how does this price compare with Lay’s or with you know, the sort of potato chips you’d get in a supermarket? Is it like 10 times more expensive or what’s the price difference?
I would say that you know, we have done a very strong in depth competitor analysis. So, in the US market we also compare the price with bear snakes with lesser evil snakes and terror ships. So I won’t compare us with lace and Pringles because you know number one, they have economies of scale they are huge. And number two they are using a very shipping region which is potato chips and I can never come compete in terms of pricing you know in terms of them using a very cheap ingredient you know our our ingredients are very expensive, you know, we have you know mushrooms we have carrots, radishes. So, the ingredient cost itself is quite high. So, we would classify us as a premium snack. So, we have done in that competitor analysis in the premium category. So we are competing with people like you know,
We are competing with Lesser Evil or Bear Snakes or Terra chips. And in that space, you know, we are quite competitive. So our mushroom, our mushrooms Next go for six USD, and our vegetables Next go for five USD. So it still falls within the realm of acceptable price bracket in the premium snack category.
You shouldn’t really ask a question if you don’t know the answer in these kind of situations, but how are you getting the ingredients in the United States? In terms of mushrooms and things or for the short term while you’re building the the market in the US? Are you bringing those products from a manufacturer in in Asia? In Singapore, for example?
Yeah, great. Yeah, great question. Andrew. You know, we, as a very sustainable snack company, which is mission driven, you know, we very much want to keep everything hyper localized. So we our factory in Malaysia supplies to the Singapore market, because it’s only 30 minutes drive away, we want to keep everything hyper localized, you know, sauce, packed, you know, out of Malaysia and sent to Singapore to reduce our carbon footprint and our carbon emissions to regulate climate change, you know, what we want to do is really be as gentle on the environment as possible. So, for US, you know, we have talked to contract manufacturers in the East Coast for several months now, you know, our MOQ’s are quite low right now, because you challenge your brain
yeah, MOQ stands for minimum order quantity. Yeah, for industry terms. Yeah. So, the MOQ’s that they require is much higher than what we have now. So, the first few orders you know, we are still going to send it off mainly out of Asia. But you know, once we get the critical mass and the mix the volumes are in place, what we are going to do is sauce out of US and then manufacturer of US and supply to the domestic market, which gives us several advantages. So firstly, you know, it would reduce our lead time. Number two, it will make our supply chain more efficient. And number three, you know, we are being hyper localized, which means that we are reducing the carbon footprint and also sourcing local and, you know, really contributing to upcycling, imperfect produce within US itself so that we can really leave for impact and also support the local farmers.
That’s great. One company you should talk with on the mushroom side. I’m a big fan of I’m a big fan of a company called Small Hold. So SMM, s m a, l, l, h, o LD, these guys have come up with really innovative ways to grow mushrooms efficiently. So when they started, they were creating these racks inside of restaurants against the wall so that restaurants could actually grow mushrooms in the restaurant and have it totally fresh and ready to go. And these guys are just very, very creative. So let me make sure I connect you with them offline. Okay.
Sounds good. And thanks so much, Andrew. And yeah, there’s one more exciting thing we should we thought about of doing because you know, we are so much into upcycling, imperfect produce, you know, and this space has gotten so much attraction with, you know, thrive marketplace or imperfect boxes, or even, you know, the what is this call is backed by Ashton Kutcher is a, I think they just raised 101 million recently, you know, these subscription boxes that they send imperfect produce to?
Yeah, I don’t I can’t remember the name of the I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Yeah, exactly. So if we get it into imperfect produce boxes, or even, you know, Thrive Market places, then we can, you know, not only be aligned with our mission of upcycling, ugly produce, you know, we can also really get this next to more consumers around America. I think Americans as us struggling a lot with obesity, especially if the pandemic people tend to comfort eat more. And if you want to comfort eat, you know, we’d rather give you something indulgent. But then you don’t have to give it factor after you know, you can enjoy and indulge in all the plants and vegetables you want with confetti. At the same time, it gives you a burst of plant based nutrients. And of course, there’s less calories and lower in starch.
Now you say all of that, and I’m sort of in the back of my mind, I’m thinking is this is it really delicious, if it’s, you know, better for me and it’s got all of these nutrients and it’s not really fried and you know, is it really going to be as yummy as a, as a, you know, as a dark russet potato chip. Now, the reality is, I’ve tried your products, and they actually are really, really good. Now I’ve, I’m a big fan of the mushroom, I think everybody is a big fan of the mushroom, but also the vegetables are great to i, the okra, for me was another one of those vegetables that was just sort of unexpected, you know, I, I, when I see a bowl of your confetti now I sort of, I sort of look at it, and I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna try that thing next. And then the next thing. And for me, I just started picking out all of the okras and the mushrooms. Because for whatever reason, they really appealed to me. So yeah, you should do an okra line at some point, providing that makes sense to people.
Absolutely. And you know, we can even do a limited edition, Andrew youth, limited edition, whatever flavor you want with just mushrooms and okra.
I’m sure that you shouldn’t risk the business on doing something like that. So So when do you Where do you see confetti being and let’s say lets me kind of give a time, let’s say in three years time, if everything goes to plan to the to the kind of Betty Lou plan, where see confetti being in three years time.
So I see us in all the major developed countries of the world, every single snack, well, you know, there’s 198 countries in this world and every single supermarket has a snack aisle, you know, we feel that we have something that is more superior proposition in terms of the taste the nutrient density, as well as the flavor profile. You know, the whole experience of snacking on it is so moreish and scrumptious, but yet packed so much more new friends inside. So I see ourselves being you know, targeting all the premium countries first and the premium grocery channels. So you can be supermarkets, convenience stores, specialty stores, natural food stores, across the world.
But we focus in the more developed countries first, like, you know, EU, UK, North America, Middle East, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, you know, Hong Kong, you know, just just targetting these places first, because, you know, we don’t have economies of scale that lace and Pringles so you know, we still have to have a premium pricing, which may not be something affordable for third world countries or, you know, developing countries yet. So until we get to those critical mass and drive down the costs with economies of scale, we need to really focus on markets with high disposable income.
So we are going to focus in these markets first, and really ensure that you know, we get the sell through and the critical mess in these places. And these traditional grocery channels. Of course, we also want to focus on the e commerce side, because D to C and online marketplaces give us a much stronger gross margin. And you know, our profit margin is much higher, which allows us to sustain and grow much faster as well. So we really want to focus on ecommerce strategy and you know, really crush it squash I know confetti is a big company. So we call it squash it. And by Michael Covett, we need to squash it in these channels and really find out, you know, what is the get go and the right strategies to employ in the e commerce space as well. So, as you rightly mentioned, you know, US, Amazon US actually exports to all the 48 or 49 states, sorry, how many states are there? 49, right.
Something like that.
Yeah, so 49 states of us, and, and then this would actually be out even the specialty stores in Soho have been chasing us for snacks since last year, so I need to get it to them. So that will be the soft launch in me. So this month, you know, some time this month, you would get it on Amazon, us as well as specialty stores in Soho. And then the official, huge container forty footer would come in on the first week of August. So by then, you know, we aim to be in the major big box retailers.
So how long? How long have you been on this journey? Let me ask you a slightly different question. When you went walking up that mountain looking for, you know, looking for a snack that was light and tasty and didn’t taste like cardboard?
How long was it? It was? It was about two, two and a half years ago is 2018. Yep. So yeah, and we have, you know, made so much development since then, as a human being I feel I’ve grown a lot, you know, and we work with amazing people, we work with amazing VCs, like the idea of ventures who really nurture the best entrepreneurs in the world to change the world’s biggest challenges.
Yeah, so actually memorize that. Brush, I find that is so true, you know, the amount of talent that our VCs as well as our team bring is really phenomenal. You know, personally, I find that he has helped me on my personal growth and journey, you know, we wouldn’t have gotten to this scale today, without the help of the team and our, and our investors, you know, they have really been backing us every step of the way. And I find that, yeah, you know, to learn how to bring a product into the shelves and getting it out, you know, commercial industrial scale really takes a lot of effort. And without the team’s talent and their hard work and they agreed and tenacity, you know, we wouldn’t be in this shelf city.
So the funny thing is, for a large company with endless amounts of money, and people, they would generally take more than two years more than two to two and a half years to to have a product like you have behind you on on the on the video camera, it would typically with all of their people with all of their resources, it would be from from idea to final product in the market would take them longer than you’ve taken which so you know that the your ability to do this so quickly, so well, in and habit in all of the sort of key channels across Singapore and airlines, you know, relationships with the airlines, universities, etc. is just incredible. What would you What would you say is has been the reason why people have sort of got behind you and wanted to to help you make confetti a reality.
Yeah, thank you so much for the kind words. I think it’s down to me being very annoying because I love pestering people. And maybe I pester them until they say yes. That applies for team members to retailers to buyers. Yeah, I mean, I don’t think I take no as an answer, which is something which my mother has imparted to me. You know, last weekend was Mother’s Day. And I grew up in a single parent household. My father passed away when I was three years old. So she brought me up single handedly, you know, she has a lot of grit and tenacity and determination. So you know, from young, she always taught me not to take no as an answer.
So I’ve always been persistent. And I, you know, the real reason is I really see a lot of value which confetti can bring 2.8 trillion pounds of edible produce are thrown away every year, while 8.6 million people die from hunger every year. You know, with one concept, we can resolve two major problems in the world. You know, we can upcycle this, you know, you know, we can upcycle food waste and you know, repurpose produce that would otherwise end up in the landfills and make them do something useful. At the same time, the more we scale, and the faster we grow, we can really contribute to end hunger and race. You know, we take our goals with hunger relief efforts. And you know, we can actually contribute more to the United Nations World Food Program and offer you know, nutritious meals and emergency food aid to people who can’t even afford you know, to have a proper meal and they are starving to death.
So it means a lot to me personally, I think that’s why I haven’t taken a salary for the first two years. And I work every single day without taking a weekend off. You know that that the thing that drives you needs to be more than money. I think it really needs to be a mission about why we exist in order to tackle major problems in the world by addressing food waste and to end hunger is something that, you know, I think our team really believes in. That’s why they are so behind me and the confetti.
And the thing is, I don’t have much money to afford them in wages, we just you know, we are very much bootstrapped from the one who have been extremely capital efficient. So I pay my whole team with chips and Aesop. And and I think the only reason why they would do that is because they really believe in what confetti is trying to accomplish in terms of hunger relief, as well as you know, to upcycle food waste and sustainability.
I think I think, you know, all the amazing things that confetti can do is doing is is a testament to, you know, how how much of an impact a single person can have with a big idea. What this also comes back to, though, and this is something you may have mentioned, right, in the beginning, is taste, because, because having all the best will wills in the world, if this doesn’t taste great. And if it doesn’t taste better than the potato chip that you want to replace. Having all of the best wills in the world won’t make people stop eating the potato chip and start eating the confetti snack. The great thing is that this does have that taste, and I can you know, I’m a testament to that. And anyone who, who tries this product will be pretty wowed by by the experience. In terms of, of getting help and support, I know that you don’t want to keep paying people in in vegetable chips instead, instead of money and so on, in terms of in terms of how consumers, investors, business people, potential retailers, distributors, etc. How can people get in contact with you? How do people? how can how do you want people to help confetti become a kind of household name?
Yep, I really feel like this is a collective effort. You know, I really love people. And I love the fact that having a very strong team, you know, with our current team of our C suite, as well as our investors, I find that this confetti as a concept really benefits from the collective intelligence of the group. I think that’s very critical to our success so far. And you know, not only that, you know, we have found very strong brand partnerships in other fnb brands, which are also very keen on sustainability.
So you know, our snacks, not only our morish, but they also pair well with a juicer kombucha, smoothie, yogurt, you know, we have even found fast food chains have worked with us. So I find that collaborations are great, you know, I really want to work with the best minds in the industry. So we are currently raising a cerec, which we intend to close very soon. So we really are looking for like minded investors who can really nurture us in terms of our goals, and our international expansion, and bring more you know, vibrant colors and vegetables and fruits to the table and countries across the world.
So that we can offer something that is so much better than a potato chip. And potato chips are still 90% of the market, you know, they are still the market leaders and you know, what we have is something that tastes better than a potato chip is better for you it is taste looks and feels better in your body as well. So I find that, you know, we have something that can really revolutionize this snack space. And we are always looking for distributors for partners to get in touch with us, as well as investors who can really help us with our goals. So we can be reached on confetti snacks.com. And you can also follow us on our Instagram page at confetti snacks. So that’s the best way to get in touch with us. Yeah.
And does that mean that you would or would not want a friend or partnership or relationship with let’s say Pepsi or Mondelez? Or folks who are in that potato chip business? Do you see it? Do you see? Do you see you guys being collaborators at some point? Or do you see Do you see confetti being completely separate completely different and you don’t see a relationship there.
I definitely see a relationship with, you know, players like Pepsi CO, you know, Mondelez, Coke, you know, I would think that, you know, we will definitely benefit from their distribution channels, you know, the fact that they are very strong in terms of distribution networks, supply chain infrastructure, you know, we can definitely capitalize on that. And furthermore, you know, say PepsiCo has also invested in players like bear, which is healthier snack brand.
You know, as you mentioned earlier, universal startup we are more nimble, we are more flexible, we can move and make decisions faster. And of course we have a brand story that is very strong and inherent to us. You know that authentic brand story is something which I feel you know the Lays or Pringles of the world. They can’t go overnight and start telling people we do healthy trips, you know, it would be a complete brand disconnect in the consumers mind. So I think it’s easier for them to acquire us as a brand. You know, rather than having to try to get lay and get lazy to start making healthy veggie ships overnight, I think the customer, the consumer may not be convinced by that. Yeah, so I would definitely, you know, look at them as a potential acquirer of our brand one day. So they can still keep the authentic brand image and the brand story, and help us to grow in terms of our volumes, and you know, our expansion to international markets.
And the goal would be to keep confetti, doing what it’s doing in terms of upcycling imperfect vegetables, and the kind of sustainability aspects of your business.
Yeah, absolutely. I think I wouldn’t work with an investor who who doesn’t care about our mission, you know, we the only two reasons why we exist is to address and upcycle food waste, and also to contribute to end hunger. So I will always be on the board, you know, my investors can have their exit strategies, but I will be on the board forever. Because this means more to me than you know, it’s not a monetary thing to me, I really want to defer legacy and impact that would last for many years after I leave this role as well. So I’ll always be on the board, if they would have me. And then I would work with a bigger player for distribution networks, and of course, to grow the brand internationally. But I would need them to respect you know, our values and our ethos and our philosophy about, you know, why we are creating this company and the mission behind it.
I think that’s great. So getting back to timings in terms of the US, when do you expect people to be able to go to Amazon, if they’re not based in New York City to be able to start placing orders? In fact, just maybe, when can I start placing orders? Just give me a day, I’ll set it on my calendar. And and if you don’t deliver that, on that day, I’ll harass you until you do.
Yeah, so we are looking at a timeline of me sometime in May. And then we have a VP of sales for Amazon. His name is Clint. So he would facilitate that. And then in us, we are working with a very strong distribution partner. So we he they will facilitate the discussions with the big box retailers but for I think for Soho for the good, smart, you know, for Amazon us It will be sometime in May. And I’ll keep you posted.
We can time the release of this at the same time as when that products available so that people will maybe a week before something like that so people can be ready to buy. So confetti snacks, confetti snacks.com. Instagram, are you guys talking it and all the other things or is it mostly Instagram at this point?
Yeah, Michael wants me to go on tik tok. But I have no idea what that is. So I need to figure that out. Yeah, so he was saying like video, I haven’t created a tic toc video, I have no idea what it is. So I think we need to work on that. Because apparently he tells me he will go viral very quickly. So let me work on that.
And then make sure you guys make sure you go register confetti snacks across all of these different platforms so that some you don’t get squatters taking your you know your brand on these platforms, because they will try and sell it back to you for lots of money and you don’t want that. Okay, great.
I hope this squatters are not listening to this right now. Well,
This won’tgo out until you until you’ve had at least a month or two from now to get that ready. Okay, last parting thoughts for anyone listening? Especially? I’m not sure how I put this but I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs out there and women entrepreneurs out there who will be applauding what you’ve accomplished. I’m applauding what you’ve accomplished, you know, just as a person, but how would you encourage or what would you say to women who want to be entrepreneurs? I’m gonna stop the question there and expect lots of hate mail for the fact that I even asked the question.
Okay, I would say this to all women entrepreneurs, stop, stop letting anyone call you a woman entrepreneur, we don’t go around calling male entrepreneurs, male entrepreneurs is so sexist. I really hate that. So please stop.
I’m be on the video. No way.
And the other thing is, you know, I feel like whatever you want to do, as long as you really feel very passionate about it, you know, just get the ball started. You know, no matter how crazy it is, just get the first foot forward. And everything you want along the way will you know gather to you like us now. Well, you’re attract all the talent or the resources, you know, or the investors that you need to get it actualize. But I think the more important thing is you really need to have that fire. And, and in your belly and that passion. And you know, if you really, really want something, I think you, you know, all the resources who will gravitate towards you to help you to self actualize. And the other thing is, you know, I think the Singapore government who invested in us, you know, even our VCs, like big idea ventures, food ventures, innovatory, 60, as well as new form, and Jacqueline cell, who are our angel investors, you know, I don’t think they’ve ever discriminated, you know, is they’re just looking at you as an entrepreneur.
And you know, market forces decide everyday, whether you are relevant, or you should be on the shelves, you know, they consumers look at the packaging on the shelves, or the CPG final goods on the shelf, they, you know, are completely immune to the fact that you are, you know, yellow, brown, black Toad, Shawn, young, old, male, female, they don’t even care if you’re an alien, they only buy the product, because they love it, they love the taste, they love your product, they love your brand and your mission, I think that’s why they support the brand.
So I think, do not ever let this gender thing get in the way, because I feel like, you know, as women, we have a lot of potential as well, you know, we are very meticulous, we have strong EQ. And of course, Andrew has very strong EQ as well. So that’s Christian and everyone on the beef team. But I’m just saying, you know, for women, you know, we have intuition, you know, we have ability to sense and be sensitive to people’s emotions. And I find that you can really use all these things in your favor, and you’re detail oriented in your favor, and really commercialize something very special.
And whatever you have inside you in your mind, you know, it deserves to come out, you know, the idea deserves to be created, if you see that as a value, it will make other people happy, or elevate other people in any way, then, you know, you have the responsibility to bring it to the real world and commercialize it. You know, just to respect that, you know, before before, life is really short, right? I lost my dad at such a young age, you know, I don’t even remember what he looks like, I have no recollection of him. You know, life is so brief and short and fleeting. So it’s very important, like whatever you have in your mind, or in your heart to do before life is over. Because we have a very brief amount of time in this in this world. Yep, so go for it and get in touch. If there’s any way I can do to help, you know, any women entrepreneurs, just just let me know. And I’m there.
Yeah, it’s interesting that 50% of the companies we’ve invested in are, are female entrepreneurs, which is given you know, the demographic of the of the world is pretty is as it should be. We as a company, a big idea ventures are very much focused on, you know, the big idea behind the company, and what what everyone’s trying to accomplish, and what are we backing?
And why are we backing it? agenda isn’t isn’t part of it. Ask that but asking the question I asked is very much about you know, making sure that anyone who’s watching this, who’s sort of hesitant, and are using, whether it’s gender excuses, or age excuses, or whatever. I mean, for example, I’ve invested in in a founder that was 85 years old. I’ve also invested I’ve also invested in a founder who was 16 years old and needed her mother to be part of the accelerator as well, because she wasn’t allowed to be in New York on her own, or coming along to an office on her own. And we back to them. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about age, or as you say, race or gender. It’s about what are they trying to accomplish? And do they have the tenacity and the, the willingness to, you know, not take no for an answer, like you said, right in the middle of our discussion. Someone who’s going to push this big idea through to success, no matter what. And, and I don’t think that 10 Assa T is is specific to any age, any gender, any race.
It’s a very individual thing. And I’m, I’m realizing, as I’m talking to you that your tenacity comes from, probably comes from a set of being growing up without your father being a single, you know, a single parent child, and knowing that, you know, you’re gonna have to push hard to get the things you want in life, and you’re prepared to do that.
Yeah, this true, I mean, thanks, Andrew. I you know, my dad is he passed away when he was 35 at a very young age. So there was a lot of things you know, he died with a lot of dreams not fulfilled. So I always feel everyday when I wake up, I have to live on behalf of him as well. You know, to to respect the time that You know, he didn’t have. So yeah, I, I find that even though I lost my dad at a very young age, but you know, my team and my investors, you know, I see them as father figures as well. So I might have lost my natural father, but in replace I have a lot of father figures in my life to help nurture. Yeah. And I find, yeah,
I’m gonna say I think whatever happens to confetti and I bet personally believe, you know, as an investor, it’s going to be wonderfully successful. But whatever happens to confetti, I think your father would be proud of the person you have become, and you’re becoming as you go through life. So whether or not a snack product arrives on the shelf, and I don’t mean I’m not minimizing that it’s been an incredible accomplishment to get where you are. And the fact that it’s, you know, solving or helping to solve some of those major problems is incredible. But I think he’s going to be much happier about the person you are than the product that you’re making.
Thank you so much in June. Yeah, I think that means a lot. Yeah, okay.
No, no, definitely. Okay, I was gonna say snacks.com, C O N F E T T I snacks.com. If anyone wants to connect with Betty, find out about the product, support the product, it should be on Amazon in the US in May, May June, I would say just to be on the safe side. And if you’re in Singapore, it’s pretty much everywhere. So I’m going to stop the video now. And thank you for your time, Betty, I appreciate you.
Thanks so much, Andrew, for having me. Thank you.
Hi, there. Hope you enjoyed that conversation with Betty from confetti snacks. Please do reach out to her if you want to help in any way if you’ve got any questions, or if you have any feedback, I really look forward to getting your engagement. So that was today’s podcast. This is Andrew, I’m your host from Big Idea ventures. And this is the big idea food podcast. Please do like us subscribe to us and tell others. We rely upon the gratitude of strangers to get this out to as many people as possible. So again, big idea podcast. Thanks. Hope you enjoyed today’s conversation with compelling snacks. Bye