Podcast 916: So You Wanna: Start a Food or Beverage Business: A Pick-Your-Path Business Book with Douglas Raggio

“Food and beverage is harder than you’d imagine. So make sure you’re committed. Know your end game, and nail your margin and consumption.” These are great takeaways from my guest and good friend Douglas Raggio, author of a new book entitled “So You Wanna: Start a Food or Beverage Business: A Pick-Your-Path Business Book.”

In my interview with Doug, we speak about some secrets to understanding how to run your business, avoiding failure and achieving your goals to reach the success that you want.  His new book is a great roadmap, great stories, and an opportunity for everyone to learn.

If you want to learn more about Douglas Raggio and his new book, “So You Wanna: Start a Food or Beverage Business: A Pick-Your-Path Business Book” please click here to visit his website.

We hope you enjoy this engaging interview with author and business expert, Douglas Raggio.

THE BOOK

In So You Wanna: Start a Food or Beverage Business, he helps you think through the many decisions you’ll make along the road from idea to success—whether you see yourself building a following at your farmer’s market, partnering with a local restaurant, or launching the next Pepsi.

This innovative guide follows four archetypal food start-ups that cover a range of business ideas and founders. Every few pages, you’ll make crucial decisions about the next step to take in growing a hypothetical business. You’ll have a chance to see how each choice is likely to play out before you try out anything in the real world, where the stakes are higher.

In this book, you’ll see the maze of choices and outcomes that go into:
   Coming up with an exciting, profitable new product
   Funding your start-up
   Conducting market research
   Pricing and producing to scale
   Establishing partnerships, promotions, and branding
   Deciding when to keep going—and when to fold

By understanding the perils and pleasures of this fast-growing industry, you will be able to approach your own business with confidence, make the decisions that feel right to you, and avoid the most common pitfalls along the way.

THE AUTHOR

Douglas Raggio is experienced in nearly every aspect of the $150 billion specialty food industry. He is the founder of a thriving food company, Pass the Honey. He also founded the slow-cooked meal company, Stews & Such, cultivating a network of manufacturers, vendors, distributors, co-packers and retailers in/around the packaged food space.

Concurrently, he was the founder and managing director of early-stage venture capital fund Gastronome Ventures, one of the first fully-dedicated VCs in the healthier-for-you-food/beverage industry. He is founder of private equity fund Bias & Blinds Spots, also focused on emerging healthy food and beverage branded companies, with transactions currently totaling more than $150M.

 

You may also refer to the transcripts below for the full transciption (not edited) of the interview.

Greg Voisen
Welcome back to Inside Personal Growth. This is Greg Voisen, the host of Inside Personal Growth. And I have a good friend Doug Raggio and Doug and I used to share office space together. And he's got a new book out. So You Wanna Start a Food or Beverage Business? And I'll tell you in California, especially where we have most of our listeners, believe me, it's a big deal. And right now the expo is going on, isn't it up in Anaheim? Is it last week? Last week it happened? So Doug, was there? Were you given a lot of books,

Douglas Raggio
A lot of work on catching up catching up with people?

Greg Voisen
Okay. Well, this book, we both know, Matt Holt, and this is a great book, he did a wonderful job the way you guys laid this out. So thanks for that. And I'm going to let my listeners know, something about you I is experienced in nearly every aspect of the 170 billion dollars specialty food industry. I'm not certain most listeners know how big it is. He is the founder of Pass the Honey and also founded the slow cooking meal company, Stews & Such cultivating a network of manufacturers, vendors, distributors, co packers and retailers in and around the packing food space. Concurrently was the founder and managing director of early stage venture capital Gastronome Ventures and one of the first fully dedicated VCs in the healthier for the food and beverage industry. He's also the founder of a private equity fund, called Bias & Blinds Spots, which I always love that name, I thought it was great. Also focused on emerging healthy food and beverage brands and companies with transitions currently totaling transactions, more than 150 million. He's a sought after advisor in this field and obviously 12,000 investment opportunities that he's reviewed and or looked at or put together. So this is the book we're going to put a link to it will also have a link to the website. Now we were just goofing with that. So it's www.s-o-y-o-u-w-a-n-n-a-b-o-o-k.com That's where you can learn more about Doug. You can learn more about the book. And you can learn more about the author, his services, what he does, and so on. So Doug, fascinating book for any entrepreneur, but in particular, you know, when people get into the food business, it can be dicey. And then and especially this CO packing thing that you're talking about. And you wrote a book to assist the startup food business entrepreneurs navigate from beginning, Dan, how to launch a new food product or beverage or whatever it might be. Why did you see a need for a book like this? And what do you want the readers or the listeners right now to kind of take away from reading this book or listening this podcast.

Douglas Raggio
So the takeaways, it's important to delineate this book is not a how I did it, it is not a prescriptive guide on this is how you launch a food company. I personally do not believe there's any one way to launch a food company. What many founders seem to forget is that if you have a clearly defined in game, that's really where you should start. And you can build backwards from there. So the format of the book is a pick your path. So you there's four archetypes of characters, kind of is the standard four types that I saw after looking at 12,000 deals, and you read about the character and then you choose, you choose their path and you read a little bit in the story. If you stop, there's actually a stopping point that asks you to choose a direction to pick your path further. And there is where critical thinking comes in. It's the what should I do with what I want where I want to go. And nine times out of 10 businesses end in failure, it seems and so a lot of these pathways end in failure or running out of money or expired goods or no product market fit. So the intention of the book is to give aspirational food founders and ideas some of the decisions are going to make and it's not about me, it's not about past the honey, it's not about my venture fund or the private equity fund. It's actually showcasing other food founders with household brands, and the decisions they made that were either had unintended consequences, good or bad. So that's really the intention of the book is to provide some critical thinking some in game planning and going in with your eyes wide open. The barriers of entry to food are perceivably low It's a very complex industry. Just because you have a good brownie, your friends that you should sell does not mean it makes a good business.

Greg Voisen
So, yeah, no, it's so true. I've seen so many people attempt and I have gone to the natural products whisks Expo so many times and each year you go, you see 1000s of vendors and new ones, you know, the emerging people that are coming up, and you'll go back the next year, and they're not there. Or if they did make it to the next year, they've had to get funding rounds of funding to get there. And it is a super competitive industry. I mean, you know, all you got to do is go to the grocery store and look on the shelves. And obviously, there isn't enough room there. Other than that, you've got to go someplace else to buy the product direct off the internet. Right? So it's like, okay, am I going to design costly? Yeah. Am I going to Amazon? Am I going to run my own website? Am I going to distribute the stuff on my own and so on. And you are the founder of pass the honey. And I really think that's a great product, I've actually bought it and consumed it. And it's organic honeycomb business. Prior to that you've added 12?

Douglas Raggio
Actually, I'm going to stop you it's regenerative. Okay, Regeneron, or there are no organic standards and honey, it is a misnomer. Well certify something's organic if bees fly six miles.

Greg Voisen
So you you've got a lot of environmental elements associated with saving the bees and what the way you're doing this. And I think that that's a big story for you. I've seen you dressed up in the bee outfit and the costume and all that stuff. But prior to this, you vetted 12,000, as you mentioned, investment opportunities and founded gasp Gastronome Ventures and Bias & Blinds Spots what are some of the biases and blind spots that you see new venture entrepreneurs attempt to navigate? And how do you help them, these entrepreneurs build a roadmap to have a higher probability of success, because there's so many variables in this from CO packing, to marketing, to distribution to sales to, to, you know, getting awareness that the products there, I mean, when you look at all of it, it's pretty massive. And then to have the ability to stick it out and stay there. How would you tell somebody brand new is listening to me and says, I got the greatest brownie, and I want to make this brownie and get it out? What would you say?

Douglas Raggio
The two key things, and consumer packaged goods, the CPG space. And for food in particular, its margin, it's how much profit you're making per sale. And then it's consumption. And it's how fast are people consuming it. So if you can nail those two, that is what makes a strong business. If you're having to spend $100, to get somebody to consume $3 or $4 or $30, you're upside down. And that is where a lot of founders a good brownie recipe that you're buying ingredients from a Whole Foods or other natural retailers. You have to charge 10 times more than your competitors on the shelf. So the bias or the blind spot there is that what's my pricing or you know, what's my cost of goods, when you start getting into retail, there's distributors involved and brokers involved and they all have their hand in the in your pocket. So that's the blind spots that a lot of founders don't think of is the multi-tiered distribution channel, the delays to get into retail the product resets. The bias is that if your competitor raises money, you have to raise money. And that's not truly the case because you made a comment earlier around this year was the year of alkaline water at EXPO the year before it was CBD. The year before that was popcorn the year before that was plant based jerky, it seems to run in phases where all of a sudden, a certain product category gets super, you know, weighted with a lot of competitors and then they attrition and you get like four or five that really make it out the other end. So just because your competitors raising money does not mean you need to raise money that is a binary outcome typically.

Greg Voisen
So that's a lot of the chicken I think margin and sell through is it's super advice you know, I know you know this because you keep your ear down and listen. But the guy who started elements was 93 and he just passed away and they said in the news story you know if you look at an immense it's been on the shelves for God only knows how long it's been on the shelves and he's had great shelf space and probably great sell through and great margins and whatever. But the they asked his son he said his dad never ate any of his own products. Wow. I thought that was pretty fantastic.

Douglas Raggio
I've heard that before about that particular founder. Yeah founders?

Greg Voisen
Yeah, yeah. And you're like you didn't eat your own stuff that you're making is always was pretty, pretty interesting. You state that in the consumer packaged goods world, you found that the founder, they fall into one of four basic categories of archetypes. And throughout the book, you tell real life stories about entrepreneurs going into the consumer products goods business? Can you lead us through one of your stories so that the readers better understand the decision making process of going into CPG. And I was thinking of the Matt Mattice. One, I mean, quite a success story, San Diegan guy, right, I looked him up on the internet. And I could see his protein bar,

Douglas Raggio
I don't know, I don't know if protein bar was San Diego based

Greg Voisen
in San Diego, he's in San Diego. It says he is on his website, well, whatever. That's all I'm saying. But, but lead us through one of those because you know, you had everybody from coming from a farmers market trying to do gluten free, which was the gal down at Union cowork all the way through all kinds of other examples, but I think it'd give the reader an idea of what the how the book could help them.

Douglas Raggio
So Matt's story is one of sacrifice, the things you have to give up he was a young guy didn't have a family. It's a lot of his friends were getting investment banking jobs or other professional jobs. And he was the one that was grinding it out starting this, this protein bar, which is a retail location. And he started with one product, and then he put a location in a office complex. And that really kind of changed his focus into that it grew, things seem to hit a wall where you don't think you're going to get out of and then they kick up because you are a bit in a survival mode, you start to get real creative, real quick. And his story has a number of those situations. And he's been he's a multi time founder with multi successes selling and private equity. But there is these moments of inflection where it's existential. And you have to get used for product shift, or you have to, you know, marketing shift. And that's a pretty standard story that you hear from a lot of established founders is that we thought it was going to be this and it being this. And when I mentioned earlier, it's these unintended consequences, it's the moment you're in and that create this, this mind shift or business shift, that unlocks the real value and allows you to move forward. And if you want to pick an archetype, the traditional failure I see is that a founder has a personal relationship to food healed themselves or wanted a better food for themselves or their family member. There was nothing on shelves, they want to create it themselves. That's a pretty standard food founder. Ah,

Greg Voisen
what about what about set day? I know I just bought a bag of their chips, right? And it was about their son was gluten intolerant. The whole family, right? The whole set day family story was a sister I think, yeah, sister. But my point is, is that when you look at set day, and you go, wow, these chips are good. They're gluten free. They're nutritious. They're everything. But yet, you hear the stories about what that family went through to get that to be a success. And it it's crazy. It's crazy.

Douglas Raggio
That's and that's what people forget is we as a society will look at the outliers and think oh my gosh, like that's, that's the bar. And what we forget is it takes a long time to get there. It's these iconic class of the food space. Didn't happen in four to five years.

Greg Voisen
But isn't it isn't it frequently, Doug, when you're in this space, because the giants of the world, they want to acquire you? And the whole reason you started it? They didn't all these families didn't have an exit strategy wasn't like, Well, I'm going to get set day and now I'm going to sell it to General Foods, right? It wasn't, that wasn't the story. But the offers get to be so monumental that a lot of these people do exit this and they end up aggregating.

Douglas Raggio
Yes, that is the misnomer. And that's where one of the pathways in the book talks about raising venture capital, it's that I'm going to go tackle in a large incumbent, I'm going to go after Pepsi. I'm going to go after General Mills, I'm going to go after, you know, you name it. And you start taking venture capital money and venture capital money has a timeline. They need to be in and out of their deals pretty quick. It's usually five to eight years. And it creates this pressure cooker this like consistent need for growth. Now, there was a period for about a decade where it was growing at all costs, that narrative and that that strategy Just shifting a bit, because we're seeing a lot of failures. So when you get on the hamster wheel and you are spending more than you're earning, but you have to keep growing, you're digging a bigger and bigger hole. So while these exits happen, these acquisitions by large conglomerates, they're not truly beneficial to the founders, many times, it's on average, the founder owns about 11% of the company, by the time they sell, it had to raise so much capital. And that's across all venture capital founder ownership is, on average 11%, after an accident, usually after four to five rounds of capital raising. Now, that being said, they may own 11%, but the way that deals are structured, they may only get six to 7% of the actual transaction size. So you may sell for $100 million, you may own 11%, but you're only going to, you know, receive 6 million, and you take taxes out of that. And all of a sudden, it's like, what did I just work five to six to eight years on?

Greg Voisen
Yeah, you're just now getting paid back for all your, your energy and equity that you put into this thing.

Douglas Raggio
Most times, you don't even get to cash that check, so to speak, because you have what's called an urn out, then you have to work for the acquiring company for five years, right? So it's all that all that autonomy, and that independence, to create a better food to reinvest in the supply chain and make these systemic change in our food system. They kind of go out the window, when it gets acquired, not all the time, but predominantly, and the companies don't perform and then they get sold again, by the you know, the major acquire, it's happened to a number of food brands just recently. Yes, it's sad. The original founders are buying back their companies for pennies on the dollar, because their corporate acquisition groups didn't take the brand where they thought they could. And a lot of times if you're a General Mills, and you're acquiring $100 million brand, it's $100 million is a big number. Yeah, the General Mills it's small. Yep. So who's watching the 100 Million Dollar Baby over here, when they have to move Cheerios? Which is our you know, those are their major needle movers? Yeah, you know, that kind of stuff that founders don't do, they get into this thinking I'm going to make a better brownie and or I'm a better kombucha, but then they don't think of cost of goods, they don't think about distribution, they don't think about your margin for the retailers for the distributor. The limited shelf space and having to pay a lot of times for the shelf space gets really, really expensive, especially the more crowded your categories

Greg Voisen
are them are the margins. You know, I remember because I met him and then we had him on the podcast two or three times the vegan athlete who started Vega, and Vega sold to that mega Milk Company in Golden Colorado or wherever the hell it was, you know, is purportedly sold out for 500 million. Right? That was the what the deal was? I don't, but I do see him still at the shows. You know, it's like, he still shows up. So he's still locked into the deal. And my question for you around this is really, you know, those people grow those companies are the margins in powdered good drinks are so much greater than anywhere else, because of shelf life because of the way they manufacture whatever. It seems to be that there's a lot of business, in protein drinks, protein powders, all that kind of stuff. What gives there, and this kind of off the wall question, but if anyone would know you would

Douglas Raggio
call it just a big category. Okay. search volume online, and you could it's like coffee. Yeah, you get point zero 1% of the coffee market. You're still a multimillion? Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, you know, people are online looking for coffee, you can niche it out. A lot of the difficulty we have with past the honey, being a single sort of Honeycomb company. We call it snacking. I mean, there's no search volume for Honeycomb. The average consumer doesn't mean no honeycomb is in the store. Yeah, you know, we're creating a category of snacking honey, with our single sort of format of a commodity. And we have to educate everyone so that you know, instead of going into kombucha or powdered energy or protein drinks, or there's an established set with established players with established benchmarks, we're having to forge our own path which is an equally more brutal exercise. You know, there is no magic unlock and food it's like Oh, I'm just going to put this

Greg Voisen
website up and just it's crazy money soon after you came out with pass the honey, you know, I go to Costco and shop for my normal, some goods. We're vegan now. So not much. I go down the aisle and left hand side where the GAVI is money is, I see they're selling honeycomb. And that's

Douglas Raggio
an art over at Savannah B Company. Oh, is

Greg Voisen
it well, it was about great, great product $36 or something for this, whatever it is that they have on the shelf, but you know, when the buyers at Costco, put honeycomb on the shelf, you got to be thinking to yourself, This is a category that's going to take a rise because they're, they're paying attention. Yeah. The fact that it's there. I mean, you know, those buyers usually only buy what's going to be consumed. They know they have their, their machine. But yeah, yeah. So I think you're in a good category, stick it out.

Douglas Raggio
I'm not worried. You know you. You mentioned earlier you I'd looked at 12,000 deals, that's over about a decade plus, yeah, maybe it's arrogance, maybe it's navety. I figured after looking at that many food opportunities, but I could see what worked and what didn't, and I would avoid a lot of the pitfalls. And no, I've been in this industry 16 years now. And I am still experiencing a lot of the same problems as your first time founders that are doing it right out of the gate. It's just a difficult industry. And it's difficult in the sense of there's so many players, and there's so many delays, and then you have to make the product pay for the product before you can sell it. It's not like the Internet where you can, you know, write some code, press Publish, and it's instantly downloadable for XML over and over and over and over again, infinitely. Now there are suppliers. Right now we're all experts on supply chain. No, everything's getting more expensive to get product to the store. So that's the kind of stuff that people don't think about. And I thought I could be smarter than your average bear.

Greg Voisen
Well, you cash, I'd say you have more experience. And then most important point about experience and wisdom is somebody new coming into it doesn't think about those elephants in elements. And you speak about everything from hiring an expert to investing in marketing. What are the key elements in successfully navigating a consumer products good business? And what advice do you have for someone wanting to dive into the business? Like right now? You know, you look at a we've just come through COVID We got the war. Now we've got all these factors that are influencing things. I was told by a friend in Poland who's helping and I'm helping a the people in Poland myself helping with apartments and so on that that's a $43 trillion land grab for Putin, because it's the breadbasket. It's like us saying the Midwest. It's the wheat. It's not only the wheat, it's the weights. Oil is the industry. It's whatever. But there is a lot of food that's produced in Ukraine for the rest of Europe. Right? Yeah. So my question is, before somebody dives into this, what advice would you have for him? When you looked at all these elements in the book, there were lots of elements that you discussed. And I think if you could just give him a broad brush of, hey, you're thinking about this? These are the things you really want to think about.

Douglas Raggio
It goes back to margin and consumption those two and you make, can you make a profit? And how fast can people consume it? Okay, willing to consume it? If you have margin and consumption, you essentially have what they call product market fit. People are buying it, they're buying it in some frequency, and you're making a profit. Those are the cornerstones to CPG.

Greg Voisen
Food, is there a particular margin that they'd want to look for? Depends on the category. Yeah, but I mean, I'll all these categories, were over 38. Okay.

Douglas Raggio
Okay. But the more cluttered the category, the more marketing spend, you got to allocate, if you're trying to launch an energy bar, there's all kinds of discounts and promotions and all that because we're launching honeycomb in the produce department. It's just a different part of the store that has different economics with different expectations. So it is very, like know, your category, know what your competitors are roughly at. And obviously try to beat them.

Greg Voisen
It's great advice. I mean, you know, look, somebody listening to this show, saying, you know, what would I do? You're giving him great, those two things. I mean, it was worth the show just for that because I

Douglas Raggio
always default to those Yeah, if you can get margin you can get consumption then you're in a decently good start. Now I,

Greg Voisen
I did sauce. Bert, what are your question? Yeah.

Douglas Raggio
The advice outside is what needs to go right, which is margin consumption. The advice is, if you're looking to make a quick buck, it's not an Fu. It is just it is a long, long path. Long Haul. Okay. Yes, there is no overnight success.

Greg Voisen
Well, that leads me to this. I did a little research on the web before I came into this podcast and you the statistics that I found, state that there's 30,000 new consumer products launch annually, and that 95% of them fail. Now 30,095% Fail. Why do so many fail? And how do you help clients eliminate some of the risk of failure? Because I mean, look, if you're going to there's 30,000 out there, right? That's, that's a lot of new markets. Not a lot of new packaging goods coming into the product right coming into the pipeline. And that show last week is just an exemplifies just the hundreds of people that are trying to do it. And the 1000s of investors who invested in those companies to get them to do it that don't know whether or not that's going to pan out or not. So, so my question is, how do you avoid failure? How do you help some of these people where they're not part of the 95%, they're part of the 5%

Douglas Raggio
I'm going to be a broken record, it sounds uh, two things one, the margin, okay? Now the other the How to avoid failure is don't start it jovially as couple friends of mine read the book, and said, This thing's a dream Crusher. And it's not a dream Crusher, like, again, if you don't have a good brownie, it doesn't mean it's a good business. So if you have to charge if you have to, if it costs you $6 To make your amazing brownie, and you have to charge $5 to sell it, you're losing $1. Yeah. Now, that doesn't mean that doesn't include when the distributors get involved, you could be negative, it could cost you $5 $6. To make it, you may have to sell it for 399, you could be losing $7, you know, depends.

Greg Voisen
That's just that's a market. But if they did want to stay the Farmers Market route, and just make the circuits on local farmers markets, and still you will their margins low, right? Or keep their margins high and their expenses low. They could do that if they didn't want to like go to the big time with it, right.

Douglas Raggio
And that's where a lot of founders start, they want to tap they want to take on General Mills, but they started a farmers market. And to go from here to there is really, really long. So that goes back to what I initially said. It's about know what your endgame is. Do you want to you want a business that gives you the ability to speak to your neighbors every week, great farmers market? Do you want a business that is known in your in your community, your town in your region? Great, keep it to Southern California? Do you want a national brand? Well, different you want a global brand way different? You know, do you want to be $100 million company want to be a billion dollar company, all those have different paths, the different ways to get there just you don't want to have a lifestyle business and go build your own factory.

Greg Voisen
I remember I remember not too long ago, that human trafficking issue was an issue in the little girl got national exposure. And she had lemonade, the lemonade drink she was out as Oh, yeah, go. But she tied it to a social cause, which then escalated the whole thing. And I and I know you get this your if anybody gets this, you get this. And I just had Goldstein on the guy that owns Qwest us marketing, which is or I should say advertising agencies, his clients are Starbucks and all the major food guys and whatever. He's amazing, new chapter, you name it. And he was fascinating interview. But he said, you know, people today, the consumers today want to make certain many of them they're making a difference. Right. And so when you tie the story that she had, or you take the story of in his case, that they used a story for Super Eight, they wanted heads and beds. They literally, were doing a campaign with a guy with PTSD, who had a hug, nonprofit, he was riding around on a bicycle going to VA hospital. So they went and videoed him. And the point of the story is this. Just like Patagonia shipyard puts the thing up says don't buy this jacket because you're going to put more pollution into the world, right? Or Super Eight talking about this guy's plight to help people with PTSD get hugs, so they could kind of care themselves and get better and going around the world. That campaign that had no brand attached to it. The Super Eight name wasn't even on it was just at their channel. Put more heads in beds than they ever could have conceivably done pummeling people with emails. Speak with us if you would about the connection in your doing this with you know, pass the honey. That's really that's who Doug is. That's I get that. How would you advise somebody today coming out with a new consumer product good and attaching it to something that's good so that people can get the press and literally move it to get on fire? Tough question?

Douglas Raggio
Like what what? Not tough, but what's your I guess what you're getting at is it's this value driver from purpose. Yes. What is so I would say yes, you are correct. A certain section of the consumer is looking to vote with their wallet Buy brands and invest in brands that consume brands that are stewards of some purpose. It could be trafficking, it could be. In our case, it's pollinator research and habitat restoration. It could be you pick, you pick the purpose. However, that being said, when things like COVID Come, there's not a run on Honeycomb. There's a run on like Cheerios, there's a run on these, like, pantry staple items. So there's still a long way to go. In our and I can only speak to my own business, but liquid honey is 70% fraudulent as a whole, globally. So it's the third most fraudulent food on the planet. The $3 Teddy Bear is not honey, it's processed syrups and sugars. So here we come investing in our supply chain, investing in research and habitat restoration, we have a million acres over a million acres in the US. The cost of real honey is not 13 senses serving, it's much higher. And we still even though consumers may not be aware of fraudulent honey, and the ones that are still are hesitant to you know, pay the true cost of what pollen produced, responsible sourcing regenerative sourcing is an RD. So there's a lot of direction going that way. But it's still got its own headwinds, because consumer behavior is really hard to change.

Greg Voisen
Well, I think you're I think you're on the right track with Pass the Honey, I think that many of these, where there's a cause greater than the honey, like saving the bees, you know, and doing what you're doing is important. While the product is expensive, and there is a barrier for people to cross over. I think when it's tied to a cause, it makes it so much easier to spend the extra money. Okay.

Douglas Raggio
Yeah, there's something else that should be noted for early founders when you bake in purpose, like we haven't, we are more a supply chain story than we are anything else. We are a story of sourcing and regenerative agriculture, setting regenerative agriculture, beekeeping practices, when you have something that has that kind of depth to it. We're not, we're doing top down selling. So there are many retailers that want to be seen as supporting pollinators, right? There's very little brands that are doing true work. So we bridge that gap. So we're able to go to sustainability leads at major grocery stores, and work with them on larger programs, instead of going door by door buyer by buyer, kind of from the bottom up to sell our product in. Because we have such a deep purpose. And we've been at this for years, that we're able to go top down. And that's a different way to sell your product. It's much bigger accounts. And they also take longer, right? Yeah. So that has been our, our magic unlock is our true purpose. And you know, as us walking the walk talking the talk,

Greg Voisen
well, you have a great story to tell Doug and I, you know, A, I just think it's great what you're doing, and great that you came out with this book, as well. As is kind of some place to help guide people or training. Get into this. And it is, you know, as you said, it's a business like in the book, you say, don't listen to the noise, and there's plenty of noise. And it can confuse entrepreneurs going into a consumer project bitss I did a course that I taught called nevermind noise. What advice would you have for the listeners about learning how to focus and follow the correct steps to assure more success on the launch of their product? And especially around this noise toward the end of the book you talked about it is like, Hey, don't listen to the noise. If you listen to all the noise, you probably wouldn't do half of the things that you do.

Douglas Raggio
Yeah, and you'd save time and money. And that's, I wake up most mornings. And when things are stressful, it gets real myopic. But it's what has to go right like what are the things that have to go right? In World In life, there are very few things that have to go right. The rest is just bonus. So for us, you know, there are certain things we have to open X number of doors and X period of time and our business is not an ecommerce business. There's no one looking online for Honeycomb. Our business is a retail play in produce because of our commitment to regenerative agriculture and the roles of bees planter in our food supply. Like that, getting that right, getting our placement and produce with large retailers. That is our focus. So when you have that laser focus on what has to go right, and you put benchmarks around that, what does success look like there? For us? It's 1500 doors. Like that's not a that's not a horror high bar. We're in 100 now, so we just drive the team down that You know, we need to, we need to see 1500 doors in produce through these distributors with these retail accounts. Now, the rest if we get an opportunity to be featured on some TV show, sure we can do it, it's almost doesn't suck up a ton of time. But that's it's that ability to say no, which is not a new statement, it's to what you say no to really helps guide you, I read that book essentialism. And it was just like, Greg MacKinnon, great, like, great book. And there's this great visually has, which is a circle with a bunch of little lines with arrows. And all the arrows are the same length. And if you stack them together, you go much further, if you stay if you don't you just disappear. You're diluting your energy. Yeah, and so no, it's is. That's the advice. It's no one has to go right on a regular basis. And just drive towards that. Just remove and say no, no more.

Greg Voisen
But I also with that being said, I think you have your metrics, you know what you have to do, you're very focused. And I have a friend here locally that's working with West Jackson at the Land Institute on perennial farming and that, and that's in Salina, Kansas. And you know, I've done several interviews with some of the authors around this topic. But you know, what most people don't really even understand and it's hard to get the message out, is it at best, we have 20 years left in the soils to grow the goods we're growing. Yet. Lottie, da people just keep going on the way they're going on in farming the way they've been farming. We're seeing very, we're seeing some progress. But what you're doing to is another thing that's, that's what I'm saying is Wake Up World. Look what's happening, this is what's happening. And you cite many case studies in the book, and you provide the reader with some insights about what it takes to make it successful. What is the one case study that stands out for you, and was successful beyond the entrepreneurs expectations of the ones that Jad in the book, if you were to use one?

Douglas Raggio
The one the story that jumps out to me the most that just it's illustrative of the pressure you get to not pursue something. So there's a founder of the book that has a well known kombucha company called health aide kombucha, like a resounding success category leader, one of when she went down this path, her mother made an Excel chart of all the lost income that she was giving up by pursuing this silly dream. If your parents are putting together Excel charts to show you how bad your decision is, and you still power through, like that is that's tough man that is like, I don't know, I luckily have parents that are her parents are supportive, but also they're also you know, they want to see their daughter

Greg Voisen
succeed. Well, they're realists. They're realist, as well. When you have a dream, sometimes you're when you have a dream, sometimes you're not a realist.

Douglas Raggio
The best ideas don't make sense when they start me selling honeycomb does not make sense. And now let's turn into this global supply chain impact organization. I never would have guessed, I naively thought it'd be really simple to find clean honeycomb. It's not because of fraud and honey. And then you start talking about poor beekeeping practices and agricultural spraying and bioaccumulation. In the wax, it's all of a sudden, we had to go set our own standards we to forge our own relationships, we had to start becoming, you know, vertical enterprise from day one, which is when

Greg Voisen
So when you're doing a documentary to expose what's going on. So the rest of the world really understands.

Douglas Raggio
We're starting with vignettes. Okay. Little, little, little little blurbs, but yeah, we are. We have a million acres in the US. We are going to start placing hives on there, we've scouted we actually reviewed 13 million acres and only found about 1.1 that were suitable for our needs to actually manage hives on. And then we scouted those in December ish, because snow came later this year. And once the snow melt happens, we're going to start placing hives, it looks like April or May, and that is where we're going to start filming like what are we actually doing on the ground, we will have hives on the ground to start researching the effect of manage bees and native pollinators. But those two do an ecological diversity. What the ecological diversity has from a carbon sequestration. What that does to did,

Greg Voisen
and even with all your experience, Doug, how has it been raising money for pasta, honey,

Douglas Raggio
Rough. It's we're not we're not it is. When you have data, it's sometimes harder to raise when you have a big dream and it's kind of pie in the sky. I also have no intentions of selling the company. So that precludes a large number of the ambassadors in the space. I don't if we're trying to if we're trying to reclaim honey and eradicate fraud on a global scale. I can't do that Nate yours, right. 50 year play. Hopefully generational to my family. Whoever else wants to step in and drive this thing, but that that puts us in pretty different categories for investors. So we are we're already swimming in a small pool.

Greg Voisen
Well, Doug, what it says is a lot about your character and individual and who you are and what you're trying to do beyond just make money in the food business. You are you really care about what's happening globally. And I appreciate that. And if the listeners were to take away three, you said two, margin and sell through, I heard that margin and you know, is selling and consumption. If they were to take away three points about your new book, what would those three key points be? And where would they go to learn more about your advisory services we know it's called. So you wanna book and I'm going to have a link to that. Wanna wa na? And, and we'll also have a link to Amazon to the book as well. Any last words kind of wrapping up the interview?

Douglas Raggio
You want three pieces of takeaways.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, three takeaways that? Yeah. Okay, if you can remember,

Douglas Raggio
Food and beverage is harder than you'd imagine. So make sure you're committed. Know your end game, and nail your margin and consumption.

Greg Voisen
There you go. That's a great advice for all the listeners. Doug, a pleasure having you on. Thanks for spending the time with us. For all my listeners, I got news list for this great orange cover. Okay, So You Wanna Start a Food or Beverage Business This is a great roadmap, great stories, and an opportunity for you to learn. Like he said, this isn't a normal book where you just pick it up and read chapter two, chapter two chapter, if you look at the decisions, you follow the path and you'll see in the book that it says you got to make a decision, go to page 73. Right. So it's kind of set up that way to kind of guide you through that. And I think there was very kind of magical how you did it, because just wasn't a story. They would actually help somebody kind of walk through a process. So I appreciate

Douglas Raggio
that. But they can retain retained learnings. Well, that's

Greg Voisen
I can see that's what the intention of it is. Yeah. Yeah. But like most people, you know, they fall into that category. I'm going to pick up a book, I'm going to read it from end to end, even though you weren't right up front. This isn't the way you should probably do this. Good. Chances are, you're going to get a lot of people that are going to do that. So thank you for being on though. I really appreciate it

Douglas Raggio
for inviting me. I appreciate it. Bring me on to your platform.

Greg Voisen
You're quite welcome. Let's reach those listeners. And let's let them go about

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