By Matthew Von Teichman
I’m a serial entrepreneur through and through. I launched my first business at 19, a student franchised window washing company, and 20 years later, I haven’t stopped. While I’ve started a diverse portfolio of companies, my focus of late has been in the natural food categories, where I’ve created, bought and/or sold 16 brands in the space. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, including what works and what doesn’t, and with my newest venture, I wanted to apply two decades of learning to launch a product that I knew would click with both retailers and consumers.
When deciding what my next business would be, I approached the concept entirely backwards. In the past, I’ve discovered a new product, and then developed the brand and built a compelling retail story and experience. With this one, that wasn’t the case.
I am a firm believer in the concept of purpose before profit. I’m very involved with children’s charities and I feel that consumer products need to do more to help those in need. A lot of retail market research that has been conducted has demonstrated that consumers are now voting with their wallets – they want their consumption dollars to do more than just line the pockets of a company’s shareholders. I wanted to create a brand where the mission first and foremost was not just to be profitable, but to do good. And not just say they’re going to do good, but to actually raise meaningful funds that will drive meaningful positive change.
So I made the decision that I wanted to do good – and then what? I was at a trade show in California when I met a lovely multi-generational farmer from Peru who introduced me to purple corn from the Andes. I was educated on all of its benefits of the powerful ancient grain superfood, due to the abundance of anthocyanins, which is a class of Polyphenols that act as antioxidants in the human body. I thought – I need to do something with this! And that is how Purplesful was born.
Putting the mission and product together made sense. Our mission was designed to support kids, so popcorn as the first product in the line made sense. It’s an all-ages favourite, and purple corn is a healthy option that parents can feel good about giving to their kids. We went about quantifying what it meant to be a purpose-driven brand and decided that we would pledge 25% of our profits to education, health and nutrition programs benefiting kids in underprivileged communities. We cherry picked the organizations we wanted to support, figured out the sourcing and manufacturing details of the product, and then created a brand and a brand promise that delivered on the ‘Purpose before Profit’ philosophy.
Retailers are hungry for new, healthy brands that consumers will connect with. The fact that we were pledging one quarter of our profits, with plans to donate $50M over the next five years, to children’s organizations helped seal the deal. Our sell-through success to retailers was unlike anything I’ve experienced in over two decades of businesses. I’ve attended a lot of trade shows and sold a lot of products – but nothing has clicked quite like Purplesful. Not only is the product incredible tasting, but the story and commitment around it resonated with retailers. Our distribution has been solidified in Loblaws, Metro, SaveOn, Whole Foods and many others. In addition, we’ve secured a partnership with one of the leading natural food brokers in the US to launch in that market in 2023.
So what is my advice to those looking to launch a brand to obtain retail success? Consider your purpose first. While you need to have a stellar product offering, you need to remember that there are a lot of incredible brands out there. Consumers nowadays are educated, and they want their dollars to do more. Consider the impact that your product can have, and what you want people to feel when they consume it. Thinking beyond just profits can actually be your ticket to being more profitable!
Matthew Von Teichman is an entrepreneur, founder and Executive Chairman of Purposeful Snacking Inc.