100 episodes

The top podcasts for food and beverage professionals, BevNET’s Taste Radio and Taste Radio Insider feature interviews with the leaders and rising stars of our fast-evolving industry. The shows also include discussion on emerging trends, innovation and news of the week from our regular cadre of hosts from the BevNET and NOSH teams.

Tell us what you think at ask@tasteradio.com. You can also email us if you are interested in Taste Radio sponsorship opportunities. If you like Taste Radio, share it with a colleague, will ya?

See you every Tuesday and Friday!

Taste Radio BevNET Inc.

    • Entrepreneurship

The top podcasts for food and beverage professionals, BevNET’s Taste Radio and Taste Radio Insider feature interviews with the leaders and rising stars of our fast-evolving industry. The shows also include discussion on emerging trends, innovation and news of the week from our regular cadre of hosts from the BevNET and NOSH teams.

Tell us what you think at ask@tasteradio.com. You can also email us if you are interested in Taste Radio sponsorship opportunities. If you like Taste Radio, share it with a colleague, will ya?

See you every Tuesday and Friday!

    Ep. 197: The ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Strategy That Guides This Protein Powerhouse

    Ep. 197: The ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Strategy That Guides This Protein Powerhouse

    There’s a phrase that comes up several times in our interview with Andrew Abraham, founder/CEO of protein-centric brand Orgain: cautiously optimistic. 
    A medical doctor turned entrepreneur, Abraham was inspired to launch Orgain in 2009 while recovering from cancer treatment and being frustrated with the lack of options for healthy, drinkable nutrition. Introduced as a first-to-market brand of organic protein beverages, Orgain has since grown into a thriving platform for protein drinks, powders and bars.
    During Orgain’s development, however, Abraham had concerns about the brand’s long-term viability, particularly within an increasingly competitive market for protein beverages. During our conversation, he noted that maintaining a positive and steadfast belief in the company’s mission and focusing on meaningful innovation were key to the brand’s eventual success.
    “There’s some dark times where you lock yourself in a room and ask yourself: ‘Is this really going to work?’ Abraham said. “But I was seeing the feedback we were getting, and I knew that if we could just weather the storm long enough that Orgain would succeed. One thing that’s helped me more than anything is to just keep my eyes forward. Just focusing on what we’re doing and what’s working for us and pressing forward as aggressively as possible.”
    Within our expansive interview, Abraham discussed the creation and early development of Orgain, why he was the sole employee for the first five years and why Stonyfield Farm founder and company advisor Gary Hirshberg urged him to focus on building a sustainable infrastructure. Abraham also explained how he defines success, why he’s constantly “neck deep” in innovation and the reasons behind his decision to sell a majority stake of Orgain. This episode is presented by Flavorman, the beverage architects.
    Show notes: 
    2:46: Andrew Abraham, Founder/CEO, Orgain -- Abraham sat down with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif at the BevNET Live Winter 2019 and spoke about his background in nutrition and integrative medicine and how each supported the development of Orgain, the brand’s national launch at Whole Foods and why a conducting a shelf study could have avoided early stumbles. He also explained why, in hindsight, it “wasn’t smart” to be the sole employee for five years, and why he urges entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people that are smarter than them, as well as how Gary Hirshberg became involved with the company and why Abraham didn’t take a salary for “a very long time.” Later he discussed why entrepreneurs that are not well-capitalized from the outset might be in for a bumpy ride, how he convinced his wife, that despite significant financial losses, the brand was on a positive trajectory and why he believes that “the best defense is a super aggressive offense.” He also spoke about his approach to hiring and onboarding new employees, why he rebuffed numerous M&A offers over the years, and how he negotiated terms in the investment deal with Butterfly to maintain the company’s mission and focus. 
    Brands in this episode: Orgain, Stonyfield Farm, Dry Soda

    • 33 min
    Insider Ep. 68: How This Super Bowl Winner Is Tackling Disruption In The Drinks Space

    Insider Ep. 68: How This Super Bowl Winner Is Tackling Disruption In The Drinks Space

    In this week’s episode, we’re joined by former NFL star Matt Light and Bill Dessel, the co-founders of sessionable spirit brand Keel Vodka. At 23.8% alcohol by volume and 58 calories per serving, Keel promotes itself as “the world's first premium light spirit.” 
    Prior to co-founding Keel, Light was key member of the New England Patriots’ offensive line in three of the team’s Super Bowl wins. Although he faced ruthless competition as a professional football player, Light explained in our interview that entrepreneurship “is more challenging than it ever would be on the playing field.”
    “There are so many variables that go into having success in the business realm,” Light said. “But some of the same [lessons apply]: Are you able to get up when you get knocked down? Are you really invested? What do you bring to the table and how can you do that better tomorrow than you did it today?”
    As part of our conversation, Light and Dessel discussed the origins of Keel, how they overcame initial regulatory hurdles and challenges in consumer education and how they’re attempting to take advantage of growing interest in low-alcohol beverages. They also spoke about the benefits of a local distribution strategy, how they establish guidelines for their respective roles and why “living the lifestyle” is critical for brand ambassadors.
    Show notes: 
    1:14: Free Tees, Zesty Z’s and Punchy P’s -- The episode opens with a call to action: review Taste Radio on the Apple Podcasts app or your favorite listening platform, tell us you did by sending us an email to ask@tasteradio.com and the team will send you a free T-shirt. Later, the hosts extoll the talents of The King, munch on a number of crunchy snacks, chat about a hoppy drink and BevNET’s Elevator Talk series and discuss an odd video that was shared on our Slack account.
    15:25: Interview: Matt Light/Bill Dessel, Co-Founders, Keel Vodka -- Light and Dessel visited BevNET HQ in Watertown, Mass. and sat down with Taste Radio editor/producer Ray Latif for a conversation about the launch and early development of Keel, and why the initial communication strategy was focused on the low-calorie aspect of the vodka. They also spoke about how they address consumer skepticism about a light spirit, why you can’t rely on distributors to promote your products and Dessel’s three rules for entrepreneurship. Later, they explained why sampling is all about “where (the) consumer lives” and why the company hires and educates its own brand ambassadors and avoids using third party service for demos and events.
    Brands in this episode: Full of Chips, Whisps, Zesty Z, Oregon Hop Springs, Punch Pops, Chum Fruit Bites, KEEL Vodka, Absolut Vodka, Miller Light, Veev, Skinnygirl

    • 47 min
    Ep. 196: Caulipower’s Gail Becker Built A $100M Brand In Just Three Years. Here’s How She Did It.

    Ep. 196: Caulipower’s Gail Becker Built A $100M Brand In Just Three Years. Here’s How She Did It.

    It’s remarkable to think that Caulipower made its market debut just three years ago. Since its launch in January 2017, the vegetable-forward brand, best known for its gluten-free, cauliflower crust pizzas, has developed into one of the fastest-growing food companies in recent memory. 
    Caulipower, which also markets cauliflower-based tortillas and cauliflower-crusted chicken tenders, generated $45 million in revenue in 2018 and an estimated $100 million last year. Despite having no experience in the food industry prior to launching the company, founder and CEO Gail Becker has grown Caulipower into the fastest growing frozen pizza brand in America, available in over 25,000 retailers and 5,000 restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. 
    In an interview included in this episode, Becker spoke about the swift rise of Caulipower and why she felt compelled to leave behind a successful career to start the brand. She also discussed the value of taking risks, how she identified and partnered with early-stage investors and why humility is critical for success. She also explained why Walmart was the right fit for Caulipower early into its development and why she believes in the power of food to unite disparate communities.
    Show notes: 
    2:46: Gail Becker, Founder/CEO, Caulipower -- NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg met with Becker at Caulipower headquarters in Los Angeles where the entrepreneur spoke about her inspiration to launch the brand and how supportive partners were key to its fast start. She also explained why investment firm Boulder Food Group chose to “bet” on her and how she rewarded the initial support, why she feels like “the most grateful and fortunate person on earth” and her experience as a judge in NOSH Live’s Pitch Slam competition. Later, she discussed how her family is involved in Caulipower, breaking traditional “rules” for packaging and retailing of a food brand, why she believes a “first to market advantage is everything” and how she handles growing competition. Becker also spoke about why brands should avoid making consumers feel bad about food choices, why working at her father’s store as a five-year-old taught her “everything” she needed to know about the food business and the reason that she is always wearing green clothing.

    • 35 min
    Insider Ep. 67: Your Side Hustle Could Be Worth Millions. And It Needs A Strategy.

    Insider Ep. 67: Your Side Hustle Could Be Worth Millions. And It Needs A Strategy.

    In this episode, we’re joined by Matt Weiss, the founder/CEO of RIND Snacks, who discussed his approach to building the skin-on dried fruit brand while maintaining his full-time job.
    An investment analyst by profession, Weiss launched RIND in 2018. In our interview, he explained that, while he saw an opportunity to disrupt the dried fruit category with a premium brand, he was hesitant to quit his well-paying career and initially treated RIND as a “side hustle.”
    He noted, however, that regardless of the time and resources he was willing to devote to the brand, “it was very clear [he] had to put my best foot forward.” With that in mind, he crafted a thoughtful business strategy that helped guide RIND’s development over the next two years.
    “There really is an opportunity to develop and grow and get critical mass that doesn’t feel like you have to hedge your bets,” he said. “You don’t need a huge team to launch. You can rely and grow using a lot of outsourced partners in the beginning. And you actually can run a small business on the side for a finite period of time.”
    Weiss’s planning has paid off: RIND is currently distributed at hundreds of independent and natural chain retailers across the Northeast and has a fast-growing online business as well. 
    As part of our conversation, Weiss spoke about how he evaluated RIND’s market potential and key point of differentiation and how he assessed the financial and opportunity costs of entrepreneurship. He also explains the benefits of launching a business later in life, the importance of open and honest communication with his employer while incubating RIND and why he believes in “relentless networking.” 
    Show notes: 
    1:37: Chewing Chum, Skeletons In The... Cabinet? -- The episode opens with the hosts chatting about the nuances of a new decade, how BevNET brand specialist Melissa Traverse enjoyed a saucy holiday and a new brand of fruit jerky with a fishy-sounding name. Later, they spoke about the learning curve for entrepreneurs new to the food and beverage industry, Melissa’s past experience working as a flight attendant (one of 34 jobs she’s had in her life) and why attendees of the 2020 Winter Fancy Food Show should direct message us on Instagram (@bevnetmike, @melissa_traverse, @bevtrayde).
    15:00: Interview: Matt Weiss, Founder/CEO, RIND Snacks -- Weiss visited BevNET HQ and sat down with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif for a conversation about the origins of RIND, including his grandmother’s role in its genesis and why he believed that the brand needed “to be distilled to a very simple premise and value proposition.” He also discussed the importance of having great branding and packaging out of the gate, why he viewed RIND’s first two years as its proof of concept phase and why, despite keeping his day job, he saw himself as working without a safety net. Later, he extolled the virtues of involving his family in the brand, the value of pitch slam competitions and why he urges colleagues to “be constantly learning professionally.”
    Brands in this episode: Fly By Jing, Brooklyn Delhi, Frank’s Red Hot, Chum Fruit Bites, Ceres Juices, Rind Snacks, Caulipower, Harmless Harvest, Purely Elizabeth, Nantucket Nectars

    • 40 min
    Ep. 195: How ‘Customer First’ Fuels One Of L.A.’s Hottest Brands

    Ep. 195: How ‘Customer First’ Fuels One Of L.A.’s Hottest Brands

    Seven years ago, Josh Zad opened Alfred Coffee, a stylish cafe nestled among the luxury boutiques in the Melrose Place neighborhood of West Hollywood. Conceived with the intention of creating a comfortable space and “Instagrammable” moments for its customers, the store quickly became a popular destination among social and celebrity influencers.
    Alfred has since established itself as a prime example of how to marry brick-and-mortar retail with a memorable digital presence, having grown to 16 locations across the U.S. and Japan. In an interview included in this episode, Zad explained that Alfred’s success and appeal is derived from its foundation as “a creative platform” focused on customer experience, rather than as a coffee brand.
    “It’s about the lifestyle,” he said. “We have a broader message that goes in many different directions. The personality is there, and we try to reflect that on social media. It’s not about ‘Is this the perfect latte art, yes or no?’”
    Today, Zad is aiming to replicate Alfred’s success with Calidad Beer, a brand of Mexican-style lagers that, like his coffee company, lives at the intersection of design, storytelling and consumer experience.
    As part of our conversation, Zad spoke about how, despite no formal training in coffee or branding, he’s built one of the most beloved coffee chains in Southern California, why he believes that the company isn’t “doing anything groundbreaking,” the secret to Alfred’s “customer-first” focus and how he defines success for Calidad.
    Show notes: 
    2:46: Interview: Josh Zad, Founder, Alfred Coffee/Calidad Beer -- Zad met with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif at Alfred headquarters in West Hollywood and kicked off their conversation with a brief chat about Alfred’s unusual “ban” on NBA star Kawhi Leonard, Alfred’s average customer and how he became an expert in delivering unique consumer experiences. Zad also spoke about why the company invests heavily in culture, why being nimble is key to being consistently better than its competitors and why he views himself as Alfred’s “creative director” and not its CEO. Later, he discussed why he wants Alfred to be synonymous with L.A., why he’s not interested in launching a cannabis brand, how he views Calidad as a direct offshoot of Alfred and why he wants the can’s color to be the most eye-catching element of its design. Zad also spoke about key mentors in his career and what he likes most about being a boss.
    Brands in this episode: Alfred Coffee, Oatly, Blue Bottle, Stumptown, Starbucks, Sugarfina, Vybes, Calidad Beer, Corona, Pacifico Beer

    • 44 min
    Insider Ep. 66: Next Level Advice On Investment, Goals, Profitability & More

    Insider Ep. 66: Next Level Advice On Investment, Goals, Profitability & More

    This special edition of Taste Radio Insider highlights actionable insights and advice from interviews with six founders, creators and investors who joined us on the show during the second half of 2019. Our guests include Zico founder and Powerplant Ventures co-founder Mark Rampolla; Zoe Feldman, the director of the Chobani Incubator; Rick’s Picks founder and CEO Rick Field; Mike Cessario, the founder and CEO of Liquid Death; Harbinger Ventures founder Megan Bent and Chris Kirby, the founder of Ithaca Craft Hummus.
    Show notes:
    1:28: Mark Rampolla, Founder, Zico; Co-Founder, Powerplant Ventures --  We kick off the episode with Mark Rampolla, the founder of Zico coconut water and the co-founder of plant-centric CPG investment firm Powerplant Ventures. In the following clip, pulled from our interview with Rampolla in Ep. 53, he discussed how he sets and reviews long-term goals, why it’s critical to write them down and look at them daily, the importance of thoughtful communication and alignment with employees and colleagues and why daily huddles are key for highly effective organizations.
    9:18: Zoe Feldman, Director, Chobani Incubator -- Next up is Zoe Feldman, who is the director of Chobani Incubator, which invests in and supports purpose-driven, early-stage companies. We spoke with Feldman for an interview featured in Ep. 63, and in the following clip she spoke about how she’s using her voice and platform to support marginalized communities and shared the advice she has for brand owners and executives that might be afraid to have “the diversity conversation.”
    15:10: Rick Field, Founder/CEO, Rick’s Picks -- Let’s continue with Rick Field, the founder and CEO of premium pickle brand Rick’s Picks. Field joined us in Ep. 42, and in this clip he urged potential and early-stage entrepreneurs to understand the minutiae that comes with building a food brand, why it’s not a part-time endeavor and why he describes entrepreneurship as being an “army of one.”
    19:23: Mike Cessario, Founder/CEO, Liquid Death  -- Next is Mike Cessario, the founder and CEO of Liquid Death, a canned water brand whose heavy metal vibe and edgy marketing has generated considerable online buzz and attracted funding from a range of prominent investors. In an interview from Ep. 51, Cessario explained why upstart CPG companies must stand for something, the importance of conveying “small,” why customer acquisition is about getting people to “invest in your brand” and how to establish proof of concept for an untested idea.
    27:16: Megan Bent, Founder & Managing Partner, Harbinger Ventures -- We continue with Megan Bent, the founder and managing partner of Harbinger Ventures, a specialized investment firm whose mission is to provide growth equity and strategic resources to the next generation of female entrepreneurs. We spoke with Bent in Ep. 64 and in this clip, she explained how Harbinger vets potential portfolio companies, the “trifecta” that she looks for in growing brands and why she encourages entrepreneurs to establish a “common language” with potential investors.
    34:40: Chris Kirby, Founder/President, Ithaca Craft Hummus -- Wrapping up this episode is Chris Kirby, the founder and president of fast-growing brand Ithaca Craft Hummus. In this clip, pulled from an interview featured in Ep. 55, Kirby explained how he identified white space in legacy food category, why carefully crafted success stories have been key to landing placement at new retailers and why he advises entrepreneurs to be “very intentional about what you’re spending and why.” 
    Brands in this episode: Zico, Chobani, Rick’s Picks, Liquid Death, Ithaca Craft Hummus

    • 42 min

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