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How to start a candy brand and unblock self limiting beliefs, with Behave’s Mayssa Chehata

by Female Startup Club
April 10th 2021
00:54:00
Description

Joining me on the show today is Mayssa Chehata, Founder of the better-for-you candy brand Behave. 

Behave is a modern, low-sugar, low-net-carb candy brand helping you reclaim your cravings wi... More

before we dive into the show today we have some super exciting news as of this month. Female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network, something we love about the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. This is Mesa Shahada for female startup club. Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast. I'm your host, june rasheen and joining me on the show today is Mesa Shahada, founder of the Better for you. Candy brand, behave behave is a modern, low sugar, low net carbs. Candy brand, helping you reclaim your cravings with its debut product, gummy bears bringing a culinary first approach behaviors, reinventing the candy experience with better for you.

Chef crafted sweets, elevated flavors and all natural ingredients. It's rebelling against the notion that candy can't be good for you. In this episode, we're covering how Mesa built one of her key partnerships with a celebrity chef through cold outreach, the tools she used to unblock her limiting beliefs around money and what that meant when it came time to fundraise and her key learnings around networking and building your personal community and while I've got you here, this is my official call out to you. If you are listening to the show right now, I would love the opportunity to jump on a call and just have a chat. I'm wanting to learn more about the people who are tuning in and what's going on in your life when it comes to your business. And so if this is reaching your ears, I would be so grateful to chat and get to know you a little better. You can slide into my inbox by emailing hello at female startup club dot com and we can pop a date in the diary. This episode is so wild and incredibly inspiring and I hope you love it just as much as I did recording it.

This is Mesa for female startup club. Mhm. Are you working around the clock to build the business you always imagined? Do you want to communicate with your fast growing list of customers in a personalized way, but in a way that gives you time to work on the rest of your business. Do you ever wonder how the companies, you admire the ones that redefine their categories do it. Companies like living proof and chubby's. They do it by building relationships with their customers from the very beginning while also evolving in real time as their customers needs change. These companies connect quickly with their customers, collect their information and start creating personalized experiences and offers that inspire rapid purchase often within minutes of uploading their customer data, clay vo empowers you to own the most important thing to any business, The relationship between you and your customers and the experiences you deliver from the first email to the last promotion to learn more about how clay vo helps you own your growth visit Clay vo dot com slash F.

S. C. That's K L A V I Y O dot com slash F. S. C. Female star presence. Okay, Mesa, Hi, hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hi, thanks so much for having me. I'm super excited. How are you today? I'm good. I'm good. Um, yeah, the weather has started improving in new york so I really can't complain. Such a nice time. Nice time of the year with all the spring flowers coming out. Yes, exactly. Love to start by getting you to introduce yourself and what your business is before we jump in. Yeah, definitely. Um, so I'm Mesa, I'm the founder of behave were better for you candy brand. So what that means for us is we make products that are low in sugar, but we don't use any artificial ingredients. So we use all natural low sugar sweeteners to make candy that still tastes amazing but is better for you from sort of a health perspective.

Mm I love the branding. I love the vibe. I have a total sugar craving now that I've been browsing. It's so funny when you see like a sour gummy bear, it instantly makes me like have that thing that happens in your mouth? Yes, absolutely, so funny. Where does your entrepreneurial journey start, or where does this story start? Rather. Yeah, so I, I sort of initially got the bug for candy while I was working at another health food startup called Daily Harvest, and I mean what I should say is that I have just always loved candy, like from childhood, I've had such a sweet tooth, I have been, yeah, definitely, like, I can acknowledge that I have an addiction to sugar and unhealthy addiction to sugar if there's candy in front of me, like I'm going to eat all of it and yeah, and I think like I joined this company, Daily Harvest, which is this amazing health food startup, and while I was there, I really started revisiting like some of my own eating habits and I was kind of hitting that point, like in my mid twenties where you can't just keep eating like you did as a kid, you know, it starts to affect you and you know, you get that like crash after you eat too much sugar, you eat too heavy.

And so yeah, I just kind of was like really rethinking my own diet and you know, and I used the word diet just to mean what I was eating, definitely have generally tended to stay away from like really regimented diets and more just tried to eat in a way that feels good to me, but the one thing that I really couldn't kick was candy and it does kind of go back to that point, like I've never been someone who's like, okay, I'm cutting sugar out completely, one just don't have the self control to do it and to like I get so much joy from eating the things that I love and eating things that you know, taste amazing and that our nostalgic and so candy was always such a big part of that. And even as I really was able to improve, I would say my eating and really focusing on more cleaner, whole natural unprocessed foods and ingredients. Uh, you know, even as I really was making that shift, candy was the thing that I just could not find a better option or a better replacement or a better alternative. And you know, I think initially just as a consumer, I really started like walking down the aisle of whole foods or searching the internet, trying to see if there were any brands doing anything better and basically coming up empty and I think, you know, then my business hat sort of went on and was like, wow, this really feels like a white space.

I mean you walk down every aisle in whole foods and you're finding better alternatives in every category, down to even ice cream and you know, pasta chips, cookies, basically every category really felt like it was on this disruption wave and I just got the sense that candy was behind and had not caught up. And so you know, that was sort of the initial like wheels started turning. I ended up leaving daily Harvest. I took another role at a company called Soul Cycle. It's a boutique fitness company. But this idea around candy or this thought that there's just something missing in the candy category just stuck with me and I became a bit obsessive like anywhere I'd go, I'd be like, what's in the candy aisle? You know, what, are there any new brands? Like what's happening? And you know, probably a year or a year and a half past and still just seeing nothing. And that was where I started to ask myself, okay, is this something maybe that I would want to maybe try to create a product that could address this. What seemed like an untapped need definitely for myself. And I obviously believe that it would be an untapped need for a lot of other people as well.

Mm And what year are we talking here? Just to set the scene for, you know, that year and a half that you were kind of pondering? Yeah. So I think probably initially had the thought around this in maybe late 2017 or maybe early 2018 sort of that winter around like 2018 and then sort of ruminated on it over the course of that year. I did a little bit of research and you know, came up against a lot of sort of roadblocks to really getting this started, whether it was on the manufacturing front, how to develop the product, how to develop the recipe, and so again, I ended up transitioning into a new role with Soul cycle, but then I would say it was probably around the top of 2019 that I decided, okay, let me start actually outlining what would the steps be if I wanted to get this off the ground and started kind of working towards that on the side for my full time job. So it was top of 2019 that I ultimately decided, you know, first question was how do we make the product?

Right? And so I spoke with a number of research and development labs that really are well known for candy specifically. And the vibe that I got from those conversations was very much that these labs are creating formulas and products in Excel. So basically, you, you know, they ask you, okay, what is the nutrition panel that you want when everything is said and done on the back of your package, what are there any ingredients that are an absolute note for you? Are there any ingredients that are, you definitely want to have them? And they kind of take all that information and basically an Excel, they start creating what they think will be a recipe that will meet those qualifications and they will sort of deliver you that formula without ever even making it or tasting it in a lot of cases, obviously at some point you would try it and you would taste it. But a lot of that initial development is really done, like in a hypothetical, almost like using an algorithm very mathematical, very food science driven, and I just want to have this inkling that maybe this is why a lot of health food products don't taste very good, because you're trying to create the formula, you're trying to back into the nutrition panel that you want instead of just getting in the kitchen, right, Which is how most amazing food is made as you get in the kitchen, you taste things, you increase quantities, you decrease quantities until you land on something amazing.

So I realized I kind of didn't feel aligned with that approach to creating a health food product or better for you product. And ultimately, I connected with a woman named Elizabeth Falkner, who's a celebrity chef, I reached out to her, I sort of had this idea that if we want to create healthier candy, it has to taste amazing, right? We're not making protein bars, were not making you know, something that's a dietary supplement where maybe even if it doesn't taste super good, like people will, you know, they'll eat it, like they take their spinach, this is candy. So it has to taste really, really good if people are going to give up their traditional sugar candy that they've eaten since they were kids and frankly that our bodies are addicted to write like our bodies are addicted to that sugar. We're going to present something different. It's going to have to taste amazing. So I kind of had this maybe epiphany that if I could find an amazing chef who could make this, then we could take this like culinary first approach where we're actually in the kitchen, like touching the ingredients with our hands and really working our way into the formula that is going to be the best tasting better for you candy in the market.

So, I connected with Elizabeth. So it's a very long winded like, wait, no, I love it. Keep with the long winded for sure. And her and I met Yeah, early 2019. I want to say, yeah, if I have the timeline correct. We've basically worked on developing the product over the course of winter, spring and summer of 2019. By the fall, we had really gone the formula to a place where we felt so excited. We felt that it tasted amazing. We put that prototype version one formula on the shelf at a store and we sold out in three days. And that was basically the validation that I needed to leave my job and say this is really gonna work and have that conviction in the idea to ultimately leave my job. And then basically, I went in full time on the new business and I fundraise some money from investors and then sort of was able to focus full time on working to get us from that initial prototype into obviously a fully developed product that we could launch into the market.

And so, you know, I thought that that would be about a six month process and that we would launch in the spring of 2020 obviously 2020 had different plans for almost all of us. And so, you know, our production and our manufacturing was delayed and ultimately we launched at the end of the summer of 2020. And then we've just been building ever since then. Full steam ahead. I saw you also sold out at some point, which is a, it's a bittersweet thing. I'm sure I want to just go back a little bit too. I'm gonna unpack a few different things here when you met Elizabeth. How did you meet her? Is this like a cold outreach? Like what did you say to get her interested in being involved in your project? Yeah, absolutely. Oh wow. That actually makes me really want to go back to my first email to Elizabeth, because now we're so close, we've spent so much time together and I'm actually so curious like what did I say in that first email? But it was 100% of cold outreach. So again, I sort of, I had had a bunch of meetings with these R and D firms and then I sort of had this like a bad gut feeling about taking that approach and I sort of had this thought of I want to find an incredible chef to work with.

So literally google top female pastry chefs. I knew that someone who's worked in pastry will understand sweets and sugar and the taste palate around candy probably better than like a traditional, you know a chef that's doing more savory cooking and uh so I knew I wanted pastry, I knew I wanted to work with a female chef and yeah I probably just emailed like the top 20 people that showed up in those google results, cold email whatever the email on their website was or you know, damning them on instagram, whatever it might be. I probably connected with like five or six people just threw that cold outreach. But I connected with Elizabeth very quickly after emailing her, we had a phone call soon after and then I think like a day like this was all, I think it was emailed her, heard back a day later, got on the phone a day later, got coffee like one or two days later and it was just one of those things where it clicked immediately. Like I don't remember exactly what the initial email said but it probably said something along the lines of like I want to make better healthier candy.

And I think that you would be the person to really help bring this vision to life and you know again like I spoke with several people and I spoke with several chefs but Elizabeth and I connection was so instant because she really is bought into the mission right for her, it's not just about you know, there were people that I connected with who said okay talk to my agent and here's the thing that I would charge and here's a pdf of how these things are structured and how many instagram posts I would do and whatever. Um with Elizabeth, it was so much more first about her wanting to know like why do I want to create this product, why do I want to start this company and then really realizing that we were so aligned on a lot of different things just related to reducing you know sugar in a product in a category that is you know traditionally fed two kids um and that is really driving this addiction that we all have to sugar and you know just thinking a lot about how can we yeah really just impact and dr some disruption in a category that has been so stagnant for so long, I think she was really excited by that and I think the other piece that was such a cool like just aspect of Elizabeth that really came out and still comes out every day is that Elizabeth is you know we just have such a great relationship, she's so like easy going, she's such a kind person, I think we really connect on an energetic level in that regard too, which is why it clicked so quickly after just a phone call in a coffee.

But she's also highly competitive. Which I also relate to like I might be really relaxed and centered and grounded but then we have this competitive edge. Like Elizabeth has done every cooking competition you can think of on the food network, you know, top chef, iron chef, all these food competition and in them she has also been the judge for them. So I think also when I told her like, hey I want to make candy that tastes as good as the sugar candy but with almost no sugar, I think there was also something that clicked in her mind that was like this is gonna be hard but I'm going to do it and I'm going to make the best one. I think like that competitive edge within her comes out too. Sometimes when we're in like, you know the kitchen and doing R and D and working together and obviously testing other products that are on the market or testing other sugar candies and realizing like wow our candy compares and we even have received feedback and we obviously believe that our candy tastes even better in a lot of cases then candy that is full of sugar. So I think that competitive spirit and her kind of came out as well and we really, yeah, it just made for such a great match for us to work together and really start to get the ball rolling.

I love that, that's so cool and I love how you had that instant flow and like you said you met on an energetic level you were there, she was able to kind of like come to the table and be like, yeah, I'm so down for this challenge. How do I, I'm interested to know about how the actual, you know, the partnership evolved, was it kind of like a conversation being like, hey, I'm gonna bring you on as a business partner, we're gonna do this together or is it gonna be, you know, you're a consultant, I'm going to pay you for your time, how does that kind of thing actually look? Yeah, absolutely. So you know, obviously when I came to Elizabeth, I hadn't fundraise for the business, All I had was an idea and you know, I was still working full time in my job and I was really using just the money from my salary to fund anything that was required for the business at the time. So you know, I I think like the the way that we sort of set things up early was basically, you know, a small consulting fee just to, you know, show that I'm invested like at the time, I think what I paid her out of my own pocket was probably like a massive percentage of like the money that I had, but it was really important, you know, that I, that I sort of showed and communicated that I was really serious about this and then with a plan to pay her like the rest of what would be a reasonable rate for this kind of work upon fundraising and upon bringing in some investment.

And then there is an equity component as well. So, you know, Elizabeth is not necessarily involved in the day to day of the business, but when we have a research, anything R and D related, any new flavor development, any new recipe development, you know, she steps in and she gets really heavily involved, her title in the company's, she's our head of candy, We sometimes refer to her as like our own new age, new era willy Wonka, which is totally her vibe to when we're in the kitchen, like testing things, She's so in it and yeah, and so yeah, she, she has an equity stake in the business as well. And of course we want her to feel really motivated behind the success of the business and really aligned that as the company as well. She is tapped into that as well. Absolutely. That like really future incentive to keep at it and keep going. What made you decide to go down the route of fundraising right away and what was the kind of things that you needed to consider to take VC capital versus bootstrapping or alone or financing through other means?

Yeah, absolutely. So I really, like I said, I was sort of boot strapping on the side of my role, I had a salary coming in, I was kind of flipping that, putting it into whatever we needed from, you know, in the R and D. Process incorporating, you know, some of those early legal fees and so, you know, I really felt that I had gone us like kinda as far as I could on my own capital or just like the money that I had access to on my own. And so, you know, I knew that I would need to raise some amount of money. What ultimately, you know, and the people take a different approach is you can do friends and family. What I ultimately did was more of an angel round than necessarily adventure around. So we had some VCS that did invest, but on a much smaller scale, it wasn't like a, you know, of one BC that put in, you know, a half a million or a million dollars. It was more like some smaller checks because we actually were very intentional that we wanted this to be an angel round. So those VC checks we did take were sort of an exception to the rule.

And yeah, we just wanted to surround ourselves with the right strategic investors that we're going to help bring our business to the next stage and that we're just going to be really big supporters and cheerleaders of, you know, me at the time, and just our whole team and our whole business. So that's something that's actually really important to me in fundraising is finding values aligned investors and finding investors that are really bought into the entire mission. Again, like very similar to sort of why I think I connected with Elizabeth. I think about that a lot with just kind of everyone that I surround myself and surround the business with and obviously your investors and who is on your cap table can play a huge role in the direction that your company ultimately takes and the experience that you're going to have as a founder, right? If your investors are constantly questioning you or they don't believe in you or that's going to be a much different experience than when you have investors that are so bought into what you're doing and so excited about what you're building. So the other aspect that really played into that decision was that dummy candy has very high minimum order quantities.

So that was one of the early things that I realized in the time when I was sort of still in my full time role working on this on the side and basically trying to get this to the point where I could leave and go full time on this, I was having conversations with manufacturers and with co packers and what I learned is that you don't realize it, but to make gummy candy, most factories can run a million, if not millions of gummies in a matter of hours because that's how massive the machinery is. So as a small business, it's very hard to convince even find a factory that is willing to turn on their machine for you for less than those sort of millions of gummies, which you know, can come out to a couple 100,000 bags as a first order. Right? And when you're a startup, you're still testing and learning you want to get, you know, in an ideal world, you want to start with a small order, test it out in the market, see how people respond to it and then place larger and larger orders as your business grows, we sort of didn't have that luxury. And so I also knew that we would need enough capital to finance our first couple of orders.

And that because of those larger minimum orders, that there was going to be a certain amount of capital required to be able to do that. So that also definitely fueled the decision to go out and raise immediately. And then also obviously on a more personal level, like I said, you know, I also wanted to be able to leave my job and then take a salary and not have to like work on the side or take consulting work on the side because I knew that once I went into this full time, I wanted to be 100% dedicated to it and so obviously that part of that can come with fundraising as well, totally having that direct focus on what you're doing and being able to give it your all overall. Do you think it was harder than you thought it would be or easier or what you expected starting the business or fundraising specifically fundraising specifically? Well, both, let's go both. Yeah, so I think it was, this is such an interesting question, I'm just trying to think of how to answer this without sounding as kooky as I really am.

So essentially like, I think it was easier than I expected one because I think I had a lot of privileges and I have a certain amount of access to capital that I really want to acknowledge and like speak to and I'll speak to that in a second. But two, I actually did a lot of like energetic work in partnership with a therapist, also, like a lot of my own reading and a lot of my own research and journaling and thinking to unblock certain limiting beliefs that I had around money and that I had around my ability to fundraise. So I think just to get the first part out of the way, So prior to joining Daily Harvest, that health food startup, where I really like sort of started thinking about this idea, I worked at Uber and obviously Uber was an amazing experience for me and I met a lot of incredible people and mentors while I was there who ultimately Uber went on to be an extremely successful company, A lot of people made a lot of money just for being early employees at Uber. So I had a lot of friends and a lot of mentors and former colleagues who when I sort of went out and said, hey friends, I'm going to start a company, you know, people that were really excited to, you know, put some money behind me and you know, that really gets the ball rolling with the fundraise and so I'm just really grateful to, you know, a lot of those friends and mentors from that stage of my life and you know, but I really acknowledge that fundraising is a very different experience if you don't have access to some of these groups of people, I also had an ex who was in the venture world, so that also opened a lot of doors for me and so yeah, I I just do want to say like I think it was a quote unquote easy.

The fundraiser went very quickly, but I know that there's sort of a lot of privilege that it kind of has to be in place for for that to happen, that's just not the case for everybody. The second piece is really this, like it's sort of like I guess it sort of goes hand in hand with manifesting, but essentially, you know, we all have, I think everybody has hang ups around money and we all have these like learned, um, we have things that we've learned about money or that we've taken in as Children from our family structures from society. I think for me I had a lot of like limiting beliefs and I had a lot of sort of deeply ingrained beliefs around money that you know, money is dirty, that money, you know, if I have money, it means that I'm greedy, you know, money is this thing that is, I never want to be someone who like is hoarding money in the context of like society and the greater good and so you know, with these beliefs in place, how would it be possible for me to go out in the world and actually bring in money from investors, right?

Because on some subconscious level I would actually probably sabotaged myself because I don't believe that I, you know, deserve to be in charge of this amount of money, right? Or that I will be responsible with it or I have this belief that if I get access to all this money from collected from investors that I'm greedy in some way or that I'm, you know, this bad person. So actually really working through therapy to understand that like, well money actually is a tool, right, I'm not trying to get this money so I can go buy a yacht, I'm trying to get this money so we can further the mission of our company and build something that is going to hopefully really bring a lot of joy and bring something exciting and hopefully, you know, that can just be a better option for people within this candy category. And so yeah, I think I really had to work through some of that stuff on my own. And I actually, I remember my therapist sort of saying, look, I think you have some of these limiting beliefs, we should work through them. And we did, we actually did some like pretty spiritual kind of like energetic work that I was maybe rolling my eyes a little bit at the time when we did it.

And literally we did those exercises over the course of maybe three weeks and then I left my job and then I went out and I fund raised pretty much within two weeks and I, you know, I can't obviously say it's like, I know that it's not just the exercise that led to the fundraise being easy, but I know that it's all tied together. So you know, I've definitely leaned a lot more into some of those, you know, I think a lot of people see these things as maybe more spiritual, but I actually think that they're very psychological and I think there's a lot of like neuroscience to back why you have to kind of dig down into like your inner child and your subconscious and what you believe in your subconscious, you have to unblock, you know, the limiting beliefs that exist there, that we develop again through our entire lives. I think especially as women, there's a lot of stuff that gets really deeply in grain and I come from an immigrant family. I think you get a lot of stuff ingrained from that as well, probably where a lot of my money stuff came from. So yeah, really digging deep, unblocking that stuff really will make a difference in the type of kind of energy that you can bring into whether it's fundraising or starting the company or recruiting a new teammate, right?

If you're coming into these conversations from a place of like lack, then you're going to give off an energy that you're desperate for the money or you need the money where I was able to shift was to say actually I'm bringing an amazing investment opportunity to these investors and I need to decide if they are aligned with my business and with me and if I'm gonna allowed, you know, this person or this fund on the journey with me. So I think just that mindset shift can go a really long way. That is so fascinating and I love how open you've shared that experience because I imagine so many of us suffer from those same, maybe not the same limiting beliefs but limiting beliefs in general. I'm just wondering, is there any resources off the top of your head that you have that useful reading or useful places to go on the internet to learn more and to understand this about yourself. Yeah, so I'm trying to think at the time. There are yes, there's so many things, I mean one that I, it's a little bit maybe cheesy, but it really was such a game changer for me was this book called You are a Badass?

I feel like everyone has seen it. It's this yellow book cover, they like have it at urban outfitters and the checkout aisle, I would say that's the book that I read that was really the kick off of like wanting to learn more about, you know, shifting your mindset and how manifestation can really just how to start practicing that and how to start thinking about it and integrating it into my own life, the same author has a book called you are a badass at making money. I would definitely recommend both. I think another piece of it is finding people that kind of look like you or have like a similar background to you in some way who are doing the thing that you want to do, right? So I was listening to a lot of podcasts interviews with female founders or you know, founders of color and just hearing their stories and hearing how they had done it and also even on a more personal level, like just reaching out to and connecting with other founders, especially in the food and beverage space, specifically hearing their stories and also like particularly finding some founder friends who are going again.

Like I said the same thing with investors who are going to be your cheerleaders. So I basically in those, like I said, those nine months where I was really working on this on the side for my full time job, something else, I was spending a lot of time in that period doing was asking everyone I knew to connect me to anybody who had started a food or beverage company and then basically just taking them out for coffee and just hearing step by step. How did you do it? And then specifically around the fundraising piece? Like how did you do it? And what I found is obviously, you know, there you'll meet some people and you'll meet them once and you know, always grateful for anyone who is willing to share their time and their learnings, but maybe, you know, it's not like a deep connection, but there are a very good handful of founders that I met just during that time when I was just networking and meeting so many people that we had such a strong connection and the people that I was the most drawn to were the ones that said, you can do this basically right. I was just sitting across the table from them with an idea and there are founders who I think it's just different personality types.

There are founders who will say, look this is going to be hard, this is really hard, it's hard to raise money. There's a lot of depression in founding a company, like it's very lonely and really focus on those things and those things are true and I so appreciate the people that make our really transparent about that. But I really gravitated towards a group of founders who are now still some of my closest friends and kind of like partners in this whole journey and some of whom have invested in my company or become advisors to the company. When I met them, they literally said, look, you have a good idea better for you. Candy is unequivocally a good idea in a big market, you can do this, you can raise the money, go out there, do it, we'll support you well, you know, we're here to answer any questions you have, you can get the product made, you can find a factory like you can do this. So I think a big yeah, I guess it's not really like a book or a resource, but definitely surrounding yourself with people with whatever the motivational energy is for you, right? Some people get motivated by having someone who says you can't do it right? So maybe you do need to find that like front of me who kind of like put that spark under you, for me, I need the cheerleading and so I was I guess I didn't really know what I was doing at the time, but in hindsight, like my subconscious I think was intentionally just drawing me towards relationships and building relationships with people that really brought that energy just into my journey and into this path.

Oh, I love it, I love it. That is such a great advice and I feel like you've actually really inspired me because I'm in this phase at the moment, you know, growing the podcast, growing this company where I'm also looking for more of, you know, coaching is not necessarily the right word, but that mentorship, that coaching kind of element from people who are further along in that journey from what I'm trying to do and who I am looking to. So love that and something I say a lot to people whether it's like, you know, young women early in their careers or founders is I think like we're sold this story very early on whether it's in university or when we're doing internships, that's like maybe it's less nowadays, but at least when I was growing up it was like you need to network with the ceo of the company, right? So like if you're an intern, how do you convince the ceo to like get coffee with you or just start start linkedin messaging like the super senior level executives at the companies that you're most inspired by and see if they can, if you can meet them in some way.

And actually what I have found is the most valuable relationships that I have built and so many of which have actually turned into like lifelong friendships is when I network with people that are either at the same stage as me, so just peer to peer or to your point slightly ahead of you. So like most of those founders that I was really networking with that I got a lot out of were six months ahead of me right? Like because for one they remember where you are, I think that also gives them a lot of empathy for like the position you're at the company or the founder that is five years in and is doing like $100 million a year. Doesn't remember they probably half the time they don't even remember like the problems that you're dealing with at that stage and you don't really have anything to offer them as well. So I really find like connecting with people that have more similar stage or just slightly ahead just to be so much more of like a value exchange because you're probably working through some things that maybe they're still working through or that maybe they did it but they want to redo it in a different way and you're approaching it differently so they can learn from your approach and yeah that's been really huge for me and then the pure networking too because you know I when I was pretty early on in my career, I remember like I was a marketing manager at Uber and a friend of mine started hosting these women's dinners and we would all be sort of in that marketing manager, marketing coordinator level and you know, at the time it was really more social, like we just had a really good time together, we all sort of became friends and then as I progressed through my career and all the rest of us did, next thing you know, we are directors and VPs that our companies and now we're creating these partnerships across each other's companies, helping each other get jobs, helping each other, you know get Pr or whatever it is because now we're in the position to do that and I think it was so much more valuable to really find that crew of women and supporters when we were all kind of in the same boat versus being that marketing manager who is trying to get the attention of like a VP of marketing at a big company who, you know, probably doesn't have the time to speak with you or any real reason to.

Right, totally, Yeah, I really love that. That's great. Such a pearl of wisdom there. I want to switch topics now and talk about the marketing side of things. I'm conscious of the time. So I'm going to try and speed through it so we can still do the six quick questions at the end, but I'd love to hear, you know how you went about acquiring customers in the beginning and kind of finding the tribe of people who would go on to become your loyal fans and and those true customers and lovers of what you're doing and how your marketing has evolved in the last 12 months. Yeah, definitely. So we're, I would say from the first step in the whole like idea of marketing for us was building the brand. So we put a lot of time and investment into creating a really incredible brand. We worked with like a best in class agency that have just had so many successes in the food and beverage world called Gander there, a Brooklyn based agency there, you know, I cannot speak highly enough of their team and their work.

And so we really started from ground zero saying, okay, like what are we trying to say? What is our message and actually like what we really spent a lot of time doing was painting this picture of yes, we are a health food brand, but we don't want to be a diet brand and we don't again, like behavior is all about eating more candy. It's not about eating less sugar, it's not about eating less or you know, like I said like diet has never really resonated with me super strongly like diet culture and we didn't want to become yet another brand that's feeding into that, that's telling people how to eat. So we did a lot of work to kind of lay again lay that foundation where we're about more were about excess, we're about fun nostalgia for like eating candy when you were a kid and we really wanted to hone in on that and I think that really parlayed into what type of community we were going to build around the brand and the type of people that would be attracted to the brand and you know, that's not to say that we don't speak to dieters at all. I think our product is a keto friendly product, keto is a huge community at this point and we love the fact that we are an option and we can serve that community.

We can serve someone who's diabetic who hasn't been able to eat candy in a long time. So you know, we love that we can fit into a lot of different diets, but a lot of our customers are really just coming to us and saying, yeah, like I stopped eating candy. I always felt guilty and kind of icky and a little bit sick after I had it and you know, now I can just indulge and eat two bags, you know, straight to the bottom and and still feel great and just go about my day, not fixate on it all night and not feel like I need to go get a workout in now because I did that. So yeah, we really first and foremost, I think had to hone in on this message and this story. Um and make sure that we conveyed that really strongly to our customer. And actually a big part of that. It's kind of an interesting story, is the name behave kind of came up in just a little like brainstorm off the cuff over coffee with a girlfriend years ago, like back when I first had the idea, we were just throwing names around and it was always meant to be like tongue in cheek, you know, behave but don't be like, behave kind of in the austin powers sense of like don't behave, but obviously with the name like behave, we we did have a worry that it could come off as, you know, us telling people to behave or us feeding into a diet culture, telling people like you need to behave yourself or you need to behave a certain way around candy.

So, we made this whole decision to actually cross the word behave out in our word mark. So really honing in on that idea that you don't have to behave yourself around candy. We are over that we are done with like feeling that we have to control ourselves or our diet, our appetites around candy. And so yeah, I get a lot of kind of thought went into how we are framing our messaging and our brand voice and then ultimately, when we launched, we had a really big press push which were just very lucky for we you know, there was a lot of interest I think from press and what we were doing. And again, like candy has really been undistracted in so long. So I think it was a great press story that a lot of outlets kind of picked up on. And that brought a lot of the early kind of traction to the site and a lot of the early followers and and adopters. And then we also did a really big influencer push. So we connected with a lot of like minded influencers. So again, not just like diet influences, their fitness influencers. We painted a really broad picture of all different types of influencers, anybody again, who's just kind of like living their best life.

Very authentic. You know, really speaks to their audience in an authentic and genuine way. And we did a big push where we gifted them product. And that was definitely another really big driver. When we launched a just reaching a lot of new people and a way that a lot of people were able to find out about us right off the bat. Mm And how has that evolved in terms of like what's really driving that growth for you now, now that you're further on down the track. Yeah. You know, we've been really lucky in that we are still for the most part seeing most of our traffic in our growth, still coming organically. We've started doing some facebook advertising, but we haven't yet really like put the pedal to the metal on that just because we are still growing and we're still seeing incredible traction just with the organic traffic that's coming through continued influencer marketing. We do continue to always give people, we got a lot of influencers who actually reach out to us and asked to try the product and that, you know, they'd love to share and support. And you know, still some pr as well. And definitely like word of mouth and just repeat purchase from people who've tried the product and are coming back.

So we've been really lucky on that front. Like you said, we've also sold out. So that obviously put some limitations around just how much real like firepower we can put into marketing just yet. We keep outpacing our projections, We keep ordering like bigger orders, thinking it's gonna outlast it. And then we kind of outperform and outdo ourselves every time. So I think we are finally getting that under control in the next month or so. But yeah, that has also been, I think one thing that we had to keep a close eye on in terms of how much firepower can we really put into marketing until we know that we're not gonna sell out again. And we, you know, we always want to make sure that we're in stock and that were available for, you know, our returning customers are subscribers And just people that are coming to the site really looking for a product like ours. Mm Yeah, definitely. A bittersweet problem to have. That's for sure. Yeah, definitely. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business? I think if I had to give one piece of advice, it is definitely too break down what you need to do to get your business off the ground into a small of pieces as possible.

And I, you know, I do want to acknowledge that again, I'm only speaking from my own experience and I'm only speaking from what works for me. I know that there are people out there were like writing the 15 page business plan. Really outlining everything super clear and organized is what is going to get them motivated and get them over sort of, you know, to feel comfortable to get to the next step. What I have found in my experience is that every time I tried to sit down and get a really long plan, you know, of every single variable that could go into starting, you know, any business, I've had other business ideas in the past, the more I sort of like sat and tried to get so academic about the idea, the more I just like one I lost steam and kind of lost some of the excitement and to like you get paralyzed because now it feels so big right? When you need to know the market size and you need to have all the research and you need to have the product plan and the five year product roadmap in your orC structure and your hiring plan for the next five years, right? That's kind of what they teach you like in a business school setting that you need to do in order to start a business for me at least would lead to paralysis.

And what happened when I actually did started to get the ball rolling and get this business off the ground was when I started to break it down into small pieces. So instead of saying, I need to know everything today, I said I need to make a gummy bear that is low sugar and all natural, how am I going to do this? I'm going to contact chefs, reach out to the chefs next step next and just move that one thing forward. Right, okay. I want to start a business, I need to incorporate. So you know, I don't need to have a full legal team, I don't need to have, you know, every single type of insurance and every single type of legal protection from day one, at least you know, those things come with time, I just need to incorporate and I found an online service that I use and I did the incorporation than when I had a little more money. I had a lawyer, double check it and make sure everything was okay. And so, um, but you know, it would have been very easy to say, oh I need to get a lawyer to incorporate, it's gonna cost so much, I can't afford a lawyer right now and then you get paralyzed. So yeah, that's breaking things down into smaller pieces and really just like I always say this, it sounds so obvious, but it's like you just need to put one ft in front of the next.

You don't need to leapfrog five steps ahead. You don't need to know what retail your product is going to go into. You don't need to know exactly what factors are going to be working with from day one. Just figure out what you need to do tomorrow and usually it's like one or two things and just, you know, keep moving those things forward and then bring on new tasks and new project as you reach them. Absolutely one ft in front of the other. Okay, so we are up to the six quick questions. I'm going to be super speedy question number one is, what's your, why? Why do you do what you do? My wife for the business is definitely delighting customers. Like when we get a customer email, that is, you know, we get so many, whether it's, you know, my kid has diabetes and they haven't been able to eat candy and now they can or just this tastes amazing and now I can kick my, you know, my sour candy addiction and you know, switch over to this or I guess continue my sour candy addiction, but in a way that feels better, that is so much my wife in terms of like building the business and then I think my personal y is really just autonomy.

Like I think what I love about running a business is that I kind of wake up every day and make the decision of, what am I going to do today and what am I going to focus on? What are we focusing on this week, this year as a business and then on a personal level as well. And that is something that I've just found so rewarding in just founding a company and kind of switching from employee into business owner totally. I love that too. Question number two is, what do you think has been the biggest or the number one marketing moment that's made the business pop. Oh man. Um, I have to say the launch, I think we just were so blown away by the amount of press um, that we saw at launch and also the number of influencers who posted, right? I think with influencer marketing a lot of times you kind of like send product out into the ether and you don't know what's going to happen, it's a bit of a black box, but what we have really found is that influencers love candy, right? Everyone loves candy? Pretty much. So you know, it's not like when an influencer receives like some weird gadget or like something that doesn't fit into their lifestyle and they kind of just like put it in a dusty closet, you know, when they receive behave, they really are excited and you know, for the most part get excited to tell their audiences about it.

So that launch moment, I think between the influencer promotion that we saw in the engagement on that front as well as the press was a really big one. Love that view question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to right now? Yeah, I, I don't know, I'm like still kind of in a bit of this, like more spiritual, um, space. Uh, so I would say I'm reading a lot of maybe like pseudo philosophical spiritual things right now. I'm, I just finished the four agreements and I'm reading that authors second book, the fifth agreement now. And so I'm kind of in that head space, I would say a bit and what do I read or look to to get smarter. Honestly my team, like I think that that is something, you know, now I was working on this alone for so long now we're a team of three and um, just, you know, looking to them for inspiration and looking to them to solve problems and answer the questions that come up on the day to day.

I feel like I learned so much, I love that question. Number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated. I definitely start my day with actually breakfast which is new for me. I never used to eat breakfast for years and I think now it's actually like such an important part of kick starting the day and actually being in a good state for the remainder of the day. Also journaling every single morning, I do a gratitude journal in the morning and the evening as well. So just like really focusing on positive, good things that have happened the day, things that you're grateful for, you know, also setting priorities. So you know every day just what are the priority, the work priorities for. I set them at the top of the week and then also at the top of each day and I try to really focus on getting through those things that have to get done today. Again, it kind of comes back to that like breaking things down into pieces and then getting a good night's sleep I think is so key. I can so clearly see when I am getting, you know, 6 to 7 hours of sleep, what my performance and my mood and my ability to be a good leader look like relative to when I'm getting my 8.5 hours.

So that's something I'm just trying to become a little bit more consistent with first cora Absolutely question number five is if you only have $1000 left in the business bank account, where would you spend it? If I had $1000 left, I would spend it, I would spend it on inventory because I feel like I will find a way to sell it. I love that. Nice and last question question number six is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach to it? I think with failure or just, you know, if you don't want to call it failure, just like the challenges that I face every day every week, you know, with things that come up, I think I'm getting better at, especially the more that things go wrong and then we come out the other side of it, I'm getting better at when I'm in like the quote unquote failure, I'm in the challenge, Being able to sort of like future trip or almost like put myself in my future shoes and understand that I'm gonna be so much better off because of this thing that I'm in now, you know, we recently went through something that was very challenging and I remember at the time, you know, feeling really down about it, you know, just on a personal level psychological level, obviously, you know, had to correct it as quickly as possible for the sake of the business.

Uh and I remember in that moment, just, you know, being down, probably crying in therapy, but actually being able to say, you know what? I know we're gonna get through this and it's gonna be over soon and actually every future problem is gonna feel so small compared to this one. And so, you know, being able to actually like look forward and know that every mistake or every challenge, every failure really is. I know it's so cliche, but like, it really is a learning and if I can put myself in the shoes of my future self that now has that learning, it kind of makes me feel better about it in the moment. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for sharing so openly about your experience and your journey so far. I've just loved chatting with you. I feel like I could chat to you for such a long time. Thank you so much. Probably, of course. Thanks for having me. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D.

I Y course the ads, M. B. A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way, it might seem like such a small thing, but reviews, help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe, rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Mhm.

How to start a candy brand and unblock self limiting beliefs, with Behave’s Mayssa Chehata
How to start a candy brand and unblock self limiting beliefs, with Behave’s Mayssa Chehata
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