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Aimee Yang is changing the future of food with Better Brand & The Better Bagel, here’s how… (part 1)

by Female Startup Club
February 7th 2022

Today on the show we’re chatting to Aimee Yang, the founder of the one of the most innovative products in the food industry right now; Better Brand. Better Brand is a consumer food tech company usi... More

are you on the lookout for a new podcast? To listen to Being boss by Emily Thompson is brought to you by the hubspot podcast network and something I love about this show is getting the chance to support my community of fellow creators and business owners. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it takes, but what it means to be a boss as a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler and I know it's going to resonate with so many of you who are listening in. So if you like Female startup Club, trust me, you're going to love being boss. This is Amy Yang for female startup Club mm hmm. Hello! It's Dune here, your host and hype girl. Today on the show, we're chatting to Amy Yang, the founder of one of the most innovative products in the food industry right now, Better Brand, Better Brand is a consumer food tech company using applied food technologies to disrupt the multi trillion dollar refined carbohydrate industry.

Their first product is the better bagel which turns the carb heavy bagel into the equivalent of just two banana slices. And this is just the beginning at the end of this episode, she reveals what she's working on next and I am just so excited about it. Oh my God! Before we get into it, if you are in London on 24 February, I'm having a little tiny book launch party for my upcoming book. Your hype girl and you are of course invited. Just send me an email to hello at female startup club dot com. So I can pop you on the guest list, it's gonna be super cute and I would love to meet you. Let's get into it. This is Amy for female startup club customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery.

Clay vo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more visit Clay vo dot com slash F S C. That's Clay vo dot com slash F S C. Amy Hi, welcome to the show. Hi team, thank you so much for having me, I am so excited to be talking to you Well tonight I was about to say today, but it's actually nighttime for me and I'm just so intrigued by what you've been building and you know, I've been following you on linkedin for a little while because andre who is a, I guess a colleague of sorts of mine introduced me to your brand, so I started following you and I'm just like excited on so many levels. Oh my gosh, that's amazing. And so I will say that that kind of just organic traction and people talking about introducing the brand um to you know, people who they know and admire that's you know, been the driving catalyst for, you know, the early success that better has, has had and I think that's really special and meaningful because it means that the brand stands for for more than you know, just the products that we're putting out and that there's this greater mission that people are so excited to be talking about and sharing.

So that's that's that's really really great to hear um you know about about how you even heard about us in the beginning. Yeah. Oh my gosh, I love that. Yeah, shout out to Andre he has a an email marketing agency called Flowy um and he's just all sorts of great. So I'm gonna make sure he listens to this episode before we get started. Can you give us a bit of an introduction to who you are and what your business is for anyone who might not know just yet. Yes, so hi everyone, my name is Amy Yang, I'm the founder and Ceo Better Brand um Better Brand is a consumer food tech company and we're working in and leading innovation in the refined carbs space. So um you know, just think about creating a world where we can eat the foods that we crave freely um without you know, fear of waking or negative health consequences and without compromise. Um and that's kind of the gist of who we are and what we're doing and driving forward as a business um to put this into some more practical perspective.

Our first product, the better bagel which is you know obviously a really carb heavy food or the bagel is um we're transforming it into the carb equivalent of two slices of banana. Um so just, you know, in terms of innovation and changing the consumer experience with food and is really what we're setting out to do, I'm like so excited about the future, when we think about, you know, businesses like yours, when we think about lab grown milk and lab grown meat and you know, beyond and impossible and a non alc and all this kind of stuff that's coming, I'm like, I'm just so excited for what the future looks like in five years time or 10 years time when things are just like, you know, we won't need to eat dairy, I mean I don't eat meat now, but we won't need those things will have great alternatives. I'm so excited and and that's actually what kind of sparked um you know, this idea for for better brand and to begin with is you know, there was so much innovation like you were saying, happening in the food tech sphere, right?

Whether it's, you know, meat alternatives or dairy alternatives, But if you think about the refined carbs sphere, right, it's a $10 trillion dollar space and it's 10 times larger than than let's say meat, which is, you know about 1.2 to 1.4 trillion depending on you know how, how you you count the market address the relative market sizes, um and it's a completely open space that has so much driving impact to human health and is literally the most like leading cause and driver of obesity um in in the world and yet no one has come in and said you know we're going to be the beyond meat of carbs right? And that's exactly what we're doing and and and excited to do and put our stake in the ground and drive large scale impact in that way. What's kind of like mind blowing to me is I just never even thought of that, like I just never even thought who could make carbs in a different way? So what I'd love to know from you is like can you take us back to the time where you were starting to have light bulb moments around tackling this and how one decides on vehicles?

Yeah, I mean I think probably in terms of those like moments it started fairly early on it in the journey. I've I've always known that I've wanted to be an entrepreneur but you know set my career or spent the early part of my career setting the foundation so I'd be ready to to do so when I, you know when I got to that point um you know, so I was a C. P. A. In a former life to learn the ins and outs of how a company operated, then worked in bangalore India building ernst and young's global talent hub team to learn about operations and teaming and and you know cross control integration then worked in consulting and litigation to learn about large data synthesis and then once I figure it out, you know, once I, I thought that I had felt that I had the foundational aspects ready, went to Wharton, got an M. B. A. And um and entrepreneurship and strategic management and it was really there that I think you know, despite knowing that I've always wanted to build something um it really hit me in terms of the scope of what that could be and I think it's just because you're always in this bubble right for two years and you're constantly surrounded by greatness.

So you know, I remember this period of time where it's like joe biden was in the room right? And then it was like Neil Blumenthal and then it was like roger iger and Melinda gates and and it's almost like it instills in you this belief that or understanding maybe is a better word that not only can we drive impact as one person but it's almost a responsibility to do so. Um, so then at that point, you know, I started to think about what my personal pain points were and you need to be passionate about something right? That, that you're building and for me my largest paint points were always around diet and healthy eating like I was always on this cycle of you know wanting to eat something um, and or craving it and you know if I ate it, I'd feel guilty if I didn't, I'd feel deprived and it was just this like roller coaster, right? And it consumes so much of my mindspace and garnered so much negative anxiety that I just, I wanted to create a better way. Um and I mean this is actually kind of an embarrassing story and I don't think I've ever told before, oh my God, please tell it remember this moment when I was in high school and it was my birthday um and you know, there was a birthday cake and and you know, on your birthdays, you make a birthday wish and I literally wish for the ability to just eat what I wanted without having to worry about consequences or, you know, tweaking and and I think maybe that's why it became so apparent at that time, is because, you know, it's a birthday, you want to eat cake, right?

But then you feel bad about eating cake and like we shouldn't have to do that, right? My husband literally says that at least once a day he'll kill me for saying that, but he's like, I just want to eat all the things and you know, anyway, I know those fields, why do we have to live a life with these limitations? You know, when we've come so far in the spectrum of of of just pushing boundaries in so many other areas. So then at that point, you know, I was like kind of going back to the earlier story, I was like, okay, this is what we're going to do, we're going to create this world where we don't have to worry about eating something and negative consequences associated with that, so at that point, you know, started doing a ton of market research, understood the market was was, you know, an over $10 trillion market, and just also straight, did you start sorry, on bagels or just in general carb food completely in general our scope. Um, and and then, you know, we did a ton of consumer research and testing and why I wanted to start with the table is the one who doesn't love a bagel, right?

And to, you know, kind of similar to that story of so the experience of eating cake on your birthday, I feel like a bagels of food that just brings you so much joy, you know, it's associated with these like, special french is or occasions with your family and but you know, whenever we spoke to consumer, it's like this off limits food or it's like, you know, it takes away from that experience and it, you know, you, you just be like, okay, if I eat it, then I'm gonna have to make up for it in some other way, you feel bad about eating it. So, you know, I think eliminating that would really that powerful, like emotional driver and bringing in showcasing what we can do by bringing joy and back into those experiences, right? The third reason is because if we're putting our stake in the ground is leading innovators in the refined carbs space, you know, what better way to start than by transforming the most carb heavy foods, a bagel into the carb equivalent of two sizes of banana, You know, it's like once we build that foundation then everything else becomes a little bit easier.

And then also, just in terms of relative market size and use cases, the bagel market in itself is a billion dollar market that, you know, is a great trial for us in terms of like use case and and distribution. It works due to see it works food service, it works retail and wholesale. So, so a lot of places where we can really test that is so interesting and amazing and exciting. I just love it. What happens like after you kind of do your market research, how do you go about like proving out the concept and what's the feedback when you're telling people what you're trying to do and how do you even know it's possible. Like I have so many questions. Um well, I think, I mean, I spoke to a lot of people working on research in this space, mostly academic to be, to be fair at that point, because there weren't a lot of practical applications of it, which I thought was was really, really interesting. So, you know, I I had an idea of how we were going to start right and and I mean I guess with anything associated with food tech or R.

And D. Like you don't really you can never 100% know that it's going to be possible when you first start right, you just have to have that groundwork, that knowledge um and that passion and and just drive to say like okay we're going to do this and then and then think about, you know, if we can do it that overarching impact and implication that we can have Right? So, you know, and in terms of that impact and implication, you know, and I think this is a really powerful driving factor to you know to put it into perspective, you know at this point chronic diseases associated with obesity and type two diabetes are responsible for two out of three deaths in America. Whoa, that's a lot. Yeah, it's crazy. Um excess weight, it affects 37 million Children. Um if you want to put that into perspective and 29 million Americans are diabetic over 60 million or prediabetic and and you know, in in the U. S. But it's if you're thinking worldwide also obesity is implicated in it's two out of three, two thirds of leading causes of death and non communicable disease.

So in and consumption of refined carbs is the single largest driver of between the world, right? So if you're thinking about yes this is what we're setting out to do but the like huge macro level patients can have on human health kind of like, okay, like we might not be able to get there and we don't know but it's we have to try, right? So that's kind of how we started and after I had that fundamental knowledge and understanding the market and you know, um some idea of how we would start, we fund raised. So we raised our first million and that was, you know, just for the purposes of R. And D. Right, We didn't know what was gonna happen, but we were going to figure it out and start this journey and movement. And did I read that you're the first woman to raise $1 million dollars precede in the food industry, is that correct? Yeah. But so I think it's sole founder um to do that, wow, that's cool. Thank you. And I think, you know, I think it's because of this large mission, right?

And and the large scope of the undertaking. But it's it's really, it's really exciting. Unpredictability is part of what makes starting and growing a business both exciting and terrifying from the next loan payment to your next big sale or your next acquisition finding predictability and business is about as likely as finding a last minute valentine's day dinner reservation unlikely hubspot crm platform is here to help grow and scale with you through uncertainty. So you can spend your time getting to that dinner reservation, hub, sports reporting dashboard is like your crystal ball giving you a bird's eye view on your marketing, your sales and customer service performance. So you can get ahead of any issues before they happen. Lead rotation and automation takes on operational sales tasks. So your team can focus on customer needs and shared inboxes, make incoming chats and emails easy to manage and scale for the whole team, learn more about how a hubspot crm platform can help your business grow better at hubspot dot com.

So talk to me about the R and D process. Obviously you raised a million dollars, you're able to start working with food scientists and labs and coming up with what this could potentially look like. How long did it take? What were the challenges and what were the best bits, what was the best part about it? So I will say that this is part actually why, you know, your investors are so important right? So for our first round, even in, um, for pre seed round, it was led by versatile capital um, and their large players in the tech space, you know, they have impossible includes in their portfolio, they have just egg in their portfolio And they are typically a lot later stage, so they write $100 million checks, $200 million dollars text and this is the first time they had come in so so early and you know that in and of itself opened a lot of doors in terms of, you know, just the knowledge that they had, who to talk to, you know, like getting labs to pay attention from day one, you know, and getting the right people to to be willing to even get on the phone with me and so, so, you know, versa was a huge help with that and just, oh my gosh, in terms of our, that creasy band, it was like, you know, Sean thomas, who is the grandson of Dave thomas, founder of Wendy's, you know, was involved and, and Patrick Schwarzenegger and you know, Nicole Kogan, Emmie ross.

Um and just just this incredible group of people who had just a lot of passion in this space and I think we're really kind of driving to help, which was certainly incredible. Um and then in terms of timeline, so this is the crazy thing, that's just, I feel like we're just like one in a million type in chance of that happening is we got it right basically immediately. Um you know, we worked with four labs in the process on different components of R and D in the process, one lab has, you know, understands the entire scope and, and we actually have, you know, very well protected, I key on on that from them, but, you know, we got it right from like almost immediately. Um and that just does not happen, you know, and, and you know, if you think about impossible, for example going back to that story and Pat Brown who's just an incredible visionary and genius and and scientists right? Um you know he he speaks about that the R.

And D. Journey was impossible and how it took them nine years of time or sorry not 19 years of time, $9 million in a year of time to just improve their original hypothesis on how he should be extracted. So basically to figure out that they couldn't actually do it the way that they wanted and had to start, you know like exploring a different path and alternative. Whoa! That's crazy. Yeah so to say that you know, we got it right and immediately and it really is one of those like one in a million lucky things that happened, did it cost you the full million to do it? It didn't. Oh very cool. Right? So and and you know, I think that if you believe in the product right? And and the mission, the story of the company and for the purposes that you've been driving impact, you should get the product out into the market as as fast as you can, you know, get it out in front of the consumer have start driving impact right?

And start telling your story and take the consumer on the journey with you. Um And I also think that's the only way to really build a truly efficient business because you need that data and in order to inform your decisions, you need that feedback loop. Exactly. Um and so from closing around in February of 2021, we launched in june of 2021 so it was a four month. Yes. Um so, oh my God, what? I've never heard anything like it, I think we just blacked out quite frankly for those four months, I don't think, I mean I literally didn't do anything but work on on better and it was just an amazing thing and to do and I'm sure I drove a number of vendors absolutely crazy, you know, with with all these aspects and in that timeline but but we got it done and and we launched and you know, I have just been refining and working in the process but but yeah, we we got it on the market pretty quickly, wow, that is so crazy.

What was the feedback when you launched it? And how did you launch it? What was your launch plan to get the word out there? So we did do to see to start, we I did have some press and excitement around the product from from the very beginning, but everything to start was was organic, right? Because again it's like we were testing the messaging, we weren't sure the scope like the infrastructure is something that we were still building on, right and the product was at a point where you know, it was, it was good enough to get in front of the consumer, write and illustrate what we could do, but but obviously, you know, there's there's still going to be a constant, you know, R and D, or pressure, R and D and in constant iterations and improvements. So, so when we launched, it was basically like organic, we weren't marketing um and we did 20 K the first week, which you know, we obviously were not expecting. Um but how, like, I don't understand, was there like organic pr or was it just like you telling your friends and your friends, telling their friends definitely pr you know, um it was, I mean even that Forbes article that you had mentioned earlier that was like, okay, first woman to do this and um you know, and wants to innovate on the refined carbs industries, the beyond meat of carbs and you know, we're transforming a bagel into the two like banana slices.

Like people were really interested from, from the get go 20K. is a lot of bagels and let me tell you who we struggle to fulfill that. Um so much in the operational back end and we learned so much from that process. So we actually went out of stock just to to catch up with fulfillment and thank goodness your customer base is so understanding and supportive and you often times, I don't get that with with friends and customers, but but I think it was, it's driven by people who are so mission aligned, you know, and understand the scope of what we're trying to do and accomplish and the mission we're trying to push forward and in terms of just breaking free of these unnecessary limitations, right? And and boundaries and creating this world that you know, really fundamentally based on this aspect of freedom, right? And so people were incredibly supportive and patient and I'm so you know, gracious for it and and appreciative and then went back in stock in july, same thing happened with like 30 some pay over 12 days.

Um and then we're like okay, like I really need to focus on building somewhere infrastructure of the team. Um and we've been back in stock in august and we have not been like we've been able to fulfill everything and growing really quickly, which is exciting. Um and then in our third active month we actually broke a million dollar run rate. So you know, in and continuing to grow and test and iterate. Oh my gosh, that is amazing! So like for you now is your focus on just growing the bagel side of the business or is it to introduce new products and kind of like keep steaming ahead or both? I think, you know the overarching driver when you say like keep steaming ahead like that really resonates because for us it's like this constant push to move faster, right? And and expand faster and do more. Um so so we are, you know continuing to iterate on, on the bagel as on the better bagel, you know, in terms of texture, taste, flavor profile, everything again with the consumer feedback loop in mind and using that as a basis.

And we have already started R and D on a number of other products. Anything you can share. Yes. Well, so it's really funny people always ask like, well, how do you inform this? Is that market driven? And I'm like, you know, it's, it's really the foods that I want to be able to eat really and not have to worry about in pizza is one of those foods. So pizza crust, um, you know, is next, it's on the way. I love the language you're speaking right now. This is speaking to me. Does that mean pastors coming after that were fantastic. Oh my gosh, this is crazy. I'm so excited for you guys. Like now obviously you've done the second raise. I'm sure that's for, you know, infrastructure and team and all that kind of thing. But what's your approach to marketing to kind of like double down on the organic word of mouth that's obviously working in your favor. Yeah. So I think in terms of that organic marketing word of mouth, I really believe in the power of brand and investing in your branding.

Um, to be able to tell your story, right? Because because I think what a brand does is you can look at it and and it tells you so much about who the company is, you know, what they represent. And it draws your early evangelists to you. Um, so one of the first things that we did was we brought on a branding agency that, you know, was absolutely incredible. Um, and who has worked on the likes of, you know, Spotify, um Tesla, you know, Heineken, your website is very cool, very, very cool. It's, you know, these world renowned brands that speak to innovation but are still really exciting and warm, intangible to the consumer. So, you know, we brought them on very, very early. Um, and you know, I think that's something that a lot of people in the gate is the power of of your brand in helping you tell your story. And I do think that that's what drove a lot of that organic attention, you know, initially as well. That's really, really interesting.

And I can see why, like, your friend is very fun and very um futuristic, yes, I mean it's the future of food, you know, and and it's I think it's exciting in a way that it's it's going to be a future where without compromise and without boundaries and limitations, where where we can truly just eat really and and not have to worry, oh, I hear you amazing. What is your key piece of advice for entrepreneurs in 2022, Oh my gosh, build an amazing team and keep pushing. Don't let anyone tell you your vision can't be done or shouldn't be done and and just really stay focused um and believe in the division and and the impact that you can have. Love it. Love it. No, it was like there was, there was a lot of stuff as a team. You should do this, do that.

No, I love it. I love it. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode. We are testing out something new here for the next while and we're splitting up each episode into two parts, the main interview part and then the six quick questions part to make them easier to listen to. So that's part one done. Tune into part two to hear the six quick questions. Hey, it's done 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, N. 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 other heirs 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? Mm hmm? Mm hmm

Aimee Yang is changing the future of food with Better Brand & The Better Bagel, here’s how… (part 1)
Aimee Yang is changing the future of food with Better Brand & The Better Bagel, here’s how… (part 1)
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