Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marilyn Yang, Co-Founder of Popadelics, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Popadelics is first-of-its-kind as an innovative, Chinese-American-founded brand paving the way for the nascent mushroom chip category. Mushrooms are notably absent today from grocery store snack aisles, and Popadelics' goal is to make mushroom chips mainstream and to revolutionize the way people think about mushrooms. Popadelics Crunchy Mushroom Chips are shiitake mushrooms reimagined for the modern superfood snacker that bursts with flavor and packs an addictive crunch. Popadelics is currently available in three mouth-watering, culinary-inspired flavors — Trippin' Truffle Parm, Twisted Thai Chili, and Rad Rosemary + Salt. To produce its signature crunch, Popadelics Crunchy Mushroom Chips leverage a unique cooking method called vacuum frying, which allows foods to cook at much lower temperatures while absorbing less oil and retaining more of their color, nutrients, texture, and flavor. Popadelics are also vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Certified, kosher certified, and pack 6g of fiber and 3g of protein per 1.4 oz serving.
Popadelics is a mushroom-focused, premium, modern, and edgy brand for adventurous snackers, healthy flavor seekers, mindful eaters, and sensory cravers. These customers are willing to take risks and are seeking excitement from their food while being mindful of nutrition and health benefits. Trying a new product is also very experiential for these individuals. Our core target age group ranges from 20 to 45, although the aforementioned qualities can transcend age.
Tell us about yourself
As a lifelong picky eater and mushroom enthusiast, I noticed that mushrooms are notably absent today from today's snacking landscape yet are on the verge of hitting an inflection point in the public consciousness. After seeing the opening for a modern, edgy brand focused on crunchy mushroom snacks, Popadelics was born. My vision for Popadelics is to make mushroom chips mainstream, revolutionizing the way people think about mushrooms. The founding of Popadelics is a poignant moment for me and personifies the celebration of my Chinese heritage (i.e., shiitake mushrooms) blended with my favorite "Western" flavors (i.e., the three culinary-inspired flavors of Popadelics - Trippin' Truffle Parm, Twisted Thai Chili, and Rad Rosemary + Salt).
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment since launching Popadelics Crunchy Mushroom Chips in April 2022 is all of the external validation we have received to date from retail doors, industry awards, and the press. Popadelics are currently carried in about 300 stores nationwide, notably Urban Outfitters, Foxtrot, and Lassens. In terms of industry awards, Popadelics won "Best Snack" in the 2022 StartupCPG Shelfies Awards, was honored in the 2022 Men's Health Snack Awards and the 2022 Dieline Awards Shortlist in the Savory Snacks category, and was a finalist in the 2022 World Plant-Based Awards in the "Best Plant-Based Snack" category. I, representing Popadelics, was also a finalist in NOSH's Pitch Slam 12 competition in June 2022. In October 2022, Popadelics won DPI Specialty Foods' inaugural New Product Showcase program. In January 2023, Popadelics won a Golden Ticket at KeHe's Virtual Diversity Trendfinder Event and was announced as a finalist for the 2023 Expo West NEXTY Awards in the "Best New Savory or Salty Snack" category. Finally, Popadelics has been featured in major press, including Forbes, Eater, Livestrong.com, Sweety High, Tasting Table, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Consumer Reports, NOSH, Food and Beverage Magazine, Food Business News, Progressive Grocer, and more.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing is also the most exciting aspect of being a startup owner - being able to pivot! Unlike large, established companies, startups have the unique ability and flexibility to be able to pivot and change strategic directions - in some cases, even drastically. A major lesson I've learned being a startup owner is to not be afraid to try different things - whether it's a new marketing strategy or sales channel. You may be surprised what works or doesn't work, but you won't know until you try it at least once!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- It takes a village - don't be afraid to ask for help, whether it's from friends, family, or third-party consultants.
- Don't be afraid to break the mold of the "typical" go-to-market strategies in your industry! Especially with how quickly the consumer landscape is changing by the day, don't be afraid to disrupt old business models.
- Expect the unexpected - both good and bad! You can only plan for so much, so at the end of the day, running a business consists of a lot of rolling with the punches.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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