Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nancy Kalish, founder, and CEO of Rule Breaker Snacks, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Rule Breaker Snacks are innovative better-for-you snacks that are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, top 11 allergen-free, and deliciously soft-baked. Our snacks start with chickpeas (they are the first ingredient!), but you'd never know it from the luscious texture and delicious flavor. They're packed with protein and fiber, have less sugar, and are made with wholesome, real-food ingredients. We like to think we're changing the way people snack one brownie and blondie at a time!
We love that Rule Breaker Snacks are perfect for just about everyone! It's amazing to hear from fans who enjoy our snacks after a workout or as an afternoon snack at work. We also hear from a lot of parents who love having a fun, safe nut-free snack to toss in a lunch box or have on hand for playdates. With clean, allergy-friendly ingredients, they're a great snack you can feel good about eating and giving to your family. Finally, a snack kids love, and parents feel great about serving (and eating themselves!)
Tell us about yourself
As a health coach and former health journalist, I knew what I should eat to be healthy, but I have a serious sweet tooth. I started looking for better-tasting, better-for-you sweet treats and started experimenting with bean-based brownies. After many, many iterations, I found a recipe that was delicious, took a leap of faith and booked a booth at a trade show, and got our first customers. The rest is history!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The biggest accomplishment is getting to hear how much our fans love our products. Getting fan mail from people who love our products, especially parents with kids with severe allergies who can finally have a real treat that they can take to school - that never gets old.
It was also really rewarding to be on Shark Tank. I was one of only 130 entrepreneurs chosen from more than 20,000 applications. The application process was very rigorous and involved writing essays making videos. Lots of documentation – it took almost a year! When it came to actually filming the show, COVID made it an even more interesting experience! ABC created a pandemic bubble with the cast and crew. I had to quarantine alone in a hotel room for ten days before filming—I was literally only allowed out of the room to walk down to film the episode. But when I walked down that famous corridor and the doors swung open to reveal the Sharks, it was all worth it and so thrilling.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Like most of us, it's money. In my case, we're growing very fast, and it takes a lot of cash to get where we want to go. So I'm always thinking about how much we'll need and where I'm going to get it. Another hard part, or at least the scariest part, is not knowing what I don't know. Before starting Rule Breaker Snacks, I had no experience in the food business—or any business at all. I actually thought to myself, how hard could it be to run a food company?! I'll try it! Well, I've found out exactly how hard. But I've realized I don't/can't know everything, so I've surrounded myself with people who do and take advantage of every opportunity to learn.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Keep your eye on the ball, or in my case, the brownie. It's easy to get crazy upset when things go wrong. In my business, something generally goes horribly wrong every single day. Accept that this is going to happen as a matter of course, and don't let it get to you. Instead, stay focused on your long-term goals and solve the problem to get there.
- Do quit your day job. The food business is so all-encompassing it would be almost impossible to grow it if you can devote yourself 24/7. So I would save up and prepare, then throw myself into it 100%.
- Seek out your fellow entrepreneurs. No matter what your industry, there's likely a group of founders out there ready to share advice, support, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. I love the food business community because they're so very generous to one another. No one understands what I'm going through quite like a fellow brand founder!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
For a limited time only, Rule Breaker Snacks is accepting investors through our equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic.co. This is kind of like an IPO for tiny, private businesses and allows you to invest in the brand and be a part of our unique, growing company. We invite you to check out our campaign page to find out more and hope you'll consider this unique opportunity.
We also hope you'll join us on social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We're a young company and love making new connections!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.