The Entrepreneur Podcast
The Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode 49 · 4 months ago

Real chocolate and real family with Jake Karls

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jake Karls, BA’16, exudes the enthusiasm that one would expect of an entrepreneur. But the co-founder of Mid-Day Squares is not playing a part. He is a true believer that their chocolate bar will become the modern-day Hershey’s bar.

After the failure of his clothing brand, Karls was invited to join Mid-Day Squares by his sister and brother-in-law, Lezlie Karls and Nick Saltarelli; to bring his enthusiasm to the fore of a brand with a big vision. From instituting weekly therapy sessions to showcasing their entire journey (the good, the bad and the ugly) on social media, Karls and his co-founders took a unique approach to build a brand that has sold $8 million in chocolate bars.In this episode, Jake Karls joins Ivey Faculty Larry Plummer to discuss the rise of Mid-Day Squares, covering a range of topics including the importance of authenticity, various funding sources, the complicated world of retail and how he balances family and business while forging a chocolate empire.

You're listening to the entrepreneur podcast from the Western Morrisson Institute for entrepreneurship, powered by Ivy. Jake Carls, B A sixteen, exudes the enthusiasm that one would expect of an entrepreneur, but the CO founder of Mid Day squares is not playing a part. He's a true believer that their chocolate bar will become the modern day Hershey's bar. After the failure of his clothing brand, carls was invited to join mid day squares by his sister, Leslie Carls, and brother in law, Nick Saltarelli, to bring his enthusiasm to the four of a brand with a big vision. From instituting weekly therapy sessions to showcasing their entire journey, the bad and the ugly, on social media, Carls and his co founders took a unique approach to build a brand that has now sold more than eight million in chocolate bars. In this episode, Jake Carls Joins Ivy Faculty Larry Plumber to discuss the rise of midday squares, covering a range of topics, including the importance of authenticity, sources of funding, the complicated world of retail and how he balances family and business while forging a chocolate empire. Let's start off with your company. Let's talk about the origin story. Where did the idea come from? Yeah, I love that. So I'm actually the third founder in so I actually didn't create the product. I joined right before launching and we'll get into the story. But it all started my sister. She's she's the creator of the Mid Day Square, and she was making a chocolate snack for her husband, Nick, my brother in law, who was addicted to chocolate. Every day, you know, mid day you'd have like a lint bar, you'd have like another chocolate bar, chalcol approaching bar, and he had an addiction. The problem was that he would have these snacks and you get this crash. You'd have this like weird crash right after it and he was still hungry. So one day he complained. He came home and he complained and she's like, I can make you something that's just better for you, that tastes delicious but uses like clean ingredients, you know, plant based proteins, all this stuff, because she's a Foodie, and she made in this concunction, which is now the midday square today, and he brought it to his office and everyone freaked out. Everyone's like this is incredible. He was in a software company at the time and she had a fashion business at the time. This was and long story short, he ended up selling out of his company and she ended up closing her fashion brand and she was still making this snack for him just as a snack to have every single day and they wanted to do business together but they didn't know what that business was gonna look like. They loved food, but they were not looking at this chocolate snack as the business. They were looking at the morning oak category, they were looking at doing some online things in the dollar store for food. It was all this other stuff, but this. And one day out of the shower, my brother in lawn, nick came out of the shower and he read a report that showed that real chocolate was growing at forty four percent year over year. So darker chocolate abovet coco mass made with cocoa butter as a base, was on a tear like the lint bars, the dark chocolate lind bars, and then the Vegan protein space, so any plant based proteins was growing up thirty six percent year over yere so it clicked in his head. He's like, Oh my God, Leslie is making a baby of these two categories with that chocolate snack. So they went to reach out to mcguil. Mcguil McGill University has a great food science program and they helped us commercialize the product. Then they approached me six months later, literally six months later, and they're like we need a third partner, we need you to come in and we need you to take this product and blow it up, build community around it, build excitement, built community, hype people up. And I was like, I was like hell no, I ain't joining this food and beverage world. It's the most boring world in the entire industry and any industry. And I was like, if you go to the grocery store, there's forty thousand products, mostly dominated by seven conglomerates and, most importantly, none of them have emotional connections with the product. You just eat it, you buy it or you drink the products and you have no connection. You don't want to talk about it, you don't want to share...

...with people, all you care about is just consuming it. So I said it's not gonna be fun for me to do that marketing or that hype, that community building, because it's a boring industry. And they spent two months lowry trying to convince me to join. Finally I taved because I was just in a weird fight phase in my life. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted something and they were gonna allow me to just be Jake like, be me and do what I love doing, and they were gonna take care of the operations of the business, because that's my weakness, is the OPS, that organization and the management. They said, go out there and just build noise and build the brand and be the face. So I joined August first and that moment I said to my partners, I said it's very simple. We're gonna make this industry fun. We are going to show the good, the bad, the ugly of entrepreneurship. We're gonna share everything, and I mean therapy, sessions, breakdowns, moments of success is getting into a retail delivering product, things that people don't see on a typical business. I said we're gonna do and I showed them a slide on ever forget this slide. August, it was keeping up with the Kardashians TV ratings on it, it was shark tank's TV ratings and then it was Elon Musk's following on social media growing. And I said if we could make a baby of all these three categories where we took the drama from keeping up with the Kardashians, but an authentic way, if we take the idea of entrepreneurship being celebritized from shark tank in a deeper way, more less than surface but more going to the depth, and then if we're loud and vocal like a founder like Richard Branson or Elon Musk, in terms of just being out there and being bold, we're going to create this relatability that these consumers will now feel like they're part of the journey and become fans. And that was the moment. We launched mid day squares August and the strategy was show everything. So let me ask this question, though. So you were telling me that that the food industry was boring. Tell me more about what was going on in your mind. What what would what would have been an industry sector at that time that you didn't think was born, for example, bold. So I felt that food and beverage is boring because it seemed like, you know, you go to the grocery store, you pick up your product, you take it home, you eat it, you cook it or whatever you do with it, and that was it. It was nothing else. There was no like emotional connection to the brands. I feel like a brand like glue lemon. You wear the pants, but you feel the community, you know, you feel the energy from it, or something like Sephora. When my girlfriend goes into Sephora, she feels like this emotionality was she's so pumped and excited. I felt that the food industry was lacking that and I felt like the reason why it was was because everyone was doing the same type of marketing. All they were doing, Larry, was putting a picture or a billboard or a magazine photo of the product and talking about the benefits, just the cost and benefits, nothing about the actual humanization, the front facing of the humans behind it, or nothing deep storytelling wise. And you have like Netflix coming up and you have all these things that are just pounding storytelling on you. I yet the food and beverage rold was just so behind, but cosmetics was so advanced in it. They had these deep connections, you know, you had the entered payment world, you know, colliding with all these other industries, but not with the food and beverage industry. Yeah, because that's a that's an interesting point. So you were sort of already going in with a preconceived bias. But but let me now ask the follow up question. How's your attitude of the industry changed? I think there's this revolution, Larry. I think you're starting to see content become a priority and storytelling become a priority for brands. I think the incumbent brands are just gonna struggle with that because of the corporate ladder and the you know, the idea of judgment and creativity kind of being limited on certain things. So I think the smaller brands are kind of showing that this is how you get to the consumers in today's world. This is how you're going to reach them, this is how you're going to turn them into fans, people that want to cheer you on, that want to be part of it when investing your company, want to buy the product because they love you, and I'm starting to see a lot more of it now. Three years ago I didn't see any of it. So I think that I'm not trying to say is that out of our ego? I said, I think we're one of the pioneers in that space for food and beverage, of showing everything. You know, we have thirty seven thousand five hundred videos Larry of every moment that happened this business and we show...

...some uncomfortable things that, you know, some consumers say like wow, they're really vulnerable there. I show my therapy sessions with my therapist because this is what's going on in my life and that's what's relatable to the human we don't talk about the chocolate bars at all actually, and that's what's allowing us to get the fast growth that we're getting and it's allowing us to connect deeply with the consumer. Really interesting. There's that triggers a whole bunch of questions, but let's talk about you. So, did you always want to be an entrepreneur? Did you grow up wanting to be an entrepreneur? Yeah, so I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Um, I did try the route of not being the entrepreneur. You know, I went to Western, proud of love that school. I Love Western and I came out of there I think I was gonna be an investment banker and I applied to every single investment bank you can imagine in Canada and I didn't get any any any any shots. I didn't get any interviews or anything like that. That's fine, but I was wasn't doing that for me, and that's what the important part of this is, is that I was doing it because I thought that people wanted to see me do that. You know, people around me, they wanted me to become a banker, they wanted me to, you know, get a stable job that was gonna, you know, fulfill me in terms of financially and in terms of like whatever I want to do in life. But the truth was, I wasn't doing it for Jake, I wasn't doing it for myself and I finally realized that entrepreneurship allowed me to try things, these new freedoms with with risk. Don't get me wrong, there's a ton of risk in entrepreneurship and it's not all glorified flowers and daisies and sunshine. It's actually a lot of highs and lows, um deep lows and deep eyes. But it allowed me to have this freedom of being me and for me, that was something that allowed me to fall in love with entrepreneurship, even in the hard times when, you know, my previous business had a clothing business. It failed. I lost seventy five dollars at zero dollars to my name, and that was like a weird moment where people were like, Oh, is he gonna do another business and fail? So that doubt, those moments of like your people around you are in your corner in life that love you, are just like I think it's time for you to get a job now, or I think it's time to not do any thing you don't have the resources are banned with their money, and it was like those things fueled me to actually want to do it and break the norm. And my goal in life is to build midday squares up to be a massive conglomerate on Modern Day Hershey's, but show people that you could do it by being yourself and being unapologetically yourself, and that's really my big picture in life. Nice. Yeah, nice to hear. So here's a question that I somebody asked me to ask you, which is, what impact did your time at Western have on your journey? Oh, I I loved Western. So Western taught me the biggest lesson of my life, and it wasn't the academic part, because I wasn't great at the academic and I wish I was Um, but it was how to network with people, how to learn, how to communicate and build relationships. You know something funny about you know, when I came out of Western, I didn't know my superpower was. You know, I'm a rainmaker at midday start. So I bring in the relationships, the network of different things for the brand and I didn't realize that that was what I was really great until I got out of western and my and my brother in law was my day said, dude, you're amazing with humans, you're amazing with community. You did that all your college life a Western. You built a whole network of friends, people that you call family. He's like that's what really took out of that experience and I'm I'm the first person today's world to say all the time, go out there and meet people, because this is an opportunity to meet people in the next generation that's gonna be doing magical things and you could collaborate right and I think that's what I took away from my experience was the people and the environment of being outside of my home. I'm from Montreal. I live here in Montreal and most people from Montreal stay in the realm of going to school in Montreal, so they live at home. I think the experience from Western. They've done a tremendous job in creating that college experience for for the individual. So I always promote it. Um, I try. I think I've recruited at least a hundred people to go to Western. So hopefully I keep doing that. By the way, we support that. So we've been talking about you, but now let's talk about your your mixing family and business, and for a lot of people that can be a real struggle. You know some of the classic examples of families that have had so much struggles, or the Bronfman family for example. I have had a reputation of being a family challenged their business interactions. So I was wondering,...

...how do you manage that aspect? How do you manage the mixing the family and the and the business together? So this is the greatest document I've ever signed. was when we started day one, my brother in law said because his past business he had partnerships where he had to you know, the communication wasn't great. Um, so what he said, is we're going to see a business therapist, you know, Dr James Gavin. He's a professor of Concordia, actually Um and we were gonna go together, in good or bad times, every week for two hours, every Tuesday morning. Two hours. We'll sit there, the three of us, to work on deep conversation. So very have very hard conversations in a safe zone where we can get somewhere in the conversation and learn each other's ways, because everyone sees things differently. You can interpret something as red and I can interpret something as orange, right, and it could be both the same thing. It's just you need to learn how to communicate. So we didn't go into business because we're family, and we make this very clear a lot of the time with with a lot of the you know, postings we do. We went into business together because we complement each other's skill sets. When you pick a partner, make sure that the person compliments you. You know, for me, my brother in law is a software engineer and he's a very organized, analytical person. I'm the opposite of that. I'm a person that loves storytelling, broadcasting, building community. He doesn't like that. And then my sister is a great executor. I'm not a great executor. So when you put all these skills together, you create a Tripod which is very foundationally strong. It's like a cement foundation instead of a would one, and US committing the three of us to therapy has been the greatest, the greatest investment the business has made to date, because without that we wouldn't be siblings or they would be married, I believe, anymore and we would have came out of this journey. Even if we became a billion dollar business, it wouldn't have been a success because we would have disliked each other, and that type of tension and lack of communication is what poisons most businesses, whether it's family or it's a real partnership and something else. You need to grow your relationship. You need to understand how to work with people, how to communicate, and I think there's a lack of that in every entrepreneur and not everyone. I think eight cent percent of the reasons why companies fail is because the partnership, not because of financials, not because of other things. I think it's around the relationship, because tension eventually creates a riff and that riff can damage the entire company because of vision and, like you said, there's there's countless amount of family businesses that have just failed or have broken up tremendously from solely relationship with a lot of new entrepreneur startups. We've spent a lot of time on partner agreements and partner arrangements and workflow and how you and exactly all this stuff. So it's interesting to hear you talk about the fact that even when it's a family connection, you still have to work through the communications and interactions. So I want to stay in this theme about working with family. Do you have any rules about hanging out and like you're going to another family member's party or you're celebrating some holiday? Any rules about about interactions? So something about us, because midday squares has cameras all the time going and we film everything. It's hard to get it out of our lives and right now, at the least in the moment, for the last three and a half years, it's been almost consuming of our time, um, all three of us and, like I said, without the therapy we wouldn't be friends, the three of us, because there's pressure that businesses or any type of thing you do puts on you is tremendous and that pressure can create really, really hard times with each other. Right. Yeah, it's it's difficult. It's difficult. We try to spend time outside of it, but because we're a manufacturer and it's consistently manufactured, there is always a problem that comes. So we have to deal with it. Right and something that I could tell people that started in business that I have a partnership that does work is is really let yourself stay in your own lane, you know, really build your lanes of what you guys are good at, because my sister, my brother in law and I don't cross each other unless it's mandatory and there's a danger in the company. We trust each other so much that will let them run with something and we have this policy where we a lot of the time, if we don't agree with each other, we will still agree disagreed, but commit at a hunt and that allows her...

...things to be seen through all the way. Right. I think we've worked a lot and at the beginning it was very difficult for me understand that I had an ego at the beginning of this business and I had to work so hard to drop that wall and not take things personally you know, constructive criticism isn't personal. It took a long time, it takes work, it takes personal growth and no partnership is gonna be perfect and I don't think you could strive for it be perfect. I think, sorry, you can't be perfect. Think you could strive, but it's it's almost impossible. Humans are human. Yeah, so we got our first question, Jake. So how did you structure the company with regard to the family relationship? Did you go through a lawyer to set up everything to attract VC funding? So how did you handle let's take that into two parts. How didn't you structure the company? So this the company was actually structured before. Some of the past business was Hector Um, so is my sister's fashion brand. So she actually went at a loss and we actually took hector because Nick was already invested in Hector, supporting my sister the fashion brand, and then we turned that into the business today, which is midday squares. Is just a name flip right. So the company was already created previous. But I think the most important part of that question is is the VC. So when we first raised money in in our first year, we raised it with boulder food group. They were concerned about the family business. Actually, at the moment they were just like their marriage. They asked us an honest question and talking about the marriage and for us they were so happy that we invested dollars into the therapy every single week to work on each other to protect that relationship and they knew that we didn't want to be part of this journey unless we came out stronger as a family. So when we started we were best friends. We're playing on coming out even stronger out of this, whether that being forty years, fifty years, sixty years and still be best friends. Otherwise the whole journey wasn't worth it. But that question comes up when we raise money all the time. They, my sister, my brother in law, worked on some other stuff on the side, but that's something very important to have if you're going to raise money and be a family business. And did you approach it? So the second half of the question is, did you approach it as a legal issue? Did you approach did you talk to a lawyer to set this up? They did, yes, they did. Um, and it's important. You know, I don't like betting on the failure, but I think that sometimes you should protect yourself on certain things, but so far it's been good. Three and a half years later, we're still good. Yeah, exactly. So this family thing is really important. Is there any other aspect of running a family business? If somebody asked you, look, I'm thinking about going into business with name a family member, like immediate family member. What's your advice? Overall, I can tell you that being in business with family is probably the most fun. You know, to celebrate these winds and go through these really difficult times with them. It feels really comforting because, again, entrepreneurship is a lonely road right Um, I think people are missing being an entrepreneur. You're misunderstood for a very long time until you start winning at a at a high level, and then you're you're less misunderstood. So I think if you'RE gonna go into pick the right partner. Don't don't do it because it's just family. Really don't do it because it's your brother or your sister or your mom or your dad or whatever. Do it because they're there to help each other, meaning, like, if you're good at this and they're good at that, that's one way to look at it. That's a good thing, but make sure you have protections in place from a standpoint of being able to build a relationship together. Because if you don't take this into consideration, what happens when you're doing a million dollars already, you have v C money and you have this time ticker in and and and you're starting to just hate each other. You're just starting to hate each other. It's gonna fall apart. It's naturally gonna break down because you're not gonna want to be there, you're not gonna want to do what you did. You're not gonna have the love and passion that you started it with. You know to be very fearful. That makes that makes a lot of sense. All right. So let's put it back to the company. Let's talk about midday squares. So we've got this little bit of the story about how it started, but it's actually grown and evolved quite a bit. Walk us through that evolution. Oh, it was crazy. Larry so August we were making the bars in their condo kitchen. So we were hand making these bars, literally rolling mixing.

It would be from six am. We'd prep them, we'd go to about five PM, making about a hundred two bars maximum a day. Like. That was the Max we could do. And then we would hand deliver from five PM until ten PM around the Montreal region too, because we want to save money on shipping, because Canada Post is expensive to ship refrigerated product. And I remember we go meet our customers. We'd actually go get to sit down with them and meet them, see who they are. But we had a sample program where people could buy the bar for cents. All we wanted was their credit cards, that they actually showed commitment and it wasn't just someone that's a cost go just trying free stuff, right, and what happened was things start to explode. They start to get this like vibe where they're like this brand is just so humanized. So they love the product. The product had a product market fit. It was a product that fits something that was needed in the market at the time, still is, and we would do these crazy marketing in the ships where we are sharing, like I said, the good, the bad, the ugly so on. Media. You saw this behind the scenes aspect and then you love the product. So it had this wildfire spread. Next thing you know, you had a coffee shop open up, you had a juice bar, you at a gym you had a natural grocery store, then a bigger grocery store and we went city by city. So we went Montreal, we built it up. We basically followed the consumer wherever they went. So if we found out that Larry was our consumer and his lifestyle was our consumer, we would say where does Larry Go? He goes to starbucks in the morning and then he goes to, you know, Um farm boy in the afternoon and then he goes to Um then at the end of the week goes to lab laws. We would picture your line and follow wherever you go. When you see the product, you're seeing it everywhere and then getting hit with it online. You were literally being reminded about it all the time. So that's what allowed us to do it's kind of like the facebook strategy that they did college by College, but we did city by city and once we had the awareness, the trial and the amount of distribution, we go to the next city. The problem wasn't scaling this product. Larry. He was very difficult. So making them in the CONDO's one thing. Doing it by hand, you know, doing it by mixing and all that stuff was very tiring. My sister got arthritis from it. It was very stressful. So we moved into a small kitchen and we had eight staff. Everyone's making the bar with a little bit of machinery here and there. And then most food and beverage brands go to a CO manufacturer to scale the product from, you know, in your Condo to, you know, actual real business. And we went to twenty six of the best bar manufacturers in North America and Europe and each one of them said that they cannot make this product the way it is. They have to change it for their machinery. So we use COCO butter as a base and that the machines couldn't solidify that right. So twenty four said absolutely not. And then too said that they could potentially make this product, but the idea was that we have to invest three to five million dollars into their facility so that their engineers can go figure out how to build these machines that are customed for this line. And I will never forget my sister came home from the last co pack or she visited, I think it was in Germany, I'm not sure, and she came back and she said, Nick and Jake, we are going to build our own facility and nick and I just looked at each other and we have no money in the bank account. We have zero dollars. We can't go do this. Yes, we have, we have a bit of traction, but to vest three million dollars into a facility that, again, doesn't have a guarantee of working. She's like, let me deal with this, I will take care of it, and next thing you know, two and a half years later, we're in a facility fully automated here in Montreal. It's like the Modern Day Willy Wonka. The government financed it, called Investment Quebec, which is the which is the agency, and it could produce ninety thousand bars a day, Larry with a way higher margin, with with almost zero percent waste. We're close to zero. And it was just crazy, you know, building this place. You know, again, when you build machinery, that's custom. You're not allowed to test driving, like going to test drive a car. Doesn't work like that. You have to put the down payment down. They build it and it's all in theoretical it's all in the engineers coming up with the theoretics and modeling through the computer right and then it had an eighty eight percent chance of working and we still took that risk and that's what entrepreneurships about, and it worked, thank God. Obviously we had to fix certain things and, you know, some things didn't work perfectly, but you know today, you know we were proud that we chose man you...

...acturing. It's it's been probably one of our you know, I don't understand how most brands don't use as their core competency, because we can control supply chain everything through our own facility, not through dependent on another facility. So I want to go back to this thing where you were making a hundred, maybe two hundred bars a day. I would assume that that would be a particular challenge because not only are you not making that many bars a day, but you're also not out doing sales, you're not doing strategy, you're not building materials, you're not building out the website, you're just basically making was that your biggest hurdle in the early days, or were there other big hurdles? What were some of the big hurdles you faced? The biggest hurdle is building the facility. So you're right, doing a hundred bars a day or two hundred bars a day, selling cents a bar is not a feasible business. Um, you're you're losing a ton of money. And and what happened was I remember my stern brother in law saying our year one goal is to hit two UND fifty dollars revenue run rate, and I thought to myself, there's no way we're getting there. That's not even possible. I said like that can't happen. We ended up blowing past in the first three months. So that's when we knew we had a real business Larry and that it had to scale. And the scaling was the priority, not fast growth. We didn't care to grow faster than that. We cared to get the operation down, packed, cement down and the team built. And that's where we're at right now. Is, you know, obviously we've grown now to the US and we're having some great success there and but at the end of the day, right now we're focused on finally building out the foundational team to now operate the US, because the US is a different it's a different animal. It's you know, I know you're from there. It's one of the greater consuming power places in the world. But yet there's too much opportunity and then you go and you spread yourself very thin. A lot of Canadian companies go spread thin and then have to retreat because they spent all their money. They didn't know what to do. They went all over the place. We're very narrow focus. We're building brick by brick in the U S and it's working. And instead of taking on our national retailer right off the bat, we took on regional players, regional players, regional, regional, regional, kept building the noise, built their online game up to get it up to now it's at six. Our D T C is coming from the US and then once we see the region has a lot of like noise from in terms of social media or from from online purchases, we then open a retailer up there. So we strategically do everything. It's not just madness. I think that a lot of people think it is because we show all this crazy fun dancing, all this crazy stuff, but it's everything's strategically done and we do venture money in here, but we don't want to sell our companies, so it's even even more interesting awesome. Let's turn to our next question. So test, Testiana. Hopefully, hopefully I got that right. Hey, Jake, how would you recommend new brands entering the CPG space make the same amount of noise as MDS but remain authentic to themselves in their brand? In other words, do you think there are many ways to do what you guys have done in terms of drawing attention, being revolutionary and making it fun intriguing, with just copying what you guys have already done? What a question. So yes, there is a way to make noise, and all I can tell you in one sentences find out what's authentic to your brand and tell that authentic story. So, for midday squares, the authenticity was to show the good, the bad, the ugly, and I mean like really crazy stuff. That's not authentic to everyone because it won't come off natural to everyone because maybe they're not comfortable doing that. It will come off cringe to the consumer. But if you're a sports product, let's say you are a brand that's doing a sports drink and you're not telling the story about the sports or the athletes or stuff like that, and that's not right. Find out what is your authentic part and go a hundred and fifty percent all in. What I could tell you to do, though, is invest in a media team. I think that's an important factor forward. Is Our our marketing team is built in a performance marketing team, which is focused on the paid ads and all that jazz, the comp side, and then a media team which is just content creators. It's literally videographers, editors, photographers, creators focused on telling a story, not focused on additional marketing, and it's working and I think most brands should...

...adapt that strategy rather than take the traditional route of what's worked, you know, for the last forty, fifty years. And it's a new world. It's you know, we have media with within the snap of a finger, you go on your phone, you have thousands of pieces of content. So you need a strong media team and I think when we first invested in that media team, videographers stuff, our investors like, are you crazy to spend half a million dollars on salaries and in and in creators, and we're like no, this is this is our d n a, this is the blood, this is this is what's driving the awareness, this is what drove them to our brand investors and then they started to understand that, yes, this is this is what's authentic to you guys. So I think that's the answer another question that we've got, and this is a good one. It asks a question about how you financed your manufacturing plant. But let's I'd like to hear a little bit more about the financing aspect of your story. So before we answer how you did you finance the manufacturing what are the rounds of funding you went through? I mean something you did a friends and family round, like most. So we actually didn't do a friends and family because my brother in law had a success in his previous business. They sold. He sold his business, he had a bit of capital to play with Um and he actually took the risk on all of it and used it for him and my sister. And then I had a little bit saved up over the years of basically I used to fitness train people every summer instead of get a job and I made a lot of cash doing that. So I used all of that. We put that initial in to get it started, just to get the product market fit out there. Then after seven months we started having like real traction, like I'm telling you like that. The numbers were flying and that's when Boulder Food Group, that Food Venture Fund, reached out to us. Actually, they were very bold. They basically sent us their portfolio and sent us a handwritten letter saying, you know, we want to fly down and come meet you guys, and they did and that was a whole process and they were actually willing to take a risk on us, even though we had no facility, we had not no scalability. They were like, you guys are doing so many different your products innovative. We want to find you on this. Here's the problem. We had to build a facility. The out that money wasn't going to build a factory. Our growth capital doesn't go to the foundational court, that that stuff. So we reached out to investment in Quebec, which is a great agency here in Quebec that helps fund manufacturing processes or technology innovation. It's debt, it's it's a loan, but it's a very inexpensive loan. So for them, what they do is they put down the money for the machinery and then you pay back. You know, ours was ten year payback with a very low interest rate, which was extremely feasible for any business. They it's almost like free money. And the ideas they want to stimulate business in Quebec. So they you know, jobs, business and taxes right so we took that on to build the facility. We ended up getting that. It was a whole gruesome project project, because you need to show at least a million dollars in revenue, at least our case was. So they need to see some sort of traction, which not every business has in their first year. Right Um. And then number two was we had the growth capital to go invest in the media, the product innovation and the storytelling. So those two came alive at the same time. We raised our first round of financing a it was a two point five million dollar round we raised. That allowed us to get basically into our next phase, which we then raised more money. In January we raised four more million dollars from actually an alumni from western named Kiva Dickinson. He took a chance on us from his fund called Self Adventures, and we added some other funds in there as well, western Alemni actually, and that was to purely go out there and win the US. That was focused on getting it started and traction building there. So the food and beverage world is very expensive. Going into retails extremely expensive larity. It costs money to sell product in there. You have to pay for the slotting fees, you have to pay for the promotions, you have to drive people to the store, you have to sometimes take product back, your distributors charge you an arm in a leg. There's a lot of hidden fees that people don't realize. So that's one thing. But then we we just closed around as of yesterday, our third round of financing. We just raised ten million again venture fund, this fund called City capital, and the idea is um that's out there to go build the next foundation to drive us from ten million dollars to a hundred million dollars in revenue of the...

...next five years. Yeah, so that's really good. By the way, I want to just interject here that I really like the fact that you became aware of public sources of capital for manufacturing. A lot of times when we work with with startups, a lot of folks are surprised to find out that there is actually sometimes public, publicly available money for building plants. But remember, for all the entrepreneurs on the call, if you're in the position of potentially in creating jobs, check with your local Economic Development Authority, the London Economic Development Corporation, for example. Hey, I'm going to build a plant. That's where you go start, you go talk to them. Yes, they're gonna be a little on the edge because of your status as an early startup, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they wouldn't be interested in providing you alone, particularly if you can demonstrate, like you guys did, Jake developed, such traction and interest in the product. Well, you know, Larry also, I think it's very important to reach out your local governments. You know, even for us in we're building a second plant Um in the US. We're looking to build in the US and I've already reached out to the Missouri Government, state government, Ohio, state, Texas State, Indiana and Wisconsin. They have economic development arms which they actually they'll help you with the entire process. Sometimes they can inject capital, sometimes they can help you with staffing, tax credits, but you've got to reach out. It's a process, it takes time. It's not a month long. It's take a year to take a year and a half, but you have to ask, you have to find out and at the end of the day, if you're stimulating, like you said, jobs, if you're stimulating business and you're paying taxes in certain areas, they want that. They really want that everyone, every government is trying to help get more jobs in their places. Right. So for us we're choosing those states because they're in the middle of the US. So strategically from a logistics standpoint, that's why we're doing it. But I think that any entrepreneur out there, not just for factory manufacturing, but for if you have technology, innovation, use that. If you have marketing, maybe they'll have a marketing at. Canada export has a Canadian export thing. You know, there's different there's different things you can look for, but don't shy away from the public side. It's a longer process but if you get it it's worth it. Yeah, yeah, you know, it's funny because I was driving on a trip recently and we were on an interstate in Ohio and drove past a big sign. It says free land to build a manufacturing plant. So some of these places are are that hungry for for work and trying to diversify the local economy. All right, so let's get onto the next question Jenny asks. First of all, she says thanks you so much for being here. What recommendation do you have for small businesses with regards to marketing specifically, what would you recommend as a great use of money and resources early on. In my case, my business is for an online wellness service. Well, thank you, Jenny. Great Question. I'll want to check out your online wellness service. You Care in the chat. That would be great and so I could check it out. But I think marketing, when we first started we had no budget. Um, we had no budget to go spend. So what we did is we had three phones and for us we just used that and filmed it and it was an comfortable thing at the beginning because again, Filming Yourself Selfie Style and doing those weird things at the beginning when you don't do that often, is strange. But we decided to commit to it and when we committed to we started just sharing and again, the rawness it was what was relatable is relatable to the new age consumers. They want to see raw stuff, they don't want the perfect edit stuff, they don't need the agency campaigns. Obviously, as you get bigger, you do bigger things and stuff like that, but start small, start very small, and what's true to your storytelling, so authenticity. Find Yours again, let me bring this up again. Find what's authentic to your wellness service and tell that story. Naturally, nothing crazy. You don't need the picture perfect. People actually appreciate just the hard work and the effort and I think a lot of businesses wait for that moment of perfection and that's where the failure actually kind of train resources in capital. Yeah, I would second that that that would in coaching entrepreneurs. That would be a big one. The other thing, too, is you just did something that I really love. Let me ask the frame it as a question. How many times have you been surprised...

...how open other entrepreneurs are in helping you in the early days? So surrounding yourself with people that are bold, in my opinion, is the greatest thing. And you know a guy named David cinnamon who's one of our investors. I asked him for help early on and I didn't think he would give me the help. I didn't in my head I was just like, he's He's a great entrepreneur, I don't know if he'll help me. I was nervous, I was insecure, I was weirded out by it. I knew his sons from Western actually, and I was friends with them and I was like kind of shy about it. But then I started asking and that was the moment. It was. It was a moment in time, I think it was year one, where I realized there's nothing wrong with asking and you don't need to be embarrassed. And he gave us so much help. He helped us so much, Larry, and he wanted to do it genuinely from the bottom of his heart. And then we wanted him so badly in the company that he ended up coming on our board. And it just goes to show that from that moment on, I am not shy at all and asking anyone for help, because a lot of entrepreneurs out there want to help other entrepreneurs because they've been through the roller coaster. The roller coaster is lonely, it's hard, it's stressful and all they want to do is actually rehelp people that are going through that right now. And for me, even I go to colleges all the time to help students realize that I'm here as a resource. Like whenever my phone is available, I get on the phone with anyone starting a business, Larry, because at the end of the day, we need each other to keep growing. Yeah, and that's that's exactly why I knew that would be your answer. Because that's exactly the pattern you see. I think a lot of the novice entrepreneurs there's sort of like I was amazed at how much information people are will be willing to share with me. In fact, this person actually shared the things they think they're doing wrong and there where they're making mistakes. I mean, and I think it is because there is very a strong sense of an entrepreneurship community that sometimes I jokingly refer to it as you've jumped off a cliff and you're trying to build the airplane on the way down and you you respect the fact there are other people who are trying to do the same thing. You know. Um, so there is that sense of community. Right, I think let me share a quick story Hershey's. We're big fans of Hershe's brand. You know my whole know my whole life. I ate her. She's I still needed sometimes and shout out to her. She's for for creating, you know, product for such a long time that I've eaten. But we went through a little bit of a thing with them and it's gonna be an interesting story here, because we wanted to help entrepreneurs. That was the big vision of why we shared this journey. So basically it started US last year. We were in talks with them. They wanted to actually acquire midday squares. Her, she's her, she's from Pennsylvania, wanted to acquire Mid Day squares and we actually rejected, politely rejected, the offer. We built a very strong relationship them. They loved midday squares, they love the brand, they love the product. They had no problem with it. And then two months later we start to receive seasons assists from them on packaging, on color. They on on the Color Orange and said we cannot use that anymore for our peanut butter. And it was like it was all perfect and fine when we were talking to them, and then two months later they were just they came at us. And what end up happening was they came at us also with forty pages of like our thirty two pages of customers mixing up midday squares with with reesists saying like Oh, our our customers are going to the store thinking they're buying a reese but taking home a mid day square, and we're just like this is like bogus at the end of the day. Like that, even our legal team was like this is bogus. But because we document everything, Larry, we ended up showing the storyline of when everything happened to how we have to change our package and what we went through as an emotion, the roller coaster feeling I have to change your packaging because illegal and you can't afford the cost of going to court if you have to, and we shared that. We afforded two hours of footage, we put it down to six minute video and we decided to share it when even our legal team tools not to, because there is moments in there that there's vulnerable states and stuff like that, and what the goal was was to show people this is what some businesses have to go through. You're not alone in there. Here's how we feel. And let me tell you, Larry, the amount of entrepreneurs that reached out to my brother in law, my sister and I was in the hundreds that have gone through this are going through this. Then needed help and we started to become these coaches, even though we're not coaches, and I was just like, I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what we did, and they're like, it feels so good to see people doing things and wanting to help and I was like, this is just an ecosystem. If, if Mike Petter eats up, I actually helped them. At the end of the...

...day. I have a friend in the US. They're a competitive product for us. Him and I talked, the CEO talk all the time and it's not there's nothing negative about it. It's like we share ideas and I think that that's a newer way of thinking rather than, okay, worry about your competitors stealing this, this is that. I think it's just a different way and entrepreneurs help entrepreneurs and people help people. Yeah, yeah, no, I would, I would agree. That's it, and that's a pretty common sentiment no matter which industry you're starting. The only industry I think that people get a little more concern is around artificial intelligence, but that's because your ability to protect your intellectual property is trickier, Um, in that particular case. All right, here's more of a fun question. What was your favorite chocolate before mbs? WAS IT Hershey's? Um? No, I actually like Coffee Chris. I think it's neatly. Coffee Chris is one of my favorites. I eat it once a month. Now I just eat it like once every two days. Now it's once a month, but I just love the I love the yellow color, I love I don't know, I'm again. I don't care chocolate companies. I'm big fans of a lot of them and the nostalgia fires me up. Do you ever have a day where you're like, if I see another chocolate bar, I'm just I'm not gonna be able to handle it, like did you suddenly like have to start eating strawberries? So, yeah, you know, it's funny. Like I'm actually allergic to two of our flavors. We have three flavors. I'm allergic to somellerging nuts and peanuts, like I'm a maniphylactic, so I can't have the other flavors, but I get to do taste tests all the time here. I'll show you something. These come in all the time, so it's I don't know if you can see on the screen, so I'm doing the different ones on the fudge with one in a while to have. So I actually don't get sick of it. I get excited and if there is a product that that we are and D are working on that doesn't have nuts, I get even more jacked up. But to me I've actually learned to appreciate the taste of chocolate more. I used to be a milk chocolate person. Now I've learned to appreciate darker chocolates and, you know, I really realize it's an art. It's an actual art chocolate. The way things taste. It's so sensitive, the way that you have to have it conscious. It's a crazy thing, that chocolate, but I learned a lot over this last three and half years on it and and I appreciate other brands that are doing really great products in that chocolate space as well. Cool. What was the one thing you what's the one thing you'd like to pass on to an aspiring entrepreneur? Yeah, be unapologetically yourself every single day. Um, get comfortable with also being uncomfortable. That's really where greatness does come is, is when you're putting uncomfortable zones. I'll never forget someone told me, my partner told me this thing about oddliers and and he basically said a professor showed him once on a on a graph. He said, if you statistically put in inputs that are average, you're gonna get, statistically, an average outcome that comes from a line that will go straight right. But if you put in outputs that are outliers, good or bad, you're either side. You'RE NOT gonna get a straight line right. So you'll at least see something on the outside. Either be at the top or you'll be at the bottom, but at least you're not in the middle, and I think that that's something that everyone should do. And I'm not saying don't balance your mental health and stuff like that. That's really important. You should. But I think from an outlier perspective, make decisions that will be outlier, because when you're on the side of the majority already, that's usually when you're on the wrong side, because the end of the day, that's what everyone's doing right. So for us, every decision we make, that's a greater decision. That's not just like, Oh, what Pencil am I gonna use or anything like that. I actually look at the majority. I'm like, where is the majority and I actually go the opposite way. Sometimes it's wrong, Larry, and it's on the exact outlier opposite, but I'm okay with that and I've accepted that. But when it's right, it's a home run. Yeah, so you you've mentioned this idea of the roller coaster up and down several times. Tell me an example of one of your highest highs and one of your lowest lows. I travel every two weeks Larry for work and because I'm a rainmaker, I get to go meet with all the investors, journalists, you know, pr or anything fun, consumers, and I get to experience all those from every industry in the world, whether that be, you know, a pension fund, for example, and you're in these experiences where I never thought I'd be in. So I feel this like a most amazing high. And then I come home and sometimes I'm stuck in the OPS side, which again I've I've asked to not be part of it all. Actually I've asked my partners to leave me out of the OPS. But that hits my low because having a manufacturing business, there's...

...a lot of problems with building the product. The manufacturing side there's things that go wrong. It's not perfect. Even those straight, perfect automated lines, they don't go perfectly smooth every day. It's not the case. So going through that is like these ups and downs. So I travel every two weeks. I have to adjust when I come back to my hometown and learn how to get back into it, but stay out of the OPS, even though I'm at the office. Stay out of all the noise around, because I'm involved that noise. I've no, no, no dependency on that noise. My idea is I need to consistently go make noise for the brand and bring the sunlight in. You know, your answer just segways beautifully in the vows question. If you if you had to completely start over from square one, knowing what you know now, what would your first step be in the business? In hindsight, it's actually tough. I think step day one, what I would do differently is probably go through Um. I actually would have probably tried to mentally want to work on communication for UM with my partnership. So I had to do it. I had to sign a paper soon that I would go to therapy, but my brain didn't care to go. So I was in a state of mind where I was like, I don't need it, I'm perfectly fine, I'm happy, I'm all this stuff. I just did it from my partners because I trusted them right. This time around, I would go in and make it a priority for the entire team to have this communication worked on, because if communication is strong in an organization. That will allow you to succeed because you won't get bogged down in the WHO's who, who's pointing this, accountability, etcetera. I think you know what I mean, Larry. I think a communication would be the priority. Number One. Sasha asked. I've heard that when it comes to manufacturing, managing people is a big challenge. Is Big of a challenge as managing the machinery technology. How have you, nick and LAS, handled staffing, people, management, etcetera, especially in the context of the great, the quote unquote, Great Resignation? Very good questions, Sasha. Um, it's hard. It's hard. We just got our HR rector of HR last week. Um, she just started Leiah. She's phenomenal and it's being a big help. Where sixties, sixty seven people, I believe, in the business. So manufacturing is very hard because sometimes it turns really quickly. Right, the Labor turns quickly because it goes somewhere else. For us, our goal is to focus on building a family, Um, a unit here at midday squares, and I don't mean it cheesy, I mean like an actual culture where you come here no matter what your position is, and you're having the time of your life. We try to make it as fun as possible here and as open as a family as possible, and you know, I think that has created a great environment to keep labor stronger and keep it in the pocket longer, but with this great resonation. Again, when the pandemic came in, I remember we lost seventy of our retail sales the first month and that was a moment of where we had ten thousand dollars in the bank account and our team knew that we had ten thousand as the bank out. Our transparency was really important. We shared where we were and what the company is going through and we did not want to lay off anyone. So what we promise to our team at that moment was that they could trust Leslie Nick and I to go out and make sure that everyone's still working and we don't have to lay anyone off, even though we lost seventy. That's a huge loss. And what I did was I got all the hospitals on board and I basically worked at all the hospitals and I fed all the staff, the Admin and security, that the doctors, the nurses, and I basically said, let me give it to you guys a cost so I can keep my team employed and you guys get to feel yourselves with an amazing product that's very high quality that will keep you going through this busy time. And guess what, I think there was like fifty thou bars later, the hospitals were taking them like crazy and it was a really cool partnership that ended up keeping our team in place and we went on the offense and we promised and we never had to lay anyone off. So I think the trust, the communication and the dedication to building this business has been a place where we don't have that great resonation here, but we have lost people and we have changed people in and out, but we don't have what other manufacturers mostly go through, which I think is something that we're blessed with, which is really good, because I do know that there's a lot of startups that and smaller growing businesses that are are struggling with...

...that. So another question that we got in how did you decide on where you wanted to be placed in stores? So we're a refrigerator products. That's a great question. So we're refrigerator product and that makes it very complex for where your place because a refrigerated bar is unheard of in Canada. In the US there's a set built because of a great company called perfect bar. They've actually built the set over the last fifteen years to have this section for refrigerate snacks and you have a lot of American brands in there, which is great for when we enter that country it helps us because it just goes there. In Canada we have to work our sales. You have to work extremely hard to build a narrative on why it shouldn't be next to eggs and milk, because that's where we're getting placed, unfortunately, and it should be next to cut up fruit in the produce section. The problem is with retail, and I think everyone in food and beverage to know this, is if you're going to enter to the store, don't just accept wherever to go to get in the store, because once you're in that Department or category, they're all in competition with each other. So if you're doing okay sales and that thing and you want to be moved because you know you could do greatness in another section, the category manager might not give up your product to give it to the next section because they're doing well. So you have to deal with that internal politics, which is extremely difficult. So for us we went into the eggs and milk because we were in experience with that and just took it because we want to get in there. Now we have to build these crazy narratives and data analysis is to get us out of there for the greater good to the store, even though the store would do better with the product in another section. Right. So I think that being a disruptive brand. I think in the US you're seeing the innovation on retail and merchandizing happening, where they're prioritizing innovation and disruption of brands in the front of the stores and the right sections. In Canada, you know, I love Canada, but they're behind on the merchandizing where they're still prioritizing, unfortunately, the Hershey's stuff like that, and I think that's the complication we're having. But again, you hire a great sales team, they work hard and they get it done. So to get into the grocery stories and to navigate some of these internal challenges of put it that way, do you use brokers? Do you use a consulting firms at all? So we have a great broker in Canada, and you might want to try to interrupt. You might explain a little bit what a broker does, because brokers are necessary in at least the food and beverage space. Here's why, at least when you're small, because they basically work on all the paperwork for retail. They build your relationship with the retailers, they have a relationship with the buyers and they basically bring a bunch of brands at once and presented to the buyers. So they already are going there. So having that's really important. Sometimes you'll pay between three and six points on three six, so it's expensive, but they're focused on working with you and your Promo Planning, because Promo planning is very hard and grocery you have to have months of Promo. You have to have all the paperwork done. They do all the paperwork and they also build the Intros, so when you have your interests, then your sales team internally can then deal with them afterwards. That you know. And it's a lot of management because you don't just have a broker in sales. You actually have a distributor as well, which is basically a glorified logistics company that picks up the product from your facility and then brings it to the store, because stores don't want a hundred fifty trucks coming in at once. So they wanted from one solidified truck, unless you're pepsico or Coca Cola or Red Bull, where they have their own trucks going in. So I think if you're gonna start a food and beverage brand, make sure to price in a distributor points and a broker already in your pricing for retail at six points, because if you don't have them, then you go into it and you have no choice to choose a broker again into whole foods or again a metro. You can't get in without it. So if you have to start losing money because you're pricing was off, it's a whole complication. We were given, luckily, information early on from other food entrepreneurs to price correctly. So that's all. That's what I could share with people starting a food and beverage print. Yeah, so I'M gonna ask the question because but I think you've just answered it in a way. But let's make sure there isn't another aspect of this. So uh, an anonymous attendee asks how did you approach buyers to get listed in in retail? Well, you've already given the broker answer. Are there other ways, non broker ways that you were trying to find approach retailers? Build a microphone, you know, I think a...

...brand or an individual person should build a microphone. You know, I use social media to get messages across. So I used to obviously connect with people, but they're all on a platform like Linkedin, for example. Let's let's talk about Linkedin. It's very corporate, but if you give a bit of lifestyle, e. If the Algorithm actually pushes your content up. So I end up getting, you know, between ten and a hundred for three thousand views organically, and my buyers are always watching, or buyers in the space are watching, and then they know you. So it's like it's not a cold reach out or it's not a cold thing. So when I hit them up on Linkedin, I say Hey, I'd love to chat. That's where I get my initial phone call, without even the broker just to have it. You have to get to know the person. So I think if you focus on building relationship first, make sorry, make noise first. If you're going to start a brand, make noise that people see, because if you're not seen or not heard, no one really cares at the end of the day, unless you have unbelievable numbers in terms of your data. That's the way to get their attention and then, and then build a relationship that's based on a friendship first. In my opinion, Um, not transactional. Not every relationship could be that way, Larry, because people don't want that. But most of my buyers that I've become very close with are like best friends of mine. I go I don't even talk about work anymore. It's just we go for dinner, we go for drinks, we have a great time and guess what, I don't need to ask for them to do things. They do it naturally. They naturally give us the display for, you know, for free. They naturally put us in six different spots in the store. They do them. Then our numbers fly and they then be allowed to use for the experiments, for our data for the other stores. So I think that's the cycle. Build a microphone, make noise and build a real relationship, not transactional. Yeah, I would totally second that. As a startup and working as an entrepreneur, seeing everything as a as a potential relationship. So is crucial because you're gonna have you know, I've seen so many entrepreneurs go through this phase and I'm wondering if you've had this experience of you know what, Um, I need to raise my price for you because I'm having a little trouble making ends meet, but I promised later down the road I may make ends meet or your supplier may come to you and say, look, I'm have an issue, I need you to buy less or more or at a higher price. Work with me on it. And you're trying to build those relationships so that it's not always well, I don't like the price you're charging me, therefore I'm out of here. So I'm wondering if you've had experiences like some of that. Yeah, so I think that at the end of the day, I think you know, we've gone through many crisis is. We've had supply chain crisis where we couldn't ship product for two weeks, and those are the moments where your relationships Um come into hand you, because when you just are you, when you're just honest and transparent, and a human doesn't want to a human doesn't want to take that that's a problem, but most humans will be human with you and actually empathize Um and when they do, they it makes things easier. It what you don't have to lie, you don't have to make things up, you tell the truth and it actually gets things done. So when we went through our crisis, is we had a two week problem. They were okay with it. They didn't ask for discount they didn't ask for things. The buyers were just cool with it because they're like, thanks for the transparency, Shitty, I get it, and you're not. You're you're explaining what's going on, and I think that that comes back down to the relationship that was built. Originally. It was like we were friends, and friends are usually there for each other in good or bad times, right, and that's something that I prioritize as my job is to build relationships, even though not in sales, with all the buyers or the or the managers of the store, the cashiers, the people that are on the ground make should happen. I think the problem here is is that people are so focused on pushing, pushing, pushing, and then on the buying side they're so focused on getting a deal or it's like negotiation it's like that shouldn't be the case, because if I don't have to negotiate with you all, invest more in the marketing and pushing people to your store. If I have to get cut margin by another six ten percent, I can invest that into the influencer is going to talk about going to, for example, your store and bringing people there. So it's like the game needs to be more let's sorry, let's have a game, more of a relationship, and things will get done better and I think that old school way of negotiating to the pennies dime is not working. Ironically, we've got a question that it's for me, which is what's uh, Larry, what is...

...your favorite mid day square flavor? And I'm going to turn the question to me into question for you. My answer is that I actually am on a Keto Diet, so dark chocolate for me is is fair game. And if you're not familiar with the Keto Diet, you're trying to keep your carbon take down low. So anything that involves chocolate and peanut butter, I'm in, because peanut butter is like I could. I'm literally the guy that could sit with us. You know, I know it's too much information, to share on a panel like this, but I could do with the spoon and the and the jar of peanut butter happily. The question, though, is is Keto is a hot trend like Um. How do you keep track of those of those trends? How do you keep track of all that stuff and the changing tastes and preferences of the market? The good thing is the palettes are changing for the better. I think people are staying away from the sugary items at a younger age now and moving towards growing up to have better for you products. I think that's something really important. We're part of that revolution because we're making a product that tape is delicious and indulgent, but it it's very clean label. It's very clean, it's it's healthy, it's better for you, but it tastes really good, and I think that helps us because what ends up happening is is, no matter what the trend is, it could be keyto it could be, you know, Paleo, it could be all these things. We don't focus on each one of them. A lot of brands go launch a products. Okay, let's make a Keto product or let's make a Paleo product. Specific for us being in the chocolate space. It's such a massive market, Larry, that at the end of the day it doesn't make a difference. Chocolate is a love language worldwide. You don't even you could show someone a chocolate on and they'll smile if they don't even speak the same language as you. So for us we're focused on again, people want clean label ingredients, they want air trade chocolate, they want stuff that's plant based. We stay on those things. We stay on things that don't trend, but stay longevity and Um. It allows us to touch the keto consumer. They could have a, you know, a portion of our bars and they get their quick fix of the dark chocolate, but also the functionality of the bar. But we don't focus specific on it, and I think that's something important. And Peanut butters are number one seller by double the amount, so it's kind of like a healthier peanut Butter Cup. Right. Let's take the last two questions and I'm going to take them in a slightly different order. The question actually is what's the future of manufacturing look like? But I'm just wondering what's your sense of the future of your market, including manufacturing of of your products? So, from a manufacturing standpoint, we're going to open up a plant in the US that will be able to supply all the product for the West Coast and the upper side of the US, southern part of the US. Sorry, and then we're gonna every country. We really go to Um. The next one after that would be the will be Mexico, and then we're gonna go to Europe after that, and Europe will have to build factories out there too, because again, refrigerator product, shipping chocolate, it's very sensitive to temperature. Right, and we believe on becoming a massive manufacturing company. We don't want to co pack, at least at the moment. We don't want to touch into any cup of CO packing or anything like that. We love owning it because, again, when you own your own manufacturing Larry, you control supplied the vertical supply chain of it. You control that. If I want to reform the product, I could do it as if tomorrow right to the line can run, or I could test things on really cool things and learn different ways of utilizing when you're co packing, you can't do that your book for a certain time, it's registered and that's it. That's all. So that's that. But from the future of the business, we want to be a modern day chocolate conglomerates. So right now you have Mars, you have Hershe's, you have mandolas, you have all these companies. You have a lot of companies starting up that are getting to a fifty million revenue, a hundred million revenue or thirty million revenue and selling it to Mandolaise, Hershe's, Mars, general mills or any of these companies. We want to see what it looks like to go past that acquisition era in the sense of what happens when you build this company a hundred million with the brand that it is, and then the money that's being regenerated into this company to grow it even more? Can we become the next hersions or the next Mars and be a chocolate legacy? That's really what we're trying to do here and I think it disturbs a lot of people because no one's challenging those conglomerates. They're just being swamped in by them. Perfect last question will take from the ANA. Who is the one entrepreneur you would say is your greatest...

...example, an inspiration, and why? Great question, by the way, Kirakira, I got a two part it in a very short format. Richard Branson, because of his he's built a brand about himself, being himself, with many different products, so virgin anything, vision music, Virgin Airline, version, this, virgion net. But Richard Branson is that human driving in. And then I look at Elon Musk and his boldness as a character. Some people love him, some people hate him. His boldness has driven a community around him which end up going to Tesla, they go to support SPACEX and it's because of who he is. Yes, he has his flaws and everyone has their flaws, but at the end of the day he's very bold and he's unapologetically himself. So these two characters are truth to the unapologetic themselves, and that's what I try to strive for, not to be them, to be me Um, but I think that's the two entrepreneurs I would look to. And if I can, if I want to interject here a little bit, Carett is, because I get this question a lot myself. I actually recommend sometimes people have a pampion of people that they respect for different reasons. Let's pick on somebody who's WHO's since left the planet. Steve Jobs would be a great person to emulate for innovation and for that boldness that you're talking about, but was notorious as a supervisor, very difficult to work with. In fact it's if you've ever read Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, for years there was an award given to the employee that survived the worst tongue lashing by Steve Jobs, and that's not so. There's gonna be aspects of different, different types of people that you're gonna want to emulate. Yes, for example, Jake you mentioned. Elon Musk is clearly admired and he should be admired for his boldness, but he definitely has, I think, the polite way of putting in his his detractors. But there's a lot of stronger language that, if those people were here, that would be using. So you want to think in terms of emulating or thinking about people you admire for different reasons, different aspects of what they do and how they do things. So I think like I don't know those two characters, like I don't know Richard Branson or Elon Musk. I don't know them personally. Maybe one day I will, but I think they're my mentor is still because for certain reasons they thought they energize me Um to do different things right. So I actually look at mentors not as people I know personally, as people I read about or I learned about and they're in my corner because if I'm reading into their books there or what they've written, I'm learning in their brain how they function, how they act in a certain scenario. I have a friend named Chris Mattman. He's the CTO OF NASA J B L Labs, and this guy just fires me up, energizes me. I know nothing about NASA, I know nothing about JB l labs. I know that. You know he talks about sometimes to me, but just his energy fires me up. So I consider him someone in my corner right. And I don't I never met him personally. We just talk on social media, but that's what I mean. But you, but you're right, you kind of I don't think it's one person. I think you take a lot from different individuals and you combine it to be who you are. Or you know who Larry is or who jake is or who here is. I hope to meet more more and more people out there that are going to keep inspiring me yeah, alright. So Um, closing thoughts, Jake, what's your mic drop? WE'RE gonna be bigger than Hershey's. And that's it. That's all. The entrepreneur podcast is sponsored by quantum shift, two thousand and eight Ale. I'm Connie CLARICI and closing the gap healthcare group. To ensure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player or visit entrepreneurship dot u w o Dot c, a slash podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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