As Co-Founder & CMO of one of the leading pancake and waffle mix brands in the country, Lizzi Ackerman is instrumental in the creation of the beautiful brand and plethora of flavors found in Birch Benders’ better-for-you mixes.
At Yale University, while studying the history of science and medicine, taking pre-med classes, and serving as Senior Editor of the Yale Herald, Ackerman met Matt LaCasse, who would soon become her business partner and later her husband. Together they discovered their mutual love of flapjacks and bonded around the breakfast table, thus starting the beginnings of what would eventually revolutionize the pancake and waffle industry.
Here are a few key secrets we talked about in this episode:
- Michelle introduces Lizzi Ackerman.
- Lizzi shares a brief synopsis of who she is and what she makes.
- One of the first NO’s that Lizzi experienced had to do with the packaging that they were using when they were first demo’ing their products at Whole Foods. Lizzi shares the full story in this episode!
- That first big NO led them to realize they needed to shift from selling their product in a jar to having it in a bag. They launched their bagged product at Expo West. Even though the bags looked great, they still ran into some trouble with the size of the bags.
- Through this entire process, Lizzi and her husband worked hard to stay small until they had a product-market fit. They didn’t want to spread themselves too thin and not be able to complete orders.
- Lizzi recommends that you spend a great deal of time on your packaging and branding so you can make sure it resonates with your customers.
- Whole Foods and Target approached Birch Benders at Expo West in 2015, which was right around the time that the avian flu hit many of the chickens producing eggs. All of Birch Benders products contained egg, which led to Lizzi’s most devastating NO! She shares the whole story, plus how they handled it and still managed to get onto Whole Foods and Target shelves.
- During this time, Lizzi would often see her bank accountant with a negative $10K balance. This was just another hurdle that Lizzi was able to overcome.
- Birch Benders will never be the next Aunt Jemima, but Lizzi knew that with the right branding and placement their waffles and pancake mixes would sell.
- When Lizzi turned bigger stores away, it was never a definite NO, but rather a not right now. She shares how she handled this when Safeway approached Birch Benders and she had to tell them NO, not right now.
- Lizzi and her husband focused on mastering things at Whole Foods, Target and Sprouts before they tried to get into any other stores. Now you can find them in many major food stores.
- Lizzi shares what she would tell her younger self.
Connect with Lizzi Ackerman:
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P.S. Do you have an idea of what you want your branding to look like? Is someone else telling you that your ideas won’t work? If your intuition is telling you one thing and you’re hearing other things, you get to stick to your gut! Learn why your intuition is so important in THIS BLOG POST!