Investing in the Future of Food

Investing in the future of food: Quevos co-founders share strategies to win with buyers & get on shelf

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

The days of landing a spot on store shelves simply by walking into a retailer without an appointment and wowing an employee with an unbranded, unpackaged product are becoming farther and fewer between as competition in the food and beverage space intensifies.

Rather, most retailers now require hard-to-get meetings with buyers who review hundreds of products a week – and if entrepreneurs are lucky enough to land an appointment, they often have 30 minutes or less to convince a buyer why their product should replace something else already on store shelves.

In this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Investing in the Future of Food, the entrepreneurs behind the egg white chip brand Quevos share tips they gleaned while at Kraft Heinz’s Springboard ​incubator program about how to make the most of meetings with buyers.

The first and most important lesson the duo says they learned from classes coordinated by Springboard and their interactions with the other companies in their cohort is that while buyers want to learn about a new brand and product, they mostly want to know how stocking it will help them – and not vice versa.

“Buyers are not wondering about your product. They are wondering about your product in their stores,”​ Quevos Co-founder Zack Schreier said, explaining that “having data that points to consumer trends in store … what claims are really catching consumers’ eyes these days,”​ can help convince a buyer that your product is good for their business.

Share your story and why consumers will care

Co-founder Nick Hamburger adds that making the most of a meeting with a buyer begins with telling the company’s story, and how a product was invented.

For the Quevos team, this meant sharing with buyers the deeply personal story of how they came up with their high-protein, low-carb chips, explaining why other consumers also would be interested in them and how they differed from the competition.

“I happen to be a type 1 diabetic, and so I always sought out foods that were low in carbs, so I can avoid my insulin shots, right. And one of the best options is eggs. So, I was making a lot of eggs and I realized that my favorite part of every omelet was the crispy edges left over,”​ explained Schreier. This eventually led him to prototype crispy egg pieces, which after two years of tinkering became Quevos egg white chips.

Entrepreneurs should build on their story while in the meeting with the buyer by explaining how it addresses macro trends, and how it will appeal to people beyond the inventor’s immediate friends and family, Hamburger added.

In Quevos’ case, the co-founders were able to point to increased snacking, consumer demand for high-protein and low-carb foods, and products that were not only filling but also satisfying to eat – which for many people means a large portion that they can enjoy over time.

Be yourself with buyers

Finally, Hamburger recommended in meetings with buyers, entrepreneurs needs to “be real,”​ and not “overly salesy.”

This means being ready to “go off deck and go unscripted and just talk about your product and sell it from your values and not necessarily as a salesman.”

For the Quevos team, this meant sharing with buyers the deeply personal story of how they came up with their high-protein, low-carb chips, explaining why other consumers also would be interested in them and how they differed from the competition.

Offer buyers more than product

Another lesson the duo learned at Springboard that is vital to communicate to buyers is that they are offering more than just a product. They also are offering a brand that hits on a fundamental human truth, which will help them earn consumers’ trust and loyalty.

“A brand isn’t just providing a solution for someone. But a really iconic brand is more than that solution. It is a solution attached to a message that is hitting on some sort of human truth, and in our case it is transcending limitations, breaking boundaries, being able to have it all, where you know before you never could,”​ Hamburger explained.

Getting in the door

As for successfully landing a meeting with buyers, the duo says having an eye-catching product is part of it, but also timing the meeting request for when the retailer is resetting the category will improve the chances of getting in the door.

The duo joked that they almost missed the deadline for when Whole Foods resets their category, but someone at the incubator told them with just enough time for them to race to the post office with their package five minutes before it closed, and overnight the materials to be there the next day – hours before the deadline.

“It was pretty crazy,”​ Hamburger admitted. But, he added, “that is the value of these teams.”

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