"I wanted to really go after the breakfast category," Snydel told FoodNavigator-USA.
As a frequently skipped meal for many people, Snydel believes breakfast can be healthy (full of superfood ingredients) and convenient. According to Mintel, consumers aren't prioritizing breakfast as much as they have in the past. The market research firm found that half of consumers agreed breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner, compared to 55% in 2014.
"Breakfast is no longer a priority for some Americans as they are strapped for time and sometimes skip breakfast altogether," commented Mintel associate director of foodservice research, Amanda Topper.
"I wanted to really hone in on the convenience piece and make people understand that they don’t have to put ten things in their smoothie make it healthy for them," said Snydel.
"The thing that I want to get across most to my consumers is that more ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean more nutrition."
In her home kitchen she started making individual containers of superfood ingredients and blending them into her smoothies in the morning, a process that took less than three minutes, according to Snydel.
Her friends and the community caught wind and soon Snydel was receiving informal orders for her superfood smoothie packets.
"Random people started texting me asking if they could buy it and it just snowballed from there," she said.
Snydel spent last spring and summer developing the brand, naming it Simplified Superfoods and launching a direct-to-consumer website in October 2018.
Founder story: Food is medicine
Snydel said she believes wholeheartedly in how diet can have a profound impact not just on weight loss, but overall health. Snydel spent about eight years taking medicine to treat her high blood pressure, and was prepared to do so for the rest of her life.
"I just thought that was the way it had to be," she said. As an avid reader of nutrition research and published studies, Snydel changed her diet little by little and felt her body healing, she said.
"It was really me listening to my body and taking matters into my own hands. I basically cured my own high blood pressure when I was in my early 20s," she said.
According to Snydel, the bulk of her diet consisted of three pillars of macronutrients (fat, fiber, and protein) all from superfood sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, and grass-fed collagen.
Passionate about connecting with her target consumer (time-strapped adults who are either working or have kids or both), Snydel has been demoing her products mainly in smoothie form at local events and gyms such as spin studio Cyclebar in nearby Evanston.
"I’m trying to build an e-commerce business. I feel like my product lends itself really well to that type of strategy," Snydel said. Physical retail is a goal for the brand, but Snydel wants to be very targeted in the types of stores she enters envisioning herself in smaller-format shops with a smaller selection of high end food and beverage products.
“It’s important for me to develop strong relationships with retailers. I’m in conversations with a few retailers in the Chicago area," Snydel explained. "Brand association is something I’m very aware of as well. While I want to get as many eyes on the product as possible, I also want to be very particular with the people that I partner."
Consumers can also get a taste of Simplified Superfoods at quick-service health restaurant FARE, that's using it as a base to one of its smoothies.
Identifying your audience
Snydel added that when she first launched Simplified Superfoods, she wanted to her marketing to be as "gender neutral" as possible but quickly realized that her core consumer was overwhelmingly busy moms.
"Your customers really determine the direction your brand goes," said Snydel. "I would say that the people I have communicated most with that are purchasing the products are moms, between the ages 35 and 47...so I'm marketing towards them."
"For instance, through consumer feedback, Simplified Superfoods is launching a larger 10-ounce version of its superfood mixes making it easier to scoop out the ingredients."
Connecting with Chicago's food startup community
As Simplified Superfoods continues to grow in brand awareness, Snydel added that she's been busy connecting with other entrepreneurs in the Chicago food and beverage startup community including attending events at the Chicago incubator The Hatchery.
"Really the best part of the industry is the people that I've met. I don't know if it's a Midwest mentality or I'm just meeting the right people, but Chicago is such a good hub for that. Everyone just wants to help everyone succeed," said Snydel.