WATCH: Start Right Foods targets millennial moms and active kids with a healthier breakfast waffle

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags FoodBytes! Protein

Back in 2015, when former college athletes Clint Matthews and Kyle Rood started making protein-packed gluten-free waffles "by hand in a rent by the hour kitchen and delivering to stores in a pick up truck" in St Louis, they were plowing a pretty lonely furrow. Fast forward four years and a bunch of brands is now bidding for a slice of the action.

Back then, Matthews told delegates at Rabobank's recent FoodBytes! pitch competition in Chicago, "If you were looking for a high protein waffle, there was only our product and one [high protein] SKU of Vans Power Grain waffles. Today, there is a slew of competitors in this space, which has validated our strategy and driven a lot of consumers down the frozen breakfast aisle.

"Two years ago we built our production facility that allowed us to increase capacity and improve the quality of our product. Now that manufacturing is in place and we have a national distribution partner in KeHE, we've seen tremendous traction in our home market in St Louis where we've really invested in brand awareness and velocity, which has driven up our sales by 200% year over year.

"We started this year with 300 stores, and by the end of Q1 2020, we'll be in over 1,000."

Millennial moms  

While it might sound niche, a more nutritious breakfast waffle is a pretty mainstream product with a wide potential audience, appealing to everyone from kids to millennial moms, Rood told FoodNavigator-USA before Matthews geared up to go on stage.

"We wanted to create something easy and convenient to make in the morning for anyone that has a hectic morning schedule. 

"And you know who has a hectic morning schedule? It's moms. So we've really targeted communities where moms have younger kids and want to feed them something they won't feel guilty about, but also sustains them nutritionally and the kids will eat. I've yet to find a kid that doesn't love our waffles, which is awesome."

Start Right​ has deployed multiple strategies to reach these consumers, partnering with a gym called Burn Boot Camp that attracts a lot of fitness-oriented millennial moms; youth athletes through the United Soccer League; and the St Louis arm of nonprofit Girls on the Run​, which encourages young women to engage in activities that boost their health and wellbeing, from running to life skills.

Funding

To date, the business has been funded by cash from friends and family and one equity investor, and is now hoping to raise new capital to fuel its expansion. 

waffle sliders
Start Right gluten-free waffle come into two varieties: Sausage and egg, and Turkey sausage and egg white. Both have 19g protein.
start-right-waffles cropped
Start Right original gluten-free waffles are made with eggs, Greek yogurt powder and whey protein, and a combination of oat flour, brown rice flour and sweet potato flour coupled with apples, blueberries or butternut squash. They contain 15 protein and 3g fiber and 210 cals per serving. (Eggo Homestyle waffles, by comparison, are made with enriched wheat flour, and contain 4g protein, 1g fiber, and 180 calories).

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