CPG Do + Don’t Recap, Volume III: Episodes 9–12
Here is your third round of do’s and don’ts from our latest round of CPG podcast interviews. If you are here for the first time, it’s worth a look at our previous compilations; volume one and volume two , to get up to speed.
Since day one of our interviews, we make a point to end each episode, with one “Do” and one “Don’t” as it pertains to running, starting, and growing an inventory based business. Our guests wrap up the many years of trying, failing, and succeeding into these key answers.
For the full length episodes, and show notes, you can browse The Month End page here . For the high level, read on and enjoy all of the insight.
Episode Nine: Ibraheem Basir • A Dozen Cousins
Ibraheem grew up in Brooklyn in a big family (hence the name) and wanted to combine two important elements into one product; take the joy of the eclectic multicultural flavors he experienced eating with his family, and turn it into a convenient, healthy food option.
He is no stranger to the complex food business, and has worked for large CPG companies, before starting A Dozen Cousins . These opportunities allowed him to hone his talent for understanding the formal business side, especially recognizing untapped business opportunities, and offering advice. Here are Ibraheem’s Do’s and Don’ts from the episode:
Remember your admissions essay. With the idea being, if there was something that you intended to do when you started, don’t lose track of that. You can get pulled in a lot of different directions and it’s important to remember what your mission and vision is with the brand. Get refocused and grounded, and remember why you launched the brand.
Ibraheem keeps us grounded, and reminds us it has to align with the original vision when it comes to decisions and choices moving forward.
Don’t get caught up thinking about risk in the gunslinger type way. That you’re either all in and shooting for the stars, or that you’re being conservative and boring. There’s balance in that. You have to think about risk in a nuanced way. Be thoughtful about the risks that you take as an entrepreneur.
Coming from such an inspiring business leader, Ibraheem nails the concept of thoughtful risk taking. There is a lot at stake, and it pays to be strategic and thoughtful in your decisions.
Episode Ten: Melissa Vitelli • Jar Goods
Melissa gives us a no-BS look into the challenges of launching and running Jar Goods , an inventory based food startup. This woman owned and managed business began based on a few goals; to bring an exciting, fresh sauce option to the (stale) market, and to have a quickly prepared food that wasn’t low quality (easier, faster, happier being the key words).
Do the hard work in terms of thinking through it. Thinking through who you are, who your brand is, and how it’s going to fit in the world. There are so many good ideas in the world, but it’s not always the right time, in the right place. You need to think that through and make sure that it’s a good fit with where you’re trying to sell the product. Maybe it’s ahead of its time, or maybe it’s too late and it needs to be tweaked.
Melissa encourages people to do the hard work and think. Thinking is one of the hardest things for people to do sometimes, or facing the facts is really hard, but it’s important for success.
Be careful who you take advice from.
As Melissa says, “there are so many people who I have come across, even people close to me, who I trust with my life, who I can tell are just beating their chests. However, there are people who, with knowledge, who are not just trying to lord another person and it’s important to know the difference, and to know when it’s time to take something with a grain of salt or to take something to heart.
Episode Eleven: Sonny McCracken • Après
Sonny McCracken, CEO of Après opens up about the mission to develop a healthy, simple, plant based protein drink to satiate between workout and next meal. Inspired by his wife, and blindly leaping from corporate employee to entrepreneur, Sonny shares the complexities of achieving their goal. In the process, the Après team has inspired a new community; all focused on the goal of making the world a happier and healthier place, one junk free drink at a time.
Spend the time where it matters, and then hire people to handle the day-to-day stuff.
This concept can be summed up in three points:
- The more important something is, or the more thought that it takes, or the more strategic direction that your team needs, the more time you should be spending on it as a founder.
- The more plug-and-play or routine that something is, the more you should not be doing it, but you have to have someone that you trust doing it, otherwise you’re going to be looking over their work. If you don’t trust it, you’re not actually getting leverage into the business.
- Make sure that you create time for yourself as a founder to do the things that are high impact and high thought. Get other people to do the other parts for you.
Don’t introduce complexity where it’s not needed (this is something that is easier said than done).
Sonny reminds us that you’re going to be presented with a million growth opportunities, and the more simple that you can have your business, the better. Complexities find you, fire drills find you. The easier and more simplified that you can keep the day-to-day operations and strategy of the business, the more time you’ll be able to have to think about how you can do it better, or what other things that you can do.
When you add complexity into the business, make sure it’s a step change for the business, not a linear change.
Episode Twelve: Aaron Gatti • Brami
Co-Founder and CEO of Brami , Aaron Gatti shares the journey to finding the unique protein packed snack at the forefront of his company’s products; the Lupini Bean. Not only are we exploring a great new food to add to the snack cupboard, we are diving into how Aaron manages a complex process of sourcing his inventory from Italy. From the Italian COVID shut down, to how Brami factors in the costs of duties and an ever-changing currency conversion into their costs, Gatti shares all his wisdom.
Really be on top of your forecasting and supply planning. It’s not an easy thing, especially if you’re omni-channel. You want to get really buttoned up on your forecasting, lead times, and supply planning, so that you can manage the right weeks-on-hand for your key products and key customers.
You don’t want to invest so much in getting accounts opened, and not be able to deliver (literally). There’s so much that goes into getting sales channels set up, you don’t want to find out after making that investment, you don’t have the supply. On the other hand, you have to manage your capital and inventory out-of-stocks. Getting the right weeks-on-hand number, and having a really solid forecasting foundation to manage that is essential.
Don’t overlook the importance of having healthy margins. I see entrepreneurs discount the needed margins to be successful in this business. So unless you have a lot of capital, and a very sure way to grow, you need to have very healthy margins.
There’s a lot of deductions, a lot of marketing spend, and it’s a capital intensive business, so you want to have very healthy margins and be very precise in your calculation of them. Relatedly, you want to know your contribution margin in any channel that you’re in (or want to be in), and think through what the capital implications are of launching a new channel.
Just look at all of that insight, and we’ve only recapped four episodes! If any (or all) of these subjects strike a chord, and you would like to dive into the full episode details, check them out here . Stay tuned for more episodes and more insightful conversations with fellow CPG businesses and stakeholders. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel , so you don’t miss any newly posted conversations.
To join the conversation with fellow CPG enthusiasts, you can also join our groups on Facebook and LinkedIn , called “The Accountfully Alliance”. We post great content weekly, and offer a safe place to get ideas and insight into the finance and operational world.