June 22, 2022
Samantha Johnston

Foodbevy’s words of wisdom for emerging brands

Foodbevy founder Jordan Buckner shares his best advice on the top challenges facing today’s CPG brands, and why he encourages all founders to embrace data.

When it comes to starting a CPG brand, Jordan Buckner has seen it all. While running his own CPG business for six years, he experienced firsthand the ups and downs of growing a company, from breaking into new retailers to navigating operational challenges. To help other founders along the way, he started Foodbevy, which offers community and guidance to make those twists and turns easier to navigate. We spoke with Jordan about the greatest challenges keeping founders up at night, and how he helps them leverage data to navigate growth.

Founders don’t have to go it alone

Jordan wants CPG founders to feel supported throughout their startup journey. That’s why Foodbevy was designed to offer them the best tools, resources, and connections, which include: 

  • A virtual Slack community where founders can ask questions, commiserate, and get support and inspiration from one another
  • A directory of over 4000 industry partners, from ingredient sourcing to manufacturers to investors
  • Weekly educational webinars that bring in subject matter experts (a recent topic: How to increase conversion rate and average order value on Shopify)
  • A concierge to surface the resources that are most relevant to founders’ problems

What's keeping brands up at night?

So what are the top challenges that founders come to Jordan with? A big one, he says, is securing financial capital to expand. “While there has been a historical gap in the funding space for CPG brands, that is starting to change as successful entrepreneurs invest back in the space,” he explains. “That said, not every company is ready for the venture capital approach.” So Jordan works with founders to understand what investment looks like and the ramifications it has for their business. For instance, by taking funds, brands are agreeing to grow quickly without making profit and continuously raise money to keep expansion afloat – and then investors expect an exit within 5-10 years. That’s not for everyone, so Jordan helps founders think through the process and explore alternatives, including crowdfunding and debt funding opportunities.

Another common challenge: the tradeoff between e-commerce and retail. Each brand has to strike the right balance and focus their limited resources. Ultimately, the best approach depends on the maturity of the company, the product category, and how shoppers might prefer to buy that product, whether online or in-person. “Most brands start DTC, but hit some friction on the e-commerce side and then try retail thinking it might be easier,” Jordan explains. “But similar to the investor journey, founders need to think about when the right moment is to enter into retail, and how they can ensure success.” A great example is B.T.R. Nation, which is doing well in e-commerce and is now expanding into retail – but only after its founder was able to cultivate a passionate community who loves the product and will regularly repurchase. 

Finally, Jordan says, founders struggle with having the right data to manage their business as it grows. “There is so much information in their minds that they don’t have a clear picture of how their business is doing, which can lead to mistakes,” he explains. For example, his own CPG startup Tea Squares was selling to a natural channel distributor, and after a year he noticed a large number of product returns (meaning the distributor had been overbuying, and charging Tea Squares for the unsold products). When Jordan went through the deductions and chargebacks line by line, he found out the distributor had returned 30% – practically his whole profit margin. But without better visibility, he hadn’t realized the problem until he’d already taken the hit. This is precisely why Jordan is a strong proponent of helping brands leverage data, even in the early years.

Good things come to those who use data

Like Crisp, Jordan agrees that visibility into retail data is key to success. “At four or five thousand stores, there is just no way to keep track of everything in a spreadsheet,” he says. “But with data, you can find opportunities to increase performance, see where you’re doing really well, and find adjacent retailers you can enter. It allows you to make better decisions.”

Jordan points out that all founders have different skill sets: some are more analytically inclined, whereas others might be focused on developing that next great flavor. But either way, data becomes a challenge. “Those who are steeped in the data often struggle to make good decisions, because there is so much information – but for the founders who don’t like looking at data, it just causes anxiety. So the real opportunity is surfacing key insights that founders actually need to know, and helping them make decisions.” This is why Foodbevy has partnered with Crisp, which makes it easy to identify higher and lower performing stores or regions, make a data-driven case for buyers, and keep an eye on deductions and chargebacks. “Data can say, here is a problem, let me investigate why it is happening, and here’s how I can create a solution,” he explains.

Once data helps brands identify problems or opportunities, Jordan wants Foodbevy to help them take action. For example, he created templates for retail sales decks that brands can use to pitch new accounts. With data that can easily be plugged in from Crisp (for instance, a product’s velocity compared to category averages), brands have what they need to tell a compelling story. 

If brands are looking into outside investment, data is also key to creating a strong story for investors. “Sales are bumpy and seasonal in retail, so how can you really show the momentum of your brand and what that means? It could be your velocity, it could be your store growth, it could be same-store sales growth over time. There are a lot of different pieces that could come into play, and it’s about how you put yourself in the best light,” he explains.

For more guidance from Jordan and the Foodbevy community, learn more and join at foodbevy.com.

To learn how Crisp data can help your growing brand, contact us for a demo. For more inspiring stories and data best practices, subscribe to the blog.

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