Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Founder Feature:
Lauryn Bodden of S’Noods

Meet S’Noods: the brand making the best (and only) noodle chips on the market

Lauryn Bodden first created S’Noods when she found herself competing on the Netflix cooking show, Snack vs. Chef. She explains, “My background is all over in hospitality. I’ve worked in restaurants, recipe development, and at a meal kit company. I used all of these different experiences and put them towards making S’noods on the show, and I won with this concept…Seeing everyone’s reaction both during and after the show came out made me realize S’Noods was something I needed to pursue, and I went full steam ahead.”

So what exactly is this Netflix-competition-winning snack? Lauryn says, “S’Noods are noodle chips. Each of our flavors is inspired by a different bowl of noodles from around the world. They’re gluten-free, they’re vegan, they’re delicious.”

Lauryn soft-launched S’Noods in fall 2023, and, since then, it has been met with non-stop excitement from consumers and retailers alike. Lauryn explains, “I got a booth grant from Startup CPG for Expo East and that was my jumping-off point for the brand. It helped me test market validation, allowed me to meet my current co-manufacturer and different sales advisors, and connected me to buyers.” These buyer contacts enabled Lauryn to launch with select retail partners that winter, including Pop Up Grocer and Foxtrot. “Then, again, through Startup CPG,” she says, “I got connected with Naturally New York and participated in their Fairway Find pitch, and at the end of this April and beginning of May, we’ll be launching in all of the Fairways, Shop Rites, and Gourmet Garages.”

Developing a first-to-market product

Though S’Noods has been met with rave reviews since its launch, developing this first-to-market product was challenging. Lauryn says, “[Development] was such a long road. The flavors were the easiest part. I knew I wanted some kind of tomato sauce — our rigatoni basil pomodoro —  a cheesy flavor — our cavateppi carbonara — and I also wanted to lean into Asian flavors with our spicy miso ramen.” The hardest part of developing S’Noods, Lauryn says, was “nailing the texture.” To achieve a perfectly crunchy texture that was also able to hold the shape of a noodle, Lauryn experimented with a variety of gluten-free flours, from potato to lentil to chickpea before landing on the formulation they have today, which is largely potato and rice flour. Making the product gluten-free was important to Lauryn, she explains, “Not because I’m celiac or gluten-free myself — but because I’m someone that likes to be invited to the party, so we wanted everyone to be invited to the S’Noods party. It also opens up doors for me to sell [S’Noods].”

Lauryn began making S’Noods from her home kitchen with a KitchenAid pasta maker, but she knew she could not scale the business from home. However, finding a co-manufacturer to bring her vision to life proved challenging. “I went to different co-manufacturers, and said, ‘This is how I’m making in my home kitchen — can you help me? A lot of people wrote me off, saying, ‘This is too much for me to take on right now,’ or that they couldn’t do a gluten-free product.”

Finally, Lauryn found a co-man who was excited to work with S’Noods. However, she explains, “moving from my commercial kitchen to my co-manufacturer took several months to fine-tune everything from new equipment to new [pasta] shapes. It took a lot of testing, but I’m stoked about where we landed. Expo [West 2024] was our launching point for this new formulation, and it was met with nonstop excitement.”

Managing retail growth

In S’Noods’ early days, Lauryn targeted smaller retailers that favored startups to test the product and “see how it did in the wild.” She says, “Working with independents early on is extremely helpful for not only getting feedback, but also for getting your footing, understanding what it’s like working with retailers, and what is required of you. That way, when we take this next step into larger-scale markets and set up our distributors, we’re ready and know what it takes to keep that growth going.”

“It’s so exciting when you get your first store…but there are so many different things to be mindful of. You have to manage the relationships, make sure the product is moving, and that you’re making money. Also, if you’re working with independent retailers, you’re going to have to ship to them directly, which seemed financially great initially, but once you start [accumulating] independent stores, it racks up and is a lot to keep track of.”

Lauryn is now in the process of setting up distribution for S’Noods this April. She says, “It’s a dream to offload some of the work. There’s still a lot to be done, and it takes a lot for you to be set up financially and production-wise [for distribution].” Wary of taking on too much too fast, Lauryn is focusing her distribution efforts on the northeast region for now. She explains, “I’m in New York, so I can be boots on the ground with retailers and understand our data points, which will help us set ourselves up for more growth.”

Fundraising so S’Noods can grow

As S’Noods’ distribution footprint grows, Lauryn also hopes to expand her team.  She says, “I would love to have people on my team. Not only to make my life easier but also to grow efficiently. There’s so much to keep track of as an individual, so I know things are falling through the cracks. It’s hard as a solo founder. I have a few advisors, but day-to-day it’s just me. I constantly have to remind myself that because there’s only so much I can do.”

To hire more people, however, S’Noods needs to fundraise, a process they are actively engaged in now. Lauryn explains, “We need funding to make things happen, including growing our team, marketing within our retail spaces, and building brand awareness and education. There are so many fees that add up week by week if not day by day. Right now, we’re targeting key angel investors in a pre-seed phase. We take each conversation day by day and see where things fall.”

Start before you’re ready

One of the most helpful pieces of advice Lauryn has received as a founder came from Helen Park, a S’Noods advisor and judge on Snack vs. Chef. “Last spring, I said to her, ‘I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how I’m going to make this.’ And she said, ‘You have to get out there and start effing up. You’re going to mess up regardless, but once it’s out there, you’ll start getting feedback and understanding things. It’s not going to be great in the beginning, but it will get there.”

Lauryn followed Park’s advice and is the first to admit that the learning curves were steep. “It [required] putting my pride aside and not feeling uncomfortable asking questions. It took me a while to get past the point where I felt stupid if I asked a manufacturer or advisor something. It can be overwhelming to see all these other people who seem to be thriving, but I think everyone is struggling with the same issues…I’m still very new to things, so I try not to feel regret and learn from every experience. I utilize the Startup CPG space and am constantly pinging people. I’ve connected with so many different founders. I don’t care if you’re in dog food — I have no shame talking to anyone who will let me talk to them.”

“Talking with people gives me everything I need to keep pushing forward. Any time I put the product out there, I get such a great response. That tells me, ‘Okay, we have something here. We need to keep going.’ I’m a very stubborn individual, so in the end, I will make this work because I will not let it fail. I want to make something that people enjoy and people seem to really love S’Noods, and I love that for me.”

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