Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Founder Friday Feature:
Chara Krangle of Oat of the Ordinary

This Women’s History Month, Startup CPG is proud to partner with Settle for a month of Female Founder Fridays! Settle is thrilled to continue their partnership with Startup CPG to elevate female founders. With a mission to power the CPG economy with financial tools, Settle levels the financing gap for female-founded brands with Settle Working Capital. Settle aims to empower women founders scaling their businesses in order to influx more women perspectives, inclusive brands and goods into the consumer ecosystem.

Meet Chara Krangle: the founder making high-protein, low-sugar oatmeal that will actually keep you full

Oat of the Orindary founder Chara Krangle first became interested in food as fuel while she was studying acting as an undergrad student.  “I had long hours on set, so I needed food to give me enough energy,” she explains. As Chara was finishing her acting degree, she decided that instead of continuing her long hours on set, she would pursue a career in nutrition. “I wanted to learn more about nutrition and how food works in our body. I had a passion to help other women with their nutrition and their relationship with their bodies and health.”

Chara’s passion led her to a job as the community manager for the Almost 30 podcast, a health and wellness podcast based in LA. With this new job, Chara says,  “I was flying all over the States and London on tour. As my schedule picked up, I noticed that it was difficult to find healthy low-sugar, satiating food, particularly for breakfast. And my nutrition clients were experiencing the same thing. They were super busy and leaning into convenient foods like baked goods at cafes, but they were hungry an hour later and experiencing sugar crashes. So I thought, ‘We need to come up with a solution for this.’ I got in the kitchen, and I focused on oatmeal because it’s so simple to make. I started adding flax seeds, chia seeds, protein powder, and other superfoods, and I put my recipe out as a blog.” The recipe was a hit, and Chara frequently went on social media to show her followers how her oatmeal recipe fit into her busy travel schedule. Chara explains, “I started to pay attention to the feedback I was hearing from people. They were saying, ‘This needs to be a product.”

A COVID Creation

It wasn’t until the COVID pandemic hit and Chara’s traveling schedule finally slowed that she decided to turn her oatmeal recipe into a package-able product. “I called my girlfriend with the idea, and we did focus groups and surveys and created Oat of the Ordinary, on-the-go oatmeal that is high-protein and low-sugar.

When developing the product, Chara and her co-founder looked to the market to identify flavors that would stand out from the classic apple and cinnamon while also satisfying consumers’ tastes. After conducting market research, they decided to launch with three flavors: blueberry cinnamon, raspberry, and chocolate coconut. In development, they also considered the ingredients that were local and accessible to the area. Chara says, “We have a lot of berry farmers in our area, so we were able to source directly from the farmers. We tried to match what’s popular and what’s available, while also focusing on the benefit of each ingredient. We sent samples to friends and family for feedback and spent at least six months developing the original recipe. [Development] is a super long process, but I’m really, really happy and proud of what we have on the market now. [My partner] left the business last year, so it’s just me now, but we’ve been in business for about three years, and it has really picked up — it goes to show that this was a problem worth solving.”

Challenges with distribution

Because Chara created Oat of the Ordinary during the pandemic, breaking into retail was not an option at first. “We launched online, which helped us create brand recognition so that people recognized us when we did go on the shelves [in store],” Chara says. Once retail doors re-opened, Oat of the Ordinary began working with a regional distributor, which, though initially exciting, quickly proved challenging. Chara explains, “They’re great people, but they were running a tricky business and struggled to pay or deliver on time. A lot of retailers told us, ‘We’d love to have you, but we won’t work with that distributor.’ It was frustrating because we were paying our brokers a pretty nice retainer, but they couldn’t do anything. We had to push through that for about a year, and then [our distributor] took $4,000 worth of inventory and went bankrupt. Luckily, the week that happened, we started working with a national distributor, and that has allowed us to grow across Canada.”

To land this national retailer, Chara explains, took persistence. “We put in our first submission in January and were denied a month later. In April, we went to the big food show for the west of Canada, and I made an effort to bring [the distributor] over to my table and try the product. We started having conversations, and I nurtured the relationship and kept on them as much as I could to keep [Oat of the Ordinary] top-of-mind. Our broker helped us out a lot, too, but it took it another five months for [the distributor] to place the first PO. It required a lot of patience, but now the floodgates are open for us.”

The ups and downs of life as a founder

“[Entrepreneurship] can be so, so challenging. One day, I love what I’m doing and the next day I’m ready to give it away. If I’m having a really tough time, I try my best to take a walk, go in nature, and create little blocks of time where I can shut off. Sometimes I just have to allow myself to feel the feels, while also knowing, am I realistically going to give up? No. So what’s the next best step?”

Chara also relies on support from her mentors. She explains, “I’m very lucky to have mentors in my corner with successful businesses. So on the days I want to give up, I listen to someone who has far more experience telling me, ‘You’ve got something here. Keep going.’ I think a massive percentage of being successful in this industry is persistence and fighting through those tough times. Keep your eye on the mission and try to enjoy the process. It doesn’t happen every day for me, but I try to have little moments of fun when I can.”

“Right now, I’m working on time blocking, scheduling all of my meetings for two days a week so I can dedicate Fridays for creative time. As an entrepreneur, you’re pulled in so many different ways, and it can stop you from getting into the deep work. I’m still discovering the brand’s voice, who we’re speaking to, and who is truly interested in it. As we’re starting to smooth out all the kinks, I’m looking forward to diving into those creative aspects of the business.”

Chara’s advice for fellow founders

“Slow and steady is the game right now. When we first came into this industry, I wanted to be the fastest-growing company in Vancouver, but it’s proven that those super-fast-growing brands are unicorns. Mistakes can happen when you go too quickly. So I started to slow down and not worry so much about all the successes that I’ve seen on LinkedIn, people landing millions [in funding] or all these locations. Instead, I think, ‘Okay, what can I do that’s going to get me to the next level? Let’s do it properly and thoroughly.’ Good things require time and attention.”

About Settle:

Settle gives you the best way to handle your cash flow—one designed for consumer brands that are ready to grow. With a modern AP platform designed for automating all things payments, pay vendors, and manage purchase orders and invoices – and stop paying with checks. And you can Settle now, pay later with Settle Working Capital’s founder-friendly financing, for qualifying businesses. So instead of letting your cash flow hold you back, join brands like Deux, Truvani and Olipop to confidently scale for what’s next.

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