Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Two Key Lessons from
Anyway Protein’s Emma Moore

Emma Moore is the Co-founder and CEO of Anyway Protein, a plant-based protein powder brand with a customizable twist. Pair one scoop of the Unflavored Pea Protein powder with a scoop of flavor powder from their range of Flavor Packs to create your great tasting protein shake without compromising your fitness goals, or your taste buds.

Our Pre-Idea Journey

My husband and co-founder, Billy, and I have been vegan for around five years, and that journey drove us to change our careers and start a vegan brand. Whilst we have become passionate about our lifestyle change, we do understand there is a general notion that vegan food isn’t always accessible, tasty or even affordable as your animal alternatives (cough *subsidies*). From friends, family and the internet we always hear ‘oh but cheese’…‘where do you get your protein?’…’is bread vegan?’…’I could never, but good for you!’ etc. I hate to say this, but some of their points are fair. Why spend more money on a product you may or may not enjoy? I can’t argue with that. Out of all the comments, the most eye-rolling argument is when people assume that vegan diets are low in protein and cause you to lose muscle. I’m not here to share the science on this misinformation, that would take a book, but what I can share is Billy’s story.

Billy, my NYC born hubby, first went vegetarian all because of a visit to a farm. When he saw farm animals out in the pastures during an international trip, he instantly understood the connection between the food he consumed and the animal it came from- he never ate meat again. Then, we went vegan and in the last five years he has become somewhat of a gym rat (it’s an endearing term). Before being vegan he weighed 145 lbs (66kg) at over 6ft and today he weighs 215lbs (98kg) – all that muscle, and his most recent 520lb (236kg) deadlift, came from a vegan diet.

Combining Billy’s mission of breaking down the stigmas associated with vegans and strength training along with my startup experience created a strong foundation to launch a vegan protein powder that addresses the three most common issues: Poor taste, varying protein content and the expensive price tag.

The first lesson we learned: The Formula.

With the new idea and naive spark of energy we dove straight into building Anyway Protein. We quickly realized we were not able to launch as soon as we anticipated. We learned that fame + money = speedy launch. This very general formula is important to know early on. You need either money or fame, or ideally both. For example, if you have over a million followers on Instagram (fame), however you make a small income, you can spend your savings on your launch knowing that you will have followers who convert to customers. Many social media influencers experience this. If you have 10+ years in your career, you most likely have a network (fame). Again, you can launch using your network to access early customers. On the other hand, if you have money and only your small circle of family and friends, you can purchase your way into producing your product and building a following by hiring a full team to work on social, marketing and ads.

Can you guess what side of the formula we had for a majority of 2022? That’s right, neither. So the first half of 2022 was spent feeling uncertain in ourselves until we acknowledged this formula. Now, we aren’t pressuring ourselves to achieve an unrealistic launch by October ‘22. Instead we have pushed the launch date to January ‘23, we got a small loan, built a small following through Billy’s social media all whilst working on our relationship with our manufacturer. Essentially, we took the time we needed to improve our formula. Moreover, this formula saved us from walking into a crowdfunding campaign that most-likely would have failed. Earlier this summer, we were aiming to raise $50k on Indiegogo, with no fame beyond family and friends and no money to spend on a half-sexy campaign. Keep in mind, we are still working on building our ‘fame’ by doubling-down on our Instagram and outreach efforts, so stay tuned this Fall.

 

Lesson 2: Keep on talking!

Understanding where and how we fit in this formula didn’t come from a google search or in a dream, it came from talking – many times a week with different people. Anyone who was willing to listen to us and brainstorm with us would most-likely provide valuable input and feedback on our concept. For young entrepreneurs like ourselves, talking can be a challenge when we have the luxury of DMs, emails and texting. Who picks up the phone anymore? Well you should, and you should get very comfortable with it too. Talking through pain points and ideas helped us learn quickly and avoid common mistakes. We spoke countless times regarding the crowdfunding campaign and we could tell the idea didn’t sit well with many people so we pivoted away from that. We spoke to people during the conception of our idea and learned that separating protein powder and flavor can offer an array of opportunities for the business and our future customers. We spoke with smarter friends who sat down with us and looked at all our spreadsheets and pitch decks followed by a brainstorming session to improve on our application materials for competitions and investors.

With this lesson comes a sub-lesson. When not to listen. The more people you speak with, the higher the chance you ‘knock on the wrong door’. For example, a marketing expert hated (with a passion) the posts we had on social media. But, they didn’t understand the gym community and how we were tapping into their environment of humor with funny posts and memes (with the odd product and update post). The marketer hated all of it and didn’t hold back – it was painful. We walked away feeling distraught. We made the compromise and stopped posting funny content. Not to our surprise, followers and engagement dropped and our incentive to post diminished. We are still attempting to recover and rebuild our social media approach today. Another person offered their finance savvy advice but instead of helping us with our pro forma, they suggested we take part-time jobs to get cash. Maybe their advice is true and we should really be waiting tables and not writing this article, however the lesson here is to talk and learn but to also follow your instinct. Additionally, we recommend you take some time to learn about the formula and where you and your brand fits in, so you don’t waste time or take too big a risk on your early-stage baby.

Thank you and go on, give us a follow: @AnywayProtein and @Soy.Boy.Billy. hello@anywayprotein.com

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