Aimee Yang, founder of Better Brand, has struck lightning in a bottle.
Better Brand is a new food tech startup founded by female Asian-American solo entrepreneur Aimee Yang. Aimee developed a proprietary Grain-changing Technology™ that transforms carb-heavy foods, removing refined carbs. Aimee’s mission is to disrupt the food industry and quiet diet culture by removing the guilt associated with the things we love, and the shame often felt in enjoying foods that bring us pleasure.
The brand’s first product is a high-protein bagel called The Better Bagel, with the protein equivalent of 4 eggs and carb equivalent of 2 banana slices. Just 3 months after launching the plant-based bagel, the brand closed a round of funding led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six.
I’m excited to sit down with Aimee Yang, Founder & CEO, to learn more about how her Better Bagel hit a $1M+ run rate within three months of launch.
Diana Tsai: What was the core insight, inspiration, first principle your company was founded on? Has it evolved over time?
Aimee Yang: I founded Better Brand to solve the personal pain point I felt around diet and healthy eating. I’ve struggled with diet my entire life, constantly oscillating between feeling either guilty or deprived. I used to dream of a world where I could eat what I wanted without having to worry about weight gain or negative health consequences – it would have been so freeing and would have given me so much of my mind-space back.
I dove into research, and found that the majority of anxieties surrounding diet are weight-related, and largely driven by refined carb consumption. By leading innovation in this space, we aim to create a world where consumers have the ability to eat freely without restriction or worry, while improving human health on a macro level.
We aim to use our breakthroughs in the food space to drive forward a movement of empowering and inspiring a world free of unnecessary barriers and limitations. Every decision we make is driven by our mission statement: “Better Brand isn’t simply a food tech company. Instead, we are founded on a set of simple, yet powerful ideas. We believe unnecessary limits are meant to be broken. We believe everyone deserves to enjoy freedom and joy to the fullest. We believe that a Better world is possible. And we know that together, we’ll create it.”
Tsai: As you look back on the journey to where you are today, what core habits / best practices would you tell your earlier self to triple down on?
Yang: Never doubt yourself or your abilities, and always trust your gut! Synthesize out the people who provide you with energy, and positivity and lean on those people for advice + support. I’d also remind myself that my job is to make the best possible decisions for Better, and to do so in the most authentic way possible. It’s not my job to make everyone happy!
In terms of something more tactical– hire earlier than you think you need. It can be an intensive process to find someone with the right experience, skills, and cultural fit. Start the process 2-3 months before you think you should!
Tsai: They say success is a mix of preparation & luck. What unexpected lucky breaks happened along the journey without which you wouldn’t be here today?
Yang: So many! First, we got really lucky with our R&D – our thesis proved functional the first time around, and it allowed us to move quickly and be really efficient with capital. I always think back to Pat Brown’s story on Impossible – how it took a year and $9M of trial and error to determine that heme couldn’t actually be extracted in the way that was originally hypothesized. I’m a huge fan and have so much respect for the innovation journey there – it also highlights how lucky we were to be able to get it right immediately. I also can’t talk about luck without giving a shout out to our investors – a beyond amazing group of people who make me feel supported, inspired, and challenged on the daily. I could not ask for more.
Tsai: When did you know you had product-market fit? What did it take to get there?
Yang: Well, we hit a $1M+ run rate within three months of launch! That was certainly a great indicator, not to mention incredibly surreal. We’re lucky in that the product speaks for itself, and addresses a very real pain point that a lot of people feel on a daily basis – that won us a lot of earned media and customer excitement, and we’re just getting started!
Tsai: You hit $1M+ run rate within three months of launch! That’s remarkable. Can you share how y’all achieved that?
Yang: It was largely organic! When we launched, we weren’t doing any kind of performance marketing, everything was earned marketing. What really drove this was the excitement that people felt about the brand. It’s that conversation we were just having on how life-changing Better really is for people. Word travelled fast and the vast majority of our media has been earned, which is amazing. So even when we launched, the first 2 weeks we were already one-third of the way to our $1M+ run rate. That was amplified by a lot of the amazing investors we had on board. Plus, our returning customer rates are a lot higher than what you typically see in the market, or what we could have ever predicted!
Tsai: What have you had to unlearn in order to scale?
Yang: Don’t let perfection be the enemy of great! When it comes to innovation, you typically see companies take one of two paths. In the first, a company hides away for years running through iterations behind closed doors, and the consumer doesn’t get to benefit. In the latter, you get out there as soon as possible, right when you have a working MVP. I strongly believe in the latter – if you’re an entrepreneur who believes in your product/ mission, you should get it out into the market as soon as humanly possible. It’s the only way you’ll be able to capture really valuable customer data that will allow you to iterate in real time and run your company in the most efficient way possible, all while taking the consumer on the journey with you. It doesn’t have to be perfect right away!
Tsai: You mentioned getting your product out to market as quickly as possible – that’s oftentimes easier with software than with real-world products! How quickly were you able to create the Better Bagel and how were you able to get the formula right so fast?
Yang: I think it was luck. We could have come through so many trials and tribulations. The fact that this original hypothesis worked is like 1 in a million. Every time I think about it, I know that Better is just so special. When we were developing the brand we were talking about different brand archetypes – Better’s brand archetype is the Magician.
Tsai: I have to ask…what’s coming after the iconic bagel?!
Yang: There’s so much we can do with the bagel – food activations, pop-ups. We have a lot of things in the pipeline – is it the breakfast category? Breads? We have breads & buns ready. It’s all about the consumers and driving what they want.
Tsai: You have such a powerful mission; how do you think about the price point ($4.5 per bagel) and accessibility?
Yang: We want it to be accessible, and in the beginning there’s just so many upfront costs. There’s just so many hidden costs that people can’t see right now. It’s supposed to be about joy and freedom and we want that for everyone.
Tsai: Most startups have to pivot, evolve, but it seems like for you the stars are just aligning for you and it’s lightning in a bottle!
Yang: Honestly, it feels more like the latter. We’re moving so fast. I feel so blessed, so grateful. I know that Better is so magical.
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