Category Archives: News from our Companies

Chris Hickey Joins D’s Naturals as CEO

2x Partners announced today:

We could not be more excited to have recently partnered with D to further accelerate growth of the innovative D’s Naturals products. The first step here was helping D to begin to build out the team with A+ talent like Chris Hickey. We are thrilled to welcome Chris to the No Cow revolution.

See a message that D recently shared with the team:

I’m excited to share that Chris Hickey has joined me as the CEO of D’s Naturals. As many of you know, I recently took in an investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners and the 301 INC team at General Mills. A big part of that was to help with the things I couldn’t do entirely on my own, as I was practically operating as a one-man army. Bringing on someone as talented as Chris is just the first of many accomplishments we’ll have together, and allows me to finally focus on transitioning the company from a product to a platform. I’m pumped to be working alongside Chris, as we create a No Cow revolution!

About Chris:
Most recently, Chris was the CEO of The Isopure Company which he grew from $50MM to $100MM in 3 years and led a successful exit to Glanbia plc. Previous to that, Chris spent the last 12 years in the health and wellness space, having started his Marketing and General Management career at General Mills working on brands like Total cereal and Fiber One. Outside of his extremely successful track record, Chris brings along his electrifying passion and extreme grit, which are just a couple of the rare yet essential traits he possesses.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-hickey-51a354a

Regards,
D Katz
Founder, D’s Naturals
513-404-6494 | d@dnaturals.com | www.dnaturals.com
1526 Blake Street, Suite 200, Denver, CO 80202

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About D’s Naturals
Created by Daniel Katz at only 18-years old, D’s Naturals was founded on a mission to redefine natural nutrition with its line of plant-based foods designed to fuel an active lifestyle. Made with simple ingredients like brown rice and pea protein, No Cow protein bars and Fluffbutter protein-infused nut butters are vegan, non-GMO, and free of gluten, dairy, lactose and soy. Products are available nationally at Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, CVS, local fitness centers serviced by Europa Sports as well as on Amazon and the company website. To learn more please visit www.myNoCow.com.

gDiapers: gRegal Limited

Special limited edition gPants seen below gets rave review from UK’s Daily Mail.

A baby enjoying his gRegal gPants

Prince Charles has long been an outspoken campaigner on environmental issues, and has discussed the responsibility he feels at the prospect of becoming a grandfather and handing ‘an increasingly dysfunctional world’ on to his grandchildren.

So he’ll be thrilled to hear that gNappies, the ‘eco-dorable’ brand of planet-hugging baby nappy, has created a limited edition regal variety. Perfect for tiny royal bottoms. And just in time for the impending birth of HRH The Baby of Cambridge.

And Kate and William’s baby would certainly look the part in gNappies’ gRegal gPants, made from plush purple velour and decorated with the company’s small embroidered ‘g’.

Read the rest at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2350784/Eco-friendly-gNappies-given-regal-makeover-time-Duchess-Cambridges-Royal-baby.html.

MegaFood: Company Receives non-GMO certification

MegaFood Blood Builder, Wild Blueberry, Magnesium, Calcium, and Calcium Magnesium and Potassium whole food supplement products have received the Non-GMO Project VERIFIED seal from the Non-GMO Project, which is a third party certification program that assures a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO (genetically modified organism) avoidance. Additionally, the Non-GMO Project has recognized the FoodState manufacturing facility, where the MegaFood products are made, as a certified handler of non-GMO materials and products.

http://www.megafood.com/press-releases/megafood-receives-non-gmo-project-verified-seal-for-whole-food-supplements.

Orabrush: WSJ Fighting Canine Halitosis, Orabrush Goes to the Dogs

FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL – February 25, 2013, 11:00 AM ET

By Timothy Hay

Is Orabrush a small-town company that makes tongue scrapers, or a digital marketing guru that has blazed new trails in e-commerce brand-building?

The company says it is both, and this week will extend its strange business model even further with the launch of a new product–and accompanying YouTube channel–aimed at ameliorating dogs’ stinky breath.

Orabrush
Orabrush’s new Orapup tongue scraper for dogs.

If the new channel, Orapup, performs like the company’s first YouTube endeavor, it will prove that big budgets and high-production values are sometimes no match for a few creative people sitting around together in a room–even if that room is in Provo, Utah, a town known less for tinseltown glamor than for Brigham Young University and a Mormon missionary-training center.

That channel, used to promote the company’s tongue scrapers for human, easily brushed past sponsored channels created by Apple, Walt Disney and other household names, and now boasts some 53 million views.

A couple of years later, the Orabrush channel–with its dozens of skits and short, serialized programs–is still out in front of the likes of Sony and Pixar, Chief Executive Jeff Davis said.

The efforts of the small company’s marketing department–later augmented by reams of user-submitted videos–pushed sales of the tongue scraper for humans through the roof, he added.

Now Orabrush has developed a tongue scraper for dogs, and has asked its marketing department–12 or so people who are 30 and under–to once again work that magic.

The dog-related tongue-scraping channel has been up for a few months, and the early signs are encouraging, the CEO said.

Orabrush
Jeff Davis, chief executive of Orabrush.

“We already have more views than [sponsored YouTube channels by] Iams and Purina,” Davis said. “We also already have more than 30,000 orders.”

The Orapup tongue scraper is designed in such a way that the pet owner merely holds it out, and the dog cleans its own tongue by thoroughly licking the gadget. The set-up has opened the gate to a practically unlimited number of cute videos that can be uploaded by the company or the users.

“We use a reverse-marketing model. We create awareness online, then think about distribution second,” Davis said, adding that this week the company will begin distributing.

The company has raised about $2 million from True Ventures and 2X Products Consumer Growth Partners, the CEO said, and has banked an additional $750,000 from other sources, including crowdfunding.

At the company–which is one part tongue-scraper design company, one part indie film studio–optimism about the new venture is running high.

“Pet owners are awesome,” the CEO said.

Write to Timothy Hay at timothy.hay@dowjones.com

Beanitos: Huffington Post picks Beanitos as Top 5 Food Trend business

Coming out of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), the world’s largest annual meeting of food and nutrition professionals, Huffington Post identified the top five food trends spotted at FNCE 2012.

Over 8,000 registered dietitians, nutrition researchers, policymakers, health-care providers and industry leaders attend this four-day event. Each day is packed with research, educational presentations, lectures, debates, panel discussions and culinary demonstrations.

The expo portion of the event draws more than 350 food- and nutrition-related exhibitors. It’s here that new products and innovations are launched and food trends come to life.

See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-jackson-blatner-rd-cssd-ldn/healthy-foods_b_1998385.html#slide=1675475 for details.

Tasty Bite: We Taste Every Instant Indian Bite from Tasty Bite

SERIOUS EATS

I wish I knew about Tasty Bite in college. A microwavable, totally vegetarian, and actually tasty convenience food that doesn’t even require a fridge? Yes, this would have made those long work nights far more pleasant. And with takes on Indian classics like dal and vegetable curries that don’t shy away from genuine spicing, they’re among the tastier pouched convenience foods out there.


At about $3.29 each, a single-serving Tasty Bite pouch is pricier than packaged ramen. But it’s even easier to prepare, and tastes nourishing, not just like a cocktail of salt, flavor chemicals, and preservatives. Tasty Bite ingredient lists are easy to read—for the most part they’re just vegetables, legumes, spices, and the occasional dose of dairy.

The Connecticut-based company currently offers about 30 pouched products, mostly heat-and-eat “entrées,” but also microwavable grain dishes and “meal inspirations,” mildly seasoned ingredients like chickpeas that are fully cooked and ready to add to a larger meal. So which ones are the best? We found out the only way we could—by trying them all.

You can see our tasting notes for every pouch in the slideshow above, but here are our general findings to keep in mind:

  • Good grains: There are more cost-effective ways to buy grains like rice and millet in bulk, but we were impressed by the texture and earthy flavor of the grain-based pouches.
  • Lentils, chickpeas, and peas win: Score one for legumes—all three are generally well flavored with creamy textures. We didn’t love every pouch based on these ingredients (there are many), but it’s a decent indicator of success.
  • Paneer and spinach, less so: We’re big paneer fans, and were saddened by the mostly bland and/or rubbery iterations we encountered here. The spinach dishes, for the most part, are overwhelmed by the vegetable’s mineral flavor.
  • Thick sauces are preferable to thin: Thin curries have their places, but not with Tasty Bite. Thicker sauces were more flavorful, and had a more pleasing texture than the thinner ones.
  • Tastiness has no correlation to calories: Tasty Bites range from 200 to 500 calories per pouch.* I was half-expecting our favorite pouches to align with the fattiest of the lot: the ones with doses of oil, nut pastes, or cream. But that just wasn’t so. Generous spicing and clean-tasting grains won us over more than anything else.

* The nutritional information lists a serving as half a pouch, but let’s be real: a single pouch is a single serving.

Our favorites of the bunch? A gentle but assertively spiced Chana Masala, creamy Punjab Eggplant that balances its slow-burn heat with onion sweetness, mild and sweet Vegetable Korma, and nutty Jaipur Vegetables. Pair any of them with Ginger Lentil Rice, Barley Medley, or Zany Multigrain (we know) and you have what we’re happy to call dinner.

Tasty Bite: CEO Insights – Tasty Bite grows on global stage

FAIRFIELD COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Business Journal contributor Brad Scheller recently sat down for a conversation with Ashok Vasudevan, CEO and founder of Tasty Bite (Preferred Brands International L.L.C.), about leading and growing an international food company.

The company, which is based in Stamford and does business as Tasty Bite Preferred Brands International, markets 39 entrees, sauces, rice varieties and meal inspirations — all of which are sold in major grocery chains across the U.S. and worldwide.

The following are excerpts of their conversation.

Scheller: How did your company get its start?

Vasudevan: “The idea actually began when I was an executive at Pepsi. It was a project born out of necessity as one of several ways for Pepsi to discharge its export obligations for its right to doing business in India. Later, when India liberalized its regulations and lifted these conditions, there was no reason for Pepsi to engage in these crazy activities which weren’t core to their business and an opportunity door opened. We saw this opportunity at the center of three mega trends: health and natural foods becoming more popular, convenience foods becoming more important and the desire for choice and variety in foods expanding as our international palates evolve.”

Talk about the challenges of running a global company.

“Culture is a big challenge. We operate in three countries – Australia, India and the U.S. — and the cultures in the three are quite different. The U.S. culture is to be direct. The Aussies tend to a small English penchant for elocution and the Indians have a certain way of saying no. It’s almost impolite to say to no, but it’s implied. Word choice and meaning of words are a big challenge. Take for example a simple saying like ‘I don’t care.’ In the U.S. it means you have a choice, either way is fine, I don’t care. From an Indian perspective, ‘I don’t care’ is an obnoxious thing to say. It literally means I don’t care – about you. It’s rude. So you can’t say that I don’t care. You say I’m indifferent to the outcome or the choice you make. You decide.”

What are the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned over the years?

“Eyes on, hands off when you can. I think of leadership and followership as almost the same thing which is a bit non-intuitive at first. I think of good leaders as first being good followers. If you hire people who are smarter than yourself this is a very important thing. I think I’ve been immensely successful in one thing – everybody on the senior leadership team is way smarter than I am. I have no hesitation in saying that — whether it’s their quality of education, experience or their expertise. So if you’re successful in doing that as a ‘leader,’ your first job is to be a good follower. And that you do if you keep your eyes on and your hands off.”

How do you think about failure in your organization?

“We talk about empowerment. We don’t say empowerment is the right to make decisions. We say that empowerment is the right for you to make the wrong decision. Empowerment is your right to make a mistake. Then you are truly empowered. Anybody can be in power as long as they continually make good decisions. The point is you don’t. You make mistakes. And if you make mistakes and you’re bitten you hesitate the next time. So we say empowerment is your ability to make a mistake and not get called on it. We learn from it by questioning the assumptions behind that decision.”

Let’s talk about hiring. How do you do it?

“We think of it as a triangle — education, experience and expertise. We have a job description for every job. The major aspects of the job, the objectives for each job and the tasks required for each job. Whether we brief a recruiter or internally, it is very clear what criteria we are looking for.

“When we begin looking at the people, we look at each of those three points on the triangle. The values we place on education here are disproportionate to the others. There is a bias towards high quality education. Second is experience: We like and value large corporate experience and entrepreneurial experience. The third area is expertise. We need domain expertise. Can you hold a training class on that subject? Are you an expert?”

How do you motivate your employees?

“We are big into awards. Anybody here can sponsor an award. It can be within a function, it can be cross-functional or it can be cross-company. And anybody can nominate anybody for an award. Our theory is that people feel good not only when they are awarded, people feel as good when they are the ‘awarder.’ You want to transform incentives from receiving the award to giving the award. This gives you a certain sense of well being. We encourage people to nominate at any point in time.”

Orapup: Utah company’s tongue cleaner wages war on doggy breath

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Oct 03 2012 09:32 am

Orabrush Inc. is launching another product — a tongue cleaner for dogs.

The Provo-based company caused an online sensation a couple of years ago when it dressed up a scruffy-looking guy as a giant tongue to promote what was then its only product — a brush that could be used to clean the bacteria off a person’s tongue to prevent bad breath.

It’s new product, dubbed Orapup, follows along the same line.

“Soon after we launched Orabrush in 2009, many of our customers began asking when a version would be available for their dogs,” Jeff Davis, CEO of Orabrush, said in a statement. “The Orapup has been near to the heart of our founder [Robert “Dr. Bob” Wagstaff] for some time, and was a natural addition to the product line.”

The new product, according to the company, combines soft pointed bristles with four in-line scrapers, which collect and remove bacteria from a dog’s tongue. A formula to help prevent gum disease and reduce tartar is applied to the surface of the Orapup to entice dogs to lick the brush, allowing them to clean their own tongues.

Orabrush said its new product, which will retail for around $15, is scheduled to hit store shelves early next year.

MegaFood: Dr. Weil Partner for Integrative Health and Education

VITAMIN RETAILER, September 2012

MegaFood (Derry, NH) and Dr. Andrew Weil have entered into a partnership to bring science-based educational programs and products to natural products retailers and their customers.

“MegaFood’s attention to detail, passion for wellness and commitment to science and quality in bringing ingredients from whole foods to a supplement line are all reasons why I decided to partner with them,” said Weil. “Many of their supplements are already in line with my recommendations, so it is a good fit.”

Some of the projects currently in the works include the development of new supplements for men, women and children.Weil and Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, chief medical officer for Weil Lifestyle (Phoenix, AZ), are working as direct advisors to MegaFood’s supplement formulations.An educational program for retailers based on Weil’s latest book, Spontaneous Happiness, is also in the queue to be launched at Expo West 2013.

“We believe that education is the sound foundation upon which great relationships are built in this industry,” said Robert U. Craven, CEO of MegaFood.“Our partnership with Weil Lifestyle will help fill in the information gap between manufacturers and retailers and, more importantly, retailers and their customers.”

MegaFood will not be launching any products carrying Weil’s name or image. Craven said it is a mutual goal of MegaFood and Weil Lifestyle to maintain individual brand credibility while working together with a shared vision for an integrative approach to health.

gDiapers: 26 Green Entrepreneurs Who Are Helping Our Environment

FROM IDEA MENSCH

Jason Graham-Nye, Co-Founder of gDiapers

Australian-born and the co-founder and CEO of gDiapers, Jason Graham-Nye, has turned his commitment to making the planet greener and healthier into an environmentally friendly hybrid diaper company. One diaper, two options: reusable cloth and a biodegradable disposable. Graham-Nye launched gDiapers with his wife Kim in 2005, and has been nurturing the company into a growing success every year since.

Orabrush: As Seen on YouTube! Orabrush Reinvents the Infomercial

Wired Magazine
May 21, 2012

We’ve all spent a sleepless night channel surfing at 3a.m. Flicking around at that hour, you’re sure to come across an infomercial for a Revolutionary Floor Cleaner or an Abs-of-Steel Machine urging you to be one of the first 500 callers and get a free set of steak knives. Bolstered by breathless, off-their-meds hosts, these feature-length commercials are wildly profitable. (Americans bought more than $91 billion worth of products hawked on TV in 2011). Now Orabrush, a 20-person company based in Utah, is using that formula to become the QVC of YouTube.

The Orabrush, as you might have guessed from the picture, is a tongue scraper. Invented by Dr. Bob Wagstaff, the product is essentially a modified toothbrush with a wider head. While it may be effective in scraping bacteria and other gunk off your tongue to cure bad breath, it’s not an easy sell. Dr. Wagstaff tried to hawk it for eight years, spent $40,000 on a slick TV infomercial, and sold about 100 units.

Frustrated by his lack of traction, Wagstaff visited a class of MBA students to get new marketing ideas.

One student, Jeffrey Harmon, argued that the Orabrush should be marketed on the web. Wagstaff disagreed, but still paid Harmon $500 to produce a video to test his hypothesis. Over a hundred YouTube videos later, Harmon heads up the marketing team that has helped Orabrush sell 2.1 million units and land national retail distribution at Walmart.

This tiny company with a single wince-inducing product has more online viewers than P&G, Crest and every other product in the oral care category, combined.

With crowdfunding and access to production services, it has never been easier to bring a product to market. But that ease also creates noise and competition. As Dr. Wagstaff’s experience proves, many inventors fail to consider marketing until it’s too late.

Shooting a quirky video for your product doesn’t ensure it will go viral. “Only one in a 1,000 videos go viral,” Harmon says, “and even people who have had viral videos can’t usually repeat them.”

Only one in a 1,000 videos go viral, Harmon says.

So what was Orabrush’s secret sauce? Harmon offered a few tips:

Inventors should make videos that tell compelling stories about their product and experiment with different approaches until sales improve. Orabrush tested video formats that included technical demonstrations and other, more surreal fare.

One series was a soap opera starring Morgan “The Foul-Mouthed Tongue” who was constantly alienating potential love interests with his surly attitude and horrible halitosis. This cheeky, low-budget series starring a guy in a foam rubber suit generated 300 percent more views than all of the high-budget commercials on the supposedly youth-focused, YouTube friendly Mountain Dew channel.

Don’t underestimate the optimization process. Orabrush videos look casual, but take days to write and shoot, and often require months of refinements, edits and testing before they go live.

This high barrier to entry gives creatives a huge advantage. It’s relatively easy for entrepreneurs to experiment with pay-per-click or banner ads, but making a video requires specialized skills.

Forget the focus group. Use your video channel to find out what customers think. Hundreds of Orabrush users have posted testimonials on YouTube that provide the team with constant feedback and video footage of their product in use.

This wealth of customer data has led to a number of product improvements. For example, the bristle pad was originally white, because Dr. Wagstaff thought dental tools should look sterile, but that made it hard to see the gunk — the holy grail of obsessive oral hygiene. In response, Harmon introduced vibrantly colored bristles. The gunk now took center stage, making the product seem more effective.

YouTube is the new cable. Top stars on YouTube get more views on each of their uploads than Jay Leno or Conan O’Brien get on TV. According to Harmon, a respectable cable TV channel has approximately 400,000 viewers who watch regularly. Orabrush gets 185,000 — for a tongue scraper.

In other words, if you’re building a product or are part of a company that’s preparing to launch one, your marketing plan should set its sights one thing only: earning the badge “As Seen on YouTube.”

gDiapers: Part of Gwyneth Paltrow’s 7 essential baby products!

For the mother-to-be

In the past few months we’ve received lots of reader requests for a goop issue on pregnancy, and so we got to work on the subject. Below are all my essentials plus our most recent sources of inspiration for everything from wearable maternity clothing to putting together a nursery.
Love,
gp

gDiapers: A ridiculously cute eco-friendly diaper system. Choose one or two outer layer diapers that you can use over and over again and then replace the inner layer with biodegradable refills or washable cloth inserts (both viable eco options). The diapers come in lots of great colors and patterns.

Source: Goop.com

MegaFood: Future of Healthy Living: – MegaFood Named Brand to Watch in 2012

MegaFood was named one of the 5 brands to watch in 2012 by New Hope.

Naturally, supplement manufacturers don’t want to be left out of the action, so more and more are launching products derived from whole food ingredients that are as far away from synthetic nutrients as organic fruit is from Froot Loops. This trend taps into the back-to-basics mentality we are seeing emerge in the world of health and wellness. You want real nutrition? Eat real food—and, if you need to, reinforce what you do eat with naturally derived, food-based supplements.

MegaFood is a leader in the whole food supplement space and well positioned to benefit from growing consumer interest in whole food nutrition. The brand, which is owned by BioSan Laboratories and recently received a cash infusion from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, is making particularly strong headway in the children’s supplement category with its Kid’s One Daily. The product is a whole food vitamin and mineral tablet that breaks away from the trend of loading children’s supplements with sugar.

Thanks to Monsanto and the pharmaceutical giants, a division is forming in the market between science-based approaches to nutrition in the form of bioengineered supplements and the purer, more natural approaches found in organic, whole and raw foods. In addition, consumer fears of engineered food villains such as GMOs and synthetic additives have started to push people away from the supplement world and more toward food.

Orabrush: USA Today named Product to Watch for 2012

Orabrush was named one of 10 new products to watch for in 2012 by USA Today.

Gosh, I’m smart.  That’s how the big consumer-packaged-goods players — from Procter & Gamble to Kraft to Kimberly-Clark — want you to feel about yourself for buying the new household products that they’ll be rolling out in 2012.

Some will try to make you feel smart for saving money. Some, for saving time. And some for being a tad ahead of the cultural curve. New products are the life blood of brands — making them even more crucial in a topsy-turvy economy. The goal in 2012 isn’t just to get you to buy the new product, but also to nudge you to very publicly gloat on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube about how savvy you were to make the purchase.

Not only is it free advertising, it’s the most effective kind. It’s where we increasingly go to find out about new products. The number of folks who turned to social media as a source to learn about new products more than doubled over just the past year — from 24% in 2010 to 49% in 2011, reports a new study by Sentient Decision Science for Schneider Public Relations.

“Smart is the ultimate weapon in social volleyball,” says trends spotter Marian Salzman. “It’s the new game people play, lobbing 140 characters here, there and everywhere.”

But the great race to catch the public’s fancy with a new food, drink or gadget will almost certainly have fewer entries next year. U.S. product introductions will likely shrink in 2012, projects Mintel, the research giant. They shrank in 2011, too, to about 37,600 vs. roughly 41,000 in 2010, Mintel reports.

In some cases, consumers will even be willing to spend more to get less. “But there must be a benefit that outweighs the ‘less-ness’ of the product,” says Lynn Dornblaser, new products guru at Mintel.

One thing’s for sure in 2012: Whatever you’re selling had better do what it claims to do. Or it’ll take social media heat.

The key trend-within-the-trend of 2012’s new products is this simple consumer demand of new product makers: Prove it. So says Dornblaser. “Companies must be crystal clear with consumers on everything,” she says.

At the same time, many products will continue to shrink. Companies can charge less for stripped-down products made with less material.

“Less is less,” says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights editor at Datamonitor, the research specialist.

Here are 10 key trends — and some products latching onto them — that appear to have potential to be hits in 2012:

//

#10:  Weird hygiene. We have gotten used to wacky whitening strips and flavored fluoride rinses. But does the thought of brushing your tongue sound icky?

Get ready to brush.

A tiny brand called Orabrush last year rolled out via social media and caught fire, convincing millions to buy its $4.99 tongue-cleaning brush. Now, in 2012, it’s rolling out a companion Orabrush Tongue Foam that uses natural enzymes to rid the mouth of bacteria — and bad breath.

See online at http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Hot+products+and+marketing+trends+for+2012/G3190.

Tasty Bite: Awarded VEGETARIAN TIMES Reader’s Choice Award

No time to scour natural-food stores and supermarkets for the very best buys? No worries. This year, Vegetarian Times staffers spent many an afternoon sipping, slurping, and nibbling our way down the aisles, sampling foods and ingredients old and new. We then nominated 114 products and asked you, our readers, to choose your favorites.

Boy, did you come through—with more than 170,000 votes cast at vegetariantimes.com.

READER’S CHOICE AWARDTasty Bite Vegetable Korma
We heart the generous veggie-to-sauce ratio in this shelf-stable heat- and-eat superstar.

Orabrush: Expansion to Walmart profiled in Ad Age

A New Way to Walmart Shelves: Social Media

How Orabrush Bucked Traditional Model of Distribution, Then Marketing by Using Facebook and YouTube First

Getting a packaged-goods brand into Walmart or other national distribution may never quite be the same, as demonstrated by how a bootstrap marketer of tongue cleaners worked its way onto Walmart’s shelves using social media.

Orabrush, which for the first two years of its existence was a lot better at generating YouTube views and publicity than actual sales, has landed the biggest of national accounts — Walmart — thanks to its deft and low-cost use of social media. Specifically, the brand leveraged more than 39 million views of its funny YouTube videos and a $28 campaign of Facebook ads directed mainly at a Walmart buyer to land distribution in 3,500 Walmart stores this month.

While the same exact tactics probably won’t work for another brand, the success of Orabrush is an indicator of how much social media can change the game in a seemingly staid industry dominated by giants, according to Andrew Whitman, managing partner of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, a Chicago-based private-equity firm that invests in startup packaged-goods companies, including Orabrush. “The game has totally changed,” he said, adding that low-cost social-media strategies “have leveled the playing field dramatically.” In the same way music acts now launch themselves without mediation by major record labels, he said startup packaged-goods brands can bypass the usual channels and overcome some — but not all — of the big marketing and distribution advantages of established behemoths.

In the case of Orabrush, the brand won national distribution at Walmart with little conventional marketing or its executives ever meeting a buyer face to face. Founded in 2009 in Salt Lake City, Orabrush last year was contacted by a Walmart store manager in Utah who wanted to give the product a try in his store. Under a policy revived under Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, the manager had the authority to do so. He in turn convinced about 20 others in Utah after a store tour to try Orabrush, which used the data from those sales to sway executives at Walmart headquarters.

But it was still hard to get an audience with the buyer. So Orabrush Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Harmon earlier this year bought $28 worth of Facebook ads targeted at Walmart employees in Northwest Arkansas reading: “Walmart employees have bad breath. Walmart needs to carry Orabrush. It will sell better than anything in your store.” The Facebook campaign proved a lot more effective than $20,000 in print ads in retail trade magazines, which only generated calls from other trade magazine sales reps, Mr. Harmon said.

Within 48 hours of launching the Facebook ad, Mr. Harmon got an email from the buyer, who said her VP also had seen it and believed it was being directed at Walmart employees nationwide. The buyer, after also seeing a DVD and sales kit on the Orabrush story, placed an order for 735,000 tongue cleaners shipped last month.

A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed the distribution in 3,500 stores, but said she couldn’t immediately confirm details of the negotiations or how the deal came about.

In part, the strategy harks to a bygone era in packaged-goods marketing — the 1950s — when marketers would force distribution by first turning on advertising and getting consumers to pressure retailers. Inquiries from consumers who saw the exploits of Orabrush’s “Morgan the Tongue” on YouTube, for example, led U.K. retailer Boots to place an order, Mr. Harmon said. National distribution with CVS begins next month, he said, and Orabrush already has distribution in the U.K., Japan and Canada, thanks largely to its YouTube following.

“We have a reverse marketing model,” he said. “Normally you get distribution and your supply chain in order, all your packaging and everything perfected, and then launch an ad campaign and start branding it. We started branding, even changing our logo as we went along and getting everything right messaging-wise, and then two years later we’re in national retail launching to enough demand that the sales are blowing a lot of retailers away.”

That has led to such oddities as nearly 40 million YouTube views, 300,000 Facebook fans for a brand that has sold only about 2 million units, mainly online. Orabrush also has generated about 30 million media impressions through coverage in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and ABC’s “Nightline.”

Mr. Harmon acknowledged that the tongue-cleaner business has been small and mostly unsuccessful for retailers up to now, leading to some retailer skepticism. But he said YouTube has worked to get Orabrush distribution, and he’ll stick with it to move product off the shelf, too. All the YouTube (and other) advertising has been done in-house, mainly with student filmmakers from Mr. Harmon’s alma mater, Brigham Young University.

Walmart’s local-vendor and “store of the community” policies, while not as wide-open as in the days of Sam Walton, still can be a powerful tool for a startup brand, said one sales rep familiar with the retailer. To the extent social media can inspire people to contact Walmart store managers or buyers to carry an item, it also can help build a case for distribution in a store or nationally.

While in the past Walmart had printed forms customers could fill out requesting an item be carried, today emails directed to the retailer get routed to buyers. That can help influence decisions at the national level. But individual store managers can often be swayed to take on or bring back local items, he said, which in turn can lead to larger regional buys.

Anand Rajaraman, senior VP global e-commerce for Walmart, said at the Advertising Age Digital West conference Sept. 20 that social media will be a key determinant of what local stores carry in the future.

“We’re analyzing social information from the neighborhood area of each store to figure out how the interests of that community should dictate what we carry in that store,” he said. “We might find the Walmart store in Mountain View, Calif., should have a bigger bike section because lots of people bike in that area, while the store in Bentonville, Ark., should have a bigger fishing section.”

Sales data can tell Walmart about the past and products it already carries, he said, but “they don’t give us information about new products, and they aren’t a demand predictor.”

Walmart is clearly emphasizing product innovation, said another sales rep, but last year’s effort to reverse assortment cutbacks is largely finished in many areas, such as grocery. Any kind of grassroots effort to build social-media support for a new product, he said, will only work in categories where it isn’t already well stoked, which is hard. And marketers need to be prepared, like Orabrush, to produce large quantities quickly, he said, because the retailer is working with far less lead time than it once did.

See full article at http://adage.com/article/digital/a-walmart-shelves-social-media/230126.

Orabrush in WSJ: How a Start-Up Landed Shelf Space at Wal-Mart

By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN

Can a YouTube video bring in big business? If it goes viral, it just might.

[See the video that started it all at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oKYeWf3dPA].

On Tuesday, Provo, Utah-based Orabrush Inc. announced its flagship product – a tongue cleaner – would be carried in 3,500 of Wal-Mart Inc.’s 3,800 U.S. stores thanks to a social-media campaign launched two years ago.

Orabrush initially marketed its tongue cleaners directly to consumers with a TV infomercial in mid-2008, according to founder Bob Wagstaff, who invented the product. But the strategy didn’t perform well.

“We spent $40,000 on it and sold practically nothing,” says the 76-year-old, who next cold-called several large retailers, asking them to carry the product, to no avail.

Unsure why his efforts failed, Mr. Wagstaff approached a marketing professor at Brigham Young University about his dilemma. The professor agreed to let Mr. Wagstaff solicit students for suggestions on how to get the word out. One student suggested creating a YouTube video and volunteered to take up the task. Mr. Wagstaff accepted the offer, which resulted in a comedic two-minute video that cost about $500 to make. It quickly went viral and a series of related videos also made by the same student, now Orabrush’s chief marketing officer, followed soon after.

Today, the company has its own YouTube channel that boasts more than 39 million views and 160,000 subscribers, who get alerts whenever a new video is posted to it. The channel, called Cure Bad Breath, is the third most popular YouTube channel behind OldSpice (No. 1) Apple (No. 2), according to Vidstax.com, a Web-analytics firm. Orabrush also has nearly 300,000 fans on Facebook, which the company uses to promote its videos.

Cure Bad Breath features 88 original shorts, all comedies, with titles like “Diary of a Dirty Tongue,” “World’s Biggest Tongue,” and “Is Your Tongue Kissable? Does Your Breath Stink?” The company’s more recent videos are slicker than the originals and cost more to produce — between $3,000 and $5,000, says Orabrush’s CEO, Jeff Davis. Most of the actors in them are college students and recent graduates, which are also the company’s biggest customers.

Wal-Mart didn’t base its decision to stock the tongue cleaner on Orabrush’s YouTube popularity, says Tara Raddohl, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, but she notes the company’s YouTube videos likely raised its profile among consumers.

Orabrush’s Mr. Davis says he credits the company’s social-media efforts for helping get the tongue cleaner into other retail stores. In some cases, he says store managers approached Orabrush on their own, citing requests for the product from customers who’d learned about it online.

While Wal-Mart didn’t reach out to Orabrush this way, Mr. Davis says, the retailer “knew we had sold almost a million units online before we even talked to them.” He further adds that Orabrush, a 28-employee firm, is on track to post $10 million in annual revenue this year after generating just $2 million in 2010.

Still, posting a video on YouTube far from guarantees success.

Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, says that while it may not take a lot of time or money for a small business to promote itself on a social-media outlet like YouTube, success can be tough to achieve and the odds of a video going viral are slim.

“Making a video that’s interesting and provocative usually requires some degree of skill,” he says. “It has to be something people want to share. That’s what gets it going.”

It also helps to have an affordable product that offers value to the consumer, he adds.

That said, the effort to make a compelling marketing video could pay off in a big way. “If you’re close to closing a deal with a major retailer,” says Mr. Chiagouris, “something like this could put you over the top.”

Link to article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903703604576588621006134658.html.

Orabrush: WSJ – What Aspiring Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Lady Gaga (and Orabrush)

Despite her atypical look and wild antics, Lady Gaga represents a business success story that just about any aspiring entrepreneur can learn from.

The 25-year-old five-time Grammy winner earned $62 million last year, making her the seventh highest-paid musician in the world, estimates Forbes magazine. Her latest record, “Born This Way,” sold 1.11 million copies its first week in North America after launching on May 23, giving the pop singer the largest sales week since 2005. She boasts a range of products, including camera sunglasses for Polaroid and headphones for Dr. Dre, and she’s developed lucrative partnerships with companies like Amazon and Zynga.

Suffice to say, Lady Gaga has demonstrated in just a handful of years the kind of business growth that few entrepreneurs have been able to claim over a lifetime. Here are three tips that can be gleamed from her rise to stardom:

1. It doesn’t take a silver spoon to succeed at a young age.

Like many a first-time entrepreneur, Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, worked her way into the public mainstream from humble beginnings. She wasn’t born into a wealthy family, nor did she have connections to the professional music world. She rose to stardom the old-fashioned way — studying music and dance, performing at small venues and battling rejection. (She was dropped from a record deal with Def Jam Records.) For more, please read “Lady Gaga Inc.”

2. You don’t have to spend money to promote yourself online.

Lady Gaga has amassed an army of fans on Facebook and Twitter, even more than President Obama – all without paying a dime. They also didn’t arrive overnight. The “Fame Monster” initially posted videos to YouTube, becoming the first artist to score more than one billion views on the video-sharing site. While the average entrepreneur may not generate as much buzz with an online song and dance routine, it is possible to build a following with a creative video and without spending much.

Orabrush Inc., a two-year-old Provo, Utah, company did this after a pricey infomercial failed to generate significant sales. The start-up began producing weekly videos about a life-size human tongue to market its tongue-cleaning product, and has since generated more than $1 million in online sales, says Jeff Davis, chief executive officer. What’s more, retailers like a Wal-Mart in Utah and London Drugs Ltd., a Canadian drugstore chain, have started carrying Orabrush. “Consumers started going into retail outlets asking for our product,” Davis says.

3. Supporting a popular cause can make you popular, too.

Lady Gaga has forged deep ties with the gay community by openly protesting the government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning gays from the U.S. military. For example, last year she began campaigning with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to repeal the law with a YouTube video plea and postings on her website. Though it’s unclear how such acts of advocacy might drive sales, experts in cause marketing say even if consumers aren’t big fans of your product or service, they may be inclined to buy from your business if it’s aligned with a cause that’s meaningful to them. In fact, 80% of 1,057 U.S. adults surveyed last July said they’d favor a brand that’s associated with a good cause over another that’s similar in price and quality, according to Cone LLC, a strategy and communications agency in Boston.

Link to article online:  http://blogs.wsj.com/in-charge/2011/06/02/what-aspiring-entrepreneurs-can-learn-from-lady-gaga.

gDiapers: Wins 2010 Green America People’s Choice Award

Port­land Oregon-based gDi­a­pers received Green America’s People’s Choice Award for Green Busi­ness of the Year. Cer­ti­fied Cra­dle to Cra­dle, gDi­a­pers are plastic-free, ele­men­tal chlorine-free, latex free, and per­fume free. gDi­a­pers biodegrad­able gRe­fills can be home com­posted, tossed, or flushed. They are the only cer­ti­fied 100% biodegrad­able dia­per and break down in about 3 months, unlike dis­pos­ables, which can take up to 500 years.

Win­ning the People’s Choice Award is the most reward­ing acco­lade we could receive.  Noth­ing means more to advanc­ing the envi­ron­men­tal cause than the col­lec­tive voice of indi­vid­u­als call­ing for and believ­ing in change.  We are so very grate­ful.”  Kim Graham-Nye, Pres­i­dent and co-founder, gDi­a­pers. “We couldn’t have done it with­out all of the amaz­ing moms and dads com­mit­ted to chang­ing the world, one dia­per at a time.”

The People’s Choice Award win­ners are cho­sen by indi­vid­ual Green Amer­ica mem­bers across the coun­try, who nom­i­nat­ing and vote for their favorite green busi­ness. The award was pre­sented at the San Fran­cisco Green Festival.

The top ten final­ists this year were:

Brittanie’s Thyme (Cedar Springs, MI)
Dig­i­tal Hub (Chicago, IL)
Ecobunga.com (San Fran­cisco, CA)
Faeries Dance (Har­bor City, CA)
Grounds for Change (Poulsbo, WA)
Hazel­nut Kids (Tra­verse City, MI)
Stay Vocal (Nor­well, MA)
Theo Choco­late (Seat­tle, WA)
We Add Up (Wick­liffe, OH)

####

About Green Amer­ica
Green Amer­ica is a national non­profit orga­ni­za­tion founded in 1982, pro­vid­ing the eco­nomic strate­gies, orga­niz­ing power and prac­tic­ing tools for busi­nesses and indi­vid­u­als to address today’s social and envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. Its Green Busi­ness Net­work is the largest national net­work of busi­nesses screened for their social and envi­ron­men­tal respon­si­bil­ity.  www.greenamericatoday.org

Source: Green Busi­ness Network

gDiapers: Inc. Magazine – Building a Family-focused Brand

gDiapers doesn’t stop thinking about kids once they’re toilet trained. The company’s daycare and flex-friendly policies place family time at the brand’s center.

Seven years ago, Jason and Kim Graham-Nye were about to have their first child when they came across an intriguing factoid in the morning paper. They discovered that though only 5 percent of the population uses diapers, they are the third largest landfill contributor. The only real alternative to disposable diapers was cloth diapers, and since those are water-intensive, they were a no-go in the couple’s arid Australia home. Soon they began to see the dearth of biodegradable diapers as a business opportunity and they picked up and moved to Portland, Oregon.

The Graham-Nye’s spoke to Inc. reporter Josh Spiro about the company’s daycare program, maintaining a healthy work-life balance in a family-run business and connecting with their customers via social media.

Read the full article online at http://www.inc.com/articles/2010/08/gdiapers-q-and-a.html.