Startup To Scale

171. Building Daily Crunch with Laurel Orley

June 03, 2024 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 171
171. Building Daily Crunch with Laurel Orley
Startup To Scale
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Startup To Scale
171. Building Daily Crunch with Laurel Orley
Jun 03, 2024 Season 1 Episode 171

Launching a CPG brand is definitely hard, but competing in the highly competitive snacking category is comes with it’s own unique challenges. Laurel Orley, the co-founder of Daily Crunch just launched her sprouted nut snacks in over 450 Target stores nationwide.

In this episode you’ll learn about how she and her team hold themselves accountable through KPIs and weekly check-ins, how to acquire new customers for retail, and more.

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Show Notes Transcript

Launching a CPG brand is definitely hard, but competing in the highly competitive snacking category is comes with it’s own unique challenges. Laurel Orley, the co-founder of Daily Crunch just launched her sprouted nut snacks in over 450 Target stores nationwide.

In this episode you’ll learn about how she and her team hold themselves accountable through KPIs and weekly check-ins, how to acquire new customers for retail, and more.

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Building Daily Crunch with Laurel Orley

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] Launching a CPG brand is definitely art, but competing in the highly competitive snacking category comes with its own unique challenges. Laurel Orley is the co founder of Daily Crunch, and she just launched her Sprouted Nut Snacks in over 450 Target stores nationwide. I've known Laurel for a couple years now, and invited her on to share what she's learned over the past few years.

Laurel, welcome! 

Laurel Orley: I thank you so much for having me, Jordan. And I have loved following everything that you share with us entrepreneurs. Whenever I have someone email me saying I'm launching a new CPG brand, like if you don't follow Jordan, that's step one. So anyway, thank you for having me. 

Jordan Buckner: Well, I definitely appreciate it.

You know, it was kind of funny. I know we're recording this on a Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend, and you're sharing that you're just coming off some busy team calls. I was actually just listening to your interview from a few months ago on the Brands for a Better World podcast with Gage Mitchell.

And you guys talked about using the [00:01:00] traction model for managing your company and that you have these team. meetings to make sure that your company is really staying aligned with your goals. And, you know, I'd love to kind of jump into your story and stuff, but I love to kind of just start there because a lot of our listeners, right.

Our other founders are trying to get ahold of their business. I feel like they're controlling it at least more than it's controlling them. And I'd love for you to share like what that's been like. 

Laurel Orley: Oh my gosh. So must, must, must. I don't like giving advice. I like sharing my experience that I, that's what I've learned from my YPO group, but in my experience after listening to founder's journal podcast about how to have quarterly off sites, I was like, Oh my gosh, like we need to start implementing this.

And I can't take all the credit. Cause our head of marketing, Kenzie, she actually kind of Leave the marching orders on this. But we live and live by this on the team. We actually, every Tuesday do our weekly rocks. So everybody on the team has their rocks of what they're accountable [00:02:00] for.

And I think I'm having a hot mess Tuesday. So. Back from Memorial Day. My son left at three o'clock in the morning to go to Costa Rica on a school trip. So I basically been up all night. I have not done my rocks yet. So that is the first thing I'm doing after I get off this podcast, but if you have 19 minutes to spare, I highly recommend listening to the Founders Journal podcasts on on this episode, I think it was from December and it just has so clearly outlines a way to also hold everybody on the team accountable for their specific KPIs where you each can have check ins every week of like, okay how many, did I do this?

Did I reach my goal? So everything we do is color corded red, yellow, green. This is even, we do velocity check ins every Tuesday of our key stores. So it's like, okay, is this a yellow or red? And we need to know why. Understanding the data understanding also who is doing what. 

Jordan Buckner: I absolutely love that.

And , whether rocks stand for, do you remember? Or , what are they, 

Laurel Orley: rocks are like, you know, kind of, I guess things that get in the way [00:03:00] of what you're able to do to succeed. Oh, okay. I'm sure that if someone like a rock or a boulder in the way. , yeah. I'm sure that somebody who's more privy to.

The process may be telling me, I'm not saying it a hundred percent accurately, but we look at it that way. Like what is it getting in the way of doing what we need to do to succeed as a company this year, three years out, five years out, 10 years out. But it also gives everybody on the team clarity of like, okay, this is who we are as a brand.

This is what we stand for. This is what our goals are this year. This is what our goals are for year three, year five. And it's not just on velocity or not just on, you know, one of the things we track every Tuesday now is gross margin. You know, it evolves as you, you change as a company. So we weren't tracking that and now we are because we're trying to get to break even by next year.

So you know, every company's on their own journey and on their own phase of where they're at. And for us a lot of the focus this year because we're growing so fast is operations and financials. 

Jordan Buckner: I [00:04:00] love that. I know one of the biggest hurdles that founders get into and doing this for a few years is And it's really getting a grasp on their business because as you're growing, you like kind of know your numbers by thinking that the first couple of years it's scary because you're usually losing more money than you're making and sometimes it's kind of scary to actually see those numbers like weekly or daily.

Because you're like, Oh, I know we're growing and we're supposed to be kind of losing money, but it's feels hard, right? Like you're thought you should be making money, not losing money. And a lot of founders, I feel like try to ignore them or kind of push them into the fact they're mine because they don't want to see what they are.

Laurel Orley: Look, when we first launched, we launched during the pandemic. So getting PR and having retailers believe in us, you know, in the beginning was. Everything. And I, I mean, PR is amazing, like, and new retailers are incredible, but now I just, I feel like we also, you know, we're four years in, we're in more than 5, 000 doors.

We have a little bit more, I wouldn't say leverage, but just kind of like what are the retailers that [00:05:00] work for us right now and what are some others that are nice to have, but we know we're going to add a lot of burn. And we, we need to have our gross margins at a certain point. And look, Jordan, I have a co founder and my co founder has a finance background.

And the truth is, is like, I relied on him a lot for the financial part and kind of use that as a handicap of like, Oh, well, you know, I don't need to know it all because Dan knows it. And Dan was just on paternity leave for a couple of weeks. I just went to the Nielsen IQ Pitch Slam where we were top five finalists and we had to pitch in front of people like Kevin O'Leary.

And I was like, Oh, shnikes, I need to know my, our PNL basically in my sleep upside down. And it was actually really good that Dan wasn't there because it made me actually, I have learned so much from a financial standpoint while he was gone because I is, I'm the one who now had to answer everything.

Where I'm like, Oh my gosh, like, all right, like I know it now and it's even more of a point of why it's so important to just [00:06:00] know what, you know, for example, what is an actual, what is a gross margin? How is that different from a regular margin? And you know, what is a good benchmark for emerging brands with your gross margins?

And that is actually, it's 40%. So if you're below 40%, it's like, you got to figure out how to get way, you know, get above 40 percent ASAP. Have a plan. And that's why all we also have these rocks. So one of the things we're doing is we're making a lot of changes on our bags in the fall and that's gonna be affecting our gross margin positively.

We're also finally going from digital bags to plated and that's gonna actually shave off like A big amount I think 10 cents per bag doing that, but we had to make sure that, you know, we weren't going to be making any more changes on bags, but, you know, have a plan and have, you know, set timelines of when you're going to do it.

Who is leading what you know, and I just want to make things happen. For me, my old boss is now the COO of Colgate and her whole thing to [00:07:00] me was like, you know, It's fine and dandy to get all these awards on Unilever, because I worked on Unilever with her. But she's like, at the end of the day, like, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients.

And if you can't get your financials right, nothing else matters. And, and the truth is, she's right. And it's not sexy, it's not glamorous, it's not PR, it's not some big, you know, fancy party. But, You can't get your finances together, especially in this climate it's not gonna look good. So anyway, I'm digressing.

I love that. 

Jordan Buckner: I mean, one thing that I am guilty of myself, which I feel like our industry and others are falling into is we always talk about building a brand. We talk about building our company. We say, Hey, I want to build a new brand. I want to create this. What gets lost and well, I said, what people want to focus on are the marketing, the PR wins, you know, the sales, the new retailers, but they aren't thinking about in terms of how do I build a business with a strong fundamental base underneath the strong foundations, as you mentioned, the [00:08:00] revenue costs, gross margin, how your business is structured, how the team structure, having a focus on those key performance indicators.

That allow you to also have a thriving brand, because for a brand to mean anything, it has to be around for a while, right? If you're a company that's around for two or three years, people will forget about you unless you show up on one of those epic fail lists. And so, in order to have your brand stand for anything, you have to be around long enough for it to matter.

And I think that's been so important and so lost in our industry and others right now. 

Laurel Orley: A hundred percent. Thank you. 

Jordan Buckner: I know that. So you have a lot going on with your business. You mentioned you're working towards breakeven. What do you, what are those things that are getting, well, I guess I wanted to know, where are you kind of heading to for this year?

You have the Target launch. You have a lot of things going on. What are the, the things you're most excited about right now for the business? 

Laurel Orley: I'm smiling right now because we have, I can't say this right now, but I will, you'll be the first to know Jordan when I can share it. Collaborations are just so awesome.

And we, you know, we [00:09:00] collaborated with, you Cleveland Kitchen for our dill pickle sprouted almonds and pepitas. Where we use their pickle ends that are upcycled. And we have a frickin amazing collaboration with a brand that you all know. I've like been geeking over this brand forever.

I don't get like, I don't get like nervous around other founders, but I kind of, when I had a call with this founder, I got, I just was like, it was like, I was like Madonna and an amazing collab with them in the fall with a new retailer, which I also can't share yet. But I, again, Jordan, you're going to know all of this firsthand.

Collaborations are so powerful and consumers get so excited about them. There's also like a lot of, you know, power and newness and like new flavors through the collaborations and I don't know, it's gonna be amazing. But also collaborate, I'm excited about some collaborations with other brands that aren't necessarily, you know, Their product in hours, like we met coconut Colts at Expo West [00:10:00] and we're going to be in their August box.

So I think they have over 3000 subscribers and we're going to be like a surprise and delight in there. And we are also working with some other brands doing similar things where maybe they have a really strong DTC and how can we, you know, how can we partner together to have the consumers have a really positive experience.

Thanks. But also, have them create awareness of Daily Crunch, which they may not have been aware of previously. So, those are two things I'm excited for. I'm actually going to the KeHe holiday show in a few weeks in June. I'm really excited for that. Those are some things I'm immediately looking forward to.

Looking forward to. 

Jordan Buckner: I absolutely love that. And I'm happy that you mentioned collaboration because I think that's one thing that's a real shining light in our industry is that like the founders and the food and beverage, you're just like really awesome and love to like work together and collaborate and you have some really great things that come out of it.

And I've always been a believer that. Yeah, we're all better off working together [00:11:00] versus working against each other. I've even when I ran TeaSquares, right, which are superfood energy bars with tea, I did some work in collaborations with other brands and talk to founders who were in the same space.

Because right, like, If our product's alone on the shelf, that's going to get lost. But if it's part of this larger consideration set, even with like a direct competitor, then we can both win because we're drawing more people there. And that plays into when you're having like flavors come in and other collaborations from cross categories.

So that's really awesome to hear. 

Laurel Orley: Yeah. also, I mean, just to build on that. So like, I think like my tagline has always been, you can't be everything to everyone or you're nothing to nobody, but storytelling is so powerful. So. I never knew Tony's chocolate story before, and I would see them everywhere.

And I'm like, what is the big deal? It's like just another chocolate bar. And then I heard on YouTube which I'm never on YouTube, so I don't know why I was listening to this. The CEO sharing the story and I was like, Oh my God. And now all [00:12:00] I do is buy Tony's chocolate. And we have an incredible story with my aunts learning the process in India bringing that process back, perfecting it even more with our dehydration methods.

And. Also, the story with our mental health angle, just. It's personal to us my aunts, who's my co founder, my, it's three of us her son struggled with bipolar when he was at the University of Michigan 10 years ago, and he lost his life to it. And for her and her family, they've started the support network, which advocates mental health awareness on college campuses, where we give a portion of our proceeds back to the support network.

And we believe what you eat and how you feel go hand in hand to all others back up to brain health. I actually just sent an email out to our company today instilling a new mandate of mental health days. So every quarter the company each employee will get a certain amount of mental health days.

And , you know, you have to recharge your batteries and do things you love, or like we're all going to be burnt [00:13:00] out, especially as, as entrepreneurs. 

Jordan Buckner: I think that's really powerful and so wonderful that you've been able to honor their memory and build that into the company and into the fabric and through , the contributions and also by helping your employees as well, just recognizing that.

So I think that's incredibly powerful. You know, I think as you're talking about storytelling, I found that that's one way that emerging brands are, can differentiate themselves as well and have a.

I'm curious around kind of how your customer base has kind of learned about you and how they buy from you as you grow it over the past four years how many, much of your sales are coming from retail versus like e commerce and have you seen kind of a focus on one or the other, or is it split for you all?

Laurel Orley: Yeah, I mean, our we've typically been 20 percent direct to consumer, 80 percent distributor slash direct. We're a snack brand. It's an impulse purchase [00:14:00] buy. I mean, I also think, you know, while we're now at a point where we're actually leaning in more, a little bit more in social, trying to check out TikTok shop we, you know, we've been also been a pretty lean team that, you know, we actually are in the middle of a series a and it's, you know, we're finally at a point now after four years where we're adding some new team members onto the team.

Yeah. Where we can lean more into DTC to try to find that magic moment that a lot of brands see of like a post going viral or whatever the case is. So while we're still very much testing that it's retailed, it's the brick and mortar, but the thing is, Jordan is like, we're a snack and it's not just, you know, retailers, it's also airports.

So we're in cheapo express OTG. That's a top five retailer for us. Thrive Market is also a top five retailer for us. We're leaning more into relationships and talking with hotels, airlines. Just trying to think outside the box. We have, we're in conversations with a big salad lunch [00:15:00] place. So just like, you know, look at the end of the day, even though we're growing a lot, I think awareness is still a challenge for us.

For us, path to purchase is trial. Consumers try the product, they immediately get that crunch that's very different from a raw or roasted nut. It satisfies kind of like a chip, that they get it. Like, we don't have to explain more, even though there is a lot more about the benefits of sprouted nuts. So we have now a field ambassador team where we're doing Right now, 50 demos a month, and we're going to be doubling that by the end of the year.

So consumers can walk into the store, try us, be like, Oh, this is good. And know exactly where we are on shelf the next time they come in and they want to try a new flavor. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that. I mean, as you know, one of the challenging parts of growing the brand is not just getting on shelf, but it's actually making sure you can sell off of it because it's so much work to get on there.

And so have you found that demos have been one of the most effective drivers , of trial for you or have you found anything else that's like, Hey, whenever we launch in the retailer, we [00:16:00] do X, Y, and Z to kind of start pushing that momentum. 

Laurel Orley: You know, I think that demos work if they're at the right place.

And we've made a lot of mistakes along the way. So one mistake we've recently done that comes to mind is we were demoing in the wrong place. We did a partnership with A sports complex that's really big in Nashville where we're based thinking, Oh my gosh, we'll be the snack company in, you know, in snack of choice for hockey.

And when someone goes to a hockey game, they don't want a healthy snack. They want to drink beer and they want to eat crap. And we did sampling there and it was a bust because that's not where people's mindsets are at the time where they're thinking about having a healthy snack. And for us, it's like, okay, where will this resonate with consumers where they will be in the right mindset and, you know for us, it's a lot of health and wellness places versus maybe typical sport arenas.

So yoga events Pilates studios music festivals, like, I think just resonate a [00:17:00] lot more with people. So yeah. I think it's finding where a consumer is, where they have the mindset to, and they're thinking about how they want to eat well. And when we do that, it does really well for us. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that.

I think that's a great mindset because It's very awesome to be able to like convince everyone , to buy your product. But , the further they are away from being that core customer, the more education it takes, the more time it takes, and ultimately the more money. And there's a lot of people who are already waiting and looking for something like yours, but just your snacks, but haven't discovered it yet.

And those are much easier to pull those into the free early. Well, Laurel, thanks so much for being on today. This is such an amazing conversation and love everything that you're doing. Definitely. I know you'll share any updates in new launches. I'm super excited about these collaborations and a new retailer launch.

So let me know as soon as that happens. 

Laurel Orley: Thank you so much, Jordan, for having me appreciate everything you do. And thanks everybody , for tuning in today.