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A Family Snack Business Built On Healthy Goals, Work And A Dash Of Serendipity


Chelsea Hults’ childhood food allergies provided her mom, Stefanie, with an education in healthful food and clean eating that ultimately led to the business the mother-and-daughter team run today.

Tosi, which means “true” in Finnish, began in 2012 as a clean-food-supplement business focused on gut health and weight management. The nut-based snacks dubbed “SuperBites” were launched as a little sideline. But as they sometimes do in startups, the sideline quickly became the star.

The plant-based snack bars are low in sugar and made with almonds, cashews and other nuts, chia and flax seeds, for a mix of fiber and healthy fats, the partners say. They’re vegan, gluten-free, certified organic and free of artificial additives.

“We wanted a snack that you could taste the ingredients in, that was really important to us. These had a great mouthfeel and the benefits of really great nutrients.”

“Our first year in SuperBites were about 98% of our sales,” Stefanie says. “We were like ‘Wow, we seem to be in the snack industry.”

Stefanie reached out to local retailers, did in-store demos and enjoyed a bit of serendipity when a woman who used to shop for Oprah’s favorite things reached out and requested that Tosi supply SuperBites as snacks at the Academy Awards. The bars were backstage, in the green room and everywhere else the stars were out on Oscar night.

The timing has been right for Tosi to grow. The global market for healthy snacks topped $23 billion last year, and it’s projected to show strong growth through 2025, according to Grand View Research.

“Now there are lots of high-profile people who love our products,” she says.

The SuperBites come in single and double servings in clear plastic wrapping inside cardboard sleeves that stand upright. There were concerns at first that the unconventional packaging would keep the bars off store shelves. Instead, they stand out from the increasingly crowded snack bar field.

As demand grew and the business took off, it took over Stefanie’s home for a while. Early on, she funded the startup with help from friends and family, and later from high-interest loans that seemed the only way to keep it all going.

Then, more serendipity.

Chelsea had signed on full-time to do the marketing and she was building a social media presence that caught the eye of partners at Cambridge Companies, an investment firm that specializes in consumer packaged goods and food and beverage startups.

That was two years ago, and today Tosi is a Cambridge portfolio company alongside other brands including Vive Organics, Matchabar and Powerful Foods.

Tosi’s sales have been growing by about 50% annually, Stefanie says, and earlier this year the company launched four new SuperBites flavors, a process that can be complicated a bit by the company’s commitment to ethical sourcing.

“It takes time to find the right people who can provide really high-quality ingredients,” Stefanie says.

Having a financial partner brought more than funding. The expertise in brand building has been priceless, Stefanie and Chelsea say. Today, Tosi’s bars are in retailers around the country, and the company is also building its direct-to-consumer sales online. It has also partnered with a distributor in Dubai to grow international sales.



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