For Emily Griffith, entrepreneurship has been a journey of both triumphs and challenges. Like many founders, she started without startup experience or capital and had to figure out how to survive along the way.
The idea behind Lil Bucks was born in Australia a few years ago. Emily was working at an advertising agency in Sydney when she got introduced to buckwheat as a healthy alternative to sweet snacks like granola. She fell in love with it immediately.
When Emily came back to the United States, she noticed that there weren’t any brands selling buckwheat as a snack in the Midwest.
Upon further research, she discovered that the country was lacking functional food options that also taste good. On top of that, she learned that while 75% of Americans were eating healthy snacks, they didn’t want to sacrifice taste or texture for nutrition.
She felt there was a gap in the market and that her buckwheat idea was the best option to fill it.
In 2018, Lil Bucks was officially born from a desire to offer real solutions to modern nutrition needs.
Keep reading to learn how Lil Bucks has managed to quadruple their revenue from 2019 to 2020 while providing healthier grain options in the US and supporting sustainable farming.
Functional food that doesn’t require you to sacrifice taste
Functional food is predicted to grow by 7.9% annually through 2025, with Functional Bakery & Cereal being the second-largest category growth driver.
As we mentioned earlier, the average American prioritizes taste over nutrition. The growing popularity of functional food and the appeal of Lil Bucks’ are fueling their unique value proposition.
They are on a mission to promote sprouted buckwheat as a snack. This superfood surpasses some of the strongest competitors in the snack market, which are either nutritious or tasty, but not both.
Lil Bucks’ products combine the best of both sides. This strong differentiation has allowed them to quadruple their revenue from 2019 ($35k) to 2020 ($141k YTD Nov 2020).
As a bonus, the buckwheat plant is a cover crop that is good for the soil, which makes it an easy product to get behind. Emily says she believes that this product should be in all pantries across America, and from what we have seen, she is working hard to get it there.
Never forget that you are creating products for customers
Lil Bucks’ product lines sell in 168 stores across the nation, primarily in the Midwest, but also in Hawaii and iconic stores like Erewhon in LA and Grassroots Juicery in NYC.
“I think so many people will often forget that they're creating products for customers,” says Emily, “The real grassroots kind of way of being an entrepreneur is saying, like, ‘I'm going to create something that is going to actually resonate with you that you want to buy and put in your pantries’”.
This customer-oriented approach has made Lil Bucks iterate their message and offering so they can truly resonate with their prospects and target customers. It has worked well for them. They even give this approach the credit for the development of their second product line.
It all comes down to their basic purpose: they are on a mission to make things better for everyone.
Diving into Lil Bucks’ fundraising journey
Emily acknowledges that fundraising was a massive learning experience for her.
She started Lil Bucks at age 25, and in her own words, “I did it with no startup experience or clue of how anything worked”.
As things started to go bigger, Emily raised a small friends-and-family round, which helped them close important deals with their first grocery store chain.
Very soon after that, Emily found herself spending almost 50% of her time fundraising, talking to investors, and pitching her company.
In October 2020, Emily was introduced to Republic. At that point, she says, “I was full 100% in fundraising to make sure we stay alive”. The rest is history. “So, fortunately, the Republic campaign exceeded my wildest dreams”.
Lil Bucks plans to expand to 500+ retail stores in 2021 and is projecting nearly 6x YOY growth based on their current velocities and secured distribution.
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This content is provided for educational purposes only by Republic. Nothing discussed should be construed as legal, tax, accounting, or investing advice. The views of the presenters may not be the views of Republic and its affiliates. Always consult with trusted professional advisors before making investments. Private investments are inherently illiquid and may result in a total loss. All rights reserved.
Emily Griffith, Founder of Lil Bucks, a past food and beverage investment opportunity on Republic