Why did you decide to raise from the crowd via Republic?
Our customers are our lifeblood, and I want them involved as a bigger part of the company. I want them to feel like they are part of what we are building.
Our early adopters helped us build the company to where it is today. They stuck with us through a rebrand and were involved in that process. I thought it was only fair to let them get involved from an ownership perspective.
I also believe there is something special about “building in public” and building a community. We exist to empower people to live healthier lives. In order to do that, we need a community around us that believes in the same mission—and we are cultivating that.
What’s your team culture like?
I want to empower everyone to live healthier lives. That doesn’t just mean eating better snacks. Small changes lead to big results—that is the culture we are building. It is built on empowering healthier living, both physically and mentally.
We also like to have fun (our name is HA!, after all!) If we can have fun together, we can win together.
What’s the inspiration behind HA! Snacks?
I'm a self-proclaimed “snackaholic”—I love eating snacks. However, the snacks I used to eat didn’t love me back. I searched for healthier options to satisfy my cravings, but their flavor left me feeling... underwhelmed.
That’s what led to my HA! moment. I set out to create a snack I would crave, that would also help me meet my nutritional goals. HA! was born and I never looked back.
When I started the R&D process, I made a promise to myself: if I couldn’t get the product to taste great, I wasn’t going to pursue it. The process took six months, but we finally got it right.
How do you handle risk and competition?
I consider myself to have a high risk tolerance—as long as the reward is worth it. I don’t want to be left wondering, “what if?”
As for competition, it’s healthy and necessary. If there isn’t any competition for your product, is there really a market? Competition brings out the best in you as an individual and in your team.
If we continue to make a good product, take care of our customers, and be a positive addition to people’s lives, the rest will take care of itself.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
I didn’t fully appreciate the importance of networking, but now I understand its value and have learned to embrace it.
What’s surprised me the most about the natural CPG space is other people’s willingness to help. It really is a special ecosystem of founders, operators, and investors. I never would have experienced this community if I hadn’t learned to put myself out there and meet people.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Play golf! Although, now that I have 4 kids, I have less time for that and make more time for them. They are getting to the age where they can play, so we like to do that together now!
Who are your mentors, and what have they taught you?
I have many! I think the biggest thing they have taught me is to surround yourself with people that are where you want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years. If you want to be somewhere in your life or career, find people that are already there and learn from them.
What advice would you have for first-time founders?
Founding a company and building from scratch is hard—a lot harder than you think it will be. You will have more bad days than good days. What successful founders have in common is grit: they never give up, even when maybe it seems like they should.
You have to take adversity as a challenge, rather than as a failure.