It wasn’t long after snack brand Crunchsters launched in 2015 that it found a boost from investment group and accelerator AccelFoods. The company, which makes crunchy snacks out of sprouted organic mung beans, has been attracting more and more attention—and investment—since. Founder Frank Lambert talked with New Hope Network about his experience working with an accelerator.
How did you get involved with AccelFoods, and what was your experience raising money before you got involved with them?
Frank Lambert: AccelFoods found Crunchsters at the Naturally Boulder pitch slam competition. They immediately saw the market potential in our addictive taste and high nutritional profile. We were raising friends-and-family funding prior to getting involved with them and continued to do so afterward; however, our visibility and credibility became much greater after involvement with the AccelFoods fund, and it enhanced our ability to raise additional funding.
How has Crunchsters grown since that first involvement, and are there any adjustments to the company, product or brand you've had to make as a result of working with them?
FL: Crunchsters has grown enormously because of working with AccelFoods. They bring an extremely important set of skills and contacts to any food startup—everything from fiscal management to marketing strategy to product positioning and beyond. Since we were very early when we began our involvement with them, it had a tremendously positive impact on us. Their mentor network is invaluable and has provided excellent guidance.
Our branding at the outset was very primitive, and it was completely redone due to our involvement with AccelFoods and the natural evolution of Crunchsters. Our new branding is very unique and has fantastic shelf appeal. We are very proud of it!
We are still making the same unbelievably tasty Crunchsters that we were when AccelFoods found us. People love the high quality of Crunchsters so much that we leave them alone and let them create their loyal customers all by themselves.
Is there anything about working with an accelerator that surprised you?
FL: As investors, AccelFoods surprised us in a number of ways. Their understanding of the complexity and nuance of building the right infrastructure, the art of building a brand, the importance of knowing your numbers, communicating effectively with all stakeholders (especially consumers). There is so much to learn and understand, and they were great in helping us lay the foundation for Crunchsters.
Have you learned any tips you could share on raising money, or for other entrepreneurs who are considering working with an accelerator?
FL: Clearly and concisely articulate to yourself the value proposition that you and your product are offering to the world, to consumers, retailers, distributors and investors. Make sure your story is authentic and make it a part of your soul. Believe in it. Let your belief and your commitment shine through and inspire others. This is the founder's job.
Investors are all urgently looking for energetic founders with big ideas. Let them in, make it win-win for you and for them, and then execute, execute, execute.