David Israel: Founder of GOOD PLANeT Foods

Episode 388

Serial entrepreneur David Israel, Founder of GOOD PLANeT Foods, is here with us today to share more about his latest company in the premium plant-based cheese space. David developed Good PLANet Foods after recognizing that many consumers were choosing to move away from a diet with a heavy emphasis on meat and dairy, but they were still looking for great taste and enjoyment from what they were consuming. The initial products for Good PLANet Foods is plant based cheese products in multiple innovative formats with more categories to come soon. Great vegan products that aren’t too complicated with a great environmental footprint! David’s entrepreneurial journey includes his previous companies, Pop! Gourmet Foods AvoLov/BranchOut, and on this episode, he generously shares a ton of what he has learned along the way. Plenty of good stuff in this episode for sure! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest. Here we have David Israel, who is the founder of good planet foods. And if you are not familiar with good plant foods, we’re going to hear all about it from him directly. But he is going to share a lot about the latest premium plant based cheese space company that he has created. And David is actually a serial entrepreneur. I’m going to let him talk more about his other company that you are probably familiar with that he sold a few years ago. But David developed good planet foods after recognizing that many people were choosing to move away from a diet with heavy emphasis on meat and dairy. And they were still looking for great taste and enjoyment from what they were consuming. So their initial offering is a plant based cheese products in multiple innovative formats, with more categories to come very, very soon. They’re great vegan products that aren’t too complicated with a great environmental footprint that we can all feel great about. And I can’t wait to hear more about David’s journey, but also just the products and the company and some of the stuff that he’s seen along the way as an entrepreneur. So without further ado, welcome, David.

David Israel 2:09
Well, thank you, Kara. It’s really awesome to be here. I’m honored to be on your show. So thank you so much.

Kara Goldin 2:14
Thank you very, very excited. So let’s start by hearing about good planet foods. What is it? How would you describe it to people?

David Israel 2:24
Yeah, well, I mean, from day one, our goal was to create a product one, a brand that connected with the consumer that was coming. And those were the consumers that cared about the environment and cared about their health. We wanted to create a product in the dairy free category, plant based cheese, where vegan cheese, whatever you want to call it, that would really give the experience of real cheese. And the biggest complaint that I had heard when I watched this product was really first, what was out there didn’t melt, didn’t taste good, and had a terrible ingredient deck. So, you know, as an entrepreneur, when I tried the products that were out there, it was pretty easy to say, well, this still be easy. It wasn’t very good, right? So yeah, we created something that really, again, would resonate with the consumer would give them a experience, very close experience to real cheese. And that’s what it was all about.

Kara Goldin 3:22
So you’re a serial entrepreneur, did you ever think you would be known as a serial entrepreneur?

David Israel 3:29
I think by my third or fourth company, I was starting to figure it out. That that’s, you know, it’s funny, because, and I don’t want to get off track here. But I when I was at a trade show, I think a few years ago and I someone asked me a question, and it was either it was an investment firm of some sort. How did you come up with this? How’d you get there? They said, Well, you’re brilliant. I said, if I was brilliant, I probably wouldn’t be doing this right now. Because I just I’m not one of those people that if I see a hurdle, I think well okay, can I get over where brilliant people are like they come up with they do they think so much ahead of time they figure out why they can’t do it. So I guess ignorance is bliss, right? I guess I think really simply, if I think if I know I can’t do something I won’t. But if I see there is a way I might get there. Kind of just shift into gear and go and you know what, I don’t think about the problems at a time I kind of just nail them, deal with them as they pop up. Because you’re always gonna have problems no matter how much you think about it’s still gonna hit you.

Kara Goldin 4:27
So your last company was pop gourmet. Do you want to chat a little bit about that? What was that product? For those who don’t know and and what ultimately happened?

David Israel 4:39
Yeah, well, we started initially with a popcorn that was very indulgent. Had a big story behind it. But for me, so I was very passionate. And I would say a very if you’re going to do anything you need to be passionate about it. It’s got to be something that really drives you. So I was really driven to be one to want to be successful too. You want to create a great product and I launched an indulgent product in December 2011 and gotten it into the stores. And then when I looked at the, at the shelf, I was like, Okay, this is really a great product, it is higher, it is much higher quality. It’s very unique. But end of the day, it’s still kind of similar to what’s on the shelf. I mean, you had because it was it was basically a caramel based product. I just really took it to a new level premium level with like I said, very indulgent. But I was like that there’s caramel, cinnamon caramel, there’s this guy with that caramel. What can I do differently? Am I actually sat down my wife was like, I have to do something more unique to make this something that stands out. And she said you should do chocolate salted caramel and white truffle. I was like, okay, so I’ll get back to our little. I mean, we had a very loose like a kitchen in space. And I did this really delicious, amazing, white truffle popcorn. And it’s incredible chocolate salted caramel. So got that on the shelves. And then in January of 2000. And well, I was I didn’t know what really would know what I was doing or wasn’t in food. So I asked someone for some help. And she was an executive at Starbucks. And she’s like, Hey, you know, this is amazing products you have here. She goes. Oprah loves white truffle. I said, really? He goes, Yeah, I said, Wow. So I went back and I decided to just send some white truffle I sent all my product but a bunch of white truffle the O Magazine. And two weeks after I sent it. I got a phone call literally on a Friday afternoon. Hi, this is Megan drum Oh magazine. We’d like to order five cases of your white truffle popcorn. I was like,

Kara Goldin 6:46
Oh my gosh,

David Israel 6:47
what are they’re like, she goes yo, we love it. Oprah’s coming here, and she wants it for our meeting we’re having you need to ship it. today for tomorrow for a Saturday delivery. I’m like, Well,

Kara Goldin 7:01
I’m like right away. She

David Israel 7:02
was she goes, we’ll give you our FedEx number. So I shipped I made it shipped it. And then the following month, she put us into Magazine as one of her favorite things. And kind of things just went haywire. Right? So didn’t have to do a whole lot of selling. after that. I was it was amazing. All the phone calls I got from buyers that wanted to bring our product and just reading it in the magazine. So I think we were literally between within that first year, we were probably in seven or 8000 doors. And I had to scale up like no tomorrow. So went from, you know, two or three people to 13. And then eventually over the next three or four years. We’re up to 160 people. And we were I mean, I had to I built our fifth facility, our fourth facility, I should say. So yeah, amazing. And I shifted to potato chips. I mean, we just expanded across the board. As I got more innovative I started partnering with some great brands like white font Siracha became their first licensed product. And we did popcorn potato chips with their Siracha dried their Siracha and put it on our popcorn chips. I worked with ta hain, which is another great brand. I worked with almond Roca. So I started doing a lot of partnerships where we could get these brand recognition. And, again, connect with consumers take it to a different level. And it just went haywire. We were they can 35 countries by 2016. And I had licensed the second largest candy company in Japan to build a facility and have the license to brand to them in Japan. And I partnered with a major food company in Russia, which is bizarre, that also built a facility and still selling our products across. Well hopefully, I don’t know what it is right now. But they were doing really well up until the Ukrainian war. So I think it was pretty amazing to have this experience and just go from zero, you know, to 100 in such a short period of time and have to learn all this about an industry.

Kara Goldin 9:12
That’s wild. And how many years were you then before you also you sold the company

David Israel 9:18
2016 is hold the majority? Yeah. You know, I don’t know that I would have been as successful. I mean, people you know, it’s great to understand beat from an industry. But I think because I didn’t really know how everybody kind of had the status quo. I was doing all these unique things and opening doors and creating relationships that people just didn’t think of or even think was possible before. So it was really it was a it was a blast. I mean I had just the time of my life and learned a ton and made a lot of great friendships relationships and partnerships. So well it

Kara Goldin 9:50
seems like even as you’re talking about it I mean these partnerships like you know that you formed that you created unique item and not a lot of people are doing that right? Even today. I mean, you built a incredible brand that was unique that the consumers saw as being different. But you’re, we’re, you can just tell you personally, we’re having fun doing those partnerships, like what else can you do? mentality, which is all that that’s what entrepreneurship is about?

David Israel 10:23
Yeah, it was, look, I mean, you want to create, you want to be innovative, right? We were all about innovation and quality. We wanted to stand out on the shelf, you know, the snack category. It is easier to launch. But it’s also very challenging. Because, you know, who owns the shelves in those categories? Right? They, they literally, their employees come in and stocked those shelves. Yeah. So, you know, it would be funny, we would have these great sets on the stacking shelf, and we would go in one day, and we will see that we’re kind of pushed off to the side, you know, that the other guy might have have encroached a little more, and we’re getting hidden. So you know, they’re there, I think, you know, people are afraid of change and competition. You know, I’m like, you know, there’s not going to be just one brand in anything no matter what. And people love choices. And I don’t want to be successful at my competition’s demise. I mean, I, we all you know, there’s plenty room for everybody. And if I guess, boy, if you don’t execute well, or you don’t put out a quality product and shame on you. But otherwise, I mean, I’m not trying, I just want to have a great time. And sure, I want to be the best and I want to win. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to try to stomp on anybody else. So yeah, we had a great time. And then like I said it, I learned a lot. I mean, I learned a ton from not being in a in a category snack or food actually, at all. I think my perspective about you know, it was all about relationship, and communication. And transparency, I want to be a great partner. And that, that helped us a lot. I think that building that that trust factor was big. They were weren’t getting that from the big players at the end of the day, other than they knew they would show up and put their stuff on the shelf. But I was there to support and build together. And like I said, I wasn’t trying to stop on my competition, I would help my competition. But you know, I want to be, I want to see people be successful. I mean, like I said, doesn’t mean I don’t want to win. But you know, I’m not going to for racing, I’m not going to try to flatten your tire. I just will try to do better.

Kara Goldin 12:34
I love it. Now that’s such a great mentality to have for sure. So what was the who did you ultimately sell it to? By the way,

David Israel 12:43
it was a private equity, a family private fund out of New York, I wouldn’t celebrate that relationship. It started, it sounded like it was gonna be a great potential partnership. But as soon as they had bought the majority, they I was supposed to hang around for a while, they started focusing on margin and degrading the product to increase that margin. And I told him, that’s not who I am. I mean, that’s that’s not how I got to where we are. I said, you know, margins will continue to increase as we as we build. But if it’s something you want overnight, and you want to degrade the product. That’s not I’m not gonna be a part of that. Yeah. They said, Well, that’s what we’re going to do. And I said, Okay, well, then I’m going to depart early and go do my own thing. I mean, I got ideas. So that’s what I did. You know, and unfortunately, it’s sad that but when I left, I mean, we had, gosh, I can’t imagine probably 60 skews or more. And now they have one, huh?

Kara Goldin 13:43
Wow. Very, very interesting. Well, yeah. And now you’ve gone on to do a totally different category. And also, I loved that part of your ethos is really putting a huge emphasis on ESG. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

David Israel 14:00
Well, you know, we’re all about it was the passion that drove me in this category was really about our green, the greenhouse gas effect the climate, and creating something healthier for the consumer. But also, I learned that my snack company that the consumer, they buy the branding and the packaging first. That’s what they connect with, alright, you have that six seconds or whatever on the shelf that you kind of got to connect. And what I read about the consumer that was coming, is that they were all about the planet, and the climate and something that was more quality for themselves. So that’s how I kind of built it. And like I said, it was people when I looked at the category when I wanted to do something that in the better few category. There was my sister in law who suggested vegan cheese and I was like, Whoa, you know, why? Why would I do that? I’m not vegan. And I don’t know anything about cheese. And she’s, she’s like, look, we know There’s the community is growing the products on the shelf. They just they don’t function well and they’re agreeing a DAC is is really, you know, it’s not clean is it’s not healthy. And again, being an entrepreneur when I dove into it, and I bought the products that were the most readily available that the leading brands, they didn’t function. Well. I mean, they really they did not melt, they did not taste good. And ingredient Act was a joke at the end of the day. And I just thought to myself, this will be simple. So I started investigating the cheese category. And trying to figure out how I could create something that would replicate real cheese, you know, better. And I stumbled across analog cheese, which is, we’re all buying it. It’s Kraft Singles and a lot of other products where they use dairy powders and oils to make real cheese. And I thought, Okay, why can I replicate that with plant based, you know, powders and oils, right? So I had reached out to, I don’t know, probably 12 or 13 Cheese companies in Wisconsin and Illinois, that and a couple other places that that made analogue cheese that was their specialty. And they all said no, I would say 90% No, because we’re knows because they didn’t want to be involved in this category. You know, they didn’t like it. And the others were, it’s, you’re too small for us to take you on right now. So I ended up Googling, and finding a company in Greece, an island of Crete that specialized in this type of product in analog cheese. And they happen to make something they call the vegan loaf for the Greek Orthodox holiday and Ramadan. And they had a picture on their website, and they were all private label, they didn’t sell anything. They’re under their own brand. So I ordered their product, it melted really well. It stretched really well. The greeting deck was very clean. Very blase as it tastes kind of like a bland of Eric American cheese. And I partnered with them to launch the first product. So I had to help them understand. We built this meal, we took it to a whole new level with the all the US types of products that fit in us. And yeah, I’ve got very fortunate but he was really about, again, for me, the passion you had to suck me in was, I really didn’t understand when I saw that cow flatulence, had a higher impact on our ozone layer than fossil fuels. That just lit my fire in it, the more that I learned. But also my goal, again, was it to demonize the dairy industry, I went in with the approach that I wanted to create balance. And for you want to make a choice here or there or completely, we’re here for you. But I wasn’t, wasn’t one of those companies going dairy farmers are evil, don’t eat dairy, it’s killing. It was like, hey, look, you can do better for yourself, you can do better for the planet. But you know, I’m not trying to convert you to becoming a vegan. I’ve certainly offering you these products if you are vegan, or choose to do that. But we weren’t. We didn’t take the philosophy that we had to, again, kelabra an industry that’s been around for a while, and I enjoy but this whole thing changed me from I became about 85% plant based because of my journey. I still like to enjoy now and then some things that maybe I shouldn’t, but it’s you know, all about balance.

Kara Goldin 18:36
I love it. No, it’s great. So how many? How many are in kind of your, your category right now? I mean, I always think when, when people have said our product, hint, for example, I they I started an entirely new category called unsweetened flavored water 17 years ago, and people would say, oh, you know, who’s your competition? Everyone on the shelf? Right? And you’d fight against? I’m sure you’re the same thing that they have plenty of space for regular cheese, you’ve got a tiny little section, you’ve got to explain it to buyers, etc. But how many are kind of doing something similar? Not as good as your product. But yeah,

David Israel 19:18
well, I think, you know, throughout when we launched in, in 2018, mid May of 2018. There were maybe five and I shouldn’t I only take that back. Let’s call it nine and in the overall category, but when you got down to the allergen free, there was probably four, you know, there was a lot of nut based cheeses and stuff like that. soy based, we were were coconut oil based we were we were completely allergen free and had a very clean deck. So there was really four. I would say that one other great competitor that did a great job category. A product that I was impressed with. And then a couple others that were old time and knew they had to change their ingredient deck a little more cleaner to light what we offered so, but by the time we got into 2021, or late 2020, in early 2021. And now 2022, I would say there’s probably in my category with a similar formula station, or ingredient deck, probably 2023. Wow. Yeah. And now we’ve lost, I would say maybe 25 to 30% of those brands have folded. So that’s, you know, that’s why it’s an evolution, right. I mean, we were all on offering the right products, and hopefully providing something quality the consumer, but some were, some just wanted to have a plant based product, it’d be in the category. We really built a product out, we felt we were proud of, and we knew would melt and give someone the great experience. Like cheese. If you put us on a grilled cheese sandwich or on a pizza, or our cream cheeses, literally, I mean, it’s you. We had a craftsperson, say, this is Philadelphia cream cheese. So, you know, we really strived to make to always innovate and improve from my first Mozzarella in 2018. To today, we’ve, we haven’t changed the ingredients so much. But we’ve eat the deck, I mean, the we found higher quality ingredients, we found better processes, we found a better starch that would help it melt or stretch better. We learned that mozzarella shreds should melt differently than cheddar shreds, because mozzarella 90% of time is going on a pizza. And when we did want it to brown, so we continually innovate and improved our products were a lot of them just were contend with what they put out there and just wanted a plant based product we didn’t we wanted to continually provide the consumer with the best product possible.

Kara Goldin 22:07
Interesting, you mentioned with pop for May, for example, a lot of it was obviously taste, but also the packaging kind of pulled things off the shelf, do you find that it’s different in this category?

David Israel 22:20
No. Don’t get interested in we get a lot of people resignate to our brake packaging, to the brand. That makes sense to him. You know, like I said, a lot of the lot of the consumers that were coming down the pipeline. They were flexitarians right. They they wanted to do something like I said they really wanted to make an impact if they for balance on the on the climate and for health reasons. Right. So good planet, you know, kind of check that the brand check that box for them. The packaging stood out on the shelf, and then the products they delivered. But again, you know, there were the consumers were also trying that were ready to like I said to lean in, they would try what was in their store. And if they didn’t like that plant based product they weren’t trying another brand they were going right. This right this this stuff sucks, right? Yeah. So uh, you know, it did corrupt the category and with the current category has suffered and struggled. But I’ve always looked at it where we were we were in store we were growing. We were getting great reviews, we’re developing an amazing new products. We got outside of we launched with shreds and slices we got into wedges like laughing cow, we got into the smoked wheels that were naturally smoked, like, like, like boars head, smoked gouda wheels, we went through the same exact process. So, you know, we didn’t, we weren’t trying to cut corners, we were really trying to deliver a premium product because we wanted the consumer when they tried it, we want them to love it. And now, like I said, a lot of these companies have kind of fallen to the wayside or are shrinking. And as an entrepreneur, you have to look at that as an as an opportunity not as devastation, right? So I look as opportunity that now we can hopefully get on that shelf, and attract the consumer and give them a great experience and continue to grow. And that’s what it’s all about.

Kara Goldin 24:27
So this product, there’s a lot more education around it because as you said, if they have one bad experience, yep, I would imagine like if you have popcorn, and it’s not good, maybe you’ll be willing to try another one. But it’s probably tougher, like how do you get the word out about your product and get people to come and try yours and get and convert?

David Israel 24:53
Yeah. Well, I mean, fortunately I mean we do a lot with influencers right? So I mean, obviously you guys Have your your brand out there and give them a lot of ideas, let them see how it functions. And that might encourage them to go try it, right? If they’ve had a bad experience. We’re a lot in food service where we get branding, and we’ve done a lot in industrial. So we’re, we’ll get branding on the packaging, so people will recognize and understand that you, you do deliver a quality product, right. So and maybe come from more familiar with that brand. But, you know, without spending an enormous amount of money on marketing, and trying to reel people in, it’s really just continually growing and getting on shelf, and trying to get that message out there to give us a try. And it’s really, I think, you know, in today’s market influencers have a lot to do that. Ah, yeah, yeah. So, yeah, we do what we can, my marketing team does whatever they can we get the message, I post a lot on LinkedIn, and Instagram, you know, but I don’t like to, I don’t like I mean, I guess, I guess I am a salesperson I like to sell, I do like to talk about the quality of our product, and encourage people to try it and let them know that we stand behind it, that we’re going to give them a great experience. But not only does so much so I think, you know, over the next year or so as we continue to grow, when we get this, we’re no further distribution. And we can spend the dollars because it’s available in more places versus here, there and this region or that region, that we can really drive the consumer there. And I think we’ll start doing a lot more marketing, you know, mainstream.

Kara Goldin 26:45
When you think about marketing, knowing what you know, on on building a brand from scratch, and especially a category I mean, you are really in kind of, even though there’s other competition out there. I mean, you are kind of in the early days of this plant based products. I mean, there’s different plant based milks out there. But I think the extensions, like what your product is doing in a category that will become big, I believe. Like, how would you suggest people think about marketing spend and like what percent of your overall should be allocated to getting people to really know that your product is out there?

David Israel 27:29
Wow, wow, that’s a tough one. You know, I think as an entrepreneur, it’s really being disruptive, it’s creating a message that will that will trigger something, right. We’re, especially in today’s world. I mean, I’ve had to reel myself in a little bit at pop. I mean, it was, you know, the media that we got, excluding the unique media we had with Oprah, with all these innovative products that I was launching, or the brand partnerships that I had, or the story behind the brand, and how I created it really generated a ton. Yeah, for us. I mean, it’s I, my garage is full of plaques of newspapers and magazines. It’s just, it was amazing. Here, I’ve tried to be a little more conservative, as I built my team and be there an executive team, very sophisticated. I have a co CEO who has, you know, years and years of experience from the CEO, he was the CEO of CO serials even looked at now and he was a CEO of ciggies yogurt. So he’s a little more on the conservative side where I’m not your printer. And I’m like, Hey, let’s, you know, let’s blast his out there. Right. So it’s been a great balance. But now I think it’s made me really kind of step back and say, Hey, let me think about that message I’m gonna put out there and how it may resonate, right? Because, one, I don’t want to insult anybody. And I mean, not just a consumer, but my competition, I don’t want to, you know, build by build my business by trying to, like I said, stomp on competition, right? But you can still play off words that might be funny. You know, if it’s your competition, that you’re kind of you’re, you’re triggering your remarks, right. And I have some great ideas for our upcoming products that will be game changers. And the kind of the revolutionary, I think we’re what we’re coming with next. And I would wish I could blow it out of the water here and tell you today, but it’s going to be very disruptive, and much higher quality, that it’s going to be a category of its own. And I you know, so I have some ideas around that where I think it could be fun and disruptive with what I say. And, you know, I’m not really investing in it, but I think I can I can attract people to what I pose and start driving that message. So otherwise, you know, listen, I’m you You got to be smart how you invest your dollars marketing is is key, right? You people need to always be refreshed about your brand, especially today. I mean, there are so many brands and every category, you know, so you have to kind of be front of mind for everybody. And I think a lot of it has to do with not standing on your laurels that, hey, this is what I created, this is great. You have to continue to innovate people, especially today’s consumer, they want new, higher quality, more innovative products, right. So they like change that like disruption. And I think that, that you have to think that way. Or you’ll again, you’ll just kind of fall into the garbage game.

Kara Goldin 30:39
Yeah, it’s interesting, when, in the early days of him, I mean, we didn’t really do any marketing, per se, in terms of, there weren’t influencers that were any that we could afford, right? There were celebrities. And anyway, it was it was interesting, all of our marketing budget went to trial, because there were many people that were confusing, like, diet sweeteners with what we were doing, and we didn’t have sweeteners in our products. So we spent all of it just getting just giving bottles out and getting people to try it. And, and so I just think it’s an important thing, especially for new entrepreneurs to understand that marketing doesn’t necessarily mean going and spending money on Facebook or Instagram. I mean, it could mean like, how much trial do you think is the most important thing to get the consumer to understand that you’re different in some way? And where do you find those people to?

David Israel 31:42
Yeah, I mean, giving people your getting your product in people’s hands is great. I mean, in store demos are great. I mean, I literally I’ve gone and done many myself, you have to write and I don’t mind. But you know, also, I think just some of the marketing support you can give to your partners, your, your, your store partners, by helping them drive it into people’s baskets, right? I mean, it’s an investment, but you know, okay, it’s an investment that pays off if you if someone tries your product, because you were $1 off, or it was two for three, whatever, you know, something that encouraged them to buy it, and they like it. And now they come back to buy it again, it’s a win for you. It’s a win for the store, it’s a win for the consumer. And it was a great investment. And you can’t just always think about, hey, I got to stick to this margin, because you might stick that margin, but you won’t be around for very long.

Kara Goldin 32:39
No, that’s such a good point. So when you think back on the early days of of launching this this product, were there any moments when you thought, oh, shoot, this is not going to work? This is a major screw up. And how am I going to dig out? But obviously you did? I mean, I think we’ve all had those moments of I mean, some people call them failures, I call them yeah, you know, challenges along the way, and you just have to figure it out.

David Israel 33:08
Yeah, we definitely had challenges. I think, from my first show, which was the National Restaurant Association show, I didn’t have retail packaging ready. Yeah. So I just went to the NRA show, because I could take a big bag and clips to grow on it. From that moment, I knew that we were we had something. And you know, a lot of the we a lot of lessons that I learned was I mean, is I should have, we could produce as much product as possible. So I was bringing it over and block from Greece. But we might the person the company that I worked with to shred and slice and package for us could not keep up with the growth that we were that we saw immediately. Which was not great. That Well, you know, you think that’s a good it is on one hand, it’s a good problem. But when your stores are out of stock, that’s not good. And you’re taking on new business at the same time. So I I think going back one I would have why wouldn’t have known that I would, how would I know that we would have this explosive growth that outgrow this, this this converter so quickly, and have a hard time finding another one. That’s it took us a year really so we really had to hobble through and figure out how to find another company that really could support us with unlimited capacity on shredding, slicing, cubing, whatever it may be right. That took some time, but it costs us a lot of business. So in hindsight, I would have stuck with some of the major, you know, chains that we picked up and just focused on fulfilling them versus trying to provide everybody that sent me a Pio. Right. And yeah, because we lost a couple because I was out The stock and they’re like, You know what we love your brand, we love your product. But, you know, we can’t be out of stock all the time. So yeah, again, we only I can, like I said we could have the capacity to produce as much cheese block and make as much cheese as possible plant based cheese. And it was really just a matter of of having someone that could shred and slice and at the, at the rate of growth that we were saying.

Kara Goldin 35:25
Interesting, really, really interesting. So you and I were talking about belt building boards and and also and also investors too, you learned a lot along the way. Somebody’s building a company they need. Let’s talk about the investor side what what did you learn along the way that you differently on this go around?

David Israel 35:48
Why would it get? So this is a great piece of advice. One of my first investors not at pop, but at an earlier company was Jeff Rodman, the co founder of Costco. And we were negotiating on the deal. And my valuation he was trying to be why he offered me a little less I was like, yeah, no, I have a lot of people they’re willing to put money in at that valuation. He said, Well, I want to give you a great piece of advice. I go, what’s that? He goes, Uh, dollars, not $1? I’m like, yeah, what does that mean? Right? He goes, I’m bringing you $1 with a great deal of experience and then and connections and, and additional money if you need it. Use those people. Who are they, you know, and I’m like, okay, so when I raised capital at pop, amazing investors, a lot of the investors from that, were Costco executives, some amazing investors across the US. But in the category I was in, you know that there wasn’t a value, really a true value add that had been in the snack category and CPG that could really give me direction, and or connections or relationships. So as I and the board there, again, amazing people. But really, when I had my board meetings, nobody could tell me really, hey, you might want to do this differently, or do this differently. Or you could do this better, or let me introduce you to this person. So when I started this one, it was really, on the investor side $1 wasn’t $1, I was looking for the investors that would not just invest $1, but they would help me with relationships or direction because they understood the category, or open doors or whatever I could lean on. So and so when I had all my most of my investors really are value at my board, I could tell you, I can learn from any of them every time, I can call them up and get direction. If I want to launch a product that I can get feedback, or I can get an introduction, or if I want to meet someone in CPG, or in food service. It’s an a tremendous, that’s what you want. You want value add partners, right? I mean, it, I guess I wouldn’t want an IT firm to invest in my company. I’d much rather have a craft or someone that I could really lean on and say here, I’m going to really get a lot of help and value out of building my business, or loose experience where I can go to help me learn how to do something better and not, you know, go down the wrong tunnel.

Kara Goldin 38:32
Yeah, definitely. And did you feel like individual investors to or family offices versus like VCs? I mean, I think it’s, you have more choices, obviously, when you’re a serial entrepreneur than when you’re first time. But I think so often, one thing I’ve told entrepreneurs too, is, sometimes when people are coming in saying, Oh, I have lots of experience and value. Those are the people that often don’t write, you got to kind of pull it out of them and see what they’ve really done and sort of get a gut on if they’re going to be able to be helpful to you or not what

David Israel 39:09
I tell that look, I tried to support entrepreneurs all the time, I get a lot of calls from folks that I need a trade at the Food Show is asking me if I would, you know, talk to them. And I really tell them I’m like, Look, I understand that your Uncle Pete has, you know, 100,000 though, and that’d be that’s the way to watch. Okay, but you if you’re doing a series a or real round, when you want to get the investors again, that understand your business, that understand that are aligned with you on how you’re going to grow and build your business. But that can also help you, like I said, relationships, it could be a banking relationship. It could be a CPG relationship. It could be a store chain relationship, or manufacturing relationship, but someone that’s been there, really when you sit down to have an eating, they’re going to know how to lean in and help you be more successful. So they become more of a partner than an investor, right? And wish they should be anyway. Because if you’re putting in money into a deal, I mean, you want to do anything you can to help them be successful. So one, I mean, you get a return, but so everybody kind of wins. Right? And I feel that here, I really do pinch myself. I mean, it’s I was pretty hard for when I was accepting to orders. And I guess I was lucky that I could be in that position, because at the time PLANT BASE was just on hot on fire, you know, and I had an amazing product. Literally, I had companies saying, we want to invest, we want to bid, I was even raising money, and they were out telling me they want to invest. And when I did start to raise money, I would say, Well, you know, one, they would What’s your EBIT? Da? i Oh, sorry. Wrong question. Sir. If you’re worried about profitability or EBIT da, and I’m seven months old, I’m not the right investment for you. All right. We’ll get there. But I need to build his brand and build his business first. That’s where we’re investing it. So that I limited those investors. And then it was really like, what is your fun? What is your fun bring to the party? Right? What can you what can you do to help us all be successful together? And I do pitch myself Cleveland Avenue, which is an amazing fund out of Chicago, who’s the former CEO of McDonald’s? Don Thompson. You know, boy there, they understand my business above and beyond amazing partner for you guys. Yeah, oh, God, you have no idea, the support that we get the help that we get, the relationship we got that I have with them, and it’s, they’re aligned completely, they get what we’re doing. They understand the pitfalls when plantbased got beat up, they understand that we’re just gonna, we’re gonna continue to innovate and grow. But the other funds and investors that came in are all from the food industry, journal, they all want to be in the in the better for you natural and plant based, a lot of beyond investors. So they get it, you know, and they understand that it’s not good. And I get it you nothing is adjusted, there’s no smooth road, I don’t care who you are, what company you are, how big you are. There’s gonna be a pothole no matter what and right. I mean, it’s going to happen to craft, it’s going to happen to us, it’s going to happen to almost everybody. I mean, things happen. And you have to have partners that understand that things happen, and that you can you can maneuver and figure out a way around it to move forward.

Kara Goldin 42:30
Well, I think having, especially if you’ve never had a company before, that you’re raising funds for no matter what industry, I think it’s it’s having people that are not consumers of information. Versus right, there’s, there’s a lot of those people out there that are actually managers. Yeah. And, and they want to be critical of, you know, how you’re spending how you’re doing this, how you’re doing this versus, you know, that’s the worst. I mean, it’s draining. It’s, it’s typically it will hurt the business. So it

David Israel 43:08
can be a problem. Yeah, for sure. And I think you don’t want, it’s really like I said, I mean, as an entrepreneur, you you, you of course, you want the dollars to build your business, but I think it’s is their interview interviewing you, you need to interview them as well. Because you do need to find that right fit again, you need to be better to get undressed and get everything on the table up front. Because if you don’t look up front, then you know about it, right. But to be aligned on how, who you are, how you’re going to build your company, what your goals are, if you can do that out of the gate, and it’s a value add investor, you’re gonna eliminate 80% of your problems that you might have with an investor that, you know, that’s, that’s not sophisticated enough to know that I’m gonna put $10 in I shouldn’t expect it back and in six months or 12 months, yeah, we’re going to build this and hey, might happen. You never know it’s happened, right? But gotta be in for the long haul.

Kara Goldin 44:05
Yeah, definitely. Well, this has been an incredible interview, you’re obviously, you know, just a wealth of information. And, and a lot of fun. I love talking to serial entrepreneurs, especially kind of you appreciate that, no, especially ones that are bold enough to go into other categories. They’re not just staying in the same category. They want to go and learn and do things a little bit differently. So it’s, it’s really, really a pleasure to finally get to meet you and good luck with everything. And we’ll have your info in the show notes. And it’s an excellent product. So everybody should try it. And as David said, there’s going to be a lot more products coming out as well. So we’re very, very excited for everything that you’re doing at good planet foods. So thank you.

David Israel 44:52
Thank you so much. Kara was really like a great to be here and it was very kind of you to help me. Thank you.

Kara Goldin 44:58
Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show if you would, please give us a review and feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit. And of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that it can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen. Or pick up a copy of my book on daunted which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book.com and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening