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Startup Confidential

Author: Dr. James F. Richardson

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Who is it For? Founders of premium food/beverage start-ups. What is It? Zero B.S. perspective on running your start-up well, understanding the biases of industry stakeholders and getting the industry to work for you, not the other way around. When? Every month. Your Host: Dr. James F. Richardson of Premium Growth Solutions, LLC If you want to take my founder's Quiz to see if you are ready for exponential growth, please visit : and sign up for my e-mail list to download it. Transcripts and an entire episode library are on my podcast site.
32 Episodes
It's time to share thoughts on one of the more important stakeholder classes for your fast growing early stage brand. I focus on the pros and cons of angels, venture capitalists and private equity firms. I'm very keen on angels for reasons you'll want to listen in and discover. The big challenge for most entrepreneurs is their de-leveraged situation early on up the Ramp. Maximizing your leverage is a sociological challenge, not a financial one in the face of very, very rich people.Support the show (
Grab onto your handrails, folks. You may hear the thunderous retort of the entire global branding industry in the middle of this one. Branding is one of the most over-rated arts in the early years on the Ramp. Without a data-refined strategy in place, you just can't finalize your brand's symbolic system. Yes, you can try to research it in advance and over-determine everything like a Big Company. But since that rarely works out well for them either, I advise patience. Don't launch a product line hoping initial branding will carry you. Professional branding is expected by consumers. It's not impressive or distinctive any more in premium CPG. Support the show (
He's back! Jake Huber riffing with me on more advanced topics in retail buyer negotiation. The big one in this final part of the interview is : how to say no...obviously, without ever using this word. :) If you liked Part 1, then you're going to luv, luv, luv this part. Again, I apologize for the horrendous audio on my end. Won't happen again. You have my promise.Support the show (
Pardon the horrendous audio. This was recorded in a chaotic apartment during the early months of the pandemic. Nevertheless, Jake Huber and I riffed on some very important topics. In Part One we address the #1 thing founders screw up when approaching buyers, how pitching investors and buyers is similar/different and the challenges posed for introverted founders. Hope you like it!Support the show (
Sorry to discuss my boring business, but, in this rare case, my internal decision is based on something it might benefit some of you to hear about. I hope so, or this will be a seriously low performing episode! This episode hinges around the concept of coachability. And my foil is the human need for validation. We all have it. We all need social validation or we will eventually commit suicide. A problem arises for founders of young startups, especially for young founders of young startups when they approach business advisors or mentors looking for validation, and not for professional critique. Listen in, if you dare...Support the show (
The UPCs you initially launch with are very, very unlikely to be the ones that you scale. Maybe the product inside the package is largely the same. But many things will change as you learn and iterate on the basis of market feedback. In this episode I read a few pages from my new book - Ramping Your Brand and hope you enjoy them.Support the show (
As an advisor, this is a tricky topic to wax poetic about, since it might appear atrociously self-serving. Yet, here I go. I want folks newer to business and to CPG specifically to get a lot more critical about how they filter inbound advice, especially the unsolicited kind you tend to get poured on you during events, virtual or real world. There's usually at least a shred of help to find, even if most of what is offered is bunk. This is NOT a pitch for paid advice, trust me. The rules I describe cross the paid-free divide. I hope it helps you out. Support the show (
My favorite punching bag is the 'door count' tribe. Who are these folks? The folks whose primary KPI is I added me a sh*t ton of doors last year. Boo-yah! Really? Yes. These folks do exist. They're generally the same folks whose case study research was limited to 10 unicorn brands, mostly D2C and funded off enormous wealth. In this episode, I explain in somewhat redundant, sermonizing fashion why you must forget this non-KPI. It measures nothing of importance at all. Support the show (
In this episode, Mark and I finish our conversation, getting into the details of finding the right co-man and the three different ways to approach professionalizing your production in general. Just don't wing it, people. And don't hire the first warm body. Ever. www.culinex.bizSupport the show (
Do you own your IP? Do you know the difference between a prototype and a protocept? Founder of Culinex, culinologist Mark Crowell, addresses these questions and more in the first of a two-part guest interview on product development. If anything has NOT changed due to the global pandemic, it's the laws of product development. It's science folks. Learn it or outsource it. Just don't ignore it and then blame your broker for your crappy sales. Support the show (
If you thought your career was messed up, then entertain yourself with the Preface from my new book - Ramping Your Brand. I share the bizarre twists of fate that illogically led to my current expertise in guiding growth strategy for emerging consumer brand. As we all muddle through the pandemic, have a laugh at my expense...or maybe three.www.rampingyourbrand.comSupport the show (
The current global pandemic is a massive temptation to over-react to near-term signals. This is especially true when it comes to business strategy in consumer packaged goods. In this episode, I use the COVID-19 social distancing reality as a foil to remind us of what strategy is, when you know you should change it, and why you need to really understand your category fundamentals now more than ever.Support the show (
Who drives your brand's adoption? And why? In my new book, I break down four rough segments of consumers who trade up to premium CPG brands. Each segment has a set of macro-drivers that affect their near-term vs. long-term value to your business. Spoiler: most founders fit nicely into just one segment...ahem...the one that doesn't scale brands. Have a listen. And buy Ramping Your Brand, if you haven't already.Support the show (
This national health emergency has thrown most 2020 plans into the trash. As everyone revises their moves, it's important to understand the lessons for near-term business decisions and the lessons for the long-term. If you want to dig in more, I have a free webinar about the surge in CPG caused by social distancing orders. It may be helpful to you and your team. the show (
Look at my glorious brand! Save it for the bedroom, please. In CPG, you are scaling a product line. It may have a name. It may have a look. But let's not confuse how important branding is in the ramp up of a strong business. It is VERY easy to overthink these elements and agencies will charge to the maximum extent of founder ego if you let them. Time to get real. So, you must be in the right place. Support the show (
Most CPG founders are NOT from the industry they operate in. Many are younger folks. If either is true, professionalizing yourself is a critical practice. If you're young AND new to CPG, your burden is the highest...but you can do this. You have to take it very seriously. Professionalization is not about being polite. It's about something more difficult. Listen in to my social science take on why this is so critical in the CPG sector.Support the show (
Back to my series on founder archetypes. This time, I riff on the problems faced by serial entrepreneurs in CPG and how their biggest strength poses a risk you will never encounter. Tune in to hear why MOST serial entrepreneurs in CPG do not succeed more than once. Support the show (
1/3 of my new book - Ramping Your Brand - focuses on superb product design that will command a premium. I can't tell you how many folks hit a wall at $5M or $10M largely because their 'thing' was surfing trial by mostly disappointed, underwhelmed consumers. Support the show (
It's critical to understand what kind of communications talent can most help an early stage premium brand. And it is not the typical agency employee or veteran...not at all. I explain why in this episode.Support the show (
The majority of CPG founders exhibit this archetypal orientation. They got into this because they're innovators. They're category geeks. Some, even snobs. But the real weakness these folks have to accept and address somehow is that they are NOT business people at heart. And yet it is the professional businessperson (and his/her team) who scales innovations. Not product-obsessed amateurs. Support the show (
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