Lil Buck's founder Emily is on Republic to bring an underutilized Australian superfood to the US and disrupt a $93B+ market. Let's meet her!
Lil Bucks Overview
What are you working on? Can you give us a brief overview of your company?
After discovering the potential of an underutilized superfood while living in Australia, I founded Lil Bucks, America’s buckwheat brand with a mission to offer innovative buckwheat snack and breakfast products, while promoting a more nutritious diet and soil health in North America.
What about you? Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start this journey :)
I was living my best life in Australia, surfing and working in advertising down under when I came across my new favorite superfood: sprouted buckwheat seeds. I had it for the first time as a granola replacement on an acai bowl and was BLOWN AWAY by the taste and texture of the buckwheat seeds in the bowl. The best part - I felt amazing after eating it, so I became obsessed with bringing this innovative way to eat buckwheat back to America. I am also deeply inspired by the Aussie's lifestyle and food scene and intend to breathe those good vibes into the Lil Bucks brand. The Aussies figured out you can eat healthy AND it can be delish, and we need more Americans to know that!
What's your background? What is the unfair advantage that will make you succeed in this industry?
I worked in digital marketing and graphic design before (and while) launching Lil Bucks. I designed all our packaging, the website, the strategic marketing funnels... it's so great to have these expensive skills in house. I just hired a marketing coordinator to execute some of these things under my direction, so it's basically like building an 'agency-powered' brand, but all in house.
The Business Model
What is your business model, and who are your customers?
We are an omnichannel brand selling wholesale to places like Whole Foods Market and 200+ other stores in California and the Midwest. We also have a strong online presence with 50% of our 2020 revenue coming from ecommerce--being Amazon and LoveLilBucks.com
Did you already find a product-market fit? How do you acquire and retain your customers?
Yes! I got our first customers by working fitness festivals and farmers markets in Chicago and then they started buying online. We proved the concept, perfected the flavors and our messaging before launching into Whole Foods. I laid the groundwork in both wholesale and ecommerce, and we are now raising money to fund the payroll to build a great small team behind Lil Bucks.
How big is your operating market? Could you provide some independent research/insights?
Our three initial target markets are the $37B breakfast cereal market, the $33B snacks market and the $23B adaptogens market. We offer a healthy alternative to breakfast cereals, a snack defining function in food and a tastier way to consume adaptogens.
Functional Food is predicted to grow by 7.9% annually through 2025, with Functional Bakery & Cereal being the second largest sub-category growth driver (Grand View Research, 2019).
What's your competitive advantage, and how are you going to build a sustainable economic moat?
Lil Bucks offers plant-based eaters and crunch seekers elevated taste and nutrition via its unique ingredient usage and product formulations. We are also aiming to become regenerative-certified, as we already only buy North American, organic buckwheat. We are also very careful about the brand we build so that we are the beloved and dominant buckwheat brand as more players arise.
Who is on your team? Is there a fun story behind it? If so, We'd love to hear more!
I am the founder/CEO, and we just brought on a marketing coordinator Jenni Burke coming from GT's Living Foods Kombucha. We are hiring another marketing manager with 5 years experience as a Marketing Manager at a national granola company. She will manage the retail side of the business to free up more time for me to do DTC.
Where do you see you 5-10 years from now? What's your exit strategy?
We're in an industry ripe for strategic acquisitions & exits. Big Food can't build brands like startups. Heeding lessons like General Mills' successful management of Annie's, large food corporations learned that strategically acquiring fast-growing brands to round out their portfolio is better than trying to beat small companies at their own game. We've already had early conversations with General Mills and Kellogg's. As the first and only buckwheat brand in the U.S.A., even at this early stage we believe we are already in a unique position for a strategic exit in 5-6 years.
What do you believe is the biggest risk for the company?
A company like Kellogg's deciding to build their own buckwheat brand in-house rather than purchasing us. That's why it's so important we build a strong brand and customer loyalty from the outset.
Did I Invest In Lil Bucks?
I’m still in the process of writing a full deal report and decide whether or not I will invest in Lil Bucks. I will send my final investment decision on Saturday to subscribers of the Angel Notes newsletter (you can join through the form below). See you soon!