AMA is excited to be joined by Samy Kobrosly, one of the owners of the chip company: Snacklins! Samy was able to take AMA on a journey through how he turned a funny bar bet into a nationwide company that was showcased and invested in by Mark Cuban on the show Shark Tank!
Samy is a Muslim man from Iowa, USA. He worked at a morning radio show from his early to mid-20s. As well as working at a radio show, Samy made his living by working at bakeries and restaurants during the point of his life that he called his 25-year-old midlife crisis.
Like all other adults in their mid-20s, Samy would go to his local bar with his friends to relax and have fun! One night, Samy's friends gave him a bet that he had to make a vegan pork rind. If he was successful, he would have been given free beer on Monday nights at this bar. Immediately after, Samy accepted and thought: Why not? Free beer? That sounds like a deal! Samy ended up spending months on this product for a funny bar bet and soon enough, the finished product would be sold on a local level.
Samy told AMA the product was very good for being made at a time when this type of product did not yet exist. It was a time before the vegan/vegetarian industry was booming, with products like Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat just entering the market.
So for the first two years, Samy sold his vegan pork rind, being one of the first on the market. This caused a lot of buzz. Then, as many corporations do, Samy began to switch up the product. He took his product from being called a vegan pork rind to a puffed veggie crisp to finally a plant crisp, which we now know as Snacklins! Samy sold his product through his apartment until he was approached by one of his friends who advised him to add a label to the package and hit the mass market.
Samy clearly had a knack for making delicious snacks and scaling production - a skill he learned from his time in the restaurant business. However, the big question he asked us at AMA was how you can take your product from selling it out of your apartment to selling it in-store? The answer: marketing and gathering data through observing and speaking with customers.
Samy said that it is crucial to know why people are buying your product. Why are shoppers choosing your product over someone else's? To get the answers to these questions, Samy said simply just ask consumers! Samy would go to different grocery stores and ask shoppers why they are purchasing Snacklins over another chip brand. During his quest to find what consumers want, he found that consumers craved something crunchy, light, and low in calories. Most importantly, the packaging of your product is your biggest marketing tool. Draw in customers through the package, and you have the opportunity to make an immediate sale and cultivate brand loyalty after trial.
Samy told AMA to picture a random person walking down the aisle of a grocery store. How can you grab their attention? When Snacklins was born, Samy packaged the crisps in clear plastic bags with a label on top. However, he soon realized this was hurting his brand. The outside of the chip bag is what attracted the customer the most! First, consumers liked a bright image on the front of the package to attract their attention. Secondly, the consumer always looked at the price of the brand. No matter what, consumers were inclined to buy the cheaper product, even if it was as little as a dollar off. Finally, Samy found out that a simple catchphrase that caught the consumer’s attention went a long way. It the company a couple of months but soon enough Snacklins new catchphrase was: Eat the whole bag!
It is imperative for a company to understand what its customers want. What do they want to see on that product package to attract them while shopping? Is it imagery, flavor names, nutritional facts, the history of the brand, or "free from" labels? Find out what attracts your target market and do not be afraid to change your design if it isn't working. A new design has the ability to attract new customers, and old customers will inevitably catch on to the new packaging and continue purchasing.
Samy also pointed out that humans are lazy. An online or social media ad can be great to share your product, but will the consumer go out and buy it? A company can spend so much on an online ad with the same information that is on the bag, however, there are very low odds that the person will get up off their couch and go and buy the chips. On the other hand, if the consumer is out shopping and sees the alluring bag on the shelf, then they are more inclined to buy it right then and there.
As time went on, Samy was inclined to hire more and more employees once he was able to financially provide for multiple people. Anytime when their team needed help, Samy would hire someone with a unique background to fill in the gaps that needed to be filled as the business grew. As a business owner, its important to know where your strengths lie and where you need outside opinions to help. Samy said, “my opinion is the worst because I am so attached and in deep with this product.” Sometimes you need to hire an outside view, whether it be an agency or new employees, to help better the product and see its flaws.
As time went on Samy and his team got an email from Sony wanting them to come in and pitch their product to an “anonymous show.” Samy and his team immediately knew this was for the show Shark Tank, despite the people on the phone withholding this information for months! After months of back-and-forth pitches from Snacklins to the show, Samy and his team were finally able to fly to California to sell their product. Once Samy pitched his product, he was able to use his people, communication, and marketing skills to make a deal with Mark Cuban for Snacklins!
AMA would like to thank Samy Kobrosly for coming in and teaching us all about Snacklins! Tonight we learned that with a mindset for learning, anyone can get out there and turn their small fun business idea into a national brand for consumers of all types to enjoy!
- Layla Shulman