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Full Transcript

Sari 0:00
Holiday planning begins now, this summer. You have a choice of how you want your holidays to go. Do you want to be frustrated and running around in emergency mode and losing out on opportunities? And really just hating life while not making the sales that are possible? Or do you want to feel really confident going into this holiday season? Having all the materials ahead of time thinking through your marketing strategy, knowing what your promotions are, and actually enjoying your own holiday? This is possible and I am helping you do it. I am running the first ever Holiday Ready Bootcamp. Every year, I give you a holiday prep checklist which you can go get at foodbizsuccess.com/holiday. But this year, I am doing a virtual bootcamp. Three days, we are going to get this done. Listen, when I was at Whole Foods Market, we had our holiday plan ready to go, fully planned. So we could have the best season ever and I won a lot of awards for having the best holiday season. And it happens now. We need to be ready in August so that we can take advantage of opportunities and really set yourself up to make more money the season. It takes getting ahead of it so that we can say no to overwhelm and procrastination and running around in emergency mode. To get registered for this limited ticketed event, go to foodbizsuccess.com/holidayready. Right now there are presale tickets available. And all you have to do is put down a $25 deposit to hold your spot. I want you to think ahead, get in front of the problem. That's what entrepreneurs do. And we take advantage of things like this that are going to hold us accountable and make us do the work. So I want you to commit to yourself, go get your presale holiday ready deposit down and you're going to save 100 bucks on the whole program if you do that. Pause this, go get your ticket and then come back. And here's the show! Welcome to your Food Business Success. This podcast is for early stage entrepreneurs in the packaged food industry ready to finally turn that delicious idea into reality. I'm your host Sari Kimbell, I have guided hundreds of food brand founders to success as an industry expert and business coach. And it's got to be fun. In this podcast, I share with you mindset tools to become a true entrepreneur and run your business like a boss, interviews with industry experts to help you understand the business you are actually in, and food founder journey so you can learn what worked and didn't work and not feel so alone in your own journey. Now let's jump in! All right, Jess. I'm so excited you are here. It's so fun. We've been talking back and forth for a couple of years now. And I finally get to have you on the podcast and YouTube channel. So welcome Jess Young of Bubble Goods.

Jess 3:35
Yes, thanks for having me. I've been a longtime follower and fan of all things biz success. So yeah, it's kind of like surreal to have our worlds now collide.

Sari 3:48
Yeah, and I've been a big fan of Bubble for a long time as well. I think we connected, maybe 2020 originally. So we've been orbiting around each other and definitely a place, I recommend brands that I work with to go on. So tell us a little bit about the history of Bubble Goods. And you are the founder, you are an entrepreneur, you're figuring this whole thing out, and just tell us a little bit about what the platform is.

Jess 4:15
Yeah, so Bubble Goods is a marketplace for highly curated better for you brands to ship directly to customers across the country. So we're very much like Etsy meets Erawan and Thrive Market is more to make a comparison, Whole Foods meets Costco, so bulk foods over there. But as opposed to, very independent brands. Mom and Pop, a lot of brands that most people have never seen before. All with vetted ingredient labels that are ready to ship to customers across the country. So definitely a hotbed for all the latest and greatest products that are looking to go to market. Our typical food brand that sells with us, sells at a very local level. So they're trying to get into a whole foods, but they're most likely at a Green Market or natural food store in their area. They are attempting to sell on Shopify, but don't really understand how to acquire customers or build that online audience. And with us, they can create a listing real time, self serve, import inventory. If it's on Shopify, we have a plugin, app, and then get up and selling really within the week as long as they're approved, and can drop right into a national audience immediately. So that was our goal in starting the business to just make it as easy as possible for brands that have amazing products, to sell them to customers who want those amazing products. But the disconnect was previously too large.

Sari 5:44
Yeah, yeah. So you only bring on certain kinds of products. Tell us a little bit about that. So people listening know.

Jess 5:58
So our Bubble approval process at Bubble Goods, we don't accept products that contain refined sugars, dyes, gums, preservatives, and those really us drawing a line in the sand within the food industry. Just saying, hey, these products are shipping directly from amazing makers, these additives aren't really needed in such a direct line for food. And really stripping it down to kind of truly, you know, natural better for you, we don't have distributors or you know, other people in the mix for getting those products into customers hands. So we wanted to take that out of products as well, especially in building this, you know, great space that we are on the marketplace. So everyone who sells really backs up their neighbor on this site with really standing behind quality and great foods.

Sari 6:52
Yeah. And I love what you said about, you know, I love people going on Shopify, I help people set up their Shopify all the time and try to get it, you know, working for them. But you're one of thousands of thousands of millions of brands that are on the internet, all you know, it's just take one kind of product, a coffee brand, right? Like how many other brands are you competing against on Shopify? Or any other e-commerce platform? And you have, every time you know, you're going after one customer, one customer, one customer. And I think, what are the stats, something like one in a hundred actually convert, like, even if you get, you know, if you got 100 people to your website, it's a pretty low conversion number of people who actually buy. So with what you're doing is like, there's just an automatic marketing piece that you're already plugging into, and you already have a customer base, right? Isn't that such a huge benefit?

Jess 6:52
In today's world of 1% conversion even is great. I think it's even less than that is as mark entered right now, which is wild, I think starting a business even five, six years ago, you could cut through the noise in today's market, especially in the post iOS 14 and the GA4 ecosystem that just went up like last month, you know, targeting is harder than ever. And so, you know, I think that's why you see a lot of brands that have success building community, building audience, you really kind of have to have that behind you to succeed in today's marketplace.

Sari 8:38
Yeah, I mean, it just seems like a no brainer. Sure, if you want to do your own website, great, because you want to have that as well. But I mean, Bubble Goods, it's a fairly simple approval process. There's no upfront fees. And then you guys take a commission on the backend, similar to like a wholesale, or, you know, you take a cut of that. And then and that's it, but you're tapping into your whole audience.

Jess 9:08
Naturally, our core customer, she is in the middle of Ohio, right outside of a major city. That's like always the person we think about targeting so that we can do the best job for the brands that are hosted with us. And really have to keep understanding so brands can do what they do best, which is make amazing products and sell them and ship them out. So you know, my background is in the food space and I was at kitchen back in the day. I was at a meal kit company that kind of went up and under that didn't understand growth and audience. I joined daily harvest as the first employee, headed up operations, and we took that company from zero to 100 really quickly, but really had that deep understanding of product and audience and matching that up along the way. And then I left to, you know, start Bubble really with that understanding of matching customers with amazing products and sort of, you know, bringing that back in.

Sari 10:11
So you're celebrating a big milestone and you have kind of an announcement that you can make here as well. It'll go out after you've made the formal announcement. So tell us about your onboarding your 1000th brand, which is so exciting and making some changes. So tell us a little bit about that.

Jess 10:33
Yeah, it's been a wild ride for anyone out there who has started business during the pandemic. It's been quite the roller coaster. So we, yeah, we are, and maybe by the time this video goes up, we would have already onboarded a 1000th brand, which really is just a testament to the supply side, and the need for what we're building on the platform, which are brands just really need a home and a home that is taken care of in the right way. So yeah, it's been a huge achievement for the team. I think embarking in this, you know, it was a tough sell to get anyone to join the platform, which is like, what is this thing? There aren't any other products or brands like what is Bubble Goods? Who are you people? All the way to, you know, we have a team of eight and growing, many of whom are my colleagues from Daily Harvest to build the platform. And we're super, super proud to now be hosting so many amazing products and brands like across the country. So yeah.

Sari 11:40
Yeah. And then you're doing a little bit of a brand shift as well. Most people might not even notice, but always fun to talk about that. So how has it changed? Like you said, three years in, and that's a huge milestone to still be here, right?

Jess 11:58
Oh, my goodness, yeah, when we first launched, we had the domain, getintothebubble.com. Were incorporated as Bubble Goods, Inc. Bubblegoods.com wasn't available at the time, we have since acquired bubblegoods.com. And part of this milestone release is leaning into what our full like, you know, incorporated name, domain, just having everything match all our social channels. Startup you're like, never always matches or is perfect. It's definitely you know, in that camp, the marathon, not the sprint to just see everything together. So we also did a logo refresh to reflect that. So our logo used to just say bubble. It now says Bubble Goods and everything matches digitally.

Sari 12:48
Yeah. Congrats. Yeah. I mean, I call it B minus work, right? You just have to get it out, you know, MVP, get the minimum viable product out, just get it going, test it, fail fast, still going, then you make the investment to go get that domain and some of those other pieces. So yeah, I was on the I did a book launch party last weekend, and I did some fun trivia. It's really fun. And one of the questions that I had was like, what was my original logo colors? And it was eggplant, lime green, and red. And I just had to laugh. I was like, I don't know what I was thinking. And it was terrible. I did it myself. But like, you just got to get something out there. And then I invested in my amazing graphic designer, and now it's like, much more polished and they were like, we want to see, we want to see! So I sent it out in the last email. But it's just funny to look back. I mean, it's fun. You know, you're like, wow, like how far we've come? We're so professional now.

Jess 13:55
And even when you think you're the most professional, like you'll probably redo it anyway in three years.

Sari 14:02
Yeah. A hundred percent, that's just part of entrepreneurship. Like, we think it has to be perfect to launch. It's like, what is perfect anyway. Like perfect just prevents you from actually doing the thing and, and you're always going to look back and be like, oh, I can make it better, you know, and so it's working. I'm just going to take a wild guess that after working with so many amazing brands over the last few years, that you have learned a thing or two about how to increase your sales, how to be found, how to be the one that customers choose when you are on an online platform, especially, I'm sure in general, but let's just take if you are on Bubble Goods, or you're on another marketplace, give us all the tips and tricks. We want the keys to success right now.

Jess 14:52
You know, I think there's a few different camps when you're looking at how to grow. So like, let's go totally grassroots if you're in the Green Market. I think it's community, how do you stand out in the row at the Green Market with your tent, your signage that like moment of connection, both at the stand and then post the stand? So like, do you have an email signup, because I'm going to have a QR code and like, follow you on Instagram. So you're kind of like staying in their mind all the way to like brick and mortar. Let's say you graduate and you got into like a local natural food store, how do you stand out then on the shelf is the question and, you know, again, like amongst in your category, lots of other products that typically people will just walk by so that I think then goes back to that community piece, whether you're on a shelf at the Green Market, on a virtual shelf, which I'll get to in a minute, like on a Bubble Goods or an Amazon or fair. So you know, currently is really going back to community so presence community, like that voice, the kind of like 3D effect, you can have your 1D, which is like your brand name, your 2D, the visuals and branding, but like that 3D and community piece that we always reference a lot of, and, you know, all the way to like marketplaces. So something like a Bubble Goods in Amazon, a Fair, if you're selling on like an Etsy as a different type of CPG. You know, you are competing within category, you're competing within community and kind of subtype within those larger marketplaces. So definitely, you know, putting yourself under that microscope. We encourage a lot of our, you know, brand partners to look at. If you're a customer shopping on Bubble Goods, how do you show up when someone's searching for your product or searching for your category type? So if you've a cool kale chip company, how is your product ranking within kale, kale chip, chip, and really kind of paying attention to that user experience? I think sometimes it's like, oh, I'll make this product, then throw it out into the universe, like, why isn't it working? Why is it happening? Nine out of 10 times, it's, that's the easy part, actually. And that's why analysis paralysis of like thinking of your branding too much can actually like, hold you back. Really think about, you know, how are people finding you talking about you picking up the product, and then shopping again, so like, get that initial conversion, and then start worrying about that repeat and like, laying bigger and wider foundations.

Sari 17:21
And we talked about the importance of like, okay, you get your listing up, now try to put on those newbie glasses, like you're your own customer. Like, we have the curse of knowledge, right? Where we're so close to our product and our brand. And you may need to work with other you know, brand friends or family who aren't as close to it to navigate how can they find you? Like, how easy is it to actually find you on let's just say Bubble Goods, right? Like, is it easily searchable? Where do you show up in the ranking? Then when you're there, does it make sense? Is it captivating? Does it draw you in, like how are the photos, right? Like, the description, all of that stuff. So you have to put on those new glasses if at all possible or get help if you can't see it.

Jess 18:13
Yeah, and I think that's hard. Sometimes when you have a product, it feels like an extension of yourself, like your own like a child. And sometimes you don't want to hear like your kids not performing that well in school, or maybe your kid, I don't know, like, I'm going with the kid analogy here, which this could like really come off wrong.

Sari 18:16
I have to say your business is like a baby, you know. It is.

Jess 18:39
For products, like maybe your product needs some new packaging, because it looks like all the other, you know, products that are starting up, they're in a brown gusseted bag and they have a label, you know, stuck to it. That's great. Like, that's maybe what you need to get going. But how do you start to differentiate? Can that sticker stand out a little bit more? Can you do a better job than your counterpart at that community piece and storytelling to differentiate? And then yeah, with things like marketplace and something we message a lot of and especially in our 1000 plus brands, is like things like metadata tagging. So within our system specifically in other marketplaces, you have brand and product level tags so that the marketplace itself can pick up and do a better job at pointing customers to you. So for example, some of our products are we have brand level tags, and so you can tag your product as a female founded company. So when it's Women's History Month, and we're highlighting female founded brands, we as Bubble Goods are easily able to pick up and market your product for you. So kind of making that job easier for community to do the work for you.

Sari 19:48
That's good, because I noticed when I was on there, you know you had like, now it's summer, right? So you have summer essentials. So you guys aren't like hunting through a thousand brands trying to find them. You're looking for that tags that are going to lead to that.

Jess 20:02
We do pride ourselves on having great relationships with everyone who's partnered with us. But at the same time, sometimes we do miss it. And brands and brand partners will reach out and say, hey, oh, I didn't see my product included. I think I'd be a great fit. And sometimes we disagree. We're like, oh, I don't know. But then they said, oh, my gosh, good catch, we throw them in. They join that camp, that moms campaign, which we love and encourage. Back to that kale chip analogy, like how am ranking? We love when our partner products and brands point out to us like, why am I not showing up? I've done all the steps. We've even caught bugs in our own system that way, so and it's helped everyone across the board.

Sari 20:41
I love that you guys seem really friendly. You know, like, if you're on Amazon, you don't get to have these conversations with anybody, believe me, I've been dealing with Amazon with the book, myself.

Jess 20:54
We're pretty high Amazon. I mean, Amazon has a place in terms of like the experience you'll have, much, much different, much more curated both for customers and for people who sell this.

Sari 21:05
Before we switch gears, I think there were a couple of other things that you and I were talking about, before we started recording that are really important to increase your online sales, which are those keywords for SEO, your photos and customer reviews. I'd love to hear more about what you have to say about each of those.

Jess 21:25
Yes, photos are a lot, we are pretty strict actually about that with Bubble specifically. But we have it down to a bit of a science for what converts, what does while the order of the photography. So there is a bit of a system when you're uploading your products to sell, that will be a photo guide to follow. So it makes it pretty easy for brands to be consistent across the board. But also like have better performance. We've taken that off your plate to even think about. But all the way to, again, those like meta fields, like metadata is super important. So maybe not a lot of brands know this. But your UPC code that goes into your, you know, under your barcode. It's also used in picking up your product. So let's say you search for your product on Google or Yahoo, for a marketplace that is trying to push your product more, it's great to include that. So your product is picked up across all those channels and can compete and doesn't get buried. So that's something that a lot of brands, like we're pushing them to do more but they kind of skip because they want to get their products up and selling. So we're trying to do a better job of like, for us, how do we get brands up and selling quickly, but at the same time message like, hey, these things are really important. And you'll get picked up. You can kind of ride that bigger wave, you know, across the board with things like that.

Sari 22:46
It's really important that as entrepreneurs, as brand founders, I mean founders of any kind, right, that we take responsibility for our success. And that we, you know, it's one thing, great, get it up as fast as you can, but then don't go with, you know, the attitude of like, well, why isn't it selling like it's up? Like, what else do I need to do? Like, learn best practices? And yeah, like said, you're competing, even on your platform, you're going to be competing against some similar brands. So doing the work, like doing the legwork, getting the good photos, writing the right descriptions, you know, I really encourage people in Master Your Business to really think about what business are they really in? And it's not kale chips, the business you're in. The business you're in is an emotion, it's something that you're satisfying in the customer, because our buying decisions are driven by emotions, right? It's like, why did they choose one kale chip over another, right? There's something about it that's driving like, oh, I'm going to feel so healthy and aspirational.

Jess 23:58
It's emotion or it's just FOMO like, oh, my gosh, everyone has this thing. I need it.

Sari 24:02
Which is an emotion, right? It's a fear. It's a fear if you're missing out for sure. So, yeah, what's the hot brand? I want to look cool. That's an emotion too. So I think sometimes we get so clinical and it's just we think it's about kale chips, or we think it's about coffee or any other product and it's like, that's just your commodity, you're actually selling something bigger, like fine comparing coffees. I'm going to go with something that I'm like, oh, that that feels like it touched me, right? Like they're speaking to me. And they get me, they get it. And I like the branding and you know, it all just kind of fits with like me as if I'm your target customer. And that's always one of the most painful parts I find for founders is to let go of the idea that everyone is their target customer. And to narrow it down and focus but they're going to have so much more success when they do.

Jess 25:02
It's so true. And that's hard, like we talked about, you know, what's on our virtual shelves, right? And you can't online pick up a product or there's no like tasting at the end of the aisle. And so, you know, telling that story through your descriptions and engaging with the retailer. So whether it's Whole Foods or Bubble Goods, at the same time, like you have your own audience, but you have your retailers audience and asking yourself, like, how are you engaging with the Green Markets audience that day with Bubble Goods audience, because that's that power of that amplification for your branding, and your storytelling.

Sari 25:40
I always call it the three C's. So you have to captivate first. So you got to get, you know, if I'm looking at coffee on your site, how many? You know, I'm scanning really quick. And I'm like, ooh, that one. I like those colors, or I like that brand, or whatever, right? There's something that draws me in. And then once I click, or I pick up your product on a store shelf, then I need to connect, like, you got to connect with me. And that's that emotional connection. Like, I need to feel like, oh, I'm in your tribe. And it also could be like, oh, do they have the right flavor? Or do they have the, you know, I really want organic or, you know, and so it may not be for me, and then I go back. But ultimately like to get them to convert, we got to do those first two things.

Jess 26:28
I'm going to add a C, cash, because you can have the best product, you can connect, you can do all that. But I think also too like you need significant backing. So operating your business, getting it funded the right way. All those lovely backend detail.

Sari 26:46
Which is what I specialize in. So for people listening to video here on the yeah, your vendor email, like, I've worked with brands, sometimes it's like, you got all the things going for you. But you don't have any profit margins. So at the end of the day, you're not going to last. Like we do have to have cash, at least like have a path to profitability and have some of those margins. And you can improve your efficiencies over time. But in food, right, like food and beverage, it's so passionate, and it's very democratic, right? We all eat. And so everyone is like, I make the most amazing thing, right? Like, I couldn't just start a car company, because it takes too much cash, but I got to go raise a lot of money, right? And I need tech and supply chain, and there's a lot I need. But I can go start, you know, a cookie company fairly quickly, with a low barrier to entry. And so I think that there's an, it's easy to get in but we have to run our business like a business. And that cash is really important. So congratulations on everything. And congratulations to all the amazing vendors that are on there. And it's such a testament to the need for something like this. So amazing. All right, so everybody can find you at bubblegoods.com, all that good stuff.

Jess 28:25
And you can sign up to sell at Bubble Goods by visiting bubblegoods.com at the footer link, or you can visit sell.bubblegoods.com to make an account and get selling.

Sari 28:37
It's been a pleasure to have this conversation with you and help people learn how to sell better and just educate them about what you guys do.

Jess 28:44
Yes. Thanks for having me.

Sari 28:47
I hope you were taking some notes because we hit some really key points there on how to really take responsibility, take ownership of whatever listing you are doing online, and how to really improve your results to get those sales. Because we can never just abdicate responsibility to any one platform, whether that's your own website, you're just like, hey, I'm here, why aren't people buying or it is on a platform like Bubble or Amazon or Thrive or Fair, any of those. You really have to do the work and optimize it, tweak it and it's not just a one time thing. So the tips that both Jess and I gave, I hope were really helpful. And I highly recommend getting on Bubble at a very early stage as long as your product meets their requirements. It's a very friendly as you heard, it is meant to be very user friendly, vendor friendly, and they're doing the work for you. It's kind of like a farmers market where I as the market manager and doing a lot of the marketing for you, right? We're creating more, more vendors, more energy, it's more efficient for people to go to one market instead of trying to find you in your little pop up somewhere in the city that you're in. And so it's the same exact thing, but it doesn't mean that you don't do work on your end. So go ahead and give it a try, be the 1001 vendor or 1002, whatever it is, and let me know you're on there so that I can go support you. So that others can go support you. And of course, come get support inside Food Business Success, get on Fuel calls, and let's make sure you have that other really important C, the cash, the profit, the path to profit, built in. Until next time, have an amazing week! The smartest thing you can do as an entrepreneur is to invest in a who to help you with the how to speed up your journey and help you skip the line. When you are ready for more support and accountability to finally get this thing done, you can work with me in two ways. Get me all to yourself with one on one business coaching, or join Food Business Success which includes membership inside Fuel, our community of food business founders that includes monthly live group coaching calls, and so much more. It's one of my favorite places to hang out and I would love to see you there. Go to foodbizsuccess.com to start your journey towards your own Food Business Success. Hey there, you're still here. How fun is that? If you want more, go and grab the book off of Amazon, Key Ingredients: How To Turn Your Passion Product Into A Profitable Business. This is an actionable guide with step by step instruction on how to start or scale your product business. I also give you a special link so that you can access some book only resources. So what are you waiting for? Head over to Amazon or go to keyingredientsbook.com for more information.


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