Jamie Lee and Isabelle Lam share their story about how they started Remix snacks at Mcgill University when they realized the lack of healthy snacks available in the market. Today Remix Snacks is a BIPOC, female, dietitian-led company creating snacks that are good for you and the environment, by reducing food waste and using beans.
How and when did you start this business? Please share your growth story.
We were both born and raised in Markham and started Remix Snacks during the last year of our undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal. Our snack idea won two innovation prizes from McGill’s Flagship Start-Up Competition (Dobson Cup), which led to the official launch of the company. As registered dietitians, we know there is a lack of healthy, yet satisfying snacks available out there in the market, and wanted to recreate something that people already love: chocolate snacks. We discovered that there was a community that started to connect with the same vision, mission, and love for snacking.
At the same time, we became aware of the atrocity of food waste in Canada, with over 1/3rd of food produced in Canada wasted yearly. We knew that we could create a snack that was not only nutritious but could also contribute to reducing the food waste issue as well.
Within the first few months of creating the concept, we auditioned for CBC’s Dragons’ Den and were selected to air on Season 13 Episode 12, receiving 2 offers on the show. This early brand traction near the beginning of our launch helped tremendously with brand recognition and credibility.
During COVID, we partnered with a distributor in Ontario and launched the local program at Sobeys, Metro, and Loblaws. We also launched 2 new flavors, completing our current Bean Bark product line to 5 flavors. We’re now currently in over 200+ retailers in Ontario and are continuing to expand across Canada.
Tell us the products and services you offer.
Remix Snacks is a BIPOC, female, dietitian-led company creating snacks that are good for you and the environment, by reducing food waste and using beans. Our first product, Bean Bark, is the market’s first vegan chocolate bark made with beans instead of nuts, that is also high-fiber, high-iron, and protein-rich. By using both the trending plant-based protein, beans, and upcycled fruits in our products, we make chocolate healthier while also using ingredients that have less of an environmental impact.
What were the initial difficulties you faced?
When we first launched our products, consumers had a hard time understanding the concept of having beans in a sweet snack. The texture was also too hard and we were receiving a lot of complaints about this. With all this feedback, we underwent a major rebrand of our product into what Bean Bark is today – this included changing the format of a snack into a chocolate bark, increasing customer education about beans, and recreating our logo and packaging for better brand recognition.
How did you maneuver your business during 2020-2021? Kindly list a few learnings.
We were actually on our way to a food expo in Toronto when we received an email saying the show was cancelled due to the rising cases of COVID in March 2020. Having just spent thousands of dollars on marketing materials, rebranding, and pre-launch of a new flavor, we were devastated. As well at the time, most of our retailers and the majority of our sales were from smaller mom-and-pop shops, which sadly closed during the pandemic and plummeted our sales revenue by 70%. We were no longer able to use our traditional marketing strategies such as in-store sampling due to the new “no sampling” policies. This was our biggest strategy to share our product and grow our brand awareness at that time.
- Being open to adaptation and pivoting is key – just because we had a strategy in place at the beginning of 2020, we learned that we have to be willing to change and improve that strategy to the given circumstances instead of sticking to it diligently.
- The start-up community and consumers are very forgiving and supportive – everybody was very empathetic about the obstacles we were facing and it was great being able to talk through these challenges with other entrepreneurs and the community.
How did you hear about Visa Canada’s She’s Next Grant Program?
We were part of the YSpace CPG Accelerator Program in 2020, and have kept in touch with the community since then. It was through their updates and sharing of resources that we learned about Visa Canada’s She’s Next Grant Program.
Kindly tell us about your plans for 2022.
- Continuing to launch our new savory product line (stay tuned!)
- Expanding into over 450+ retailers across Canada, including Western Canada and Quebec
Any words of wisdom for young entrepreneurs?
Keep an open mind and persevere- every challenge, obstacle, and the person telling you ‘no’ is just another step to you becoming a stronger entrepreneur and building a better business. Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you. Work towards something meaningful for you, proudly talk about your business everywhere you go, and network with other business owners, both new and experienced.
For more info kindly visit:
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This Story is authored by Yugbodh, Onside Media, Toronto, Canada. If you have stories to share kindly email: – firstname.lastname@example.org