Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyle Rood.
Hi Kyle, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Back in 2015, my co-founder Clint Matthews convinced me that protein waffles were going to be the next big thing. As former athletes, we saw the need for more convenient, protein-packed breakfasts and decided we’d take our shot.
It was slow going at first, armed with just three Belgian waffle irons and Clint’s pickup truck, but we learned a lot as we sought a large manufacturer to help us scale.
Unfortunately, our protein-packed, gluten-free, uniquely shaped waffle was outside the scope of contract manufacturing, so we doubled down and built our own production facility in Ballwin, MO in 2018.
At that time, protein waffles had become the next big thing, but Start Right wasn’t able to capitalize before the freezer aisle was saturated. So we pivoted to focus on our current Waffle Slider breakfast sandwiches.
And while the world was shut down in 2020, we reformulated our recipe, rebranded our packaging, and reinvested in efficiency to allow us to scale into the 1,800 stores that carry our product today.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Absolutely not. There have been some major road bumps along the way, all threatening to shut us down in one form or another.
For the first five years, we were definitely just making ends meet for large stretches at a time when retailers would charge excess amounts, request nearly impossible shipping deadlines, and worst of all drop our product from store shelves without notice.
There were cash struggles, labor struggles, employee struggles, and production woes nearly constantly! But I think the best way to answer this question is to tell you all the struggles we’re currently in the process of dealing with.
Avian Influenza is ravaging the country, sending egg prices soaring to 4x their original cost. Every single one of our products has chicken or egg in the recipe.
– Supply chain issues are pushing lead times up to 16+ weeks for some items, making ordering ahead and storing in our small facility a constant battle.
– Labor is still in short supply, and our wages have increased drastically over the past 12 months.
– Our Facebook was hacked, and it’s been nearly 2 months without access to one of our largest marketing arms.
Fun stuff! I have plenty more to dive into if pressed.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Our company is focused on creating convenient, protein-packed breakfasts to fuel busy consumers on even the most hectic mornings.
We specialize in manufacturing our Waffle Slider breakfast sandwiches and own our manufacturing facility that creates our uniquely shaped Waffle buns, unmatched in the industry.
We’re growing rapidly, thanks in part to Switch Marketing who helped us with our brand refresh to put our beautiful, dark blue packaging in a freezer case to stand out amongst a sea of red and yellow brands.
Our product is the perfect breakfast, at 260-300 calories, 17-18g of protein, and clean label ingredients that are ready to take out the door in just minutes.
Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Despite my internal rhetoric telling me I’m an extremely risk-averse person, the process of diving headfirst into entrepreneurship has been quite a risky decision.
While I attribute most of that risk-taking to ignorance and the stage of life I was in when Start Right was founded (25, unmarried, no kids), I look back and see it more as a bet on myself.
I definitely have my co-founder Clint to thank for this perspective, as he is usually the one pushing boundaries and stretching my risk tolerance, mostly for the better! One specific example is the SBA loan we took out in the Spring of 2021.
Our business was just gaining traction, but we needed capital to continue our growth and to be able to react to opportunities. Despite the loan being objectively the best thing for the business at the time, given the historically low-interest rates, availability, and flexibility, Clint and I were required to personally guarantee it, and it was a massive loan.
On my own, I doubt I would have been able to take out that loan, especially now that I was married, had a 9-month-old, and was painfully aware of our fragile personal finances. And I won’t lie, I still stress about that decision regularly, but it was the right move to make.
- $5.99 for a 2-pack of Waffle Sliders.
- Website: http://www.startright.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/startrightfoods
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/startrightfoods