Industry Insights: Zack Schreier and Nick Hamburger, Founders of Quevos

 

This interview is part 1 of Branding Times’ “Startup Spotlight” feature. Keep an eye out for part 2, coming soon!

Zack Schreier and Nick Hamburger are the co-founders of Quevos, an egg white chip company that was among the first recipients of incubator support from Kraft Heinz. They were kind enough to participate in our Industry Insights series, and we interviewed the pair about the company and their advice for entrepreneurs in the food industry.

 

Egg white chips are a new kind of product that most consumers are unfamiliar with. How did you factor consumer education into your branding and design?

We were very intentional with our packaging. We wanted to highlight egg whites first, but also emphasize that the product is similar to a typical chip/crisp in look and size— so we have a good-looking shot of the chips themselves front and center. We also went with standard chip flavors. And, we use nice material and a sleek design to convey the premium nature of Quevos— they’re not price-competitive with potato chips because they’re a higher-quality product.

Quevos are new and different and far superior nutritionally to typical chips, but outside from that, we wanted our flavors and our packaging to increase familiarity and comfort so people were willing to try the product. If we came out with a crazy package design and flavors like “Sriracha Surprise” or something weird like that, we felt we’d be alienating potential customers.

 

What has been your biggest challenge in founding and developing Quevos?

 R&D and manufacturing. Our recipe took us many months to develop, and is something we continually refine. Neither of us have food science backgrounds, and we invented a new type of food! So it took a crazy amount of work, and we’re always still improving the product as time goes on.

And then, getting our production up to high scale took months of work too— our process is wonky and we had to acquire various pieces of equipment and design some custom equipment as well which took a while to get made.

 

How did you first raise capital to start the company? And once you got that investment, how did you determine your priorities for allocating the funds?

Our first investment was from Kraft Heinz, through their incubator. Then, we raised a pre seed round in two parts in Winter 2018/19 and Summer 2019 from angel investors. The priorities were pretty clear— equipment for our process, working capital, and the rest for marketing in stores and online.

 

How do you make decisions as a team? Do you have a specific process that you’ve found to be helpful?

We operate individually, without consulting each other, unless we are uncertain! Which is typically on bigger decisions. We’ll chat together, and if we’re not comfortable, we’ll call up our food industry mentors, or often I’ll [Nick] ask my dad. It helps make the decision more clear.

 

How did you first get in touch with buyers?

Mostly just asking around the industry for buyer contact info (other brands have their emails) and sending cold emails!

 

What is something about both of you that has helped keep Quevos successful and growing? What traits do you think are important for the founder of a CPG startup to have?

I think the ability to not get attached to our perspectives, but rather seek mentors’ or each others’ guidance/thoughts before making big decisions is helpful. At the end of the day, you still have to put your foot down and decide, but you don’t need to rely solely on yourself at all times. Over time, you get better at knowing when you’re ready to decide without consulting anyone, and when you need more thoughts from others.

Another trait that’s important for founders is the willingness to grind it out, for months and years. Ideas are wonderful and fun to think about, but you can’t successfully bring something to the world without a whole lot of hard work, much of it unsexy and not fun. Part of this is resilience— things will not go your way sometimes, and there are days where it feels like you definitely will fail because no one likes your product or its too expensive to bring it to market or the competitive companies will easily copy you etc. As long as you know your mind will go there some of the time, you’ll be able to get past those tough feelings.

 

When you first started, did you have a target market in mind? Has this changed at all as you’ve developed your company? 

We are still targeting Keto dieters, but have emphasized the fitness vertical a little less than anticipated. It’s hard to have two target markets that you emphasize simultaneously.

 

Where do you see Quevos going in the next five years?

We want to launch in bigger and bigger channels each year, going from high end/healthy to mass market as time goes on. So next year, the hope is a Whole Foods or Sprouts or GNC type of channel; in 2021, the target is Costco or Starbucks; and in 2022 we’ll be looking at Walmart, etc. And as we grow, we have a couple really cool new products we’ll be adding!

 

If you’d like to read our past interviews with food industry executives and design leaders, you can find them all here

  • Brand Stories: The Evolution of Applebee’s
  • Industry Insights: Mike Lombardo, Founder of Topos Tea