Blake Sorensen launched his snacks business Blake’s Seed Based due to his severe allergy to tree nuts in 2018, when the global $90 billion free-from food category has already become competitive.
In Sorensen’s own words: “It’s easier than ever to create a brand right now” to solve personal needs, hinting the better-for-you consumer goods sector will likely raise the bar for future entries.
However, the company’s skyrocketing growth over the years, which has drawn support from CPG heavyweight Kraft Heinz
The first crossover brand
Its nutrition bars, which are made with flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds in a certified nut-free and gluten-free facility, are available in three different varieties — S’mores, Blueberry Lemon, and Raspberry, and each of them has a clear window on its recently revamped packaging to show its ingredients.
Unlike other free-from brands that primarily use teal for their packaging, a blue-green color has somehow become the unofficial color of food allergy, Blake’s Seed Based looks bold and colorful with “allergy-friendly” only showing in a relatively smaller font.
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“We want to be the first crossover brand: a lot of people might not have food allergies, but they might want to try eating dairy-free [snacks], or cut something out of their diets. We want to give them the ability to do so,” Sorensen noted.
Blake’s Seed Based has become available across 1,000 U.S. retailers, including Walmart
The ultimate goal for Sorensen is to reinvent most traditional indulgent treats by making them healthier. “We’re going to look at other areas, such as trail mix and cookies, and see how to fill their protein void” he said. “We see our brand have a variety of different products that offer different solutions.”
E-commerce is “all about the content”
Blake’s Seed Based has been selling on Amazon
“We’ve put a lot of our resources towards our website, and started doing things like paid ads. They really paid off,” Sorensen said, noting the secret weapon to draw consumers to the company’s own platform is mimicking Amazon’s shopping experience.
“People are so used to checking out on Amazon with one click, so we applied its checkout page [layout] to our website, and we saw our sales jump overnight,” he said.
Social media also plays a crucial role in helping Blake’s Seed Based grow its e-commerce revenues, and Sorensen notes how CPG brands need to be more creative to stand out.
“It’s all about the content. Even with Facebook advertising now, they’re kind of choosing the audience for you, so you have to stick out with your branding and copy,” he said, adding the company will also further invest in other channels including TikTok moving forward.
“We’re on TikTok, but I haven’t done any dances yet,” Sorensen added. “This is about finding new consumers, and drawing awareness. There will always be new platforms, so we have to be aware of them.”
Near-term equity round
Blake’s Seed Based is expected to raise its first equity round of $3 million in 2021 to fuel its continued growth.
This round will likely be led by both the company’s existing investors, including Ted Kellner, the CEO of Fiduciary Management; Alex Schneider, the co-founder of Clover Capital Partners; professional basketball player for the Phoenix Suns, Frank Kaminsky; and Jonathan Taylor, running back for the Indianapolis Colts, as well as several institutional investors.
Sorensen said: “2020 was a great year for us, and we’re expecting big growth in 2021 to achieve well over $1 million in sales.”