Food is one powerful force. It's tied to memory. It's hands-on. And it connects people. It's something 1/3 of the Foodstirs co-founders Galit Lebow knows well. "I remember the homemade cinnamon raisin kugel that grandmother would make for us on special holidays," she says. "I remember running into the house and we knew grandma was over. She passed away last year and it’s one of my goals to learn how to make it! I miss the smell."
The other 2/3 of the e-commerce baking company that delivers creative baking kits and mixing to your home are Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gia Russo.
Each woman brings something different to the table of the company that is "reinventing the baking category" and "intends to give consumers an opportunity to be creative and share their experience." We caught up with Foodstirs to talk all things baking and business in anticipation of #CreateCultivateATL where all three will be keynoting in conversation with Self magazine's entertainment director Rebecca Sinn.
Founders and CEOs often talk about the “problem” their company will solve. What “problem” is Foodstirs trying to solve?
Foodstirs is reinventing the baking category. We are offering a clean and green better tasting baking experience that is high quality, tastes amazing, and most importantly is accessible. There is nothing in the marketplace like us that exists right now. We see a huge opportunity to revolutionize the baking aisle and re-traditionalize home baking.
Moreover what is the ‘why’ of your brand?
Most of us are consumed by our digital devices, we're always on and always connected. Yet somehow because of this we often feel disconnected with our loved ones. We are so busy in our everyday lives that we are doing more but experiencing less. We wanted to create a product that gives you that time to spend with your family and friends - connecting, sharing and experiencing. We believe the act of preparing and enjoying food together has incredible power. Foodstirs allows us to connect effortlessly and create meaningful memories.
You were part of Mucker Lab, an accelerator based in Santa Monica. We’ve talked to female entrepreneurs before about the benefits of being in an accelerator. What was your experience?
We have had a great experience. We knew we wanted to launch an e-commerce site with a subscription component but we did not have a tech background. We decided to surround ourselves with e-commerce advisors and investors that could help. Our good friend of ours had been part of Mucker accelerator and recommended we take a meeting. We have a ton of respect for the founders of Mucker capital, Erik Ranalla & Will Hsu. They are smart investors who saw a unique opportunity that was a little out of their wheelhouse. They took a chance on 3 female entrepreneurs with an idea for a baking brand and we will be forever grateful for their early support. They have been super helpful to our business by offering resources, advice and mentorship. We have also met fellow start up founders in the program who are very collaborative. It’s a fun environment.
Why was it the right decision for Foodstirs?
We had big ideas and a big plan that involved an e-commerce subscription business that none of us had experience in. We believed that an accelerator would help guide us through the initial start up process and get us focused on the right things. We have been able to gain access to a network of amazing entrepreneurs and executives who we have built great relationships and have helped us execute more effectively.
Have you heard of the Rule of Three? It’s a concept in writing that says things that are presented in threes are more interesting, enjoyable, and memorable. Any thoughts on this as it pertains to having three founders?
We all have different strengths that compliment each other. Galit is the operator and visionary, Gia is the product innovator, and Sarah is our brand ambassador and creative officer. We share the same vision and passion. We sometimes agree to disagree but that's what makes it special. We respect each other. I have the best job in the world because we get to work with my close friends.
For female founders looking to raise capital, when you walk into a room of investors what are you thinking? How would you say your first meeting went compared to a later one?
Well first, we usually walk into a room of all male investors and we are 3 females selling a baking mix company. We knew it was going to be a challenge to sell them on this vision but luckily we have found amazing investors who believe in what we are doing and see the opportunity to disrupt a sleepy category. Sarah and I had our first investor meeting at a coffee house back in March and it was a disaster. We didn’t really know what to expect and probably weren’t as prepared as we should have been but it was a great lesson. We keep in contact with the investment fund and recently got a second chance to pitch them as we are currently in the process of raising another round. It was a much better presentation and we all laugh about it now.
With Sarah as the brand ambassador what challenges are you facing? People assume having a celebrity as the face of a company makes it easier, but in what ways is this not the case?
Having a celebrity as part of the start up comes with great advantages but also challenges. We have found that people sometimes don’t believe that Sarah is as involved in the day-to-day. She actually does come into the office everyday and even answers customer service calls. We are focused on producing the highest quality product and best experience. We take pride in what we have created and having an amazing partner who is also a celebrity allows us to amplify our message and get our story out there.
I’m pretty useless in the kitchen, but have a three-year-old and would love to bake with her. Why does Foodstirs make sense for me? Why does it make sense for her?
We created Foodstirs to make it simple and convenient for the modern parent to create a traditional home baking experience with their families and friends. We were inspired by our children and longing for a product that’s high quality made up of simple and delicious ingredients that allows us to spend quality time with family. Our mixes and baking kits are less than 6 easy steps - we call it quick scratch baking.
Among the three, who is the best chef? Who is the worst?
Gia is definitely the best chef, she grew up in an Italian household. She has also written three cookbooks! We go to her house when we want an amazing homemade meal.
What is a meaningful experience you each remember in the kitchen?
Galit: I have three sisters and both my pretend worked full time. We did not spend a lot of time in the kitchen, although we had dinner as a family every night. We had this amazing recipe for a sugar cookie with homemade frosting. Every Valentine’s Day we would make these cookies together - it was one of the few times we did not fight, we just had fun! We would frost, decorate and share them with the neighborhood. They were the best tasting cookies and more importantly, the inspiration for our amazing organic sugar cookie mix and frosting. Now I get to make it with my kids every weekend!
Why do you think there is such a tie between food and good memories?
Food just brings people together - it makes us happy. Everyone has a memory of favorite dish or recipe from when they were young. We hope to provide a product that gives you that opportunity to easily create your own food memories with your family and friends.
Why do each of you want to be a part of Create & Cultivate?
We believe in the power of collaboration and creativity. We believe that creativity leads to innovation. It’s important as women business leaders that we support each other and learn from each other. Our website has tons of recipe inspiration using our base mixes and we encourage our Foodstirs community to share their own. We love looking at the thousands of social posts of customers sharing their creations.