Interview with KIND Snacks Founder Daniel Lubetzky
1 year ago KIND, a multi award winning US healthy snack company launched into the UK market. Last week I met Daniel Lubetzky, the founder, to find out what the company is all about.
KIND offers a range of nutritious snack bars using “ingredients you can see & pronounce” (don’t worry folks; Daniel said he wouldn’t exclude quinoa as a potential future ingredient). The Madagascan vanilla & almond bar contains 75% nuts. It has just 4g of sugar and is low GI, gluten and dairy free. I am usually very picky about my sugar sources and try to make sure that they are as natural as possible, but as the sugar content is so low in these bars it makes almost no difference. The USP of KIND bars from my point of view is the fact that they use whole fruit and nuts and don’t blend them. This makes for a completely different snacking sensation!
The bars can be purchased in; Whole Foods, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s & Tesco. They cost just £1.29 per bar, a fair bit cheaper than their competitors. Daniel attributes much of KIND’s success to the simple nature of both the product and the message. The transparency of the brand and indeed the packaging means that consumers know exactly what they are getting. A product that “is good for you, your taste buds and your planet”.
Daniel entered the food market 26 years ago after being frustrated with the snack offerings in the US market. “They all tasted artificial, over processed and not real.” He also wanted to use business to bring neighbourhoods together, using food as a language to do this.
Daniel’s inspiration for using an organisation to give something back came from his father, who was almost a victim of the Holocaust. His father often said that the reason he survived was because of the KINDness of others.
When I asked Daniel what was the kindest thing he had seen whilst at KIND. He said “there is nothing that I have seen or done that compares to my father’s experience, I just try to emulate that and give back to society, but it’s not in the same universe. The reason he survived is because of the kindness of others. KIND was how people described him.” An example Daniel gave was a very moving story of how a German soldier once threw his starving farther a rotten potato. It doesn’t sound like a grand gesture to you and I, but it gave his father the nourishment he needed in order to survive.
What does the word KIND meant to you? His answer was the best interpretation of the word that I have ever heard. “KIND is often associated with weak or soft, this is not the case. When you are nice you are polite, when you are kind you are honest. Being nice is consoling someone who has been bullied; being kind is taking a stand against the bully.” It is the difference between action and reaction.
Daniel was clearly a very modest man, when asked about his own achievements or kindness he referred to that of his fathers. Despite having many amazing achievements of his own. In 2015 President Barack Obama named him a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). He is currently trying to teach kids empathy on a global scale through the use of a video enabled internet platform.
How do you find employees that care as much about your message as you do? “I find good human beings, that have good values, and then the mission statement takes care of itself. I find people that are real, that are not arse holes, that are KIND and ambitious. That is the key.”
Many health brands in the UK confine themselves to a very small niche, limiting their growth. What do you think is the secret to tapping into the mainstream market? “Be best in class and win big there first, then expand. Understand what your brand stands for, and then make sure your consumer can figure that out easily. A brand is a promise and a great brand, is a promise well kept.”
“Be careful about how you want to be seen. Don’t over define yourself. People create associations; make sure it is the one you want. It’s all about communication.”
For example, KIND is not about fruits and nuts or snack bars, despite both those things forming the main KIND product offering. KIND is about simple nourishing ingredients. They are intentionally not over defining themselves. They use straight forward marketing, with “boring names”. The products are simply named after the ingredients they contain (macadamia and vanilla for example). “The consumer doesn’t want a fantasy product, they want simplicity and transparency. Focus on the taste, then helping the consumer, then the social mission.” Fantastic advice for any budding entrepreneur.
As someone who would one day love nothing more than to launch their own health food company, I couldn’t wait to ask Daniel what pushed him over the edge to start his own business. “I always thought of entrepreneurs as people who are unemployable. People that love creating and can think outside the box.” “Starting businesses was just fun.” “I was looking for a healthy snack to take running and that something did not exist.”
What company inspires you the most, excluding KIND of course? “I admire authentic companies, what I don’t like is gimmicks. I love Nike and have had the pleasure of meeting the founder. He is so real, so down to earth.”
There we have it folks, a delicious snack bar with a rich back story and a founder that couldn’t be KINDer.