Living The Sweet Life

WITH

Mayssa Chehata

The Limitless Podcast

Living The Sweet Life

with Mayssa Chehata

0:00
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We crave sweets for many reasons. It may be because we’re stressed out, or we want to celebrate a small win, or we want to finish strong after a savory meal, or perhaps we want to munch while binge-watching something. Sweets are not always the healthiest, so we limit them or feel “unhealthy” after we occasionally indulge.

But did you know that there’s a perfect alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling any guilt afterwards? Mayssa Chehata founded BEHAVE, a company that makes all-natural, low-sugar and keto-friendly sweets. She built a business around her love for sweets, while also keeping another goal in mind; promoting healthier eating habits.

BEHAVE does not only promote healthier candy options, their company culture also encourages fun and excitement among the team, which makes every employee feel valued. Mayssa’s passion has created a new and healthier way to enjoy sweets and a wonderful environment for her team to grow together.

"Shift your mind to see more of the possibilities instead of worrying about the risks."

- Mayssa Chehata
@LimitlessShow @franklyco_

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN

  • How to turn your passion into a profitable business.

  • How to create a healthier company culture.

  • How to shift your mind to see more of possibilities instead of worrying about risks.

  • How important it is to surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you and your passion.

LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE

Johanna Buchweitz:
How would you feel if time and money were no objects or if you always knew that the answers you saw were at your fingertips or that the creative spark you would need for the next project was always going to be there? You would feel limitless. I’m Johanna Buchweitz, and it is my honor to welcome all of you to Limitless, the show where we have open, honest, and direct communication with extraordinary women in business to provide you with actual next steps for super growth based on their proven success tactics. Joining me on today’s episode is Mayssa Chehata, founder of Behave, a low-sugar, low-net-carb candy, featuring chef-crafted flavors and nothing artificial. Mayssa, welcome to Limitless.

Mayssa Chehata:
Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m so excited to have you here and my favorite way to kick off every episode is to share with all our guests this belief that I have, that every single driven female entrepreneur, like I think they’re modern-day superheroes. So as the superhero entrepreneur you are, what’s your superpower or power?

Mayssa Chehata:
Oh my gosh, I love that. The superpower that I’m trying to build on, but I do think it, it is in me, is just trusting my intuition. I think that’s something that I’ve done from the start of this journey and I sometimes you get straight off the straight off the path, but the more I listen to my intuition, the more I keep seeing things kind of going, going well.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s so important. And I think like all of us as female founders like know that like it’s so important to, to listen to like what, you know, we hear within like before we take action without, so I love that. so tell us a little bit about behave. Like what made you want to start this like super cool, healthy candy company?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, I, I, I mean, I still kind of pinch myself every day that I just make and sell candy for a living. It’s like a childhood dream, but that really is the basis for why I started a candy company. I’ve just always had a massive sweet tooth. I’ve always loved candy. Sweets, junk food. I think it very much came about because I grew up in a household that was very healthy. My dad actually was diabetic growing up, so we really didn’t have candy and sweets in the house. And I think I probably just like rebelled against that just when I was a grown-up with my own money and I could make my own, you know, eating habits and, you know, probably took it a little too far to be extreme. And then ultimately, you know, Again, always had this love for candy, but was generally trying to eat healthier, trying to be a little bit more cognizant of like the things that I was putting into my body and really realized, I started to feel like I had to make this terrible choice between eating better, you know, living healthier, living cleaner, and having just. Those day-to-day joys of grabbing a piece of candy or having a slice of cake or having a slice of pizza or whatever those kind of moments of indulgence are, you know, throughout your day or throughout your week. And kind of started looking for a healthier candy option or seeing if there may be something that would allow me to still indulge without feeling so guilty or without feeling like I was falling off with. Health goals and with just, you know, the way that I wanted to be eating and just generally living a cleaner lifestyle. And I found nothing really, again, like starting out as a cons er. I just wanted a product like this for me to be able to enjoy candy and, you know, do it in a cleaner, more healthful way. And that was sort of probably when the initial start went off and just started asking myself that question of like, why doesn’t a healthier candy exist? Why isn’t there anything. The entire grocery store or, you know, searching Amazon, searching the internet, that could kind of fulfill this need for, for me to, to be able to still enjoy the suites that I love, but not, you know, feel like I fall off every time I did.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So I know that there’s like a, a couple of quote-unquote healthier sweet options and I say quote-unquote, cause I know there’s some questionable, not-so-super-healthy ingredients on them. So I would love to hear from you as like with what you’re doing now, like with the options that are available on the market, why is behave different? Like, what makes behave healthier, tastier better for you, whatever it may be. Like, you know, how does it compare to the other?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, absolutely. So I think, you know, again, as I started paying a little closer attention to what is happening in the candy world, like are there healthier options that maybe could be a good option for me? Prior to starting Behave, what I found was there were essentially organic candy. There were a few organic candy companies that were starting to, you know, show up in the store. But Organic Candy, unfortunately, actually has more sugar content than conventional. Just traditional like Candy would find out. Store. That’s because they use organic cane sugar and organic cane. Sugar has higher glycemic index than like high fructose corn syrup, which is what traditional candies usually using. So yes, cleaner from a maybe more organic ingredients, but. Still, unfortunately not great from a total sugar content perspective. Then there were a few options that were like sugar-free, but those were typically replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, harsh sugar alcohols that can really kind of like disrupt your digestion, your stomach. And those, so those were zero sugar options, but the ingredient lists were just like, You know, a full page long, you know, ingredients that you could never pronounce. Things like as protein, erythritol, Malitol, sorbitol, these sort of sugar alcohols that, again, are just pretty harsh on your body. And so where I wanted behave to live and ultimately what we’ve created, and, and what was. Created for our behave in partnership with our celebrity chef. Our in-house celebrity chef Elizabeth Faulkner is a product that is low in sugar. We’re just one gram of sugar and only 60 calories in an entire bag, but without using any artificial ingredients. So we sweeten our product using plant fibers, alls, and monk fruit. And we worked really closely with Elizabeth who has this incredible background. Pastries and just being an, you know, a world-renowned chef. You know, Michelin, a word-nominated chef. Really working with her to be able to use those sweeteners but still balance out the tastes and flavors. So we still taste like delicious, amazing candy that is kind of mouthwatering and you wanna finish the whole bag. But with still achieving those nutritional, that we were aiming for.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. So I would love for you to walk us through a little bit from like inception to creation. Like someone has an idea for like a candy or like a, of any type of like product within the food and beverage space. How do you go from idea to actually making it happen? Like even just from like the basics of like formulation are finding that chef or like, I mean, I’m sure there’s a million steps that I definitely don’t know about, but like how does that even work? Like how did you find those people?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, absolutely. So where I really started was when I, you know, I kind of had, had this again thought idea, whatever you wanna call it, of why aren’t, why isn’t there a candy option that is low sugar, better, better from a nutritional perspective, but doesn’t use artificial ingredients. So that was kind of like the question I wanted to answer. Can we make a product like, I, So first things first is let’s try to make it, I personally, I I, I really admire founders that just like j p into their kitchen and make the product. I think as a function of, I knew I wanted to do g my candy and making g my is like pretty complex, combined with the fact that I am terrible in the kitchen. Like I can barely boil water to make pasta. I knew I was gonna need someone to jump in and help me. And again, also coming back to that point of, we. I knew that being a candy product, we were gonna have to be delicious. And I knew that I’m probably not the one who’s gonna make anything delicious, just from my own history of trying to cook and bake and do anything kind of, you know, culinary. So, I had the thought to reach out. I, I sort of figured, you know, maybe I can partner with a chef who has, you know, the background in this space was specifically looking at. Chefs with pastry background so they understand sweets, they understand flavor, you know, the kind of that indulgent type of product. And I reached out, I actually sent a cold email to Elizabeth and her, I think her agent got back to me really quickly. Set up a phone call. We had a great phone call. Met for coffee a couple days later. I told her, You know what I wanted to do, and she was really excited. I wanted to j p on board again. She just had this amazing background in pastry, but she was really aligned with the mission of being able to still eat. The fun candy and the fun indulgent products that she’s spent her whole career making for people, but without sacrificing on the health side of things. So, you know, she came on board with the, with me just super early and we started spending really nights and weekends, like in her Brooklyn apartment, kitchen, just, kind of pouring away with, with the initial formula and the recipe. Then once we had the recipe that we felt good about, actually the next thing that we did was we spent an entire weekend. We basically handmade as much as we could. I think we ended up with like a couple hundred bags, and then we partnered with a store here in New York and we put that first recipe on the shelf of us. Store and we were, I was still working full time in my last job at this point. Elizabeth obviously has so much always going on, kind of in her kind of celebrity chef career. So before, I think we both took like a bigger leap into this project. Wanted to see if people would wanna buy this product. So we put it on the shelf of a store. I think we gave them product that we thought was gonna last for maybe a month or maybe even. A month and a half, two months, and we got a call from them after a day and a half, and they were like, we’re almost fully sold out. I think about a day later they sold through all the product and. That for me was the validation to say, Okay, people want this product, People will pay for this product. I, it wasn’t, I didn’t send like all my friends into the store. I think I actually didn’t even really tell anyone cuz I just wanted to see if people would buy it. And then from there, I was like, there’s something here. So, decided to kind of come in and focus full time on Behave and on the candy. And the next step from there was finding the manufacturer that was going to help us scale. Some food products you can kind of like make it at a small scale and build your business that way. With Gummy, you can’t really make gummies. Small scale, it’s just too labor intensive. It will take you like a like I said, a whole weekend. You can make maybe like 200 bags of candy. It’s just not scalable. So we knew we were gonna have to go into large-scale manufacturing. So worked on finding the manufacturer and then kind of hand in hand with that was,, raising funding from investors to be able to kind of finance those early days of the business.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So with that store, how did you convince them to just like, you know, share your product there? And even just like from a packaging standpoint, if you were doing it out of like, you know, Elizabeth Kitchen, like how did you even package the product so that it would even like, look physically attractive for like any buyer to come in?, I know I’ve like heard from a few places too, it’s like where you shelve certain products that’ll also make a difference in the store. So like how did you figure that out, like when you were working with the store in general?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, so I, I was really lucky, it, that first story that we went into, it’s actually this amazing concept called popup Grocer. And they pop up in different cities. They were doing a popup here in New York. and I was connected to the founder at the time. It was their first popup. We had mutual kind of friends and mutual connections and she kind of took a bet on us, the whole concept of the store. Kind of cool up-and-coming brands that are disrupting the food and beverage space. So we really fit that bill. It’s mostly healthier, better for your brands. And so I think she was just kind of willing to make, that on us. And we’ve been part of every, almost every pop-up grocery store since then. So, you know, it kind of, I think, paid. For both of us and, and we’ve had a great relationship ever since. and then from a packaging perspective, I agree, and I’m also, my background comes from branding, so I like. I kind of would like cringe at doing just like a, you know, a sicker on like a really ugly plastic package, which, you know, and not to knock that because obviously, it’s like I fully believe in like get to market like has everything you can, but I am like a bit of a. Stickler when it comes to design. So, we were actually able to kind of on a really low budget, be able to get something that I think looked great onto the shelf that was just working with a freelance designer, to kind of help us, you know, do a really early concept for like a logo and a little g my bear icon. We made it cute and colorful, and then we worked with a packaging manufacturer that could just do. Small run of a couple hundred units of the packaging. We of course paid an ABSORBANT amount per pack, but I thought it was worth the investment again so that we went into that store looking really legitimate and we didn’t just kind of look like a neighborhood, you know, mom-and-pop brand. I wanted us to kind of blend in with the rest of the brands on the shelf. and you know, we were going up against some of those other competitors that. Better for you candies or healthier candies in within the So, so I really wanted to make sure we put our best foot forward so we could really see, can we even compete with these other brands that have maybe been around for a little bit longer, have more funding behind them, et cetera. So that was really the hypothesis I think, that we were testing by, you know, doing this entire sort of launch in, in the.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that concept of the pop-up store. So like from like the business model standpoint, how does that even work? Do you like, you know, they get, I guess, a caught in sales, or is that how it works? Like just for the day for however much product that you have?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, it’s, I think it’s, it’s on like a revenue share model and,

Johanna Buchweitz:
Okay.

Mayssa Chehata:
And yeah, they, it kind of changes store by store. They’re also like a growing business and I think they’re shifting how they, how they operate. But, yeah, definitely a unique concept versus obviously traditional retail where they would. Buy your product from you wholesale. And I think that was another reason why it’s a little bit like lower. It was a little bit lower risk for them to take us on because ultimately we still own the inventory and then we would revenue share on whatever was sold. So going into it, it’s like we didn’t know we were gonna sell out. Maybe we were gonna sell one bag in a full month, but it was, it’s a little bit lower risk for the store. They didn’t buy it all upfront and then have to find a way to.
Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s a really cool concept. so if you do have a good relationship with that, you know, manufacturing for the packaging and, and if you, and even just like for what you’re currently using, if you do like them, I would love to for you to like, you know, share it with us and you can put it in the show notes afterward. because I think. So many people, you know, have even reached out to us and said like, Hey, finding like manufacturers that we trust and are good quality is really, really tough.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah.

Johanna Buchweitz:
And there’s a bit of a challenge of like, how do you go about doing that? But also not waste so much time and money having to like sort through like, you know, someone who’s actually gonna create what it is you wanna create. And in not only just like a good way, but a lot of like ethical ways as well. So, would love to get that from you and, and our, our team can put that in the show now.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah. Definitely.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So now, so I, I ass e, like based on what you said, you, you raised a bit of funding, so now you guys can kind of expand and grow. for you guys, was that like a seed round, or were you doing like series A? How did that kind of work?

Mayssa Chehata:
No. Yeah, it was a good, I don’t even know, I, you could maybe call it a pre precede round. I, we didn’t really even have a name for it. We mostly fundraised from kind of angel investors, some family offices, some strategic investors. really just to get that initial funding that we needed for our initial, our initial inventory run and the branding design, packaging, getting our product launched into market and then kind of getting off to the races from.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So, anyone who’s listening, I suggest you guys go check out the Behave website because the packaging is awesome and it makes total sense like with your background and branding because it is really cool and it’s really cashy. Like I know if I was like walking into any store and I saw that I would probably. Stop. Even if I had no idea what it was and like wasn’t gonna buy it or was gonna buy it, I, it’s just like something that catches your eye. So we think that’s something that’s really, really cool. I guess, from the food and beverage like space perspective, are there any specific like regulatory requirements that you need to adhere to?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we, and, and I was kind of, I, I, I had a background in food. I had been sort of an early employee at a food company called Daily Harvest. Now I’m kind of massive meal subscription or frozen, food subscription business. but I was not necessarily involved in any like, legal regulatory stuff there. So I really wanted to make sure. Super, super buttoned up when it came to that. So we worked with a law firm that specializes in, kind of like FDA regulatory for packaging, that we collaborated between them and our branding agency. So when you mention like the beautiful website, the beautiful packaging, you know, I definitely always wanna shout out and give so much credit to our branding agency Gander. they’re amazing. Space they’ve worked with, you know, Magic Spoon Cereal and Min and Ebos and just so many amazing brands. and so yeah, collaborating between the design agency, making sure the packaging looks beautiful, and obviously, we went for a really minimalist look, but then still making sure that obviously everything that we need called out is called out. and that in that definitely involved lawyers and that’s, I think, just like a reality I think of start. Any company, but especially food and beverage that we don’t always talk about is like, The there is, there is just like a lot of upfront capital investment, right? And of course, there you can get to market, I think on a bootstrap and on a shoestring budget. and I think f a lot of FDA regulations too, you know, they, some of them only go into effect for packaging once you’re selling over a certain n ber of units. I think it’s, don’t quote me on this, but I think it. 50,000 units and above. And if you’re selling less than that, I think there’s some, a little bit more leeway. but obviously, you know, we have plans to scale the business very quickly, so you do need some upfront capital, I think, to just get, you know, hire those lawyers to really make sure that you’re buttoned up and, and working with, you know, a branding agency and, and getting some of this stuff off the ground.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you for saying that. Cause I do think that’s a very important point. Did you guys do that though, after you, you kind of had that real proof of concept at the popup, or because it is like, you know, you were selling something in that space? Did you have to do that before?

Mayssa Chehata:
So we raised the fund. Are you asking about the funding or the regulatory,

Johanna Buchweitz:
No, the regulatory piece. Like hiring the legal team and stuff like that.

Mayssa Chehata:
We did it after So that initially packaging and the store was, you know, it something that we kind of put together with, with our designer, but then definitely it was when we moved, so then kind of larger scale when we were ready to launch the business in a bigger way online that we ran all of our packaging through, kind of like a proper legal.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Awesome. Thank you. And for clarifying that. And are you guys currently direct to cons er or are you still like working to get into other stores or are you currently being sold at specific stores?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah. So after that, like we did that test with pop up grocery again, pre-launch. Then when we launched the business, which was also, by the way, August of 2020, so mid-kind of peak covid pandemic, like still just maybe starting to come out of a lockdown depending what city you were in. so we launched the business fully direct to cons er, and we spent the first year of business really focused on the. and e-commerce side. and then it, it’s really been in the past year that we’ve started launching some wholesale accounts and starting to expand our presence with retail and wholesale. And then now as a business, I would say we’re really looking to expand that wholesale side of the business. We see a lot of success there. I think, you know, candy is really made for retail. It’s that. Purchase. You see it at the checkout aisle or you’re walking down the aisle and your kid, it catches your kid’s eye and you grab it. so that’s really, I think probably the future of our business is gonna be continuing to expand there. But we’ll always, you know, maintain and nurture the E-com side as well, between our own website and then, you know, through third-party e-comm retailers like Amazon and, and a couple of.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So when it comes to pursuing like the retail avenue, how do you go about even like pitching those retailers? Like how does that whole process work? Yeah, so we were really lucky in that, we had a lot of inbound. So because we had spent that first year of business fully d TOC in that year, a lot of retailers and wholesale accounts had reached out to us. You know, maybe they’d see us in the press or through social media.

Mayssa Chehata:
And so we kind of had already a running list of retailers that wanted to bring us in, and I think that gave us a really good sort of head start and sort. Start into retail where we didn’t need to go knocking down doors. We already had people kind of at our doorstep ready to bring our products into their stores. So it was a really good starting point. And then from there, now as we think about expanding retail, I mean, it can be everything from, you know, that definitely still a lot of inbound, you know, we’ll reach out to retailers through Instagram messages. We’ll, cold email retailers, I have successfully gotten us into stores by, You know, emailing the CEO of some pretty big kind of retail, accounts and, you know, just sending a cold email or LinkedIn message to Yeah, even the CEOs or, you know, executive level people at the company sometimes if you catch their eye and, and they’ll kind of get excited about the brand, send some samples out. and then we also kind of work with a number of like sales teams as well that are more on the ground doing that sort of like, going, not physically going door to door, but like digitally door to door and really just, expanding our retail presence that way.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. So from the direct to cons er side, like how did you really market it at first? Like you said, you know, mostly in like, August, I think you said 2020, right? So what were you guys doing? Like what avenues did, did you pursue, and, and how did you really gain that traction, especially in the.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, I would say, you know, early days we really focused on making a big splash right at launch, like on our launch day. And the way we really went about that, the key focus marketing channels for us were influencer marketing and pr. So, you know, we really saw these as like low-cost marketing avenues that would allow us. To gain a lot of impressions and high value impressions really, really quickly, right when we launched. So leveraged. just a lot of influencer outreach, leveraging kind of my personal networks. I’ve done influencer marketing in a number of my past roles when I worked at, you know, Daily Harvest. Done Uber and Soul Cycle. So had already kind of like a list and a network of influencers that I knew and had worked with. And then also just kind of cold reaching out, hitting people up asking if they wanted to try our candy. The beauty with candy and the influencer’s space is that like everyone kind of wants to try candy. So it made it very easy for us, I think to just really grow that influencer gifting list and just get a bunch of gifts sent out right when we were launching, Coupled with a big PR push. Really getting the word out that, you know, we’re kind of the new candy in town. We’re disrupting the way that the candy industry is approaching product ingredients and nutrition and we’re able to garner, I think, a lot of press and kind of buzz and attention that way. And then coming out of that initial launch kind of buzz and that initial launch period, we focus a lot on our own. Organic social media, So our own Instagram, our own TikTok account, kind of educating people about what our products are, what we stand for as a brand, through those channels. And then we have done some paid, but I would say paid has never been sort of like our n ber one marketing or acquisition channel, but we haven’t done some investments in paid across Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So with the influencers, I love that you mentioned that because influencer marketing I think is kind of one of those funny things where everyone hears something about it, but what they hear is a little bit different. Like, so I, I think it’s great cuz like from what I also know with influencer marketing, usually you have more success with the physical product over a digital product. So that’s great that you do have a physical product. How did you approach the? Like the influencers, because I know like, you know, some require payment upfront. Some will just do like, you know, they’ll just take a percentage of sales and do it on commission based. So how did you approach that and what was the volume like? How many did you need to kind of see that like big bang push?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, totally. So just saying your last question first. I think we probably had about 150 gifts sent out right? Leading up to the launch. I think we staggered them a little where maybe half of them had arrived to people like a day or two before we launched, so it could kind of like start building up the hype, and then probably half, we sort of staggered out in the week following the launch, and that was strategic to make sure that we kind of maintain that conversation and that influx of content online. Over the course of like two weeks rather than it all happening on just one single day. And then it kind of goes silent after that. and yeah, we really focus full, purely on gifting to date. we haven’t really done much in the paid influencer space, so that’s definitely something that I do think that there’s a future and I do think it’s an effective strategy. but it’s just not something we’ve really had to lean into yet. We’ve really focused more on. Organic influencer content. So we focus on gifting. And again, like I said, we’re very lucky in that typically when we reach out to influencers we say, Hey, we’re a healthier, better for you. You know, g my bear with this really fun packaging, really fun aesthetic. we get really high response rate and we’ve heard that from some. you know, and, and I know that just from having worked in the influencer space for a while, that the percentage of people who we reach out to who respond and accept the gift is like very, very high. Cuz again, I think people are kind of curious. It’s candy. Everyone loves candy. If it. You know, a, a parent or a mom, then they’re always like, For sure my kids are gonna love this. so we’ve had a really easy time. I think getting people on board to just like receive a gift package, try it out and you know, typically people will love it and then feel compelled to share. And that’s really our strategy anyways, is we want people sharing who really love the product, feel that connection to it, versus sometimes I think with paid promotion, you can get into this. Tricky space of how authentic is it really? And the thing about influencer marketing, and I think social in general is it’s become so saturated now and audiences have become so smart. Like I think there was probably a time 5, 6, 8 years ago where a brand could, you know, like. I, I always think like there was this moment where Kylie Jenner was very early in the influence for marketing days. She promoted this, one of these like out of a box mattress companies, and I think it, I remember reading a case study about it and it generated this massive influx of sales. If Kylie Jenner today posted that mattress company, people would be like, Kylie Jenner does not sleep on that mattress. I’m sorry. It’s like a thing, it’s like a $500 mattress or something. And it’s like, we know she’s not sleeping on this. It’s not gonna work, you know? So I think the cons er, the audience has become so much more educated and us as brands, we have to understand that too and really focus on, getting people to promote and talk about our products, who are really our true consumers, and having those influencers have a true affinity for the product. before we, you know, you go out and make an investment in a partnership with.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, that’s a really good point. I think a company that understood that pretty early on and has done success, like so much successful, like full business as a result of it is Snow. The teeth whitening company. so Brandon is listening who’s not as familiar with them. They literally made their success and became known as this like huge brand and have deadlines, millions and millions in monthly revenue just because they got their own customers who actually loved their product to post videos about it. Every single one of their customers was offered like an affiliate, like marketing, you know, thing at first. And they said like, if you love it, like we know our product is awesome. I think you guys will love our product. And they did. And they said, just share it. Tell a friend post on social media, send an email. And they did that and it generated all this buzz. And now like they’re huge and they’ve done partnerships with so many different celebrities.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah.

Johanna Buchweitz:
But to your point, I, I think. So important to remember.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So when you were doing the these gifting, like was it just the influencer would do like a, an unboxing, they would show them like tasting it, they would like do a review? Was that kind of how it worked?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, exactly. And we don’t, we actually don’t require anything. So again, we want everything to be very genuine and authentic. And also because we’re not compensating, we also, like, I really believe in, you know, if we have a very specific request of content, then we need to compensate for that. This was more, here’s a gift. We love you, we love your vibe, we love your audience. and just try out our candy and see if you like it. And then a lot of people just really, again, like on their own accord, if they love the product, we’ll just kind of feel compelled to share it with their audience cuz that’s just kind of how they curate their content. so we leave it very open-ended. And again, I think that also generates the most authentic content. We don’t reach out and say, you know, we need you to post in this specific way. We just say We’d love to send you those gifts. If you love it, feel free to share it. Sometimes I think we’ll give a code that they can share with their audience if they want to. but we just, again, keep it. I, I think the more you let influencers run with things on their own, they are the MAs. Like they are really the masters of their domain, right? They know their audience best. They know if an unboxing video works great or if a tasting video works great or if just a beautiful photo of the product works best. So we really kind of leave it in their.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that strategy. Cause I think many people when they think of influencer marketing, they have a very specific agenda. Like as a company, like, Hey, I’m gonna send you this, you’re gonna post this, you’re gonna say that. And it does end up feeling a little bit forced. But you know, they’re, they’re doing that with the best intention cuz they feel like that’s gonna be the thing that’s gonna like drive, you know, like new customers to their website. But to your point, The influencer does know their audience best cuz they’re the ones who are creating content for them. So when you give them that, that freedom that they can like, choose to post, that they want to create if they want to, at the end of the day, like your only cost is however much, you know, it costs the company to like send out, you know, the product for free, not sell the product. Right. So like, I, I think that I think that’s really cool actually. It’s super fascinating.

Mayssa Chehata:
And I also think by leaving, leaving things really open-ended, we’ve gotten. Such creative content back from people that like if we had given them a brief, we would’ve never thought of it. There was, there was a photographer who did like a powder-puffed girls-inspired photo shoot with his friends. He had like three friends and they basically had this like powder puff central theme and they had the candy and it’s like, I would’ve never. Thought of that. If we had given him a brief and said like, photograph the product with a cup of coffee next to it, like it, we would’ve never ended up with this amazing content. So really, I think, yeah, leaving things in the hand of the influencer and, and leaving things open-ended also just like leads to a lot of creativity that, you know, we, we can’t always think of ourselves as the.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, I mean that’s such a great point cuz like, if we’re not used to creating that type of content, like some things like won’t even just come automatically to us, but to ’em they’re like, this is a brilliant idea. I could create this. It would be so much fun. I think it would get great traction. Like, like, Yeah. I mean, that’s a really good point. I would love to circle back a little bit to the fundraising piece. So for, I guess specifically you guys and for like gummies or like food and beverage, is there a, I I guess like what were. Specific metrics that were important to the investors, when you were, you know, starting to, to pitch different different investors.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, so with that initial fundraise, I think just, you know, we obviously didn’t have a ton of data just yet. but the things that investors were excited about was definitely this kind of case study that we had from the store where we had sold out in, trying the prototype and that initial recipe of the product themselves. and then, team background I think also plays a big role in those early days. Investors really wanna understand who’s on your team, who’s around the business, even if it’s just people that are advising you or other investors that are involved with the business. and, I think those are probably the early-stage metrics. Then once you’ve kind of launched and you have some traction in market, I think investors are really gonna be looking. Obviously, revenue first and foremost as an e-com business. I think investors are very interested in, average order value. So how big are the orders on your site as a food business? That’s something we think about a lot, right? Cause we’re a low-cost product, but how do we make sure that every order on our website is as high as it can be? Also to support the cost of like shipping and actually transporting the product to the final customer. Investors will be interested in your performance marketing. So if you are doing a lot of kind of Facebook and Google advertising, like what is your role as, so return on ad spend for every dollar you spend on an ad, how much are you generating back as revenue? your costs to acquire a new customer. and then definitely like things like conversion rate on your website. So just to understand like kind of the health of your online business overall. and then on the wholesale side, I think the question when it comes to food is a metric that’s called, unit per skew per store, per week, which is a mouthful. but basically how many, Yeah, it speaks for itself. How many units are you moving every week in the stores that you’re in? and just really seeing that high velocity, high turnover of your product. And that’s something we’ve been very lucky with. Candy. Again, it’s not like, , you know, it’s not like one of those households I items that you’re gonna buy once and then it’s gonna take you a couple of weeks to move through it. It’s like people are generally, Candy is a high repeat purchase product. You might grab it every time you’re checking out at your local grocery store. so we, we tend to, to be able to lean into kind of like those high-velocity numbers when we’re talking to investors.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So with direct to cons er. Is repeat orders something that, that you guys have looked at or something that you found was something that investors were, were curious about?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, absolutely, and I should’ve mentioned that as well. I think repeat purchases is a metric that’s very important, that also kind of feeds into like lifetime value, right? So every customer, like how many times are they coming back, and what’s the total lifetime value of a customer for your business? subscription depending on the type of product, but, you know, subscription also kind of plays into repeat and that’s something that I think, you know, having a really strong subscription business is something that investors will, will definitely get excited about cuz it is that reliable recurring revenue.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So for those customers, let’s say that, you know, had purchased, let’s say once from direct to cons er, maybe purchased again, but are, are not like consistent repeat buyers. What kind of strategies do, does your team use to, to incentivize them to come back? Like, how are you kind of, you already had the lead, right? You already have somebody who’s tried the product. How are you nurturing those leads and nurturing those one-time customers to try to get them to be repeated?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, absolutely. So we definitely have, A number of ways that we communicate with our community and it’s, it is very, kind of metrics-driven. So based on where they are as a customer. So if they’ve bought once and then didn’t come back, or if they’ve bought 10 times, like these customers are probably gonna receive different interactions from us as a brand. A lot of this is happening obviously through email, so we have different email flows. If someone maybe hasn’t purchased in a few. We may, you know, offer them a promotion or we may check and we may check in with them. SMS, same thing. We have flowed, that we’ll send out via text message to customers who have opted in to text message, marketing and just make sure that we’re kind of nurturing people all throughout the life cycle of theirs. Kind of customer journey with us and something else that we do, especially at our early stage. And something that I think is, we’re really lucky to be able to do as like an early stage business, is we really try to have as much one-on-one interaction with customers as possible. So, you know, in that example, maybe someone’s bought once or a couple of times and maybe we haven’t seen them come back in a little while. Maybe we’ll even sometimes run surveys or even reach out one on one. And, we, we’ve even done Zoom calls with customers where we’ll really just, you know, even myself as the founder, this is some of the most valuable time that I’ve spent, I feel, is talking to customers really under. Standing, what brought you to our brand? What made you make that initial purchase? What has prevented you from buying again? Is it some, Is there something we can be doing? and we gather a lot of kind of anecdotal feedback, but then we’ll also run surveys that are a little bit more, Kind of quantitative, where we can really pull data and then leverage those metrics to drive kind of the strategy going forward.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I absolutely love that because I think so many people, one, are like almost scared to talk to their own customers or they feel like, Oh, like, you know, maybe that’s like. You know, bad, bad form and doesn’t look good. But like the fact that you’re also not only just talking to them, you’re giving them different ways to communicate with you, Right? Because in, it’s similar to like even the influencer thing, right? Instead of saying like, this is exactly how we want to get your feedback. Like you’re saying, Hey, let’s hop on a Zoom call. Here’s a questionnaire, here’s a survey. Like with those different options, like one, I think as a a customer, you’re like, Oh, they’re actually interested too. Like what I’m saying. And if I don’t wanna fill out a survey, maybe I have like a lot more feedback, then I’m like, I would love to talk to a live person. You’re pro-like providing that option, like not just providing you’re, you’re welcoming it. You’re saying this is like some of the most valuable feedback I’m getting, which I think is so important for like anyone listening right now. Get that feedback from your customer.

Mayssa Chehata:
Oh yeah.

Johanna Buchweitz:
And like give them those options. Like, find different ways to communicate with them that are also like best for them. And, and you’re gonna see.

Mayssa Chehata:
Absolutely.

Johanna Buchweitz:
How helpful that is.

Mayssa Chehata:
Totally. And I think when you really realize, like I, I, I totally, and I understand the nervousness like there’s a, it is nerve-wracking, I think to reach out to your customers. You already feel so grateful that they’re even purchasing your product, that they’re even, you know, considering your brand and, and you know, giving their money and their time to interact with your brand and with your company, and you feel like I can’t ask more of them. Especially, you know, if it’s someone who maybe hasn’t made a purchase recently, but actually the amount of, kind of like gratitude that we hear from customers that we’ve reached out to and how much it means to them to be hearing from a company where they love the product, they love the brand, they wanna support, a lot of, and a lot of people wanna also support like small businesses, founders, female founders. so I, I really found that all these conversations have been so positive and, it’s really kind of felt like. The customer felt like they also got something out of it. And then of course we also, you know, send, I think, gifted product and, and we make sure that they feel kind of appreciated for, for their time as well.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s awesome. I love that. so you have a, a couple of different products that you do sell, like, you know, within the g my family. At what point do you decide to add a new, like a new product, and how does that process even work? Like, is that based on like, you know, customer feedback, like, Oh, we love this, we would love like a sour star. Like how, how do you guys think about?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah. So, when we think about expanding our product line, we do, that is another place where we are really touching in and tapping in with our community. So we’ve, we’ve surveyed our community in customer surveys like that. We’ve sent via email, as well as, on social media. So we’ve done a bunch of interactive socials, where we kind of survey customers and ask them what kind of flavors and products they’d wanna see from us. and so that’s kind of the starting point is we just sort of crowdsource, like, what do people wanna see? We get such fun answers. We get, we hear flavors that we would’ve never thought of, but are such great ideas. So love, like having that interactive touchpoint with the community. From there, we kind of pull in Elizabeth, our, you know, celebrity chef partner, and we’ll kind of brainstorm through. And an understanding of what product, what flavors we think could be exciting to, you know, move forward and explore further. Then we work with our flavor house, that will really custom design every flavor that we work on. We go through multiple iterations, and Elizabeth is, you know, typically very involved in that process as well. as well as our internal team. And then ultimately we take that to, you know, once we’ve decided and we survey, we’ll typically survey people. We’ll typically have a number of people. The team testing the product and the flavors as well, and really land on the flavors that we feel super excited about and then move that into manufacturing.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Do you have a most popular flavor?

Mayssa Chehata:
You know, we split like very evenly sweet and sour. People always wanna know, do people love sweet or sour more? I think it’s a slight skew towards sweet, but it’s very, very even. and I will say I think pineapple is the one we hear the most. Is like people’s favorite. I think people love the g my bears, cuz there’s three flavors in the pack. You get a little bit more variety, but people, we have so many die hard Pineapple star fans. and I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite child, but I, I, I think that the Pineapple Star are my favorite.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Okay. That’s the one I’m gonna try to said sold. You got me. All right.

Mayssa Chehata:
Alright.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I saw that you guys, donate 1% of your sales, which I think is amazing. How do you choose which organizations to partner with and donate to? And can customers even like, submit to you guys like what some of their favorite charities?

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, absolutely. So we, yeah, this is something, this has been a program that has been part of our brand and our business since we launched. we rotate which or the organizations that we choose. And I love that we have this kind of rotational donation program cuz it’s really allowed us to like, Listen to our community. We do like, as much as we prompt their community for the flavors that they wanna see from us, we also prompt them to hear what charity organizations they’d wanna see us, partnering with. And we’ve had some amazing suggestions from our community that we have ultimately ended up partnering with. so listening to the community and then also listening to just what’s happening in the world and being able to kind of react. Responsive to that, I believe, you know, we supported a refugee crisis organization. after, some of the turmoil that was happening in Afghanistan last year. We supported an organization that was supporting, like the Asian American community here in New York City, after some of the Asian hate and violence that was unfortunately happening and obviously continues to happen. So we’ve really been able to like, Take what’s happening in the world and then select organizations to support. In response to that, We’ll typically rotate organizations anywhere from every, you know, one month could be three months, could be six months. and like you said, we do prompt our community to understand, to hear from them what organizations and causes they wanna see us supporting. And we do have a form, it’s in the FAQ section of our website, and you can fill out that form, which we do monitor to also see what, what, where our community. To see us partnering with.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s beautiful. You’re, you’re a company that makes people smile cuz they get to enjoy amazing, you know, healthy gummies, but, and candy. But they also like, you know, get to have like, impact, and their dollars go a little bit farther. So, that is incredible. So for you guys right now, like what is the biggest challenge you’re facing?

Mayssa Chehata:
Oh, that’s such a great question. You know, I, I think. And, and, and I, I’m actually happy to say that I think that we’re starting to move out of it, but the biggest challenge I think in the business since we’ve launched has really been supply chain. And it’s just been the nature of, you know, we launched in a covid world. all supply chains were disrupted. And so there’s just been a lot of, you know, delays and it, you know, there have been challenges I think with getting, keeping production on track and, you know, price fluctuation on some of the ingredients that we. But I will say, and what I’m really excited about is that we are seeing a lot of stabilization. Finally, on the supply chain side of things, I feel like we’re just getting out of the water where we’re seeing some of our ingredient costs finally coming down. Costs that have been increasing and increasing year over year. but we’re, we’re now seeing some of that start to come down, seeing more reliability in the supply chain. Kind of missed deadlines and things like that, and feeling really good going into this next year that our supply chain woes are, you know, maybe to some extent behind us, at least the ones that are controlled by kind of the macro environment.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So it, to your point, like are those like all macro-related, or were there any actions that you guys had to take to kind of make things move along a little bit? ,

Mayssa Chehata:
You know, it’s definitely both. At the end of the day, like I, I definitely won’t sit here and say that we didn’t, you know, that not, not everything was out of our hands and out of our control. You know, there’s growing pains and learnings that, that come from just being an early-stage business, manufacturing a product for the first time. You know, my, my, this, our COO at Behave, is. And myself is our first time making a g my product specifically. So definitely a lot of learnings there, but we have some great advisors around the table with that g my and that candy experience who really have helped us. I think just fast-track a lot of those learnings. and yeah, and, and a lot, a lot of it is from the macro environment and I think we have to not be too hard on ourselves and remember that, you know, not everything is, is in our control.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that you said also that you, you know, you have advisors who are, you know, industry experts in that space, and I think that’s really important, right? Because like, you know, there’s a lot that you don’t know, and there’s a lot that you do know.

Mayssa Chehata:
Right.

Johanna Buchweitz:
But you surround yourself with people who, who are, are experts in those areas because, like, even when you’re like raising a fund, right? Like sometimes you are looking for investors who aren’t just gonna provide money, They’re gonna provide like either a connection or some information that they have know experienced. That directly affects you guys growing the business. And like that piece is so important because you do need to ask for help and it’s a, and it’s crucial to have those people who can provide it around you.

Mayssa Chehata:
Totally, totally. I think I think a lot about like who we surround ourselves with as a business and as a team. I think one is sort of like industry expertise, like skill-based, support and advisors. And then I also think about a lot. How do I, I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a hippie, which I can be, is like energetic support, like having those people around you also who are just bringing you good energy, supporting you, like really having your back when things go wrong or when you’re down, which is bound to happen when you’re running a business. So that’s something I would just kind of add there as like I said, like having that industry-level expertise is so helpful. But I would almost say the really invaluable support for me has come from those advisors that really bring. Good energy, good vibes. I don’t know how else to say it, but like it really adds so much. And that’s been a lot of other founders, a lot of other female founders, there have been, there’s investors around our business who are that person that I know, even when something’s going wrong, I can call them and that they’re gonna give me a pep talk, even though it’s their money on the line, you know? and, and that’s really, I think, been the most, Also the most beautiful part of this journey has been just seeing how much people do wanna show up for you and do wanna be helpful and do want to help you succeed. And, and it’s not, and it’s really almost has nothing to do with the money. I think people, when you find those people that are supportive and that want you to win, and that feel good when they can help you and be part of that journey, you know, finding those people and, and just staying, keeping them close and, and, you know, keeping them as, as part of this. Wild ride is, is really just an amazing thing. .

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. I mean that’s why it’s definitely important to find partners, investors, advisors, that are truly aligned with you and your mission and, and not just kind of like, you know, take the first one that comes along that you think might be good from like a strategic standpoint. And you said it perfectly, we had a guest to come on the show who said, success is 80% psychology, 20% strategy. And, you know, you, you surrounded yourself with the people who were gonna help you with the strategy. 80% is so important because that mindset going into everything and like being able to like stay calm and like find fun in some way, like, you know, in the learning opportunities that come along, like make it like more pleasurable. It doesn’t have to be a painful experience. Growing a company like the process can be fine. And as long as you’re like, sometimes it’s hard for us to, to have that mindset in the moment. So like when you have like those accountability partners that you can call and can like remind you of that, that like, to your point, that’s so incredibly valuable.

Mayssa Chehata:
Totally. Totally. And I just have to remind myself, you know, when I do start getting down that rabbit hole of stress and anxiety is like we’re making and selling candy. It’s candy, it’s fun, it’s sweets, it’s gummies, it’s g my stars, and g my bears. They’re cute. They’re sweet. Like it is just not that serious. And I think I, when I catch myself just going, yeah, down that dark hole that we all can find ourselves in, I think no matter what kind of career path you’re on, just always having that reminder and, and then, yeah, and having those friends that also, and those people around you that can also remind you of that is so.

Johanna Buchweitz:
A hundred percent. So for you right now, like what is your definition of success?

Mayssa Chehata:
Oh my gosh, such a great question. I mean, Look, I, I don’t wanna lie and say success for like, my, the is that pops in my head is I, is that success is about happiness. And I, and I do really believe that. I think for me, success is about having, you know, enjoying this journey and enjoying building this business. But of course, success for us is also growing this business. Like I, you know, I. I can be a little bit of a head in the cloud, zippy, but I am also very competitive. I hold myself and our business to a really high standard and, we have a massive opportunity at, at our hands. And I, you know, I just know that we’re gonna, we’re gonna crush it and, and we’ve been crushing it. And so I, I definitely, I, I wanna watch this business grow and, and I want us to really achieve our full potential but the flip side of that is that I want us to do that with my entire team and everyone around the business having fun. Like, and you know, I actually, I maybe will even say that the second is more important than the first because the second feeds the first. Yeah. Like having a team and having a culture in your business. And for myself as a founder, where. We feel happy in our lives is what allows us to build a great business. It’s what allows us to come to work every day, to come into meetings with retailers, meetings with investors, meetings with partners, have good energy, show that we’re having fun building this business. You know, be good partners to everyone that we work with, have a good reputation in the industry. I think the precursor to that is just being happy. People that also enjoy our lives and, you know, not, not fall into the trap of thinking. You know, our lives have to revolve around this business.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yes, yes. And more. Yes. I, I’m fully on board with that and, and I, you know, we’ve kind of heard that in so many different ways, but it’s like, it’s so, so important and it’s so true. And it, it impacts kind of everything around you. So anyone who wants more of you and more behave, where can we find you? And also how can we, as a community support.

Mayssa Chehata:
Yeah, so we’re, eat, behave. We’re eat, behave on Instagram and TikTok. We’re Eat, behave on eat behave.com for our website. and the best way to support, I think, is to give our candy a try. If you love it, leave us a review, share on social, and you can check, check us out on our website. And we’re also on Amazon.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Awesome. Thank you. So last but not least, before you leave us, can you share some parting words of wisdom that can fit on a tweet?

Mayssa Chehata:
Oh my gosh. I don’t know how much wisdom I have, but I will say, Oh man, that’s a tough question.

Johanna Buchweitz:
It’s a tough one, but it’s the most fun one because it’s like, how do we put like the words in, you know, however many characters we need.

Mayssa Chehata:
I agree. You know what I will say is just try to always plan for the best-case scenario. I think all of us are so focused on what can go wrong and on the worst-case scenario and that mindset shift of. What if everything went really well? Like you hear it all the time. I see it on, So like, I didn’t invent this, but you know what, if everything went right, what if everything went even better than I planned? Being able to shift into that and also being grateful for the things that you have now and for the things that are going well today, I think can pull you out of that kind of, well, what if things go wrong? Well, what if this doesn’t pan out? and then it’s kind of your energy shifts and then more good things just start coming and start happening for.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Mayssa Chehata:
Thanks for having me. This was so fun.

Johanna Buchweitz:
We hope you enjoyed hearing from the incredible Mayssa Chehata, and if you did, please leave us a review on Apple, Spotify, wherever you tune in to Listen. Please share this episode with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode of Limitless. See you next week for a new episode.

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