Taste Radio Insider Episode 28

This Is What It Takes to Become a Category Leader

+ Katlin Smith, Simple Mills; David Eben, Carrington Farms


In this episode, we examine brand-building and retail strategies for center store grocery in interviews with the founders of two category-leading brands: Katlin Smith, the founder and CEO of fast-growing baking mix brand Simple Mills, and David Eben, the founder of Carrington Farms, a leading brand of organic seeds, grains and oils.

Smith is the founder and CEO of Simple Mills, a brand of natural baking mixes, crackers and cookies, that she launched in 2013. Over the past six years, Simple Mills has become one of the leading natural brands in the spaces in which it plays. Its products are distributed in over 13,000 conventional and natural grocery stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Kroger and Safeway. Smith was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017 and based on what you’ll hear in our interview, it’s easy to understand why. Smith spoke about the origins of Simple Mills, how she assessed the opportunity for a better-for-you baking mix brand, what her first year was like and her definition of entrepreneurial commitment.

Carrington Farms,  a leading brand of organic seeds and cooking ingredients, actually started out as a tea company. Founder and CEO David Eben discussed the brand’s evolution and how its portfolio has grown over the years. Entrepreneurs would be advised to take note of David’s advice on working with retail buyers and why it has been and continues to be a key part of the company’s business and innovation strategies.

In this Episode

1:34: New Kids on the Block — The hosts chatted about new team members at BevNET HQ including those in marketing, sales and with our NOSH vertical. They also riffed on a bunch of new products sent to the office this week and how some are advancing the categories that they participate in.
16:51: Interview: Katlin Smith, Founder/CEO, Simple Mills — In an interview recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2019, Smith spoke with BevNET CMO Mike Schneider about her background in management consulting and how it played into the development of Simple Mills. She also discussed the day-to-day grind of her first year in business and how she stayed motivated, how she learned to most effectively present and communicate to investors, retailers and consumers and explained why leadership is about being “willing to change.”
34:09: Interview: David Eben, Founder/CEO, Carrington Farms — Also recorded at Expo West 2019, Eben spoke with Taste Radio Editor/Producer Ray Latif about Carrington Farms’ evolution from a tea manufacturer to a stable brand for natural and organic ingredients. Eben also discussed the importance of retail buyer relationship, why product development is an “up and down” process that involves both suppliers and retailers, how a crispy quinoa puff was reborn as a crouton, and how to stay relevant with consumers. Finally, he spoke about the company’s charitable arm, Carrington Cares.

Also Mentioned

Nick’s Sticks, Vital Proteins, Spudsy, Recipe 33, Pizootz, Ugly Drinks, Banzo Bites, Rachel’s Overnight Oats, Simple Mills, Carrington Farms