When it comes to creating the perfect snack, consumer data is a critical ingredient. In fact, behind every snack is a bevy of data that translates consumer preferences into everything from flavor and branding to which consumers are the biggest champions of each product.
SnackNation aims to empower snack brands with those consumer insights. To that end, it recently acquired EdgiLife’s Love With Food team, which enables SnackNation to provide its brand partners with additional consumer information.
Two SnackNation leaders dish about the role data plays in the company’s growth and how the acquisition of EdgiLife will help drive even further growth for the team.
WHAT THEY DO: SnackNation is a tech-enabled snack delivery service that delivers emerging consumer packaged goods — snacks in this case — to the offices of companies across the U.S.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Culver City
THE PERKS: Employees receive unlimited time off, and of course, unlimited snacks.
WHAT FUELS THEM: What does the SnackNation team feed on? Snacks of course. Oh, and lots of collaboration across the company. Learn more.
Brock Meltzer, SVP of Product
Brock works with his team to partner with new snack brands, including their goodies in SnackNations’ supply boxes that are then distributed to subscribers. He also oversees the direct-to-consumer business and is focused on creating better product experiences through data.
BEYOND WORK: Brock loves starting his day with an early morning run before his wife and children are awake. The jog sets the tone for the day and helps him think through his priorities.
What role can data play in shaping SnackNation’s product?
Data plays a huge role for us. It drives our product innovation — we constantly test the product to generate results. This means defining key metrics at the beginning of projects, establishing how those metrics will be measured using instrumentation software and determining reporting in order to measure progress.
This methodology can be applied to all projects, from refreshing the homepage to changing a button color in the checkout funnel. It empowers all team members to be part of the ideation phase, test their concept and use the data to determine success. If a test fails, it’s no big deal. What is most important is that we learn from it and then apply those learnings to the next test.
As your team grows with the acquisition of EdgiLife, what new capabilities can your team offer to customers?
Our snack brand partners will now be able to receive their consumer insights on an interactive dashboard within EdgiLife. This allows them to further segment the report with filters like region and age. It also enables them to gather rapid insights from their target consumers throughout each stage of the product life cycle.
Our success is dependent on the way we’re able to communicate and execute complicated cross-functional projects.”
What is the biggest challenge your team has faced as the company has grown?
As the company grows, communication becomes more critical. Our success is dependent on the way we’re able to communicate and execute complicated cross-functional projects. We’ve done a great job proactively communicating status and challenges so far but it will become more difficult the larger we get.
We need to continue to communicate company objectives in the most effective manner so that every individual at the company feels connected to where we are as an organization and where we’re going. This includes regular and transparent communication from everyone in the organization, while empowering individuals to ask any questions.
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for growth in the food tech industry?
The biggest opportunity for growth is for brands to take a data-driven approach as they go to market. Product sampling is extremely inefficient for brands. Passing them out at farmers markets can lead to biased feedback and doesn’t provide actionable insights.
SnackNation can unlock unbiased and actionable feedback for emerging or established brands. With a data-driven approach, brands are able to receive feedback, iterate their product offering and adjust their marketing plan in order to more efficiently get into the hands of their target consumer.
The biggest opportunity for growth is for brands to take a data-driven approach as they go to market.”
How would you describe your leadership style? Give us a brief anecdote to illustrate your style.
When I approach a new project, I first ask several questions to understand the “why,” and then conduct an exercise to define success. I then break the project into key objectives, identify individuals and skill sets needed on the project, and bring the team together to collaborate on a plan.
Once a plan is in place, I empower individuals to own the project by establishing clear roles and responsibilities, drive accountability through deliverables, and ensure key metrics are established at the beginning of the project so that success can be measured every step of the way.
Aihui Ong, SVP of Data and Insights
Aihui sets the strategy and vision for SnackNation’s data opportunities both for the company and customers in the consumer packaged goods industry.
BEYOND WORK: Aihui enjoys swimming. It helps her reduce stress and generate new ideas.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I like to be transparent with no BS. In a startup, we’re moving at a gazillion miles per hour and as a result, it’s easy to overload one’s responsibility. I regularly sit down with the team and help them divide their responsibilities into bitesize chunks so that no one feels overwhelmed. Once I set those clear goals, I have high expectations.
I regularly sit down with the team and help them divide their responsibilities into bitesize chunks so that no one feels overwhelmed.”
Tell us about the beginning of your company. How did it shape you as a leader?
In the beginning, I was the CEO, the first engineer, the first customer support person, the first sales person — the first everything. It was a great experience because it helped me understand the challenges of each position. I’m able to set the right expectations and be a more empathetic leader today.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a new business?
I’m an engineer-turned-startup-founder. It was difficult to break into the consumer packaged goods space because I wasn’t familiar with the industry. However, that became an advantage because it allowed me to bring a fresh set of eyes to a somewhat-archaic industry and come up with new solutions.
It’s important for CPG companies to constantly understand their consumers and get rapid data so that they can move fast.”
What role can data play in the food tech industry?
Data is king, and that’s the core of EdgiLife/Love With Food. In today's fast-changing consumer landscape, it’s important for CPG companies to constantly understand their consumers and get rapid data so that they can move fast. That’s what we are are doing at SnackNation.