Episode #42: Lizz Hampton Wants You To Milk Your Nuts
Listen here or on iTunes.
“People assume that because the current nut milk on the market is so convenient, that people are not going to take the time to make their nut milk. I’m proving that wrong.”
Lizz Hampton probably knows every nut-milking joke in the world.
No, we didn’t test her knowledge on the subject during the episode. If we did, we’d probably run out of time for other things – and there was plenty to discuss: Lizz is is the founder of Goodnus and wants to start a ‘Milk-it-yourself’ movement, aimed at vegan and dairy-free consumers who want to make their own nut milks, but without the hassle of getting up every morning at 5 and milking each almond separately.
The Indiegogo campaign for her flagship product, the Goodnuss Sack, has just launched – CHECK IT OUT HERE.
(A word of warning – it’s best not to be drinking anything when watching her videos. Spraying may occur.)
Main things discussed in this episode
- Developing a product takes time… and many, many prototypes.
- The advantage of freshly-milked nut milk over store-bought.
- Learn as much as you can about the food industry before getting in.
- How to make your marketing look professional on a tight budget.
- Knowing when it’s time to stop polishing your product and launch.
- How to be kind to yourself as an entrepreneur and startup founder.
Lizz Hampton - Goodnuss
Jerry Sever [04:28] You’ve probably heard this joke before Matt, but do you know what the hardest part about being a vegan is?
Matt Tullman [04:33] What’s that?
Jerry Sever [04:35] It’s getting up at 5.00am to milk the almonds! It’s an old joke, but one that our guest takes very seriously. She’s super serious about milking nuts, except when she makes nut milking jokes, which she does a lot. She’s Lizz Hampton, and she’s the founder of Goodnuss. She’s joining us today to talk about how she found this passion and why exactly you should be milking your nuts! So, Lizz, welcome to the show.
Lizz Hampton [05:06] Hi, thank you so much for having me.
Jerry Sever [05:08] Right, thank you for joining us. I hope I put enough nut milking jokes into that intro, you’re welcome to make another one right now if you wish!
Lizz Hampton [05:17] They were fantastic! They definitely kept coming.
Jerry Sever [05:22] Alright. You know the one about the 5.00am waking up for the almonds?
Lizz Hampton [05:26] I do actually, people love to send me that meme. I get it at least once a week!
Jerry Sever [05:32] I can imagine. You didn’t grow up on almond farm did you?
Lizz Hampton [05:38] No, I definitely did not!
Jerry Sever [05:40] What is your background?
Lizz Hampton [05:42] My background is with the University of Oregon, where I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Product Design. I’m from Portland Oregon, born and raised. I’m told I’m kind of a unicorn because there are not that many of us anymore.
Matt Tullman [05:56] I’d love to know how you ended up designing this product? Can you give us a little bit of the story behind the discovering the … I think there’s a couple of iterations beforehand right, and then you landed on the nut sack?
Lizz Hampton [06:09] Yes, I started in the spring term of my BFA year in Product Design School. It was kind of a free for all term, so we could do whatever we wanted. I had a friend who was like I really like making almond milk, but I hate the mess and you should make a product. I was like, ok, so I did some research and started doing it. Then I got really deep into it and found myself designing a device. I did about 100 iterations of that device. It was definitely a journey. I learned all the things you cannot do in rapid prototyping – like laser cutting, rubber and things like that. Then from there, I’d been working on the device for about four years, and then about a year ago I realized that I needed a lot of money to go into production for that device.
The device is really cool. It’s called the Nut Buster and it’s a manual straining device where you just take your pulp and you put it into the device, you twist it, and then you’re done. But like I said, about a year ago I realized that I needed a million dollars to go into production for that because it had all original tooling and all kinds of stuff like that. Then I was like okay, I should try to get to know my consumer better and find another way into the market instead of launching this really big high risk product.
I started with these DIY nut milk kits, and then one day I realized I could pre-blend the pulp dry and if you added the water and let it soak it would give you the same nut milk as if you were adding the water and then blending it in a blender. That created the first pre-blended pulp nut milk kit.
Then about nine months ago, I was sitting with some people on my team and we had this moment of well what if it were a bag inside of a bag? What if it doesn’t need to be a device? What if it could just be a reusable tool that made it instantly? Then consumers wouldn’t have to spend a whole bunch of money. We could just use the pulp and it would be all fresh ingredients. So that’s how it came about. Then the Udder Cup was just a necessity!
Jerry Sever [08:34] Do you have those 100 iterations documented anywhere? Because I’m sure that would be a pretty interesting journey through to how this thing developed.
Lizz Hampton [08:43] Yes, I do. I actually have a running document of all of my progress. I highlight probably the top 20 prototypes where I learned the most. It’s funny, the original prototype was actually a paper coffee filter with some cheesecloth tied to two ends of a coffee cup and it spun inside of the coffee cup. I’d be happy to show pictures of that, but yes, I definitely have documented the whole process from every single experiment to when I cast urethane bands, or when I tried to 3D print nylon. The funny thing was, when I started you couldn’t 3D print flexible material. Now, 3D printing flexible material is totally easy and accessible. I really wish it was a couple of years ago, but I’m really stoked on the journey and the learning that happened along the way.
Matt Tullman [09:35] I can totally relate to the Styrofoam cup approach. We, at some point, thought it was a good idea to build our own Wi-Fi routers in the education technology business, because we’d be better than Cisco! We had nothing to actually keep the antennas pointed up, which, as I learned, is an important factor. We just bought the chips and did all the soldering and what not. We used a Kleenex box. We put the chip inside the Kleenex box, poked the antennas up through them, and then taped it so the antennas would be up as if this was a real router. It was a massive failure. We spend weeks and ended up scrapping it and buying super expensive routers from Cisco, as it turns out. It’s definitely those fun stories, which I have still to this day on my desk at home because it’s such a fun thing to look back on.
I really hope you kept those early prototypes, because you’ll appreciate them when you look back. It sounds like you had those 100 iterations, but then the a-ha moment really came and everything sort of spinned at the end. So it was a very slow product discovery to some point, and then once you realized that the bag was the key then everything quickly found a place.
Is that, to your understanding, how this product design process goes? What advice do you have for the entrepreneur or the inventor out there who’s on their 79th iteration and just thinks they’re never going to get there?
Lizz Hampton [11:10] The funny thing is I was initially not my consumer. That’s why I felt like it kind of took a while to really get to the point. On my journey, I’ve slowly become my consumer, so I could understand what the consumer needed more.
The cool thing about product design is you have to have a mind where you’re comfortable with failure. Every failure is just another step in the right direction to figuring it out. There’s always a win in every time you fail – especially with product design and testing – I’ve learned that.
To anyone who is on their 79th prototype, be kind to yourself and just be patient because it will happen. You will have your a-ha moment. You’ll think it’ll be super easy to get the next stage, and then it totally won’t be! Then you’ll go back and forth. That’s just the excitement of the journey. It’s a really beautiful ride, but you have to be very resilient and just have faith in yourself and your excitement to learn. Learning is the biggest part about being a product designer – loving what you learn.
Jerry Sever [12:23] You were saying that you weren’t your own customer at the beginning. I just wanted to know what exactly pushed you in the direction of nut milks then?
Lizz Hampton [12:35] The funny thing was, like I mentioned before, I had a friend who was like I love making almond milk but I hate the process. At first, I was just a product designer with an idea. I was like oh man, this has legs, I’m just going to roll with it. Then as I did more research and I started to really see how this product could actually impact the world. All the crap that’s actually in the dairy milk and the commercial nut milk – I really realized that I was consuming stuff that’s not good for me and that this product is for me too. I make so much nut milk now that I’ve tried to sample the commercial stuff, and I’m just like oh my gosh, I can’t believe people actually drink this! I became my own consumer on the journey of discovery I guess.
Matt Tullman [13:32] That has got to be a one of a kind story. Certainly you often hear that the entrepreneur started out their journey because they just were trying to solve a problem that they had. In fact, in looking at investments, it’s something that I think is kind of a truism that you look for the person who knows their market and knows their customer because they are their customer. They are solving their problem. I guess you’re a testament to the fact that there is an alternative, right? You can just be really passionate about a problem that’s not your own and it becomes your own over time.
Just because I have a real passion for the health sector things, can you educate our audience, Jerry, and me, about the difference between homemade nut milk? And some of the benefits to your product, maybe just a quick plug for your Indiegogo campaign on October 17? As they are listening and recognizing, wow I can’t believe I drink or eat all of that stuff that I didn’t realize is so bad for you, maybe they’ll go out and become your customer afterwards.
Lizz Hampton [14:43] Cool, one of my favorite questions and I get to answer it a thousand times at every farmers market.
Matt Tullman [14:50] Get used to it by the way, because by the end of it, I used to have dreams about my pitch for the software because I’d make it eight times a day! You’re just at the beginning!
Lizz Hampton [15:00] Yeah, I’ve gotta get my stamina going!
Basically, the commercial nut milk only has 2% nuts in it; it is full of additives, sugar, and mostly water. The nut milk companies are battling the dairy companies and trying to get people to make a switch. In order to do that they use similar vitamins that are used in dairy milk – the synthetic vitamins – to mimic that. The texture is similar; it’s an easier transition for people. Because of that, it just results in a not super nutritious milk.
If you really want to get the health benefits from a nut milk you have to drink it cold pressed and raw. This means it’s been processed without any heat. All the enzymes are alive basically and when all the enzymes are alive everything’s more bio available to you. You’re able to actually get the benefits – the heart healthiness, the Vitamin E that’s going to help your skin, that kind of stuff.
Also, the best part is when you make your own nut milk you have the left over pulp. A lot of people are like I just throw it away because I don’t know what to do with it – but oh my gosh, don’t throw it away. There is so much you can do with that pulp. My favorite thing is to add some oats, chia, flax, agave and peanut butter – mix them into balls and they become energy super food balls. You can make a body scrub. The options are endless. The pulp retains about two-thirds of the nutrients after it’s been strained, so it’s a really good protein source in a smooth. You can even replace your protein powder with your pulp if you want. It’s a really great two-for-one value.
What our product does is it makes it so much easier for you to be able to do that. Our whole goal as a company is to make fresh nut milk more accessible. The current products on the market that help you make it are really big and bulky, expensive, and hard to clean. The current nut milking bags are really messy and it’s just a whole ordeal.
With our product you just add the water to the pulp, and you shake it up. You can let it soak overnight if you want it to be really creamy, and then you just strain it through the udder right into your cup. Then you have fresh nut milk. It completely simplifies the process.
Matt Tullman [17:30] Do you call it an udder or an nudder?
Lizz Hampton [17:32] I go back and forth. Our logo, her name is Nutters, we have an almond nut with udders.
Matt Tullman [17:40] So it’s raw too – I didn’t get that from some of the marketing materials. That’s a huge plus, especially for the community that you’re serving. All those enzymes, because you have the nutrient degradation when it’s heated, you’re really getting the highest quality across the board, not just with the live enzymes and pre-biotics.
Lizz Hampton [18:04] Yes, and in our pulp we never use any processed or refined sugars or anything like that. Our pulps are only sweetened with dried fruit. For example, one of our recipes is sweetened with dates and goji berries, and another recipe is sweetened with dates and figs. That way you can really trust what’s in there. We only use whole ingredients. It’s just like you have made the pulp yourself at home.
Jerry Sever [18:32] I think that from what you just said, it’s not just raw but the whole unprocessed and no extra chemicals added, is probably a huge plus for your target audience as well. I know that for my, or our, nut milk purchases the big thing is that my wife pretty much scans all the ingredients. If it has any gelling agents, which nut milks and plant milks in general do, then it goes back on the shelf. I’ve noticed that it’s actually pretty hard to find a nut milk that doesn’t have any carrageenan and apparently you’re not supposed to drink that. I leave those decisions to my wife, but I think that if we had an easier way of making our milk then this would definitely be an option for us as well.
Anyway, the bigger question that I wanted to ask, you’re going after a pretty big market. The nut milks are the fastest growing plant based sector. They’re probably also the biggest sector of the plant foods industry right now, as compared to regular foods. Just from a business standpoint, why tackle that?
Lizz Hampton [19:57] On the big scope it’s like a ginormous market, but I’ve managed to find this little niche that hasn’t really been addressed yet. We’re building what I like to call the ‘milk it yourself movement’, so everyone can milk it themselves! The thing about it is there’s not really a lot of information on making it yourself. There are videos on YouTube and things like that. There are cold press nut milk companies that you can find, but those nut milks run from at least $8-$13 for 16 ounces. I realized that the biggest value for people is to be able to make it and utilize the pulp after.
It’s just something that I think people assume, because the current nut milk on the market is so convenient, that people aren’t going to take the time to make their nut milk. I’m proving that wrong by showing that there are a lot of people who want to do it themselves, and want to control their ingredients, and who take pride in making their own things and just making it convenient for them.
Matt Tullman [21:05] I think it’s a brilliant idea because it is such a massive market. To your point, there is I think an equally massive segment that really will respond positively to this stuff. I’m definitely one of them because of carrageenan. I have a reverse role, I’m the one reading the nutrient information on each one of our products. My wife then can blame me because I won’t let us buy certain things.
You mentioned the ‘milk it yourself movement’. I’m a huge fan of your marketing. I think you’re extremely talented in that area. It seems like you’re going after a couple of different pain points with this product. One obviously is the mess, and the headache, and the difficulty around making your own milk without a product like yours. Another one obviously is the health component, all those additives and preservatives, and you name it, in your mainstream processed milk.
How do you think about your marketing? Are there any tips you can give to our audience? I think you’re definitely spot on to try create a movement around this, and obviously a community. You’re talking about producing recipes and how to use the pulp afterwards. It seems like you’re really thinking about this in a strategic and very smart way. Can you educate our audience a little bit about how you’re thinking about it and how you make those decisions? Obviously it seems like you’re tackling a lot for a small team. I’d love to just learn a little bit more how you think about it?
Lizz Hampton [22:39] Cool. First off, I love that it comes across as me being very strategic, because honestly, I just love making the nut jokes! It’s really what keeps me going on the dark days when I’m feeling really down. It’s just like, man, I got nut jokes! Then realizing the squirrel and then the peanut costume, you’ll see that a lot in my videos and our characters.
Really, the whole purpose behind why I went this route with the marketing is because of accessibility. Like mentioned before, I wasn’t my consumer when I started. I found the transition to be living more of a plant based lifestyle and everything like that to be very intimidating. I found a lot of a communities to be very intimidating and I didn’t really feel like I was welcome unless I was ready to dive in head first and be fully immersed. I was like what makes people feel more comfortable than anything, and that was laughing. So we went with the nut jokes. I was like you know what, milk your nuts, just do it guys! Nut jokes are the way to go because people feel good when they laugh. They feel welcome when they laugh.
The nut jokes are a way to show everyone that you don’t need to change your lifestyle overnight to want to enjoy making fresh nut milk. You don’t need to be this idea of what society needs you to be to be someone who wants to make fresh nut milk. It’s the small changes that make the biggest difference and we just want to support people doing them. The nut jokes just come really naturally. It’s almost too easy to make them. When I get on a roll they just keep coming!
Jerry Sever [24:32] I guess we have to get you on a roll and see what happens here! On that note, I have to thank you for making me spray water all over my keyboard the first time that I saw your promo video for the Indiegogo campaign …
Lizz Hampton [24:49] Which video was it?
Jerry Sever [24:50] The first time …
Lizz Hampton [24:53] The first time milking nuts?
Jerry Sever [24:54] Yes. I really wanted to ask you how many takes did it take you to get that one wrapped? I simply can’t imagine that everyone involved was keeping a straight face throughout the shooting with what was being talked about there.
Lizz Hampton [25:12] It took a while, but what I really like to do with most of our videos is roughly script things, but then I really believe in improv so people can be their most authentic selves. I think it took each person that we interviewed about a half hour. Keeping a straight face is definitely hard. At this point I’ve gotten really used to it and people are like that’s not fair, you can’t say that with a straight face! It’s definitely a journey, and honestly when I started shooting the videos I would have to have a beer or two before because I would be so nervous! I was just like, ok, let’s do this. Now, the jokes are just so fun, and being on camera’s so fun that it just happens.
Jerry Sever [26:08] We didn’t actually touch on this when we talked about your background, but do you have any background in theatre or improv or anything like that?
Lizz Hampton [26:17] No, not at all, I guess I’m just a character.
Jerry Sever [26:20] It just comes naturally.
Lizz Hampton [26:22] Yeah, I’m from Portland, we’re weird, right?
Matt Tullman [26:24] Portland, Oregon – because I’m sitting in Portland, Maine and it’s a very different vibe, let me tell you!
Lizz Hampton [26:32] Yeah, but there’s good lobster over there, right?
Matt Tullman [26:34] Yeah, but remember this is the Plant Based Entrepreneur Show, so I’m not enjoying it at the moment! Although, Jerry, we’ve got to get on the podcast, I think I just saw a new startup that’s like perfected the crab meat and lobster texture and it’s all the rage in Asia I think. I’ve got to look into it.
Real quick, on the marketing videos again, I think they’re brilliant and I hope and I imagine that they’re going to go viral. Are those actors that you paid? And what kind of budget? Just for the business owner who’s sitting back and saying hey I’m creative, and I’m a character, and I could do these things even if I don’t have the nut jokes to leverage. Talk to us about it. Were those professionals, or just friends? Did you bootstrap this stuff or go at it with a little bit of a budget?
Lizz Hampton [27:27] It’s funny, one of my friends the other day told me that it looks like you have a huge marketing budget. I was like, oh that’s sweet, because it’s done on nothing.
All of the people in the video are all my friends. I’ve had everyone from my dad, to my best friend, to my product designer wear the squirrel suit. People are willing to get in and have fun.
In terms of the process of making the videos, I’ve been making the videos for at least three years. I’ve had some bad luck with working with someone and then not getting the footage I was supposed to get, on and off. One thing I would tell people is that it’s worth it to spend a decent amount of money up front on someone who does good work and who will actually follow through and give you what you worked on. I probably spent more than I should have on footage I never got. Now, the people I work with still work with me. The people I’m working with now still give me a really reasonable budget because they believe in the product and they believe in making these nut jokes happen and spreading the nut love.
You can do a lot on a really small budget. You can make some really good videos for under $1,000. One thing that I’ve done, is all those videos that you saw, they were all shot on the same day and they were all part of one ginormous script. Then we just edited them separately. That’s a way to save money.
Jerry Sever [29:11] I’m just going to ask a very technical question here. One of the things that my wife is also extremely good at, apart from checking out all the labels, is she’s a regular Stephen Spielberg behind the camera. We’ve got two DSLRs, teleprompters, lighting and all of that. What kind of equipment have you used there to film all of this?
Lizz Hampton [29:36] You’d have to ask my video people. I know they had really nice equipment and it was all their own equipment. Should I give shout-outs to people, is that cool?
Jerry Sever [29:47] Go right ahead.
Lizz Hampton [29:48] My round of videos I shot with some people, and then I had another editor come in. Her name’s Lisa Bolden and she works with some DSLR camera that’s really awesome and she has a great team. It all felt really legit when we were doing it and I totally felt like a movie star!
Jerry Sever [30:11] So there were video people behind all of that?
Lizz Hampton [30:13] Yes, definitely, it’s definitely not us just on an iPhone.
Jerry Sever [30:17] It definitely didn’t look like it was shot on an iPhone. I just wanted to check because you were saying that it was really pulled together on a shoe strong. Again, it definitely looks quality.
Lizz Hampton [30:29] I would say, as an entrepreneur, one of my better skills is resourcefulness and getting people stoked on helping. That is kind of why we were able to pull it together on a small budget. Everyone just loves making nut jokes, so they’re just down. That’s really what it is.
If there are people out there trying to do it, just be willing to ask. Be honest with the video person that you’re working with. Like hey, this is my budget, what can we do with this amount of money. They’ll be willing to work with you. There’s always someone.
Matt Tullman [31:05] You mentioned the resourcefulness. I’m pretty sure that’s a definition of entrepreneurial. I think it is literally probably the most important thing that I would tell people. Between being resourceful and being persistent, if you do those things, you’ll always find a solution to whatever the problem is. The problem usually relates to sales, so being persistent and being resourceful generally solves those problems.
I’m curious about the Indiegogo campaign, which again is October 17 – everyone should mark their calendars. Tell us why you decided to go with Indiegogo and if there was even a debate between that or Kickstarter. I know from a practical standpoint I’m always curious why people chose one or the other. Why did you decide to go that route? What are some of the steps that you did to get you and the team ready for that?
Lizz Hampton [32:00] I actually was going to, the entire time I’ve been working on this company, I was always going to do a Kickstarter. I’ve almost launched a Kickstarter every six months for the past four years! Then it just wasn’t right. I was looking into it and I realized that I wanted to by authentic self and go the route that was true to me, and true to the brand, which was funny. Kickstarter is more of a platform for serious, tech, really dope products.
I was like Indiegogo’s more fun and playful and I feel like the people who go there on a regular basis are going to appreciate the humor and the love behind the brand more. That was a big reason I made the switch. I also made the switch because I could do not fixed funding. I could keep whatever money was raised. That was comforting for me, especially after years of building it up. I can’t believe four years is now coming down to five days. Indiegogo was just more fun and playful so I went that route.
I also discovered that there are more female consumers on Indiegogo than there are on Kickstarter. That is generally more of my target, we do have a lot of male consumers, but in terms of demographics and how the internet works, etc. Reaching out to people and getting help and traction is probably my biggest pain point and nervous point, but really exciting. It’s like, ok it’s the time to really reach out to people and see how much people like this, it’s time to put money into ads and really spread the word.
With the team we’ve been focusing a lot on outreach. Our party is going to be a really big fun event, I think we have 150-200 people RSVP’d. That’s the plus side of taking four years to launch, there’s a lot of people waiting for it. I’m telling the team, let’s just do the best that we can and whatever happens, happens, and we can evaluate from there, but it’s time. A lot of people have been are you sure? This is happening, that’s happening, you need to maybe delay it again, and I’m like not this time. We’re not delaying it, we’re doing it, no matter how unready I feel, because I’ll never feel ready.
I think it’s going to go well. Things are really starting to get put into place. There are a lot of a gifs in our campaign, so look out for that because they’re really fun! It’s going to be a really exciting day. Our funding goal is $20,000 so we can go into our first round of production for the Goodnuss sacks.
Jerry Sever [34:56] First of all, I’m really curious about the gifs that you mentioned! Since this episode is going to be coming out just one day after you launch the Indiegogo, can you share a little bit about what’s in store there?
Lizz Hampton [35:12] I discovered how to use Giphy, so I’ve taken all of my funny videos and made a lot of really fun gifs with them. It just takes the best moments of each video, and I’m using that to show you how the product works and things like that.
Our reward tiers are going to be super awesome. We have big bags of pulp, things like that. At our highest reward tier we even have a trip to a cabin Mount Hood where you will get nut milk all weekend. It will be amazing.
Jerry Sever [35:47] Do you get the squirrel suit as well?
Lizz Hampton [35:49] I could definitely include the squirrel suit! If people want it, they can totally use it.
I’ve designed the campaign to be very true to our brand. We don’t really follow the same guidelines that you’ll see most campaigns follow. Like I mentioned, our video, our pitch video, is more along the lines of our campaign videos. I have a secondary video where I explain things a little bit more seriously to show people that I am a real person, I’m not just a character who makes nut jokes!
Jerry Sever [36:22] I have to say that just from what you brought up before about feeling ready, or not feeling ready, and people telling you that you’re not ready yet. At some point, and this just builds on what Matt said before about the qualities that make an entrepreneur, at some point you just have to go and do it. You can wait a whole lifetime to be ready, or you can just keep iterating and getting closer to something that you think will be perfect. Unless you actually go and put it out you’re not even going to know if that’s what the market wants.
Lizz Hampton [37:02] Yeah, and there’s that saying that’s like if you are super, super proud of what you put out and you’re not even slightly embarrassed at this one thing, you waited too long. I feel that. You’ve got to just do it.
That’s one thing I really learned when I started selling the kits. I started selling it because I needed to know what it feels like to interact with my consumer, and what it feels to sell, and what it feels like to get feedback. Otherwise, I thought, I’m not going to make any progress and I’ll stay stuck in this development stage.
There’s no better lesson than action. At a certain point, honestly, every time you fail, or the things that you thought would happen that are scary, happen, you’re like actually that wasn’t that bad. No one really noticed that I messed that up. For example, I accidentally sent out an invitation to my most important people that had a typo in it. I was like, oh man, I meant to send a different file, but whatever, it still got the message across.
Matt Tullman [38:12] Did anyone point it out to you?
Lizz Hampton [38:14] No, well my one friends did! She was like, hey the ‘i’ in Indiegogo is on a different line in this one and I was like oh man, I was sending the wrong file the entire time.
Matt Tullman [38:27] It sure is amazing how big a deal those things are to us. Then you realize most people spend literally less than five seconds as they either delete it, forward it, or come back to it later in their inbox, but it’s such an incredible thing to us from our perspective.
This is sort of a bigger question, and I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but aside from typos. I know you’ve been working the crowd in grocery stores from time. Can you reflect back on this nearly four year journey and say what’s been the most fun part and what’s been the least fun part?
Lizz Hampton [39:12] The most fun part is definitely anything that’s joke related! Making the videos, I absolutely love doing that. I love brainstorming with my team about it, like oh yeah we could do this video. The First Time video has been in the making for years. People are like no, that’s so off the cuff, people are going to be offended, and I’m like, whatever, it’s hilarious, we have to do it. Those moments are the most fun.
The most difficult challenging moments are, I mentioned earlier the dark days, where you wake up and you’re like ok, I just tested prototype 95 and it didn’t work. I thought this would be the one, and it isn’t. Having to take a deep breath, take a self-care day and be ok with taking a self-care day, and not being down on yourself for taking time to reflect and recoup. Just learning to move forward – those days are really hard.
There a people who talk about the entrepreneurial story as a whole, but there’s no one who ever really talks about the day to day. You can’t really, talk about the day to day unless you read someone’s diary. Where it’s like man, today really sucked, and I feel like a total failure. But the next day you’re like, hey I killed it today, I’m totally freaking awesome! Just the emotional rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur and doing things outside of your comfort zone is very difficult. I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it. Anyone who says that they’re not scared or don’t struggle at all, I think they’re totally full of it!
Matt Tullman [41:00] I would tend to agree and actually in the last couple of years there’s been much more discussion. I think it’s really necessary in the entrepreneurial community. Obviously we only represent a subsect of the plant-based entrepreneurial community, but more broadly and particularly if you look at Silicon Valley and TechCrunch and Indie Hackers and everything else, there’s definitely a much larger focus on depression and self-care and all these things because it’s so true. We all idolize Richard Branson and Steve Jobs and all of these people who, in hindsight looking at their career over decades, it’s like wow they just hit it out of the park and everything’s a winner. Obviously Steve Jobs is probably the best example having been fired from his own company and then his next company, which was called Next, was effectively a failure. It’s like only after so long, that persistence and continuing down the path, do you ultimately get to that success where everyone looks and says oh she had it in her the whole time. It’s like, well yeah, but it surely doesn’t feel that way has get your 99th no as you’re trying. But, those make the best stories, right? Colonel Sanders, didn’t he get like 2,497 no’s for his chicken recipe before founding KFC? It’s crazy, crazy.
I definitely appreciate you sharing that and I think it’s a good lesson for us all to hear and reflect on more. Otherwise we all think that everyone’s just killing it and has no troubles at all when it’s not true. We’re all lying to ourselves every day just to keep going.
Lizz Hampton [43:03] On that note, I have one friend who really helped me in the really early stage of the company. It was after I had to leave my first partner, and I was super scared. I was like oh my gosh, how am I going to do this without someone. She told me, she was you need to be kind to yourself. Above all else, you have to remember to be kind to yourself. I was just like I want to be like this, and I want to hit this goal by this. She was look you can’t compare your chapter 10 to someone else’s chapter 30. I was like, yeah, that’s true. It all happens on our own timeline. If I don’t make the Forbes 30 under 30 list it’s not going to be the end of the world, but it’s definitely a goal! They say it takes 10 years to become an overnight success anyway. I’m like, I only have six left!
Matt Tullman [44:00] That’s a great saying.
Jerry Sever [44:03] I think that sometimes it’s even a pretty generous estimate.
One thing that I’m really curious about, and we haven’t touched on it yet even though we’ve been talking about challenges for past couple of minutes. You have a background in product design, and now here you are, you’re designing something which essentially is in the food industry. How was it making that switch, or getting into that particular muddy pond there?
Lizz Hampton [44:41] Oh man, that journey. I’ve always intended for there to be a food element to the company, but I thought that would come after we launched the product. The product would come, we’d have all this money, and then we could hire someone to do all the food innovation. Man, I was super wrong about that.
Out of the blue I found myself being a food entrepreneur and having to learn about the food industry. What I did was I got a job doing sales for a company called BAKERpedia, which is an online resource for the commercial baking industry that is like an encyclopedia. It allows commercial bakers to be able to look up information quickly. I took a job there, which allowed me to become immersed in a commercial food industry. I was able to go to these trade shows and learn more about how the processes were done. My boss, she had a PhD in food science, so I would just constantly pick her brain about what moisture level do I need to be for it to be food safe without having to add preservatives and things like that. Getting a job in the industry that was more than just working in food service was essential to getting me to here. I learned really quickly that I don’t want to produce it myself so I need to get a co-packer, someone who can blend the pulp for me and work with me so I’m not in the kitchen all the time. I still definitely make the milk myself and spend hours milking nuts for every farmer’s market.
Just learning about the processes from a B2B standpoint was essential for me to get to this point. I still have so much more to learn. Right now I’m figuring out how to register everything with the FDA, get the proper nutrition labels, all of that kind of stuff. The food industry is a hard industry to get into because you have people’s lives in your hands. You want to make sure they don’t get sick from your product, especially when it’s a raw product.
Matt Tullman [46:57] I can totally connect with that. I’ve just had an email from one of our customers saying that she was giving our supplement product to her 1½ year old and that just rocked my world. I’m so glad that I’ve inspected every inch of our manufacturer’s facility because it just takes it to whole other level of importance when I think about children using our product. My heart goes out there.
Jerry, you had a question but I cut you off.
Jerry Sever [47:27] I just wanted to kind of wrap this up with the whole overcoming adversities and getting through the hard times. What would you say to an aspiring entrepreneur who’s not necessarily in the food industry, but in any sort of industry and just trying to juggle all the different needs of a young business?
Lizz Hampton [47:54] I would say, like I’ve said a couple of times, be kind to yourself. Take breaks when you need them, but hustle your ass off. Just believe in the power of you. You can do a lot more than you think you can, even on the days where you don’t feel like you can. Just do it because you’re going to be dope! If you think you’re dope, everyone else is going to think you’re dope. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter because you’re creating something that you care about. That’s ultimately going to make the world a better place.
Matt Tullman [48:30] I can certainly agree with that and echo. I think what you’re doing very well is connecting with your tribe and that whole idea of creating a movement. There’s going to be a lot of naysayers. There’s certainly going to be a lot of people who just do not understand the desire for almond milk, probably because they’re still drinking cows’ milk. Getting distracted on that, what might be a larger market, would totally dilute your brand and make you that much more ineffective. So go after that niche and connect with the people who will think you’re dope.
Lizz Hampton [49:10] Exactly – there’s thumbs up for people who can’t see.
Matt Tullman [49:17] I’m surprised your thumbs don’t have blisters all over them from all the nut milking.
Lizz Hampton [49:21] I wear gloves, it protects me.
Jerry Sever [49:26] Now that we’re kind of getting to the end of this, if we’re just looking a bit broader, what are your goals for Goodnuss? Are you planning to milk other nuts than almonds as well? Where do you want to take this?
Lizz Hampton [49:45] After we get funded my goal is to start the scaling process. We started with almonds because it’s what people are most familiar with, but we definitely are going to expand into other nuts. The Indiegogo campaign will be the first time that we’re going to be offering a mixed nut pulp as a base flavor. After that we’re going to expand into seeds – chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds. We’re really just going to take it as far as we can and try to milk everything. I really think you can milk everything, so we’re going to do that!
Then my goal is to get to national expansion within the next couple of years, ideally within the next two years. Then hit the international market after that. I know that Australia is the next biggest consumer of nut milk, so after America that’s our goal.
Really we’re just trying to create the milk it yourself movement and show the world that not everything needs nipples to be milked.
Matt Tullman [50:49] As far as the business goes again, just from a practical standpoint I’d love hear how you’re thinking about it. You’re working with a co-packer, and obviously you’re a one-woman marketing machine. What are your thoughts on growth? Do you see yourself building out a bigger team? Are you going to have your own facility? Take over the manufacturing? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts there.
Lizz Hampton [51:14] I have visions of a nice big team. I actually hate working alone. I will call anyone during the day just to sit by someone else to work. I love getting people on my team and growing the team. That’s really big. I absolutely hate micro managing, so I really love to give the people who come on my team full autonomy so we can all grow together. I think that’s the best way to build a company. My vision is a really dope office. I’d really like to have multiple rooms with different environments for everyone, like ooh, this is what I’m feeling today. That would also include a facility for manufacturing and production. I’d really like to eventually bring the production of the Goodnuss sack back to America and be totally American made. Right now we’d probably need more funding to be able to do it. We have to start to somewhere.
What I like to tell people is my vision is Dyson meets Burt’s Bees – exploded – an innovation hub. I see Goodnuss as a wellness brand. I intended on eventually developing the product line outside of products that make nut milks or milks at all with other innovations. This is definitely not my only invention, I have a lot of those up my sleeve.
Jerry Sever [52:54] Are you going to making jokes about that as well?
Lizz Hampton [52:57] Oh yeah, there will always be jokes!
Jerry Sever [53:00] What’s your favorite one about the nuts by the way?
Lizz Hampton [53:03] My favorite one is kind of a quote. I put my pants on like the rest of you, one leg at a time, except once my pants are on, I milk nuts! It’s from a Christopher Walken sketch on SNL, except he’s talking about making hit records.
Matt Tullman [53:26] That’s awesome.
Jerry Sever [53:28] Nice. So, for everyone wondering where to find more info about Goodnuss and, of course, get on the Indiegogo campaign, where should they go?
We’ll have a link that that will redirect to the Indiegogo page, but if you want to go directly to Indiegogo that’s totally cool too. In order to back a project on Indiegogo you have to create an account, so just know that that’s part of the process. You just go to Indiegogo and type in Goodnuss.
So again, milkyournuts.com and our Instagram is @milkyournuts – everything milkyournuts and then can find us!
Jerry Sever [54:20] Awesome. Well, thank you very much for that. We’re definitely going to be including all of this in the show notes as well, but in case someone missed it, that’s milkyournuts.com – did I get it right?
Lizz Hampton [54:34] Yep, perfect!
Jerry Sever [54:35] Thanks a lot Lizz for joining us, and good luck with milking those nuts!
Lizz Hampton [54:44] Thanks for letting me milk it today!
Main website: Goodnuss
And of course – check out the Goodnuss IndieGoGo Campaign
The NeXT chapter of Steve Jobs’s career
LIzz’s fomer workplace and source of learning about the food industry: BAKERpedia
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