Hello! Who are you and what food business did you start?
Hi, we’re Suzanne and Jessica and we’re the co-founders of Defy Foods. After both doing keto for the last 5 years and losing over 150 pounds combined, we both missed having something crunchy and convenient, and everyone we talked to doing keto echoed the same.
With so many great dips and charcuterie options, we were tired of celery and pork rinds. So we started making keto crackers at home, but with our busy schedules we really wished we could buy something like this off the shelf. That’s when we came up with the idea to launch a low-carb food line to make it easy and accessible for others to enjoy their favorite keto snacks too…and Defy Foods was born.
In July of 2020, amidst a pandemic, record levels of unemployment and so much racial unrest, we launched our Kickstarter campaign. While not the most ideal time to launch a brand and ask people to support your mission, we were met with so much enthusiasm and support. (Plus, after two years of hard work, we weren’t going to let anything stop us from realizing our dream!)
We had a goal of raising $25,000 and concluded our 30 day campaign at over $47,000, landing us in the top 1% of all food campaigns ever on Kickstarter! We were blown away with the support and ready to embark on the next leg of the journey of bringing our low-carb, keto crackers to the world!
What do sales look like right now?
We currently are in the midst of fulfilling over 800 orders from our Kickstarter, so we have not officially launched our e-commerce site for regular orders yet. We are taking pre-orders to deliver after we have fulfilled the Kickstarter.
While pre-orders can be tricky, as you are collecting money for goods that, in our case, won’t deliver for months later, we have sold over 1000 bags of crackers on pre-order in the couple months since completing the Kickstarter campaign.
How did you come up with the idea for keto crackers?
We’re best friends and busy moms to even busier seven year old girls. We are passionate about living a ketogenic lifestyle, but even more passionate about helping and empowering others. Back when we started keto there were very few convenient products on the market, let alone ones with high quality ingredients.
Luckily, through lots of recipe testing we were able to recreate some of our favorite foods to make this way of eating more sustainable.
In 2017, Suzanne launched her first keto guide and cookbook, Simply Keto. Even though we made a lot of amazing meals, we still missed having snacks that were crunchy and convenient.
That’s when we decided to create a low-carb, keto cracker. There was nothing on the market like it, and we knew if we were missing something like this, others would be too.
We started by doing a lot of competitive analysis and market research. We did hundreds, if not thousands, of batches of recipe testing in our kitchens. Jessica had a full-time career in marketing and creative at the time, and Suzanne was managing her business and book.
We would often stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning cooking at each other’s houses. When we finally got a product we were happy with, we began sending samples to people in the food industry that we knew and had built relationships with over the years. The response was super positive!
Take us through the process of developing, testing, and producing your first keto cracker.
Once we had developed a cracker in our kitchens we loved, we began to delve into manufacturing. Initially we had considered a commercial kitchen where we would produce the crackers ourselves, but we quickly realized it would take us weeks of nights and weekends to even get orders out, as our time was so limited. So we decided to look for a co-manufacturer, and this is where the real challenges began.
We did a lot of research online, and quickly realized the food industry is all about who you know and word of mouth. We stumbled on a website called PartnerSlate.com that has a directory of manufacturers by industry.
We made a list of over 60 co-manufacturers and started cold-calling and emailing. Back then, we had no sales or real sales forecast, and not much knowledge about manufacturing. We quickly learned this would be more difficult than we thought after many doors were slammed in our face.
In early 2019, Suzanne attended Expo West, and was introduced by a friend to a manufacturer who we would go on to work with over the last year and a half. They did not specialize in crackers, and didn’t actually have the right certifications to even work with our ingredients.
But they were interested in our story and product, and ended up getting what they needed for us to move forward. From that time until now, we have done many, many test runs, reformulations and pivots. We soon realized that a high fat, low carb, non-traditional dough was very hard to process on any type of traditional equipment. Finally after changing many ingredients, we got the crackers to run and had to dial in the baking process.
We still are working on the final tweaks and anxiously awaiting our first production run. Due to the global pandemic and wildfires happening during this process, we have faced many challenges and delays. While difficult to stomach and frustrating, we chose the name Defy Foods because we are all about defying the odds, defying the norms and pushing forward through life’s ups and downs!