062: Jared Cannon of Simply Good Jars, Triple Bottom Line Success

Episode 062 with Jared Cannon, Founder + CEO at Simply Good Jars (www.simplygoodjars.com)
About Jared Cannon and Simply Good Jars:

Jared Cannon, is the Chef, Founder and CEO of Simply Good Jars.

Simply Good Jars’ Mission is to make healthy choices easier and to foster a strong and critical connection between local growers, consumers, communities, and those in need.

They envision a world where each of us can create lasting impact in our communities, on our planet, and on each other by simply rethinking how we all eat. In 2004, Jared attended the culinary Institute of America in New York city. Upon graduation, Jared transitioned to Florida international university in Miami to continue his journey in hospitality management and finished his education at temple university’s top rated Fox school of business with a master’s in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Notably, Jared has led kitchens and teams with companies such as iron Hill brewery and restaurant. The Ritz Carlton hotels, Fs, food group, honey grow and Philadelphia’s famed TRIA when forming Simply Good Jars. Jared took a risk leaving the traditional culinary world. However, his confidence continues in Simply Good Jars, mission to deliver healthy meals in an environmentally friendly manner.

He knows by staying true to the company mission, we can all help lead the fight on combating single use plastics and make meaningful impacts in our communities along the way.

You can visit simplygoodjars.com to get more information.


On today’s episode we will:

  • Get to know Jared and hear about Simply Good Jars’ mission
  • Discuss strategies to grow a business rapidly
  • Hear about why Jared chose to start Simply Good Jars to help the communities they are in
  • How to use Social Capitalism (or a Triple Bottom Line structure) to create an organization that stands for more than just profits
  • Why Simply Good Jars started as a direct to consumer organization, and eventually added technology
  • Jared’s approach to building a successful and empowered team
  • The methods Jared has used to ensure his team is empowered to make decisions and stay loyal
  • And so much more!

The Self Made Strategies Hustle Story is a SoftStix Productions jawn.  Tony Lopes produced, hosted, and edited this episode.  This episode was recorded on location at the Simply Good Jars Offices.  Self Made Strategies is sponsored by Lopes Law LLC (www.LopesLawLLC.com).

Make sure you subscribe to the Self Made Strategies Podcast on your favorite podcasting platform.  You can find us on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and Spreaker.

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Tony Lopes: [00:00:22] Welcome to a brand new episode of the self-made strategies podcast. I am your host Tony Lopes, and with me today is Jared Cannon, Chef, Founder and CEO of Simply Good Jars. You can visit simplygoodjars.com to get more information. Simply Good Jars’ Mission is to make healthy choices easier and to foster a strong and critical connection between local growers, consumers, communities, and those in need.

They envision a world where each of us can create lasting impact in our communities, on our planet, and on each other by simply rethinking how we all eat. In 2004 Jared attended the culinary Institute of America in New York city. Upon graduation, Jared transitioned to Florida international university in Miami to continue his journey in hospitality management and finished his education at temple university’s top rated Fox school of business with a master’s in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Notably, Jared has led kitchens and teams with companies such as iron Hill brewery and restaurant. The Ritz Carlton hotels, Fs, food group, honey grow and Philadelphia’s famed TRIA when forming Simply Good Jars. Jared took a risk leaving the traditional culinary world. However, his confidence continues in Simply Good Jars, mission to deliver healthy meals in an environmentally friendly manner.

He knows by staying true to the company mission, we can all help lead the fight on combating single use plastics and make meaningful impacts in our communities along the way.

Stay tuned for this awesome episode with Jared cannon.

Jared, thanks for being here first and foremost. This is really, really cool.

Finally, a pleasure to get you on the show.

Jared Cannon: [00:01:59] It’s been a while, but

Tony Lopes: [00:02:00] yeah, no worries. No worries. And really excited to talk about, first of all, your background. Obviously you worked for some major hospitality companies like iron Hill brewery and restaurant, the Ritz Carlton hotels, FS food group, Honeygrow.

And TRIA. I love TRIA as a matter of fact. Great restaurant group. So tell us about that, about your experience going to culinary school, and then your sort of. Hmm maturation. Your, your process of going through these different restaurant groups, what did you learn? And then tell us about that leap into Simply Good Jars.

Jared Cannon: [00:02:35] Yeah, sure. So, you know, I was cooking, um, since I was old enough to stand on a step stool to reach the counter. Um, it was just something I always did at home, you know, with family. And. You know, at the young age of 14 or 15, I kind of had the epiphany that this was something I wanted to pursue. And, you know, um, but you know, me as kind of the, you know, always try to seek out the best and do the best.

I kind of looked to see if, you know, the culinary world was something worth getting into, you know, a career where the type of role, and. So I stumbled across the Culinary Institute of America, um, went out and did a trial week there to kind of understand what the curriculum was like, you know, how it worked.

Um, and was blown away. Uh, I applied very quickly and was accepted and, you know, that kind of started my journey in the more professional culinary space. Uh, you know, halfway through. You know, the equivalent of an internship. Um, got me down in Ritz Carlton in Naples at the Vanderbilt road beach resort, one of their flagship properties of the U S and, you know, that’s where the idea of hard work was learned really, really quickly.

Um, so you fast forward and you know, after graduation I went and, and continued with the Ritz Carlton cause I had such great time down in Miami and South beach for about six years. Uh, you know, while going and getting my bachelor’s in hotel management, uh, hotel, restaurant management from FIU. So upon graduation, I was, you know, an executive chef.

I had kind of, you know, I want to say, hit, uh, uh, a ladder or a glass ceiling. But, you know, I was, I was ready to move on. So moved out, uh, went to Charlotte to Fs food group, and that’s where I kinda got into the multiunit management concept. Uh, did that for a couple of years, came back to Philly in 2012 and that’s where, you know.

The idea of Simply Good Jars kind of started around 2012 you know, after going to school and, and working like crazy and not having any time to eat healthy and seeing all the waste and seeing all the people hungry, especially coming back to Philly, walking around and, you know, just. Knowing I’m throwing away all this food that’s probably fine to eat.

Right. And then having to walk past people that, you know, would love to have any aspect of that, you know, available to them. So. But at the same time, it’s like when you’re making six figures and you know you’re, you have all the student loan obligations and you’re trying to kind of survive life. You know, the idea of quitting that to just start up a random ideas is it took me about five years the commit.

Tony Lopes: [00:05:12] Wow. And so you come back to Philly and you end up going to Fox school of business at temple. I’m a temple alumni as well. So love temple. Uh, you decide to get a master’s in innovation and entrepreneurship. Was that a part of this next level, next step? Thinking in your, in the back of your mind. Okay. You want to start this concept of Simply Good Jars and you, are you kind of struggling with where to go next?

Is that why you went back for your master’s or, or was there another reason.

Jared Cannon: [00:05:40] No, I mean, it was, you know, I’ve always naturally want to be challenged. Um, just generally. Right? So, you know, that was a way for me to kind of, you know, see if I could build some side of the foundational knowledge around this idea of being a business owner, starting a company, whatever.

I mean, before going to an enrolling in that program, I didn’t know what. You know, venture capitalist was, I didn’t know, you know, that you could finance a company, not, you know, off of your life savings, but you know, on the backs of others that believed in what you were trying to do and, right. Um, and then how you go about building a business model and creating a value prop and marketing that and doing, you know.

Every step of what it takes to build a company. Right. And, you know, I, I would say probably three quarters of the way through, I really started to applying the principles that I was learning to this idea, if you will, which is really all it was at the time I had played around in, at home with, you know, different recipes and things in jars, but I had actually branded, uh, support jars.

Concept that, you know, I actually hired someone to do a logo design and you know, that never took off, obviously, but, um, you know, after kind of building that, that foundational knowledge, I kind of started getting serious. You know, about the potential of what it might mean to launch something like this and how to would go about it.

And then it took about two years to actually take the leap of faith, um, after getting a $1,000 loan. Well, from Kiva, and you know, that was the turning point where I said to myself, look, if I blow this. I try.

Tony Lopes: [00:07:17] Yeah. The worst thing that can happen is you end up going to work back in another kitchen.

Jared Cannon: [00:07:21] Sure.

Exactly. And it’s not, it’s not that hard to get a kitchen job. Right. Um, but you know, on the flip side, it was like, look, if this takes off and you know, I’ve put all this thought and energy and time and you know. Whatever into this. And so I did, and we haven’t looked back. I mean, a month after launch, we had a waiting list of 750 people.

Wow. Uh, yeah, it was, it, it kinda took off pretty quick. And I remember I had actually, you know, applied back to a different role. Just in case it didn’t work. And I had an interview, the final interview scheduled, and the day that I was supposed to have an interview, I had a peace launch in the business journal or something about Simply Good Jars.

Wow. And we got flooded with inquiry. And literally, I remember being in the moment and canceling that interview and saying, I’m just going to see what happens. Wow. Sick.

Tony Lopes: [00:08:13] Awesome. Wow. That was your response to the final interview

Jared Cannon: [00:08:16] cause I got, you know, I don’t want to waste anybody’s time. It’s awesome. You know, I have that tingly feeling.

I’m going to see if this. This can work.

Tony Lopes: [00:08:24] So there was something in your gut telling you that this was the path that you really wanted to be on and social capitalism right now, for lack of a better term, or cause marketing or whatever you want to call all of these concepts that, you know, a triple bottom line organizations for benefit companies, those kinds of things.

Are starting to really gain some traction. Did you know right from the beginning that you wanted to, if you were going to go off on a venture on your own, that you wanted it to be sort of this triple bottom line kind of organization? So walk us through that process of planning that when you’re planning sort of three different, um.

Three different, uh, outcomes or goals for the organization at large. What was your process in your mind?

Jared Cannon: [00:09:11] I think, you know, the, the big level, you know, kind of guiding star, if you will, was that, look, if I’m going to start something, I want it to better. Something  you know, it, it wasn’t so tied up on like the environment or, you know, hunger or plastic, the crazy plastic waste problem that we have these days.

And it really wasn’t defined. It kind of defines itself over time, but it was really just driven by, you know, how can we model this to have, um. Some sort of impact beyond just, you know, the typical profit. And you know, what I’ve come to kind of realize is it’s really about redefining what profit means to an enterprise, to a corporation, to a, to a business, right?

And, you know, obviously we’re spending money to. To feed people that are in need. Right? And we could take that money and drop it straight down the profit, but at the end of the day, you know, it’s, if we can do something better with, with that, that money, if you will, um, it, it feels like it pays dividends.

And why wouldn’t we want to do that?

Tony Lopes: [00:10:18] Right. That makes a lot of sense. So did that also help when you were building out your team initially, first of all, how long did it take you to put on a team and bring collaborators into your space? Or were you just doing everything yourself for a long period of time?

Jared Cannon: [00:10:33] It was day today. And I tell you, if I went back and tried to repeat it like Groundhog day, yes. Who knows what could have happened? I mean, it was so fly by the seat of your pants and even funny. But I mean, in the first year we grew from myself. Two 18 employees, I think. Wow.

Tony Lopes: [00:10:50] In one year,

Jared Cannon: [00:10:51] one year. And it was just, you know, you just had that realization like, I’m doing too much.

I can’t, I need someone to just take this off my plate. But it always starts, you know, I started doing everything and then really started kind of realizing I needed to delegate aspects of this and kind of wrapping a tight little bow around, you know, one circle that I could offload and then finding someone to.

You know, be motivated and inspired and you know, willing and able to handle that. You know, somewhat on their own, but obviously with guidance. Uh, but yeah, I mean, it, it took off and you know, I think we added one person a month there for, you know, a four or five month stretch. Just the, just to start really getting the ball rolling.

That’s great.

Tony Lopes: [00:11:36] And I guess that social capital, social capitalism model tends to help bring people on and maybe for a little bit less than they would take otherwise. Right? Because you’re providing them not only with employment, but with that internal fulfillment that they’re doing some good. And.

Involving themselves in something that they’re interested in.

Jared Cannon: [00:11:56] Unintended consequences and consequences can be good. But, um, you know, and it wasn’t part of the grand scheme or plan or anything like that, but it was interesting that I’m still to this day, I mean, we probably get five to six applications a week.

Wow. That, you know, kind of start with that lead in of, I love what you’re doing. Yeah, no, this is great. I myself do this. Or M, you know, driven by this too. And you know, I would love the opportunity to work with you guys. And you know, we’re at a point now where we have to be, you know, really strategic and sensitive to, you know, the people that we can bring on board.

But the hope is that, you know, in the near future we’ll be able to, you know, double again our, our bench and. And our team and with great, you know, inspired people and having an inspired team really helps to kind of drive that model and the plan forward and kind of have something that everybody can rally around and really grasp onto and, and hold on tight.

Tony Lopes: [00:12:57] And another thing that I find interesting about your organization, and we’ll talk about how you developed it and got into it, is that you use tech. In your vending machines, right? So that there’s sort of a, um, on demand sort of aspect to it. Whereas people buy things first and foremost. It makes the buying process a lot easier.

They basically pop in their, their card or whatever form of payment they’re using. It unlocks the cooler, they open it, and they can take out whatever jar they want, and then they close it. And then you’re getting some form of live data back to you to let you know, okay, we need to restock. This machine with this product and you’re getting to see sort of what’s more in demand than otherwise, right?

Yep. How did Jack come up with that part of your distribution channel and what made you go in that direction?

Jared Cannon: [00:13:46] So when we launched, uh, it was direct to consumer because we had $1,000, so I couldn’t go out and buy a refrigerator SIB operating capital of a dollar or something. So we started direct to consumer, you know, the vending, if you will.

Um, concept was always part of the plan and the model that we just simply didn’t have the cash to execute that strategy. So we wanted to test improve. Hey, well, people would salad out of a jar. You know, in their office. So we proved that second step was to go out to like home Depot, buy one of these $500, you know, refrigerators at the glass front that didn’t lock.

There was no tech. It was literally, you know, off the floor of home Depot. We put a bunch of decals on it and said, Hey, here’s the prices. Here’s the product. Here’s a little bit about the mission. If. If you want to give us a shot, that’d be great. You know, uh, send money. PayPal. Wow. Yeah. Talking about honor system, honor system,

Tony Lopes: [00:14:42] but they have to pay value to pay you for it.

Jared Cannon: [00:14:45] Yep. Yep. Wow. And, but what was interesting is that we only saw about 5% lift or loss. Wow. So generally people were relatively doing the right thing. Right. Which was actually an interesting statistic, but the biggest problem in that was that. People were buying. I mean, people were consuming regularly the product in a jar, in a fridge, in their office.

Right? But our issue internally, operationally was that we would show up with new product and we had no clue what was stocked. We didn’t know if they wiped it out. We don’t know if they didn’t touch it. Right. We don’t, you know, don’t know if this skew was empty or the skew is in need.

Tony Lopes: [00:15:22] And these are essentially perishable products.

They’re salads in a jar at this, at this phase of the company.

Jared Cannon: [00:15:26] Very perishable. So. You know, the need to have that real time visibility into in stock inventory velocity and transactional stuff was massive. So we went on the hunt to really try to understand what types of technologies could assist us in doing this.

And look, I’m a, I’m a chef, I’m a food guy. I’m not a tech guy. I’m not going to try and build a tech team and build a new technology. You know, I want to just kind of leverage what’s out there, what’s existing, um, that best suits our business case. So we, I mean, we tried probably eight different technologies and we have what I call the graveyard.

It’s a storage unit in South Philly, about 30 different, you know, uh, fridges or technologies that failed that we just, we call it the graveyard cause they just, we, we, they came. They stayed, they died. And so, but we, you know, we stumbled across, um, you know, the technology that we use now, byte technologies to really drive forward, you know, everything that we need on the data analytics side to demand plan to know what’s in stock real time, you know, at, you know, fleet-wide wow.

And, you know, just that, you know, addition of a little bit of technology massively improve the economics of the business. And allowed us to scale, you know, up to now about 40 locations in New York, New Jersey, greater Philadelphia. Wow. And we’re on our way down the DC.

Tony Lopes: [00:16:47] And is all of the distribution in house or are you using sort of a third party distributor to help you get to all of those locations?

Jared Cannon: [00:16:53] So right now, everything’s in house. Um, but you know, part of our bigger master plan is to really build an and erect a supply chain that is built to, you know, really deliver on fresh. You know, low shelf life or low code types of items, right? And you know, we’d basically done that to this point. So now it’s about, you know, where can we go.

And with what, because now all of a sudden, you know what’s worked really nice next to our salad is a nice cup of fruit. And what works next to that is, you know, all these fresh items, hummus and carrots, and you know, all of these things that, you know, then can travel kind of on the same rails, if you will, which really brings, um.

Some interesting dynamics to how we can really curate a fresh food program. Awesome.

Tony Lopes: [00:17:40] Yeah. And most of it is also around another benefit, which is your client’s health, right? Because your salads are your bread and butter, pardon the pun. And you’ve since then moved on to breakfast products and now, as you said, sort of snack products as well.

So what are all the product lines right now that people can find from Simply Good Jars.

Jared Cannon: [00:18:02] So as you, as you alluded, you know, our salad is the, the, you know, 70% of the sales, if you will. It’s definitely, um, but you know, within the salad category, we have vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, KIDO, you know, meat, fish, like kind of a, a pretty wide selection to really help align with, uh, our clients and customers.

Dietary needs, all of our products under 600 calories too. And that’s dressing included. So that is, you know, anytime you grab a jar, you know that you’re not. You know, consuming a thousand calories, which is really easy to do, believe it or not, in a salad, especially with the dressing, right? Um, you know, a ranch could be Manet’s and you know, sugars and whatever.

Um, so anyway, so outside of salads we have kind of our breakfast, our phase or yogurts or overnight oats. We have fresh cut fruit. We have, uh, awesome partners that create and craft really awesome healthy granola bars. And. You know, all types of products. We don’t, we’re not really in the beverage business per se.

Um, you know, a lot of the spaces that we operate in have some sort of beverage offering already. So, you know, water’s free, coffee’s free. You know, you can go down and get a soda if you like. Um, so, you know, our offering really kind of. Tito’s on the that, you know, three o’clock snack time, early breakfast, lunch, and then we do happy hour every day.

You know, right before it’s time to leave for the day. If you want to grab some, take it home to the family, to the shore, whatever you can do. So a little bit cheaper. Going back

Tony Lopes: [00:19:35] to a couple of things that I wanted to follow up on. One was, you know, you talked about how you started essentially on $1,000 loan from the gecko.

How long did you go on sort of pseudo bootstrapping and relying on profits to fund the business and cashflow to fund the business to continue on versus, you know, reaching out to investors and saying, Hey, we have this great product, service and distribution method. We’re working through all these things.

We’d love for you to invest.

Jared Cannon: [00:20:01] So that thousand dollars lasted us a bout two and a half months. That’s a pretty good stretch for, it wasn’t, yeah, it wasn’t bad. I mean, the, the recurring revenue before, I mean, that was the strategy, right? It was like, you know, you collect a subscription upfront recurring revenue, so you had the cash to buy the product, to make the product, to send the price.


Tony Lopes: [00:20:22] You don’t have a lot of receivables

Jared Cannon: [00:20:25] plus of cashflow. Right, right. So cash flow positive in that case, which helped us. Uh, we did, you know, realize, you know, after getting that 700 5,000 person waiting list, it’s like, okay, like, no way we can do this right now. Um, we actually had family and friends kind of rally together.

I think there was. Seven or so, uh, that kind of got about $55,000 together to help fund kind of the 2000, 18 early stages of the continued subscription service at the time. Nice. And then, you know, we started kind of going out into the angel community, I would say somewhere around March or June to really understand.

You know, how can we raise money on this concept to say, look, we’ve proven that people liked the product. We want to deliver it in a different way. Um, and unfortunately we need capital to do that because there’s that upfront cost of physical assets, equipment, you know, that kind of stuff. Uh, and that process always takes longer than you want it to.

I think we closed on the cash around Thanksgiving. Okay. Right. So it took awhile. Yeah. It makes sense. Um, but you know. 2019 was really proven, that vending model and all the way through the year, 12 months of just, you know, nonstop pushing, you know, pivoting. You know, having some successful locations, having a lot of unsuccessful locations, learning a lot, and you know, really trying to better define the model for growth and going through the learning pains of, you know, losing more cash in a month than my dream salary, you know, which is nuts.

You know, when you start kind of wrapping your head around that, it’s like, man. But yeah, I mean we’re in a, we’re in a really cool spot for 2020 and we’re excited for what’s to come.

Tony Lopes: [00:22:11] That’s awesome. And great segway cause that was going to be my next question was about this sort of iterative process of pivoting with all the different texts that are now in your graveyard, as you pointed out.

Right. At what point do you, how do you make the decision between say, okay, this isn’t working. Let’s try another one versus this isn’t working. Maybe we should just stop with this tech. Idea that we have that’s really on the cutting edge with this sort of real time consumption model and data

Jared Cannon: [00:22:40] model. So one, you know, part of, you know, as we built the team, you know, what I felt was critical was the defining what I called the guiding principles of the organization.

You know, establishing kind of the mission statement and all of those things, which are critical to kind of align people to kind of, you know, do what’s needed within the vision of the organization. You know, within those guiding principles, fail fast, win big is, you know, one of the key metrics and you know, the idea is like, look, we can all sit around the table and think about how to brainstorm to make different locations perform better or different tech to do different things.

Or, you know, be okay with certain shortfalls in, you know, um, you know, replacement for at least having some visibility or something. And. You know, at the end of the day, it’s like, look, if, if this isn’t critically addressing a need that we have, we need to call it what it is and look, we could spend a lot of time and money and probably make it better, but let’s, let’s not do that.

Let’s, uh, kind of keep driving innovation within the way that we’re doing things right. Which naturally creates that, that iterative approach to. You know, check, balance, repeat. Right? And, you know, fail fast. One big. So it’s awesome.

Tony Lopes: [00:24:00] And while you’re going through all of that, do you have people on your team that are starting to sort of second guess, you know, whether it’s worth it to continue down this path that these vending machines that provide you with realtime data.

And to what extent are you constantly having to sort of re motivate the team? Don’t worry guys. You know, we’re on the right path. Trust the process. We’re in Philly, so trust the process is big here, but, uh, how often do you have to do that and what’s your process for doing

Jared Cannon: [00:24:27] that? I would say very little. I mean, there’s, there’s definitely, you know, the culture of.

You know, um, you know, I like to empower everybody on the team to, to kind of have the autonomy to make their own decisions, if you will. So, at the end of the day, if something’s not working, it’s less about me. And it’s more about, you know, the team, right? So, you know, the rally around that is, you know, how can we help each other?

How can we, you know, quickly make decisions and, you know, I’ve been a part of helping to steer and guide that, you know, within the team. But, you know, we’re at the point now where we’re starting to really shift that. Uh, accountability, if you will, onto the team members themselves in the respective worlds and really allowing them to make decisions and, and being able to demonstrate the impact, good or bad.

And, you know, failing fast when and beg and, you know, some of the other guiding principles, innovate constantly have fun. You know, there’s just, you know, and the point of that is to like, look if what you’re doing aligns to these, you know, seven principles or at least seven of our principles right. Just go do it.

And you know, that’s been, you know, a pretty good strategy and it’s worked pretty well. I mean, we’re, we’re not great and we don’t nail it a hundred percent percent of the time, but, you know, generally, you know, it works well. That’s awesome.

Tony Lopes: [00:25:45] Okay, let’s go back to when you’re starting Simply Good Jars, and I apologize for varying back and forth, but, but I want to go back to sort of your business development process.

Obviously you get on the business journal and you get an article that really helps boost sales. First and foremost, how did you go about building that connection or, or getting in the door at the Philadelphia business journal with, with, you know, obviously at that point you’re already off to the races, so to speak, but it’s still very early in the early adopter phase of this new social capital business model.

And quite frankly, I mean, we’re in 2020 now where social capitalism is a little bit more. On the forefront of things. You were doing it several years ago before it was even really a popular form of doing business. There were be corpse and stuff like that, but not really to the extent that we’re at now.

So how did you approach the Philadelphia business journal and say, Hey, I have this great new company and great new concept. Would you do an article for me? How did you go through

Jared Cannon: [00:26:43] that? So the. The crazy part of all of this is that we’ve never really gone out and solicited anything to anyone. It’s been inbound and it’s been kind of luck of the draw.

So, you know, a big part of the initial strategy was like, you know, the cool thing about food is, you know, you can buy products, you can relatively cheaply, you know, you can make 12 of them or 20 of them. They can go out and just, you know, go to an event and sample for free as like a, you know, free donated food but doesn’t cost anything.

You can go out literally hand them out on the streets. You know, you can meet up with influencers and tell them, Hey, try it. If you like it, I’ll get you some more. And you know, my strategy was to really kind of help saturate the awareness of the product by just being everywhere I could, giving out plenty of free product, you know?

And, and that’s what helped. You know, being in places where, you know, Philadelphia business journal, I was at an event, I think that was like a, um, a startup competition for, you know, innovative young companies. And we were, we had a table set up, we were giving out samples and you know, probably a hundred people walk by and well, you know, Hey, tell me about your company, blah, blah, blah.

One of them happened to be, you know, the writer that wrote the story.

Tony Lopes: [00:27:58] Wow. So it’s all about just adding value to the community on a constant basis, which is kind of your core. Yup. Core concept and and thought process. That’s really interesting. Okay. Another question that we frequently hear from people who listen to the show is they want to know how the, the various entrepreneurs that we have on the show like yourself that have had a lot of success, how you deal with rapid growth and, and sort of you, you talked about hiring 18 people in your first year.

That’s. Usually pretty crazy for most companies and, and I’m sure caused you some significant growing pains. It’s always great on the, on the tail end, now that you’ve been successful, but going through the process must, must have been difficult. So how did you find those people? How did you deal with rapid growth when.

Your demand, you know, you were sold out. Like you said, you had a waiting list after your first month essentially. Yup. So how did you react to that and go and put the pieces in place to maintain your success going forward?

Jared Cannon: [00:28:54] So we have always, and to this day, really drive forward with quality and flavor as some of the principles of the product.

So we never ever compromised, even though we had people that wanted it, we would never allow product out that couldn’t be. You know, Don in the right way and to this day is kind of still holds true. So, you know, the, the day, the day, you know, as I alluded earlier about just, you know, business growth and.

Yeah. It’s the way that I look at it is you take it day by day, and my strategy has always been to never move on to something until I finished the thing prior. And you know, I’d never found myself with, you know, 20 scattered things that, you know, 25% completion with more things coming in, being so overwhelmed that.

And it’s just, you know, it’s prioritizing and one at a time and you know, as things roll in, you can reshuffle your deck and re-prioritize as needed. And if things fall off, they fall off. And that’s really what every single day has been for the past two and a half years. Wow. Uh, is just, you know, day by day, tackling what’s in front of you.

One at a time, finishing, moving on, finishing, moving on reshuffling the deck. Reprioritizing

Tony Lopes: [00:30:12] awesome. That’s amazing. And then, you know, obviously you’re bringing in those extra people and now you’re able to sort of, as you said earlier in the episode, delegate some of those important tasks or priorities to them.

Give them the, the football, so to speak, and say, Hey, run with this. Come back to me only if you really need some direction.

Jared Cannon: [00:30:29] Yeah, I trust you. But at the same time, you know, part of that process is tough, right? Like in the beginning, you’re involved in every single discussion, every single decision almost.

Right. Um, and then that, that involvement starts to separate. The bigger the team gets. And, you know, I’m at the inflection point now where, you know, the, the team rallies around me and ideas and, you know, wants to run things by us and, you know, but a lot of the times I’ll get the, you know, is it blue or is it red?

Right? But 22 people asking me if, you know. What do, what do you prefer, um, starts, you know, on top of everything else, it starts to become, you know, really overwhelming. So, you know, having, you know, part of the growing pains is really that transitional culture of, you know, empowering and re empowering and, you know, continuing to drive the team to.

Um, be be okay with making their own decisions, but also holding accountability to, you know, decisions that work well and celebrating them and decisions that don’t work so well and, and really trying to understand how to, to rewrite the ship, if you will.

Tony Lopes: [00:31:40] Right. And as a professional chef, I would imagine that there’s at least a little bit of perfectionism just internally, automatically.

That’s a part of your process,

Jared Cannon: [00:31:49] right? Oh

Tony Lopes: [00:31:49] yeah. Especially looking at the restaurants that you’ve worked for, the groups that you’ve worked for. High, high, high standards of quality and customer service and delivery of product to the client, right? So you being that way, how do you, um, temper yourself when somebody else on your team makes a mistake?

That word does something differently than you would have done it. How do you deal with that? And just allow it to go with the flow.

Jared Cannon: [00:32:15] So I learned a long time ago that, you know, reacting emotionally and have negative impacts. So, um, you know, when there’s something done that you know, is, um, you know, frustrating or concerning or whatever, I always tried to really give myself about 12 to 16 hours to really.

You know, attack that instance and to kind of approach it, you know, non emotional, you know, with logic. Um, and I learned that in my culinary career, you know, cause you know, the one of the parallels, right, is controlled chaos, right? You know, you work in a kitchen and it’s just like. Things flying all over the place, like 400 degrees surfaces this, you know, oil slashing all over the place.

I mean, I’ve got burns and cuts up and down my arm and it’s just like, you know, the saying is balls to the walls and like, you know, let’s get through this head down and. But the parallel with, you know, starting a company is very similar. I mean, there’s just chaos everywhere. And if you let it consume you, it can be really daunting and overwhelming.

And, you know, it’s really about how you, you know, maintain a calm demeanor. Um, you know, move forward with logic and, and really assess situations and not react emotionally. And that’s all part of, you know, in every single employee offer letter, you know, it’s, you know, we’ll act calm through, you know, times of high stress.

And, you know, uh, it’s just, you know, we have to embed that into the team as well, because, you know. As a leader when things are astray and you’re running around with your head cut off, the rest of your team’s gonna be running around with their head. Right.

Tony Lopes: [00:33:58] No, that’s a great point. I mean, if the chicken loses its head, the rest of the body’s just running crazy, right?

It’s not like everything else can

Jared Cannon: [00:34:04] function. So the composure aspect, you know, especially leading a team is critical. Uh, to ensure that, you know, even in those highest stress moments, and everybody else is waiting to see how you’re gonna react. Um, having the ability to compose and, you know, process and, you know, uh, turn around with a logical solution and, you know, an action plan.

It’s something to work against. And, you know, having the team go out and do that, fight it and win. Way better than, you know, just like screaming, throwing things and you know, firing somebody.

Tony Lopes: [00:34:40] Yeah. It’s not going to get you anywhere. Right. And it’s not going to build loyalty in their team if you’re chaotic to your, to your point, there’s already enough chaos externally going on.

So if you’re chaotic, they’re just going to be like, I’m not going to keep following this person around. Right. Um, going back to your early days where you were having all of these sort of, uh, quality control issues and, uh, quality assurance issues with the machines that you were using, the cooler, the refrigerators that you were using, et cetera, how were you maintaining the trust with your clients and your distribution channel?

To continually let you iterate and make it right.

Jared Cannon: [00:35:18] So we’ve always been, I mean, literally the physical jar is so see-through, you can see every flaw that would potentially be in there. Right? Right. And we’ve modeled a culture of transparency and everything that we do as well. So, you know, when quality concerns come up, and you know what’s, what’s funny is that where we’ve been so consistent with the product in market, that one little change.

People notice it and they’ll write in and they’ll, you know, they’re loyal and they love it. And they’ll write in and be like, what’s different? Like, you know, wow. And, but it’s all about how you, you know, tell that story and respond to the customer. And we’re very transparent and, and, you know, part of the initial quality issues was really around, you know, our ability to grow and scale so quickly that we were held to higher regulatory standards, you know, in the production distribution of food.

That all of a sudden, you know, the small farm that makes the amazing cheese that took us three months to find no longer qualifies as a supplier. Wow. And we needed to quickly identify a substitute that was. Okay. You know, not crap. Wow. But, you know, not the same quality. And then really, you know, build a team physically to go out and do product development to find source the materials and go through all the regulatory process, which from a paperwork perspective can take a month or two.

Wow. So, you know, there is a period of time there where, you know, we would still stand by the product as everything that we promise it to be, but none of us were happy with. The quality that kind of came down a little bit during that transition. But you know, the constant focus and you know, I send out a weekly message to the entire team and we kind of talk about recaps of the week forward looking things, you know, takeaways, whatever.

And you know, for that period it was really just driving the culture of we are the last line of defense, quality, quality, quality. You know, we need to always make sure that this is a driving principle of what we do every day. And, you know, we got through

Tony Lopes: [00:37:26] amazing, amazing message and that focus on quality and, and I think your constant iteration of your constant communication with your team on here’s what’s going on, rather than just shutting yourself in the CEO’s office, so to speak.

Um, and being on the front lines with them does build that confidence. Do you find that to be true within Simply Good Jars?

Jared Cannon: [00:37:47] Yeah, no, absolutely. What else? Cool.

Tony Lopes: [00:37:49] So to what extent do you, or how much energy do you spend comparing yourself or your business ventures to your

Jared Cannon: [00:37:56] competitors? Very little. That’s awesome.

Tony Lopes: [00:38:01] Well, you guys are, are very much in a niche, so you don’t really have that, um, issue of having to worry so much about competition. Right. How much direct competition would you say you have to begin with?

Jared Cannon: [00:38:13] So, I mean, there are people doing similar things. Um, you know, looking at the channel of, uh, you know, there’s, there’s actually, I think someone coined the term, it might’ve been Forbes or something direct to consumer in office.

And you know, it is somewhat of an untapped channel and it’s starting to gain momentum. And, but. You know, there’s also people making products, stuffing them in jars, and, and putting them in environments that are more accessible, you know, more affordable or whatever the case. Uh, but, you know, for us, it’s like, you know, we’re.

Forward thinking we’re innovative. You know, we are, we do lead with product. We do leave with flavor. Um, we’ve tried every product in market from a competitor. To this day we’ve had zero issues or concerns with anybody, even close to the level of quality and flavor that we put into our products. And at the end of the day, flavors, King, right?

The consumer is going to pick and choose and be loyal to the product they enjoy the most. And by the way, we’re like basically the same price. So, you know. That answer might change in the future, or as you know, more incumbents come into the space and, and whatever. But, you know, right now it’s, it’s a very little concern of ours.

Um, and we want to remain focused on what our mission is, you know, to. To make healthier, tasty food more accessible, you know, while being sustainable and impactful, you know, empowering our customers to better their own communities through making better choices. We turning the jar and not wasting helping feed those in need.

And, you know, we just stay true to that mission, that drive and, you know, quality, quality, quality, um, and forward.

Tony Lopes: [00:39:52] So. You’re in kind of an archaic, for lack of a better term, or, or let’s call it a conservative industry that is food. Obviously it’s been around forever and there are certain inherent things that are just a part of food businesses.

Consumer packaged goods, food businesses all have sort of similarities, right. Throughout the process, do you consider yourself a disruptor, first of all, and then second of all, when you’re dealing with stakeholders in general, whether they be investors or people in the community or just other collaborators in the food world, to what extent do you.

Get the message of, Hey, stop trying to disrupt and just do things this way rather than always trying to innovate. Right. Um, and what’s your response to that? How do you deal with that?

Jared Cannon: [00:40:41] So I think from day one it was more about providing a product service and an option that was missing in the market. You can call it disruptive, you can call it whatever you want, but that’s kind of been the way we’ve thought about it and trying to make what we do better.

You know, than we did last month or yesterday. So, you know, maybe it’s disruptive, maybe it’s not. I don’t really have an answer to that, but no. At the end of the day, you know, we’re looking to transform the way people look at a prepackaged salad and, you know, approach it with some sort of expectation that’s better than.

This is going to suck because that’s just, you know, you grab a packet, if you’re grabbing a pre-package salad, you know, you’re just so far behind or missing the Mark or something where you’re just, you’re hangry. You need something. You don’t want to, you know, sacrifice on, you know, calories or you don’t want to sacrifice on price or whatever the case is.

And, you know, with us, there’s no sacrifices. I mean. You know, it’s, it’s an affordable, accessible product that tastes good. It’s there, it’s portable, it’s transparent. You know, we, we, we try to, you know, take all of those, uh, you know, compromises that people would typically make when buying something quick, fast and easy, and really providing a product within that same mindset that exceeds expectations every time.

And what’s interesting is that, you know, anytime someone tries a product for the first time, they’re like. Wow. I can’t, like, I hadn’t, I did not think it would be this good. And I’m totally buying this now. It’s awesome. So, you know, there is a little hurdle to get somebody to try something new and unique for the first time, but you know, again, it really just goes back to quality, flavor standards and, and, and vision and mission and executing on that.


Tony Lopes: [00:42:33] What can we expect from Simply Good Jars in 2020 and beyond?

Jared Cannon: [00:42:38] So there’s a lot happening. Um, you know, we’re continuing a lot of, uh, um, really strategic partnerships in the fridge model. Um, so we, you know, we’re doing pilots and extending pilots with a lot of, you know, everything from the food giants to, you know, hotel companies and, and kind of different types of business and corporate food service entities and things like that.

So that will continue. Um, one of the biggest things I think you’ll start to see is, uh, simply get jars separate, um, itself from the fridge. And you’ll see through very strategic, very targeted few partnerships, a saturation in market with a retail on the shelf. A prepackaged salad that you know is, you know, we think is going to make an impact beyond, you know, what we’ve been able to do today, and we’re only doing this with retailers that we know will uphold the mission of the returnability reusability built in that reverse logistics infrastructure into their own or our distribution model.

So that we can continue to adopt the principles we were founded on. Um, and you know, we’re doing that in probably about six States in the next 30 days. Wow. Wow. Yeah. So it’s

Tony Lopes: [00:43:59] not surprised at your ambition at this point, but that’s awesome. I’m pretty sure you can execute. If you’re, if you’re heading down that path at this point, I think you’re, you’re going to be successful.

Jared Cannon: [00:44:07] Well, part of, you know, the most recent fundraise, uh, which was close to a couple of million bucks, we were able to. Really stir up production to make about 2000 jars an hour. Wow. Uh, and with that capacity and with the distribution, we’ve been able to erect, you know, we can service about a 500 mile radius of Philadelphia.

Wow. Next day. That’s incredible. So now all of a sudden, our world isn’t, you know. 50 miles, it’s 500 miles. And, um, you know, with the partners that we have, you know, in current markets and expanding markets and, and with, uh, this kind of secondary strategy, uh, we’re going to be able to. We feel build the brand equity and loyalty to really identify Simply Good Jars as a quality product and that we will not ever, you know, falter on flavor, function, taste, and, you know, really build that dependability in the market.

And then, you know, we still have the fridge option, right? So, you know, as that brand equity builds in markets and whatnot, um, you know, we can bring it right to you in the office, in the building at the hospital. No, at the school, at the airport, whatever the case is. Right. And continue that strategy and by no means has it been abandoned and if anything, we’re going to strengthen that value prop by building the brand in the market.

Awesome. Yeah. Really awesome.

Tony Lopes: [00:45:36] What’s a hustle story from early on in your entrepreneurial journey that was either crazy or something funny happened while you were trying to get Simply Good Jars off the ground?

Jared Cannon: [00:45:47] Oh man, there’s so many different. Um, well, I mean, call it a hustle story or call it, you know, something that, you know, listeners might be able to kind of vibe and feel with, but, you know, after that first, you know, capital raise and, you know, Thanksgiving of 2018 I had a son.

Wow. Congrats. New year’s Eve. Wow. So you can imagine, you know, being in a new first time father, um, you know, getting married and, and, and having the whole lifestyle evolve outside of this ever evolving business on the day to day, you know, really was, you know, just kind of a, let’s see what happens. And again, you know, and I kept going back, you know, it was, it was literally day by day.

And if I went back Groundhog day style, and. Thought that I could replicate what had transpired in those times. One, I don’t remember to, you know, good luck, right? It’s like, of course. Yeah. And I’m lucky enough to have such an amazing team that was able to execute, you know, uh, what we, what we needed to get done.

And you know, if, if I. Ever sat here today, tomorrow, you know, years from now. And you know, you would never hear out of my mouth that, you know, I built this, you know, our team built this. And, um, you know, I can inspire and I can lead and I can, I can, you know, push a vision out there and, um, I can realign and adjust and, and check in.

But. You know, at the end of the day, you know, without them, we’re nothing. So.

Tony Lopes: [00:47:28] Right. Just two last questions. One, it’s clear and, and thank you for bringing that up again, that you have really no ego in this. That’s simply good. Jars is more about the collaboration, the overall good that I provides on various levels and sort of your triple bottom line strategy to the business to begin with.

Right. To what extent do you think that that has been your collaborative nature? Your lack of ego has been. A accelerator in your success and in the success of simply good

Jared Cannon: [00:47:58] jars. I mean, I don’t know if it was, I like to think that it is, I mean, I’ve always taken the approach that I should be the dumbest person in the room, right?

And, and if I’ve achieved that, then, you know, I’m good in this room. Otherwise I need to find another room. Right? It needs to get, be bigger or smaller or whatever. But, um, you know, true collaboration. I mean, how can you, um. Not get on the train with the idea that, you know, two heads are better than one. If there’s, um, you know, the best idea in the world might be a little bit better improved by the addition of this or the subtraction of that.

And, you know, there’s no way to really truly do that on your own, um, or be successful or, or create the amount of luck you need in business. Right. To be able to, to realize that. Um, so yeah, I mean. Collaboration has always been a, a principle of mine, even in the kitchen, culinary world and, you know, former life, if you will, um, to really, you know, create the most impact in the shortest amount of time.

Tony Lopes: [00:49:03] How have you dealt with having a son that’s a year and three months old, roughly right now? How have you dealt with that pressure on a constant basis internally? How are you maintaining your mental health? On a regular basis with all of these sort of peaks and valleys that are inherent with an entrepreneurial life staff.

Jared Cannon: [00:49:21] Sure. Well, I mean, it’s all about balance, right? Um, the one thing that I lost that I’m striving to get back soon is, you know, the, the routine of, of working out and help them health and wellness. Uh, that definitely was the number one suffering casualty of, of that addition into the life. But. I mean as a, as a father, and you know, something I didn’t think would come out of my mouth while building a business, but.

Um, it’s been so empowering and just naturally motivating. I mean, it, you know, you have that moment where he’s like, well, this has got to work,

Tony Lopes: [00:49:58] right?

Jared Cannon: [00:50:00] I guess it’s got to work. So, um, let’s make it where

Tony Lopes: [00:50:04] basically stormed the beaches and burn the ships.

Jared Cannon: [00:50:07] And it’s like, you know, talk about ego. Like if you try and, you know, make something work that has to work with a little bit of ego in the room, it’s going to be a tough road.

So. Um, you know, having Noah, you know, come into our lives has been the biggest blessing and the best thing ever. And, um, you know, he’s learning and developing every day and it’s, it’s been amazing to watch and see and follow that path. And, um, I would never take back, you know, anything that we went through or, you know, the good and the bad and the ugly.

Sure. So, I mean, very content, very happy. You know, life is balanced. And. You know, again, it’s all about prioritizing what’s in front of you and, and no matter what, what it is. Awesome.

Tony Lopes: [00:50:51] Well, Jared, thank you so much, man. This was great. Yeah, a lot of great information for the listeners and really just appreciate your time.

We’ll keep an eye out on Simply Good Jars. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you or to subscribe to simply get jars,

Jared Cannon: [00:51:04] so simplygoodjars.com our website kind of talks through everything that we do. You can find ways to subscribe to our newsletter. Contact us directly, request a fridge.

You know, any. Anything that, you know, is what we do. Um, you know, look for us, you know, at, in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D C, and, you know, as we continue to flood into the markets, uh, give us a try. Cool. Uh, write us, let us know what you think, and

Tony Lopes: [00:51:30] we’ll simply get jars on Instagram

Jared Cannon: [00:51:33] at simply good drives across all social channels, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

Awesome. Yup.

Tony Lopes: [00:51:39] Great. Jared, thank you so much for your time. It was great.

Jared Cannon: [00:51:41] Thanks guys. .