Zack Nathan is hoping his healthy snacking brand, Ape Snacks helps people eat better. I speak to Zack about his journey growing the company and plans for 2018.
Hi Zack, thanks for agreeing to share your story on YHP. Can you give us some background information about yourself?
Sure! I was born in London, moved to NYC for 4 years and then moved back to London
How did the idea for Ape Snacks come about?
I was raised eating a super healthy diet - good, whole foods, found in nature (the paleo diet!). The summer before university, my mum took coconut flakes, threw them in a pan with cinnamon and salt and toasted them to utter perfection!
When I went abroad to University in America it was really hard to find food that wasn’t laden with additives, sugar or chemicals with unpronounceable words; I was eating a grilled burger patties and salad every single day! As a result, I found myself scouring every aisle in every supermarket to find healthy snacks! Turns out they just didn’t exist!
It struck me as unsurprising, therefore, that one in five people is classified as obese - a proportion which has tripled over 20 years. Between the rubbish that gets pumped into food both in the USA and the UK and the mixed messages we’re fed both on food packaging and in the media, it is no surprise that the world health now feels convoluted and heavy! I knew right then I wanted to change that. As such, I decided to drop out of Uni and bring health to the masses!
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
Lack of sleep! Haha – we outsourced sales initially to a company that really wasn’t delivering. This required us to re-think our structure and strategy. Once we brought sales back in house, we then had a lot of supply chain issues.
We produce our products in Thailand with a really long lead time and we kept selling more than we had forecasted. It was a recipe for expensive air freight bills!
What is Ape Snacks? And what are you trying to solve with it?
We are a healthy snacking brand set out to get the average person to eat better for him or herself. If you look at healthcare as a system, economically, it is built around curing rather than prevention. Nutrition is a huge part of prevention.
For instance, The global medical cost of obesity will be $1.2 trillion by 2025, with over 124 million children suffering from the disease worldwide. If you get people eating the right foods in the first place, this leaves a surplus of capital that can be re-invested into more sustainable facets of the world’s economy. We really want to help be a part of this change
How have you been able to fund it so far?
We have raised capital from one of the UK’s largest snack manufacturers and a number of very supportive value add angels.
What advices would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their start-ups?
Be tenacious, persevere and ensure to network!
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
Very excited! I still am but in a different mind-set. Initially, I was manic about getting the products into as many places as possible. Now, it’s about nurturing the team. The exciting thing is when they open up new accounts or come up with new ideas that I hadn’t imagined.
How did you initially get traction?
I cold-called and emailed as many buyers, stores and distributors as I could! I kept doing so until I was granted meetings.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Persevered and brought in people who are more experienced and better at their job than I am.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Being able to work with some awesome people!
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Ape Snacks team for 2018?
More snacks and more listings!
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Don’t stop, don’t run out of money and find the right people.