Where do you get your protein as a vegan? Plant-based staples such as beans, lentils, and tofu are all good sources, but ...
Note: This deal is is being conducted on an expedited basis due to circumstances relating to COVID-19 and pursuant to the SEC's temporary regulatory COVID-19 relief.
Consumers are demanding tastier functional foods
75% of Americans eat healthy snacks, but they don't want to sacrifice taste or texture in the way of nutrition.
Functional food is predicted to grow by by 7.9% annually through 2025, with Functional Bakery & Cereal being the second largest category growth driver. But we're missing a key ingredient...
Current offerings force consumers to make sacrifices
We're missing a food that can meet consumer’s functional needs while tasting better than existing alternatives.
Meet America's new favorite superfood
Already a popular superfood in Australia, sprouted buckwheat plays at the intersection of macro trends, offering taste, texture and nutrition.
Lil Bucks' founder Emily Griffith designed the products and brand to introduce the U.S.A. to the lil' super-seed with huge benefits.
Our sprouted buckwheat products are high in plant-based protein, fiber and magnesium, while being gluten-free and grain-free. With our non-comparable nutrition and taste profile, Lil Bucks brings you America’s new favorite superfood.
Oh, and that superfood is a great cover crop, too
Buckwheat, one of the fastest cover crops available to farmers, rejuvenates soil, drawing phosphorus from the soil and leaving nutrients for the next crop. Reaching maturity in just 70-90 days, buckwheat thrives in low-fertility soils and is a great option for organic farmers.
Since our launch at a few markets in 2018, we debuted two plant-based product lines in the Breakfast and Snack categories. Our vision is to create a platform for sustainably-sourced, plant-based buckwheat products - utilizing versatile buckwheat seeds in single-serve snacks, bars, baking products and more - that are sold online, in retail, and through foodservice around the world.
Buckin' up the Breakfast & Snack Categories
Lil Bucks is just getting started, with two product lines in its buckwheat platform.
Lil Bucks Sprouted Buckwheat Crunch
Fiber-packed, paleo super-seeds with plant-based protein and heart-healthy antioxidants. Available in Original, Cacao, Matcha Vanilla and Cinnamon.
- Sales focus: Amazon/website and foodservice, support with key specialty retailers such as Whole Foods and Erewhon
- Cinnamon Lil Bucks launched in September 2020 and sold out of 1,500 bags in 6 weeks on website alone (no ads).
Clusterbucks Buckwheat Granola Clusters
Low sugar, grain-free functional snack harnessing the superfood properties of sprouted buckwheat and additional power from adaptogens. Available in Chocolate Reishi, Turmeric Lemon and (coming soon!) Matcha Cookie Crunch
- Sales focus: pave the way for brand in retail; launch on Amazon
- Launching into 56 Whole Foods stores in February 2021 and into UNFI Southern California warehouse in January 2021
- January 2021: Launch Organic bags with updated tagline "Buckwheat Granola Clusters", as well as new flavor Matcha Cookie Crunch with Lion's Mane
- Plan to launch fourth sku in most mainstream flavor to round out product family offering (Cinnamon Roll or Birthday Cake)
America is catching on...
- Quadrupled revenue from 2019 ($35k) to 2020 ($141k YTD Nov 2020)
- Our product lines sell in 168 stores across the nation, primarily in the Midwest, but including Hawaii and iconic stores like Erewhon in LA and Grassroots Juicery in NYC.
- We increased Amazon sales by 286% by optimizing the listings (no ads yet, but planning on launching Jan. 1).
- We increased our e-commerce conversion rate from 1.74% to 2.24%, designing the website entirely in-house. Our return customer rate is currently 21% and AOV is $33.
- This year's revenue to date is nearly 50/50% DTC vs. Wholesale. We forecast next year to be 34% DTC / 64% Wholesale / 4% Foodservice.
Growth plan with nimble channel mix - road to $1M
We conservatively forecast $850k in sales for 2021, based on our current velocity numbers and organic growth rates on Amazon and LoveLilBucks.com. This goal will put us over the $1M mark and set us up well for our Series A round to expand Lil Bucks products nationally.
After proving velocities of both product lines before expanding widely, we are now set up with the two largest natural food distributors in the country, UNFI and KeHE. We are members of the UNFI Next Program, and won the KeHE Next Generation Innovation Face-off Competition. We will use these distribution partners to expand first in two nearly opposite regions: our home The Midwest, and our new frontier, California. By proving we can succeed in both regions shows we can succeed anywhere in the U.S., and we will continue expanding to more regions with key natural retailers like Sprout's and more Whole Foods regions.
We found the following marketing methods work most cost effectively to gain new customers, especially for D2C: digital marketing (email & social), PR, influencers and events.
Our founder's background is in digital and influencer marketing, and we love our cost-effective PR agency. With our fun brand, unique selling proposition and great founding story, Lil Bucks is a media darling:
Watch Lil Bucks on Windy City Live:
Putting the fun in functional for Millennials & Gen-Z
Our customers trend towards health conscious women looking to buy in a way that's not harmful to the environment. We’ve received rave reviews from our customers. All of our products have gotten 5-star ratings and we have a 4.6/5 star rating on Amazon. Our social media presence is drives traction, with a 3.4% engagement rate on Instagram (compared to industry average of 1%).
Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Target Customers:
With 83% of the 18-34 year old age group feeling stressed out regularly, this group is more likely than older adults to claim current usage of several functional ingredients (Mintel). Only 6% of food launches feature functional claims, versus 25% of drink launches. We’re bridging that gap, providing incremental sales in food via the Breakfast and Snack categories, and will continue innovation as a leading functional food brand by leveraging buckwheat.
The rise of the Eco-Concious Consumer
74% of consumers try to act in a way that is not harmful for the environment, and are rethinking plastic and recycling (Mintel). We are make their buying decision easy by offering Plastic Neutral-Certified, sustainably sourced buckwheat products improving soil health in North America. Additionally, 73% of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainably-sourced goods, perfectly aligning with our target offering (Nielsen).
Our new organic-certified Clusterbucks bags launching in Jan '21 will be recyclable, mono-material plastic.
Omni-channel strategy meets customers where they are
Sales channels include wholesale, D2C and foodservice.
Our omni-channel approach builds brand awareness and credibility, while allowing us to be nimble when events affecting different channels (such as a pandemic) unfold.
We've been obsessively working to decrease COGS to ensure we have solid margins from our channels before expanding widely. This will allow us to sustain our own growth without as much capital investment, getting our shareholders better returns.
Following a growth framework laid out by industry expert James Richardson, we have been careful not to out-distribute our awareness. First, we solidified velocities in wholesale accounts so we can capital-efficiently expand in what can be an expensive channel for slow-moving products. Lil Bucks sell at 3.1 units/sku/store/week in Breakfast set, and Clusterbucks at 5.7 u/s/s/w in the Snack set. Both velocities grew by 55% and 36% since the start of the pandemic, respectively (without the use of normal in-store marketing levers like promotions or in-person samplings!).
As part of our omni-channel strategy, we believe it's important to maintain at least 30% of our revenue from e-commerce as this channel grows YOY, and we can leverage the founder's background in digital. The margins are the best, and we also gain customer data to track and continue growing our 22k email list. We own the relationship with the consumer on this channel and use this channel to test limited time offerings which sometimes turn into permanent members of the product family (like Cinnamon Lil Bucks!).
In November 2020, we redesigned the website shopping experience (in-house!) to optimize marketing funnels. This led to an 45.26% higher conversion rate and 48.81% increase in revenue. Starting on January 1, 2021 (the cheapest time of year to buy ads), we're excited to retarget ads to our 21.5k 2020 visitors. We plan to launch a wholesale ordering platform in Q2 of 2021 for our direct-to-store partners.
Hiring our already-identified Sales Director will open up the founder's time to constantly improve marketing funnel design and conversion rate optimization.
We are exploring Amazon accelerator options, as we already are an Amazon's Choice product with an optimized listing. We're excited to take this next level with advertising with the help of the best experts in the industry.
Fortunately, Foodservice was only 4% of our revenue prior to the pandemic, so we didn't take a big hit as this channel crashed in the Spring. Our plan was to expand Foodservice in 2020, launching into Lululemon's Chicago experience store, and expanding on the menu with our long-time partner LYFE Kitchen. We are currently running a trial in partnership with Notre Dame's Sports Nutrition department to feed the athletes sprouted buckwheat.
This is how we envision rolling out our growth ahead of a strategic acquisition around 2025:
Perfectly positioned to address $93B+ functional food market
America's Beloved & Dominant Buckwheat Brand within Functional Foods
Our three initial target markets are the $37B breakfast cereal market, the $33B snacks market and the $23B adaptogens market. We offer a healthy alternative to breakfast cereals, a snack defining function in food and a tastier way to consume adaptogens.
Functional Food is predicted to grow by 7.9% annually through 2025, with Functional Bakery & Cereal being the second largest sub-category growth driver (Grand View Research, 2019).
Offering Truly Low Sugar Options
In addition to addressing three large markets, Lil Bucks is offering consumers one of the lowest sugar options in Breakfast and Snacks. Even products made with Functional ingredients still include considerable added sugar. All of Lil Bucks and Clusterbucks products range from 0g - 4g sugar per serving. With 80% of people planning to reduce their sugar intake in 2021 (FMCG Gurus), Lil Bucks finally offers consumers solutions in two of the largest categories in food.
Competing with existing alternatives as first-to-market buckwheat brand
Lil Bucks offers plant-based eaters and crunch seekers elevated taste and nutrition via its unique ingredient usage and product formulations.
Lil Bucks - #1 Use As a Grain-Free Granola
Top your smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, toast and more.
Clusterbucks: A One-Of-A-Kind, Low Sugar, Crunch-tastic Functional Snack
As a commodity: Why our buckwheat is better
American-grown, sprouted and processed in allergen-friendly facilities.
Lil Bucks will become the Quaker Oats of Buckwheat
Preparing to be the dominant brand for when Buckwheat becomes the new Quinoa.
We are creating a platform for one of the most versatile, nutritious ingredients available that is currently underutilized in the U.S. Our products will be a household name as Buckwheat becomes the new Quinoa in the next five years. As other players eventually enter the buckwheat market, our cutting-edge products, established SEO, distribution and customer relationships, and our BRAND will keep us on top.
In the shorter term, we envision Lil Bucks and Clusterbucks becoming staples in health-conscious households. The next two years will be focused on achieving that through retail distribution with natural grocery chains, and optimized e-commerce and advertising.
We continue to run R&D projects at limited time flavors at the Hatchery in Chicago, and plan to introduce new innovative sprouted buckwheat products in the next 5 years:
Bootstrapping and Family & Friends Round
Raised $265k from a friends and family round
We plan to expand to 500+ retail doors in 2021 and are projecting nearly 6x YOY growth based on our current velocities and secured distribution. We aim to raise funds through Republic to bring more trailblazers on our journey. We will use the funds to:
- Hire our identified Sales Director (8+ in sales for emerging food brands) and a business development role (1-2 yrs. experience)
- Hire our identified Operations consultant
- Support the launch of Clusterbucks in wider distribution in California, the Midwest and beyond
- Support Lil Bucks digital marketing campaigns
An Industry Ripe For Strategic Acquisitions & Exits
Big Food can't build brands like startups. Heeding lessons like General Mills' successful management of Annie's, large food corporations learned that strategically acquiring fast-growing brands to round out their portfolio is better than trying to beat small companies at their own game. We've already had early conversations with General Mills and Kellogg's. As the first and only buckwheat brand in the U.S.A., even at this early stage we believe we are already in a unique position for a strategic exit in 5-6 years.
- Boulder Brands: Acquired gluten-free and free-from breakfast brands
- General Mills: Interested in all-natural and convenient snacking brands
- Kellogg's: Interested in breakfast and natural brands
We are in the process of completing TIG/Elliot Begoun's Capital Efficiency Course to ensure we don't fall victim to many of the common cash-burning pitfalls CPG brands face.
We will continue working with and learning from The Hatchery Chicago, our first food business resource with whom we've learned to make products in a commercial kitchen, to scaling to manufacturing to meet Whole Foods demand.
One important thing to note, is that as a mission-driven brand, we will ensure our Theory of Change for buckwheat and regenerative farming in the U.S.A. is not only upheld but bolstered by our acquirer.
Marketing-minded founder rebrands Buckwheat
Meet Emily Griffith, the design thinker behind the brand.
- Started a CPG marketing consultancy to make six figures in less than a year to simultaneously bootstrap Lil Bucks
- Past Clients: Hormel Foods, SPAM, Skippy Peanut Butter, Applegate Organics, Phusion Projects (Four Loko), Australian FMCG primarily in the food/meat and alcohol space.
- Relentlessly committed to her vision. Through no institutional investment, Emily organically grew the brand and two product lines. She set up key distribution and identified the best team members to achieve Lil Bucks' 2021 goals.
In Australia is where Emily enjoyed a "life-changing" açaí bowl (yup) that used sprouted buckwheat seeds on top of the bowl rather than sugary granola. She started noticing this super-seed utilized in a number of breakfast, snack, dessert products as well as in restaurants and bulk stores. Blown away that the U.S.A. hadn't caught on to this super-seed despite its key attributes aligning with major trends, plus the huge regenerative agriculture opportunity, she became possessed with the mission to bring sprouted buckwheat to America.
In mid-2018, she started making Lil Bucks in a shared commercial kitchen in Chicago, selling the product at markets and fitness festivals. She got live feedback on the products and flavors, as well as the initial fan base, so she could perfect the products before presenting to Whole Foods in 2019, which accepted all sku's to launch in the entire Midwest region in March 2020.
Less than 3% of all capital in the world is invested into female founders, all in a time when 93% of household food purchases are made by women.
It's time to change that. Let's build the team and get the buckwheat revolution on its way!