a journal of thoughts & stories
White Roads are those little roads that take you to where you’re going but with a little fun and adventure in-between. This “in-between” place is where we have probably lived a few incredible moments that then turned into our favorite stories. We’d like to share with you so please feel free to follow along with us on the “how” and “what” led us to where we, and our partners are today. Please peruse our posts below of assorted stories, insights, pictures, vlogs, recordings, musings – and just about anything else around what makes us tick in general…….
expowest 2019 highlights
spent 4 days at the show……finally found some time to write down the top ten thoughts…here you go baby…..
1-one can only “absorb” so much”
first and foremost…..this is a great show!!! however…..call me old and in the way or maybe it’s too many senior moments but there’s way too much stuff on that floor to absorb in 3-4 days? wondering how retail buyers sort all this shit out? :: ))
2-plant based has jumped the shark
everyone is on the band wagon. need i say more? did you know these pants i’m wearing right now are plant based? :: ))
3-and speaking of plant based? fake cheeses are getting very good!
not much in the way of new product if you ask me but do believe the fake cheeses are getting very good. ex; kite hill ricotta and follow your heart cream cheese.
4-is “frankenfood” now acceptable on the expowest floor?
in the quest to ferment, cure, culture, whatever, one could get worried about hemes and all sorts of other starters that seem to be kinda weird? not a fan and strongly believe there will always be a place for great tasting whole non-frankenfoods…..please keep them coming baby.
5-the perfect product this 5min?
high protein, plant based, probiotic snack w/cbd in it? just a joke….but wtf….would probably sell well? :: ))
6-formulaic fashion in the natural foods world continues
at white road investments we’re always nervous around the fashion game category…..a good example would be apparel. but the new interstellar irony is that the natural foods worlds is now kind of into its own “fashion”. high protein, probiotic, cbd, keto, paleo, plant based, adaptogens…you know what we’re talking about. some trends are strong and stay, some not so much.
7-cbd….wait for it, there were 175 cbd related exhibitors at the show
yo…if you’re not in this category now…….it could be hard to get over?
8-the continual sea of sameness (confused again), especially in the “fvcked” categories
when it comes to yogurt, coconuts, nut butters, water, energy bars there’s lots of sameness. however there are some breakouts in these areas and it seems harder and harder to do this? if your product or brand doesn’t have “special powers” you could be in for a tough ride.
9-i heard there were 400 new exhibitors in the north hall.
wow….wonder if new hope media would consider doing a 2-3 yr case study around all 400? ie….what happens to them…do they make it or break it? the ratio of success has got to be greater than the chances of your athletic kid actually making the pros? with that said, a few of “the 400” success stories could be encouraging statistics and learnings for burgeoning entrepreneurs? or better yet…a reality tv show? :: ))
10-the clifbar letter challenging kind bar to go organic
fantastico…ok….admittedly we’re biased as clif is our mothership. despite that the fact is clif is never afraid to stand up for their values, gary & kit started clif as a challenger brand and they are now ramping up that lovely position one more time!!! fvck yeah!
here’s a final big p.s. observation
business is all about product and people or people and product…take your pick. most of the time product comes first…a founder has an idea that solves problems and makes humanoids feel good. this is super cool and what it’s all about. however there is a time in an emerging brand’s life cycle where a team gets built, comes together, coalesces and that energy is felt. the “group behavior” becomes so strong, committed, aligned and full of goodness that the people/team are then elevated almost above the product platform. we get all warm and fuzzy around this and at the show one of our companies hit this mark….their team is incredible and you could feel it….let’s hear it for OM!!!!!
was thinking….this 5min of their lives? it’s harder than ever for emerging brands….
too many, too much syndrome
(click on pie to listen to this post! )
was thinking….this 5min of their lives?
it’s harder than ever for emerging brands….
in my not normal jacked up observatory opinion?
it feels like there’s just too much and too many
and no matter what category or industry you play in ?
there’s just too much and too many
too many suppliers, too many skus, too many retailers, too many shelves, too much product
do we really need 25 different brands of “blank” or 50 different kinds of “blankety blank”?
I’m sounding like a retro grouch abe simpson…that’s right it’s me not you :: ))
hallucinate with me for a second
i wonder how many hundreds of kombucha brands are out there on a shelf right now?
between national and regional and super localized…
it’s turned into a sea of sameness filled with a kombucha cast of thousands?
but wait there’s more
there’s one more thing that belongs on the list of too much and too many
and that’s middle men
you know who you are… you’ re reading my mind….. baby
i’ve been there
i’m talking to all you middle men out there?
the middle men have already been shot down in the travel biz, the insurance biz and many other industries
and now they are coming for you
agents, brokers, independent sales reps, distributors, etc.
example : if you’re a food broker you’re not even allowed to walk into a whole foods anymore?
wtf is up with that?
as a supplier we want you in there..checking out of stock, training peeps on the floor, actually giving a shit and helping check your products off the shelf
your favorite distributor, your favorite broker, your favorite independent sales rep?
some are firmly planted in the middle and are feeling the squeeze…..
some are feeling it because they suck and have always sucked
but now the cream of the crop are feeling it
did you ever think that person to person selling would ever go this far out of fashion?
and we haven’t even brought up the subject of trade shows…
i’ll say it again….
there’s just too much……too many
and you…. the emerging brand? you are up against this junk show on a daily basis
since the consumer drives everything today
are there too much and too many out there because consumers want it?
or retailers want it? or buyers want it? or product managers want it?
they all want better but really want new?
c’mon…you know a big piece of this could be a function of larger brands
desperately trying to make their investors or share holders happy by growing, growing, growing
they then try to line extend and steal share into bigger numbers for their mothership
what they perceive as “innovative new product” just adds to the sea of mofo sameness” mentioned previously
sorry…im on a soapbox now…..
i get it
consumers want quality, service, value and….. selection, and at then end of the transaction no matter where it took place….
they want to know they bought right
i heard once that a good salesperson “mildly confuses” their customer
with that sheer number of brands on shelf at brick and mortar and on line
we are now more than mildly confusing our customers
it borders on complete confusion….
call it omni channel overload?
let’s wrap this too much and too many blurb up……
the solution to too much and too many is new products and services that actually solves problems and makes people feel good
ie……f*ck you and the sea of sameness you rode in on…
however with that said
this next 5min of our lives?
i predict they’ll be little or no sku rationalization going on willingly
however…….once the economy eventually corrects itself…..or trade wars intensify or barrels of oil cost over $100?
things could change…..
and at that point
i’d suppose that two things could happen to correct (or probably over correct) the too many and too much syndrome….
first….there will be less selection and choice on the shelf….a buyer won’t go 8 brands deep on organic pickles or ski helmets
second? he highest priced products on the shelf will probably get yanked off first
no matter what category you’re in?
please be prepared….and that’s a whole ‘nother story……
crazy words & definitions
a close friend/colleague of ours is going into the hospital next week for a fairly serious operation. this week i committed to sending him 7 days worth atypical word of the day emails to support, spread love and help get his head in the right spot before he goes under the knifie-poo.
with that said, have decided to post up the 7 words sent to him because…well…if you knew him you’d know that he has all these qualities..he just needed a goofball to remind him.
some may think the words below have little to do with business or investing as the words are more about humanoids/behavior? sorry….but last time we checked?…..people have everything to do with business and investing.
-strong mofo : “humanoids who has the inner/outer strength, tenacity and persistence in doing whatever they do”
-heart mind : “a bright & open state with sincere kindness towards everyone and everything”
-corragio : “courage in italian”
-raw spot : “a place where we take ourselves or sometimes get taken to that forces us to step the f*ck up for success”
-nimbility : “when a humanoid combines their skill and ability with nimbleness to adapt to any situation good or bad or brutto”
-same as : “when lovely humanoids see and connect and unite with each other at the exact same level. not one up or one down…just simply same as”
-hardship benefit : “before one experiences a benefit whether personal or professional please expect at least a few moments of hardship. y’know…..some quality time in front of the ass kicking machine that bends us over, makes us uncomfy and then stronger. it’s the way of this planet….when you get used to it things just make more sense.”
as always…thanks for humoring me :: ))
the big difference between a "heisman" and a "loving heisman"
the “loving” heisman
fact…..there’s lots of yes’s in business and there’s also lots of no’s
it’s part of the process we go through while looking for mission driven entrepreneurs to partner with
what we do is a bit of a numbers game…
it’s not just the dollars numbers
it’s the numbers of meeting and connecting with as many people as possible
the downside of this numbers game?
you have to say no to most of the opportunities presented
we’ve always called this somewhat uncomfy process a “respectful decline”
the concept of telling the truth with compassion as you say no
yes, we’ve understand the disappointment of a respectful decline to a hard working founder.
it’s a bummer, it’s flat out rejection…..
let’s face it there’s nothing worse then getting “the heisman”
you know that famous trophy football pose?
one leg up driving forward
one arm straight out
the other arm cradling/protecting your jewels (the ball)
it’s a stiffarm, it’s painful, abrupt and you don’t always see it coming
believe it or not?
some humanoids like giving the heisman
because it’s a no holds barred “one up” move
if you’re on the other end of it?
there’s no mistake that you’re feeling like you’re being looked down and trodden upon
we don’t like giving this traditional heisman
as a matter of fact we’ve made efforts to change this
we now give what we call “the loving heisman”
you still have one leg up and you’re moving forward
you still have one arm out in the standard stiff arm position.
but the difference?
instead of grippin your jewels (the ball) with your other arm, instead you let go of all that
and then firmly and intentionally place your left hand over your heart
here it is visually…..(please excuse the crop job but my face not needed here) :: ))
a loving heisman takes more effort and leaves you a bit vulnerable
in the end it’s a lot less uncomfy for both parties than the traditional, in your face heisman
a loving heisman not only includes a respectful decline
but usually includes offers to stay in touch
provide some connective capital
serve up some probono ideas, thoughts, stories, counsel
maybe some of this stuff could help them avoid a few pitfalls coming there way
you’re not “one up” with this attitude
instead you are “same as” looking them in the eye and on the same level
sigh…we want to help everyone but realize that we can’t.
so instead we strive to deliver the truth with compassion
to be on the same level
and have the big wish for them that they succeed.
because you never know who, what or when something might change in the future ?
notogroup : how to be attractive to investors
wri press love
nice hit this morning from our friends at noto group
our 15 nanoseconds of fame :: ))
oh my friend...you are so being missed right now......
talk about lucky…..
seven years ago gary erickson and kit crawford introduced me to deven clemens and john anthony
the three of us were lovingly mashed together as the newly founded white road investments team
it permanently changed my life….(thx g,k,d,r & john)
this last weekend…unexpectedly after hip surgery we lost john….
he passed away…he left this fantastic blue ball we’re wonderfully trapped on.
we are all stunned and our hearts (now with some holes in them) go out to his wife debbie and his family.
john was unique, charismatic, caring, a selfless connector
he was the kind of guy that after you met him you knew you wanted to be friends.
it didn’t take long after that
you knew you’d be totally cool with him being a best friend
he was fast, abrupt, direct and lovingly in your space when you were around him.
it was fun trying to keep up with him
one day after a 4 hour board meeting we did 13 store checks in about 3 hours…..
that included drive time
and we still returned the rental car and made it to our flights on time.
from my limited experience riding this blue ball?
there’s few people you get to know professionally and personally.
the two rarely cross over
john was one of those special ones…
where you worked with him, played with him. partied with him, cried and laughed with him, man hugged with him,
and all the other wonderful stuff that brings humanoids closer together
i once learned from a master that “we all come from the big love”….
meaning we are all connected through this big love……
fact…..john anthony was the big love
he was a powerful force of goodness
someday…i too…will leave this ball……
can only hope to be remembered the way john is being remembered…..
thank you john anthony for positively changing me and us forever…..
one more lovely visit to the crazy intersection of risk and reward as a goofball reminds you to keep your business in balance no matter what mother nature throws at you, act back
standing on your tippy toes
here’s one more story….related to risk and reward
it’s called standing on your tippy toes
instead of personally putting yourself out of balance with duct tape and indy cars
let’s talk about putting your business out of balance
let’s begin with a hallucination
and say you’re in a weather dependent business
that could be anything from landscaping to amusement parks to ski areas to farming
technically even a lyft drivers revenue is affected by the weather…
one very hard lesson i learned in a past life is the thing about a weather dependent businesses is once a bad day has passed and you missed your number?
you missed it and it’s probably not coming back
so example?….if it starts raining and your usual crowd doesn’t show up?
you’re probably not going to make that loss up
same thing with bad snow and ski areas
so each day you miss?
you are figuratively in the deep end of the pool and the water is now rising
eventually that water is right under your nose
ooh…..it’s time to talk about this uncomfy analogy
good news?…kinda?…is you’re still a bit lucky at this point
as the water up is up just under your nose and your biz is still breathing and standing on solid ground
but then another bad weather day or week hits and the water rises once more
and it’s time
you need….the business needs
to stand up on it’s tippy toes to keep breathing
if you want you can try it right now….cmon baby stand up, get up on those tippy toes
it doesn’t take too long and you start to really feel it
risk city…this is not fun
it’s at this moment that you’re hoping for the weather to break …..
the reward is to be able to set your heels back on the ground and get comfy again
in reality? tippy toes means you are trying
on the fly to adjust your spending, cogs, costs, burn rate, scraping in every penny you can….etc….to make up for the shortfall
are you feeling the calf burn?
btw…and you already know this
but if you go into your selling season with a draft contingency plan…..
the calf burn may not be so bad? eh?
i dunno…..you’ve probably done this “adjustment” exercise before ?
and it’s still a very painful exercise
muscle, bone, your own throat…which do i cut and not cut?
huge risks that if they go jiggy could radically affect the biz
and all to to get to your reward
guess what?…this risk and reward exercise…..it’s part of the gig…oh geez
wow……i got a bit wordy there…sorry
it’s time to sum this shit up
think of standing on your tippy toes as another jacked up variation of “how long can you do it”
tenacity and adaptability
to keep your business in balance no matter what mother nature throws at you
risk, reward, and being duct taped to the side of an indy car......and it gets a bit personal? meaning its about you baby.....::))
duct taped to the side of an indy car
a lovely colleague/friend recently planted a seed in my head
he said i should talk about the crazy ass intersection of risk and reward
i thought of a few stories
one about risk, reward, and being duct taped to the side of an indy car
and it gets a bit personal?
meaning its about you baby
so here’s the punch line up front
to get ahead on planet earth
most people have to work their asses off
and that’s the real risk to get to the reward
you’re full tilt boogie all the time baby 24/7/365
you are maxed out
we call that being duct taped to the side of an indy car
the indy 500 is where humanoids strap into open wheeled race cars and see how fast they can go for 500 miles in a circle
it’s a wonderful comparative to your world
and classic risk vs. reward
after all you are all part of the humanoid race and race is a good word for it
and i suspect living and working in the good ole usa feels like we’re all duct taped to the side of that indy car
i said it again
actively scheduled, multi tasking, money, crazy jobs, obligations, family, trying to consume just too much information…hurry up so we can relax……blah blah blah…i’m overwhelmed
that’s right goofball
i know this feeling well….it was my last real job
but screw me this is about you, with about 20 rolls of quality 3m duct tape and a state of the art indy car rolling 3” from the wall at 180mph and more all the time
and guess what….after about 4laps… ….it’s a blur…
it all starts to look the same (gesticulate with hand over mouth here)
there’s the possibility of big reward rolling at this pace
checkered flag baby
and the risk is….well you guessed it…..you hit the wall
and this type of hit is very unexpected, hard to predict and the chances are very good catastrophic…once it starts….you’re not going to stop it
and the cause is usually a minute, small, what doesn’t seem important at the time screw up
it’s time for the second punch line and moral of this story
the big question is more than who hits or doesn’t hit the wall
it’s about how long can you roll at this pace?
there’s the risk
knowing how long you can put yourself completely out of balance
because you can only duct tape your humanoid body to an indy car or for so long
me personally? me gots multi years of duct tapeage….the reward was cool…but i think it’s what gave me all this gray hair…not kidding
though i knew up front how long i was prepared to wreak havoc on myself
this is about tenacity and adaptability
it’s what you entrepreneurial geeks out there should be good at
it’s the risk of how long can you be duct taped to that indy car and during that tape-age how adaptable and how comfortable can you make yourself for 500 full laps?
i got no more
“Thanks for Encouraging Me To Trust My Gut”
we come into contact with all sorts of wonderful people, brands and organizations on a daily basis.
when it fits right we get involved! however, we can’t say “yes” to all of the opportunities we see because sometimes the fit isn’t right and both the investor and investee realize that.
with that said? there are some very special companies out there that we love despite the fact we may not get involved.
these special ones usually keep us posted of their adventures along the way and we welcome that and dig helping out from time to time. it’s very cool because it’s proof that people and product and relationships are paramount.
one of these special ones is Po Campo. a brooklyn based maker of incredibly cool, versatile and functional bags that fit your life…especially on a bike!
maria, the founder of Po Campo has been looking for independent sales reps to grow her business. she recently sent a heads up email that was so nice….just had to share it…..
“Thanks for encouraging me to trust my gut. I was interviewing a rep this afternoon and part of me was like, “Well, I really want someone in the CO area” but my heart was like, “She’s obviously not excited about Po Campo and isn’t listening to you” so then I just said no thanks and have a good weekend. Previously I would’ve thought, “Well, this is the best I’m going to do”.
the moral of the story? well…we’ll let you make that one up in your own head.
as always, thanks for letting us share…. ::))
expo west and the f***ed categories?
oh trade show how i love you part two…aka…the final installment
walk a natural foods trade show floor like expowest for a few days
and if you’re awake and aware while in the aisles, at the end of it all?
you should be able to make a list of the food categories that could be referred to as f***d?
for now let’s just call it the “screwed” category to be politically and swearingly correct
maybe we can play a quick fill in the blank game to succinctly explain ?
if you’re going to get in the “blank” category you’re probably screwed
so let’s fill in that blank….here’s our short list
2-anything coconut….oil, water, snack, etc….
-popcorn in a bag
-granola* (with an asterisk because it’s been on the list for at least 2 yrs)
it’s not that these categories aren’t real or don’t generate millions if not billions in revenue in the natural foods universe
it’s just when talking to entrepreneurs, founders and new business types
if they have a product in one of the above categories?
just want to give them a loving hug and say
congratulations, you are so f***d….oops i mean screwed
interstellar irony right here and right now?
these entrepreneurial peeps are usually super smart, hard working, committed, mission driven, etc
but they are also willingly entering into the “screwed category”
a wild world of sameness with incredible power and strength working against you
so as a newcomer brand/product in these screwed categories?
if their product or brand doesn’t have “special powers”
it’s probably not going to work
point of interest? at all trade shows …
there are always places where the most of the cool, emerging brands reside
the 3rd floor or the basement or that one corner over there
it’s easy to get excited when you see the ones with special powers
and sometimes it’s a bummer….because you see many without the special powers
and you know next year they probably won’t be around
first…..most are in one of the above mentioned screwed categories
you’re going up against powerful competitors
that own the shelf, the trade spend, the consumers mind share and they most likely make pretty good product and margin to boot …
oh that’s right they also know how to deliver on time
so if you’re going up against the goliaths of the category you better have something really special going on or you are screwed
you notice i pluralized….goliaths…that’s an s on the end…..
two symbolism there……
-screwed starts with an s
-you can bet there’s going to be more than one goliath you’ll be up against.
figure a minimum of three!
the screwed list isn’t exclusive to the natural foods world
in the outdoor world, stainless steel water bottles might be top of the list
and in the bike industry?
if you’re introducing a new high end carbon road bike in the u.s. market?
you’re probably screwed
btw….feel free to make your own list in whatever business world you play in
i’d like to see it…..
ok…enough, let’s close….the moral of this screwed story?
stay out of the screwed categories
and if you’re crazy enough to go in will you please build a brand/product with special powers?
because then and only then? you might have a shot at it…..
oh trade show…let me count the ways i love you…..
trade shows, energy, connectivity, and finding one?
we just got back from expo west…..it’s a lovely natural foods show…
live in person, no virtual reality, face to face, hand to hand, and lots of hand washing and hugs for the ones you know and love
expo is probably one of my fave trade shows despite it’s increasing size and humanoid density in the aisles
or despite the 3 min trade show aisle meeting we are forced to have
or despite the 10 miles of walking each day
or the 100 miles of talking ….as we all go home with sore throats and sore feet
in the spirt of the f word…focus
decided to skinny this weeks rant into the 3 reasons why we go to trade shows
expo west is great because of it’s “energy” as the majority of attendees are on a mission mofo…
and that’s everything from changing how foods are grown and produced to the quality of food that humanoids put in their pie holes
and you can feel this energy and connection when you enter the hall
hyper competitive yet hyper collaborative….
it’s bi directional….it goes both ways baby
the big energy and the mission are fantastico
and let’s remember that “energy contains information”
so when you leave you can take some with you…
and it can last a while if you practice it daily
reason number two?
trade shows are a one stop shop…..
you can check out the industry landscape in one place
you can walk up and down the aisles and see who and what you’re up against
you can also visualize/hallucinate/make up in your mind where you think it’s all going
so trade shows are a great way to get present and possibly future snapshots of the industry
if you’re lucky “you find one”
for us at wri that means we find something…get a lead, meet a founder or find a category that we think has promise and we can invest in for the future
for you as an exhibitor or attendee or a sales rep
you finding one might be a new retailer to sign up, a new employee to hire, or a company you may want to work for, etc…..
now….not to be a buzzkill….but here’s some reality check….
we personally attend a myriad of trade shows and i don’t care what industry or category you are in
more and more trade show floors are becoming a sea of sameness
same colors, same products, same claims, same positioning, same packaging
example? do we really need 30 different brands of kombucha?
don’t get too bummed out by this sea of sameness
as it’s a good way to figure out how to differentiate
as your enemy isn’t so much the competiton but more about the sameness
who knows by walking the aisles
you may figure out how to zig when everyone else is zagging