During our six-month Mentor Network program, we highlighted our founders and their wisdom and inspiration. The founders of our nine companies entering our 2018 Corporate Accelerator program are no different, and we’re here to give you a behind-the-scenes look at their story and progress throughout the program!
This week, we sat down with brothers Francisco and Tomas Pergola, co-founders of Cheddies — a new savory cracker whose main ingredient is exactly what the name says it should be: cheddar cheese!
Cheddies crackers are protein packed, low-carb cheese crackers crafted from high quality, freshly grated cheddar cheese — with all of the flavor and none of the fluff.
Tell us about how you came up with the idea for Cheddies!
We started this journey about a year and a half ago while we were both still in college. The idea started when we realized that people with diabetes or receiving dialysis treatment were in need of better savory snack alternatives. I [Francisco] was working on my Master’s Thesis, which gave me the chance to have an immersive experience in the healthcare community. I quickly encountered the struggles that nurses or doctors had in making recommendations to patients with dietary restrictions for delicious, healthy snacks.
As we were starting this project, we saw time and time again that the majority of these individuals, who were already sacrificing many luxuries to receive the appropriate treatment, were being asked by their doctors to specifically stay away from the one snack that they craved the most: a salty, crunchy, cheesy cracker! We want to bring this experience back to these patients and others in a convenient way that also provides the nutritional benefits that a sweet protein shake or bar typically has.
Over the past year, we’ve shared our crackers in waiting rooms and clinics, getting expert opinions from doctors and other consumers! We made sure to craft a cracker high in protein, low in carb, low in phosphorus, and low in potassium, making Cheddies a great snack option for a wide range of people.
After performing market research and selling our snack to the community, one thing became apparent: Everyone loves Cheddies! As we continue to grow, we are working to cut down our costs of production while staying true to our main ingredient: real, flavorful cheddar cheese.
Competitors may still be using cheese powders to cover up their bland crackers, but we know there’s simply no way around it: Real cheese is better!
So what are the next steps for Cheddies crackers as this exciting idea continues to gain traction?
Moving forward, we want to show the whole world that there is a healthy alternative available for anyone who is looking to get more out of their daily snacking habits! Whether you are always on-the-go and need a quick pick-me-up, or maybe a parent looking for a better option for your kids, Cheddies fits the bill. They’re a fun and convenient snack…so it’s ok to “accidentally” eat the entire bag!
Our challenge now is to grow our ecommerce and in-store presence so more people can start enjoying our savory snack! We’re targeting the health and wellness aisle. Our approach of starting with dietary requirements, informed by the struggles and recommendations of doctors and healthcare professionals, sets us up really well for this.
We’ve already done market analysis and brought the snack to communities, and people really love Cheddies! But there is still a lot of work to be done to inform individuals that nutritious can also be delicious.
That’s really exciting. Tell us about some of your goals in coming to the Sprint Accelerator!
DFA is an amazing organization. They have so many resources and provide so much knowledge. On only our second day in the program, we met with them one-on-one, and they brought in a team of experts that we’ll get to work with throughout the whole program.
We’re straight out of college and constantly learning new terminology, how to build relationships, how to go about things the right way…We’re excited to learn and to be surrounded by like-minded individuals.
What has been your biggest takeaway or benefit from the program so far?
Everyone’s been so friendly and open to provide resources. DFA has been honest and open with how they can help — we can send an email and get a response right away. We’re still learning a lot about the dairy industry, manufacturing, and supply chain management. The DFA has already helped us change how we’re entering the market. They have an understanding of the challenges of scaling this product and have already dissected our formula and supply chain and shown us how we can become more efficient! They’ve already helped us with behind-the-scenes operations and addressed some of our questions about retailers, consumer experience, and so much more.
We’ve put in many hours of work these past few weeks trying to identify our story. We feel like we’ve really landed on something. Cheddar Just Got Better!
We’re happy to see Cheddies’ progress so far and can’t wait to see how far they’ll go by the end of the program. Swing by the Sprint Accelerator for our community event on Wednesday, April 18th to meet the companies! Register here to save your spot!